Illustrator and Animator: Andrew Bernier

Andy Bernier

Today I have the pleasure of sharing the drawings and animations of the talented Andrew (Andy) Bernier. I had the privilege of graduating from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design with this fine fellow, and hope you enjoy his work as much as I do! You can check him out at

“This is TC. He always wears that hat. ALWAYS.”
“I haven’t seen this awesome dude in a long time. Thought I’d draw him. If you don’t know Craig, you’re missing out. If you do know Craig, you know that everyone else is missing out. #sketch #drawing #portrait #digitalpainting #norwegian”

‘Skullcrusher Mountain’ Vertical Video

“This video spawned from an idea that music videos are seen less on television and more on mobile devices. The portability of a screens orientation allows for more unconventional video proportions and will lead to many new creative possibilities.Thanks to Jonathan Coulton for writing such an amazing song.”

Reflections on a Chicken Nuggets Box

Today, I am happy to present the work of  writer and film producer, Omri Bezalel. Omri originally posted the following on January 18th, 2015, on his own blog, which you can find and follow here.  Thank you for contributing, Omri!

On the north east corner of 35th street and sixth avenue, lies an empty Chicken Nuggets Box. It has just recently been dropped, it seems. People are walking by and around, taking care not to step on it. A heavyset man in a baseball cap is the first one to step directly on it and keep moving. After that a domino effect kicks in and the box is stepped on and kicked. A small Asian man, a little kid in a hoodie, a woman on her phone.

We’re almost at 36th street now. Then a blonde woman in a business suit kicks the box across the sidewalk next to a line of people waiting for the bus. It looks like the box is just waiting for the bus like everyone else. As if the bus will come and the Chicken Nuggets Box will get on after the old lady in front of him and swipe his metro card and ride the bus back home to his family of Chicken Nuggets Boxes. His mother will clean him up and bathe him and scrub all the shoe filth off of him and pop his corners back up until he looks fresh and good as new. She’ll tuck him into bed and tell him she loves him and that tomorrow will be a better and brighter day. She’ll kiss him and close the lights and the Chicken Nuggets Box will forget that he spent twenty minutes of the day getting kicked around by people.

But the bus comes and goes with everyone getting on and the Chicken Nuggets Box stays on the ground alone. He gets kicked again. He’ll keep getting kicked until a good samaritan picks him up and puts him in the garbage, where maybe he’ll meet some friends he’s made along the way; the other misfits who have lived up their purpose and have been disposed of and discarded. He’s now flat and crumpled on the edge of the sidewalk, on the margins of society. No one even cares enough about him to kick him. He’s just ignored. And that’s the worst. That’s the opposite of love. Me? I’d rather be kicked.

Are Happy Endings Possible? A Spiritual Perspective

A month ago, I wrote a blog post entitled, “It’s Not Cheating, It’s Just Sex,” in which I reviewed a mountain of neurological, sociological, and psychological research focusing on the battle of the sexes. I cried through every minute of typing that post, having come to the following conclusion: Mr. Perfect is a pipe dream concocted by romance writers to help you orgasm, and that’s about it. Science would have you believe all men are philandering horn dogs (if not in action, than in spirit) and settling is the only way to go, unless you’d rather be alone for the rest of your life.

But then I thought about friends and family members, and the husbands of friends and family members, who do not fit the profile of the beer-guzzling, tail-chasing ape many a woman learns to suck it up and love. I asked several of these rare fellows to tell me how they imagined their ideal relationship, as part of a portrait series I am developing.

piotr final“In love, when loved, and when loving is truly the only time that real risk and danger can occur, because it is the only time you are able to discover places within that you didn’t know existed,”said one 45-year-old, divorced, community artist and father of two. “It is not the mystery of withholding, it is the mystery of the explorer, with a partner, on the same journey.”

“An ideal relationship, for me, would be full support in personal development, in every area of life,” said one 23-year-old, single, undergraduate psychology student and semi-professional athlete. “Endless love for one another, and constant communication.”

“Honorable,” said one 34-year-old, single, military man and father of two, “and committed. ”

Okay, so, maybe not all men lack control over their hormones, or equate the value of a loving relationship with porn-site loyalty. Maybe it’s that I attract only these kinds of men, and/or I am only attracted to them. Psychology would suggest maladaptive patterns of relating have unconsciously affected my methods of mate selection (I wrote a blog post about that too). But I’ve had years of therapy. I am, in fact, a therapist. So how can it be that with all the insights and behavioral changes I have made, I still find myself in the same place romantically? Why, God. Why?

Some might argue God has nothing to do with it, but I beg to differ. We often throw around phrases like “Soul Mates,” and my repetitious love life would seem to support the theory of “Karmic relationships,” but what do those words even mean?

I decided to do my own research into the topic, exploring spiritual theories of love. What I found is far too lengthy to include in this article, but I’d like to share the gist, and it begins with the origin of your soul.

ying yangOne day, God (who is both male and female) gave him/herself a little squeeze, and a drop of “white fire light” fell out. This drop agreed to live a human existence, to learn more about love. So, the drop was divided in half, one half focusing on masculine energy, and the other on feminine energy (though both contain aspects of each, like ying and yang). Together, these halves are called “Twin Flames.” Separately, each is an “I AM” presence.

diagramEach flame, or I AM presence, sent forth a soul, like a fisherman casting a line with bait on the end. The line connecting the bait to the fisherman is considered the soul’s “Higher Self” or “True Self,” the part that connects your soul to the most divine aspects of yourself. Through many lives on earth (embodying both genders), a soul seeks to balance Karmic debts (shameful wounds) through transformative feelings of love, in order to find its way back to its I AM presence, and reunite with its Twin Flame. But this is the soul’s essential misconception.

sould and selfAs Cyndi Dale, author of BEYOND SOUL MATES, asserts, “The soul’s dedication to karma supports one repetitive pattern after the other…reinforcing the idea that you have to earn love. But True Self-based, dharmic relationships suggest you are love. This means you are empowered to allow in only what encourages love and send the same to others.” Dale explains this dharmic short-cut through Karma is not an unhealthy, boundary-less love where you become a doormat and turn the other cheek in a domestic dispute, but a transformative intention to act with love towards yourself and others, instead of only yearning for it.

At times, there will be an emptiness, loneliness and longing that reveals the karmic nature of a relationship, particularly those that result in marriage. These can be difficult marriages because they may be for the balancing of severe crimes, such as murder, betrayal, or hatred; the worse the karma, the more intense the love and attraction upon meeting. As Elizabeth Clare Prophet, author of SOUL MATES AND TWIN FLAMES, states, “Very often the only way to overcome that record of hatred is through the intense love expressed through the husband-wife relationship. We love much because there is much to be forgiven.”

Soul mate connections are somewhat different, and not necessarily romantic in nature. Soul mates are kindred souls seeking to master the same issues as you. Sometimes they are part of the same “soul tribe” you’ve traveled with throughout many lifetimes, and sometimes they are unknown souls you are encountering for the first time. But don’t put your life on hold looking for a soul mate. More importantly, learn to give and receive love from the people you meet, because you won’t necessarily be struck by lightning when you find one.

ZChar Margolis, author of LOVE KARMA, and frequent guest on shows like Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil, and Larry King Live, states,We get into trouble when we start to believe that the only relationship worth having is with a soul mate. When the fireworks aren’t immediate or the connection isn’t instant, this belief makes us think the relationship isn’t worth our time. The truth is that we have many soul mates that incarnate in many forms over many lifetimes, depending on the lessons we—and they—need to learn…What if your lesson is to learn about the kind of love that builds slowly?”

Let’s recap. Your soul’s mission is to love itself without feeling like it has to earn it, in order to be rejoined with its Twin Flame, and return to God (this is the general concept of dharma). But in the meantime, your soul isn’t buying it, so instead of taking the elevator, it climbs the stairs by balancing karmic debts. This makes the idea of the happy ending (uniting with our Twin Flame) feel too far away and damn near impossible to achieve.

9780451219497_p0_v1_s260x420Sylvia Browne, author of PHENOMENON, and frequent guest on The Montel Williams Show, CNN, and Good Morning America, challenges us to assume a different perspective. “We share a bond with our [Twin Flames] like identical twins would, but we are certainly not joined at the hip. I am not a half person. You are not a half person. Like all spirits on the Other Side, [Twin Flames] can choose when, if and how many times to incarnate… We make these decisions separately, for our own very specific reasons, and don’t forget, in the context of eternity, we leave Home and come back in the blink of an eye. So why coordinate travel plans when you see each other as often as you want on the Other Side?”

Brian Weiss, a prominent psychiatrist and author of MANY LIVES, MANY MASTERS, quoted a messenger from “the in-between,” through a patient in a regressed hypnotic state, “Our task is to learn. To become God-like through knowledge…By knowledge we approach God, and then we can rest. Then we come back and teach, to help others.”

And so, with a little willing suspension of disbelief, perhaps life isn’t a shameful balancing act, but more like a party. And you can either mess with the “bad kids,” and find yourself in a heap of trouble, or you can get a little tipsy and dance with your friends until the cows come home. Even if you make a poor decision, there’s always the next party to make a better one. And a party isn’t a party if you sit around waiting for only one guest to arrive. But most importantly, love and happiness doesn’t begin at the finish line; it was with you from the start.

Briana MacPerry is a licensed creative arts therapist and adjunct writing and research instructor. When she is not grading or corralling her four-year-old son, she is blogging and working on making that big break happen. To learn more  visit her on twitter @macperrytweets or on her Facebook Page.


Don’t Trust Your Gut

repress all the feelsIn my previous blog post, It’s Not Cheating, It’s Just Sex, I discuss weighing the benefits of a committed, loving relationship against leaving a partner for a lusty indiscretion.  The feedback I received (all privately) was varied, but among readers’ responses there appeared a defensive despair. “It’s not that complicated. If it feels good, do it.  If it doesn’t, don’t. Why bother remaining in a relationship if it makes you feel shitty? At that point, you’re just settling.” I would like to address the credence we afford our “feelings.” Socrates stated, “The unexamined live is not worth living for a human being.” And while there is something to be said for “going with your gut,” there is also something to be said (particularly in the context of romantic relationships), for asking ourselves why we feel the way we feel. Why are some excited by the notion of multiple sexual partners, and others deeply offended? 

Allan and Barbara Pease, authors of WHY MEN WANT SEX AND WOMEN NEED LOVE, attributes the individual’s romantic inclinations to his “love map.” A “love map” is a “blueprint that contains the things we think are attractive…determined by the brain’s hardwiring and a set of criteria formed in childhood.”  Sigmund Freud believed a child’s amorous interest in his parents “fixes his attraction to later lovers.” His repressed memories and emotions remain in pristine condition, to be exhumed at a later date, unchanged. Freud wrote, “The unconscious, at all events, knows no time limit.” Indeed, many scientists believe love maps begin forming around age six, and are firmly in place by age fourteen.

This supposition not only dooms us to re-live the lives of our parents, but to pass their dynamic on to our children. And it is flawed for two reasons. First, memory is not a thing. Your heart is an object but the pulse it generates is a physiological event; it occupies no space and has no mass. Secondly, memory is not only mutable, but the nature of the brain’s storage mechanisms dictate that memories must change over time. In their book, A GENERAL THEORY OF LOVE, authors Thomas Lewis, M.D., Fari Amini, M.D., and Richard Lannon, M.D., assert our love maps are determined at the crossroads of implicit versus explicit learning. Lewis et al., states, “The physiology of memory determines the heart of who we are and who we can become…the plasticity of the mind, its capacity to adapt and learn, is possible only because neuronal connections can change…The stability of an individual mind—what we know as identity—exists only because some neural pathways endure.” 99760-harness-the-unique-strengths-of-your-female-brain1-250x300

Explicit learning encodes memories of events including autobiographical recollections and discrete facts. This is commonly described as our perceptions. However, there is a wealth of learning human beings absorb without being consciously aware of it; this is implicit learning. We tend to give greater credence to explicit knowledge of facts, but this is misplaced, as evidenced by distorted eye witness accounts, and those small moments of, “Huh, I remember it differently…” we experience on a daily basis.

For example, Mr. Underwood suffered catastrophic damage to his hippocampus, destroying his explicit memory, and leaving him perpetually living in the present. Researchers taught Mr. Underwood to braid, a skill he did not have prior to suffering brain damage. After he had mastered it, researchers asked him if he knew how to braid. He replied, “No,” a truthful statement from his perspective. But when three strips of cloth were placed in front of him, he wove them together without hesitation.

In my post entitled, The Four Phases of Love: It’s All About Chemistry, I examine the impact of brain chemistry on physical and emotional reactions to potential mates. In my post, Its Not Cheating, Its Just Sex, I go on to illuminate how those lusty reactions are biologically different from love, though they might eventually come together.  But what makes one lusty relationship evolve into bonded bliss, and the next fizzle in a matter of weeks?

When it comes to mate selection, overwhelmingly, it is this mysterious, implicit learning mechanism—our unconscious knowledge—that tends to take charge. A person’s brain chemicals could compel him or her to be sexually attracted many potential partners, but he or she is only likely to fall in love with a fraction of those. And of those love objects, he or she is only likely to commit long-term to one of them. Even amongst non-monogomous or polyamorous relationships, more often than not, there is an essential diad at the center of a network of lovers, a “primary” partnership. “The One,” in the end, may be a complete disaster for you on paper, yet, when you met, the “chemistry” was perfect, and deep down, you “just knew.” But did you ever stop to ask yourself, why? Why do we assume this mysterious intuition a beacon of truth? How do you know a broken love map isn’t steering the boat, and your love object isn’t necessarily “The One,” simply familiar? Why, no matter how many  different choices you’ve made with each subsequent partner, do you still  end up in the same type of relationship? 377b1-images-1

If you don’t ask yourself these questions, you may negatively crystallize a potentially malleable romantic dynamic. Lewis et al states, “If a child has the right parents, he learns the right principles…love means protection, caretaking, loyalty, and sacrifice. He comes to know it not because he is told, but because is brain automatically narrows crowded confusion into a few regular prototypes.” Equally, if your parents have a dysfunctional relationship, this will produce implicit schema as well, planting “an erroneous generality” in a child’s brain. His implicit or unconscious knowledge “distills but does not evaluate” how applicable the early lessons of family life are to the larger adult world.

Murray Stein, author of CARL JUNG’S MAP OF THE SOUL, might suggest these “prototypes” are another term for Carl Jung’s archetypes, which are psychic structures that organize unconscious learning.  Stein offers an example:

 If a man reminds a woman of her harsh abusive father by his tone of voice, way of reacting to life, intensity of emotional response, and so on, he will [stimulate] her Father Complex. If she interacts with him over a period of time, material will be added to the complex. If he abuses her, the negative father complex will become enriched and energized, and she will become all the more reactive in situations where the father complex is [stimulated]. Increasingly, she may avoid men entirely, or on the other hand, she may find herself irrationally drawn to them. In either case, her life becomes restricted by this complex; the stronger the complex, the more restricted is the range of the ego’s freedom of choice.

Before you sever a connection to a loved one–for any reason–make sure you are operating under freedom of choice, and not explicit knowledge based on ill-informed, implicit experiences. In other words, examine your ego and the extent of it’s pride. What if sometimes a bad relationship feels good because it’s what you know, and a good relationship makes you feel shitty because it challenges self-destructive patterns, and nothing hates to be disproven like a cyclical negative thought?

Remember, both implicit knowledge and explicit knowledge are equally subject to censure. And you cannot tease out reality from fantasy, unless you place both under a microscope. What is important to you in a relationship? What do you share that is unique and special and beyond prideful reproach? And most importantly, why?

A reasonable person might assume analyzing pivotal moments in childhood will resolve his troubles, turning talk therapy into a treasure hunt for the explicit past. Autobiographical memories are useful, but “explicit memory is not a shrine.” People rely on the rational mind to solve problems, and are naturally baffled when it proves useless to effect emotional change. Recounting a timeline of your past alone will not navigate you out of these muddy waters. You have to engage in relationships, see what comes up in the present, and be able to withstand the discomfort of when your wires cross with your partner’s–long enough, at least, to determine the origin of the conflict, and whether or not it is rectifiable. Keep in mind, those wires can change, but not when left alone in isolation.

I’d like to end with a quote that summarizes it best for me. In her book, THE STRUGGLE FOR INTIMACY,  Janet Geringer Woititz states,

Knowing what you don’t want does not mean you know what you do want. You need to learn what a healthy relationship is. You need to learn how to achieve one…Struggle is inevitable. Discouragement is inevitable. However, so is –sharing, loving, enhancement, joy, excitement, companionship, understanding, cooperation, trusting, growth, security, and serenity. The choice and the challenge are yours.

It’s Not Cheating, It’s Just Sex

5d6d8-break-up2While chastising me for harboring fanciful ideas about sexually faithful men, a good friend once said to me, “There are only two kinds of men. Those who treat their wives and their mistresses well, and those who don’t. You decide which one turns you on, then you decide which role you want to play.”

“I don’t believe that,” I responded. “There are men who are devoted to their wives.”

“Miserable men who wish they had the balls not to be. Tell me, does your Prince Charming day dream about internet porn?”

“You’d prefer to be a mistress?”

“When I’m with a married man, I know two things, almost for certain. One, exactly who else he’s fucking. And two, that I’m the only thing he’s thinking about. A married man might spend time with his family, but he’s thinking about the next opportunity he’ll have to fuck me. All day, he thinks about the things he’ll do to me. And all night, even when he’s fucking his wife, he imagines all the things I’ll do to him. I’m his escape. I’m where he really wants to be. Single men don’t give me their undivided attention. And there are too many unknowns.”

“Why not just marry someone you want sexually?”

“Marriage kills sexual attraction, but it provides a sense of security. Most men value security above their sexual needs. They need a mommy to take care of them and their kids. Which is fine with me, because I get all the benefits without doing all the work.”

My dear friend is not alone in her assessment. Jokes abound about the drudgery of marriage. Oscar Wilde once said, “A man who marries his mistress leaves a vacancy in that position.” The Spanish word for “spouse,” esposas, also means “handcuffs.” Why are married women usually heavier? Because single women come home, see what’s in the fridge, and go to bed. Married women come home, see what’s in bed, and go to the fridge.

It is the sacrifice of the libido that makes possible the greater joys in life: family, connectedness, and a sense of purpose. Or so the story goes. But what man wants to sacrifice a biological imperative to be with the woman he loves? What wife wants to spend her life feeling unloved and apologizing for never being enough?

In 1988, the then governor of Colorado, Roy Romer, called an extraordinary press conference during which he admitted his wife of forty-five years had been aware of and accepted a long-running extra marital affair that had become publicly known.

“What is fidelity?” he asked the surprised reporters. “Fidelity is what kind of openness you have. What kind of trust you have, which is based on truth and openness…In my family, we’ve…tried to arrive at an understanding of what our feelings are, what our needs are, and work it out with that kind of fidelity.”

5d1da-frustrationIf there is a bigger point of contention than sexual fidelity in a significant relationship, it is yet to be discovered. A 2006 study showed that infidelity was the most cited cause for divorce in a survey of 150 cultures. Of course, people often lie about these things, disregarding the sanctity of the mighty survey (tsk, tsk), but the most consistent data on infidelity comes from the General Social Survey conducted by the National Science Foundation, which has tracked opinions about American social behavior since 1972. The data shows in any given year, about one out of ten married people say they have had sex outside of marriage. In most Western and European countries, 50-60% of males are estimated to have been unfaithful at least once, and in places like Sweden or France, the number rises to 70-80%. As a rule, these numbers are lower for women the world over, with the exception of France, where 87% of women have had sex outside of a current or past relationship.

 The prevailing assumption is if a partner steps outside of the relationship, there must be something essentially wrong with it. In opposition to this suggestion, Easton and Catherine Liszt, authors of THE ETHICAL SLUT, assert “It is cruel and insensitive to interpret an affair as a symptom of sickness in the relationship, as it leaves the ‘cheated-on’ partner–who may already feel insecure—to wonder what is wrong with him…Many people have sex outside their primary relationships for reasons that have nothing to do with any inadequacy in their partner or the relationship.”

 Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha, authors of SEX AT DAWN, point out couples with open marriages generally rate their over all satisfaction (with both their relationship and with life in general) as significantly higher than conventional couples do. They are able to recognize “additional relationships need not be taken as indictments of anyone.”

Proponents of monogamy argue these are fanciful ideas, which saw their rise and fall with the free love of the sixties and early seventies, resulting in detrimentally loose boundaries and communes rampant with sex abuse. It is also worth noting, perhaps the desire for extra marital sex has little to do with innate drives, and more to do with increased accessibility.

Professor Douglas Kenrick at Arizona State University found that men who were shown images of sexually attractive women, rated their own real-life partners as less attractive and more dissatisfied with them, then with men who were shown images of average-looking women. Those who saw the more attractive photos also described themselves as less committed, less serious, less satisfied, and less close to their partners. Even the men whose partners were considered very attractive were still less satisfied with them after seeing the pictures of the sexually attractive women. In short, ignorance is bliss.

fe2a9-onlinedating1This is significant when you consider both our distorted standard of beauty, and the increased accessibility to that standard through social media and the internet, especially internet porn, which has been identified as the root cause of increasing instances of impotence and sexual dysfunction in men ages 18-30. For more, check out Gary Wilson’s presentation, “The Great Porn Experiment,” in which he describes the detrimental effects of unending novelty.   Gary states, “Internet porn is killing young men’s sexual performance…the problem isn’t psychological, its physical changes in the brain. Their brains have become numb and are sending weaker signals…leading to a drop in libido…in the end, making it impossible to get an erection. It’s a classic addiction process: gradual desensitization.” But men in their twenties aren’t recovering their sexual function after quitting internet porn as well as older men, because older men were already developed sexually before the invention of high speed Internet.

 Novelty is at the root of it all, at least for men. A man might claim he is in love with one woman, but he needs sexual variety. And not the kind a girlfriend can simulate by buying a remote vibrator or investing in black leather. No. A woman can do a lot of things, but she can never be the one thing a man truly desires: a different woman. Not necessarily a better-looking one. Not one that is funnier or smarter. Not even one that is better in bed. Merely different. Not only does a man’s testosterone rise significantly after only a few moments of talking to a new attractive woman, but there is a release of dopamine (the pleasure chemical) with novel stimulation. In fact, according to Williams Masters and Virginia Johnson, with Dr. Kinsey’s agreement, adding a newer, younger partner can reverse a man’s waning sexual interest in his long-term partner.

Women’s motivations for cheating are various and infinitely more complex. A poll taken of divorce lawyers in the United Kingdom in 2008 showed the top ten answers women gave when asked why they’d had an affair were:

  1. Loneliness
  2. Unable to communicate with their partner about problems
  3. Not made to feel desirable enough
  4. Lack of appreciation by husband
  5. Husband too self absorbed and full of hang ups
  6. Lack of romance and excitement in bed
  7. Need to escape the routine in their life
  8. Wanting to feel as powerful in their personal life as at work
  9. Bored with the routine
  10. Opportunity was offered at the right time

Of course, an affair doesn’t necessarily mean anything significant in terms of a woman’s emotional commitment, or where a man intends to invest his resources. It’s “just sex” after all. It doesn’t mean the “cheating” partner is dissatisfied with the sex in the relationship (though this is more likely for women). Just because one partner’s needs might be less popular than the other’s, doesn’t make them any less important, if both parties are to feel recognized and honored in the relationship, free from feelings of shame and guilt.

2e1c3-polyamoryWhile the “prevailing script” for mature adult behavior is for the wronged party to pick up and leave at the slightest indiscretion, there is a wealth of literature out there suggesting couples try giving “flexible sexual boundaries” the good old college try, before throwing away what is otherwise a healthy and loving partnership. Ryan and Jetha beg the question, “Is abandonment of one’s family the ‘adult’ option for dealing with the inherent conflict between socially sanctioned romantic ideals and the inconvenient truths of sexual passion?”

If you happen to find yourself asking the same question, you might keep in mind, love is located in different areas of the brain, depending on gender. So unless you plan on falling in love with the same sex the next time around, or think the issue of sexual fidelity is unique to your relationship and will never come up with a “better” partner in the future, think again.

 Scans taken of over 3,000 “madly in love” college students reveal gender differences in brain activity. When asked to look at a picture of their lover, women showed greater activity in the parts of the brain related to memory, emotion, and attention, as well as in the septum—also called “the pleasure center.” Men showed greater activity in the visual cortex, including one area responsible for sexual arousal (Fischer & Brown, 2004).

Notably, men might have fewer illuminated areas than women, but when viewed in color, those areas are more intensely active. This could account for the propensity for men to fall “in love at first sight,” more aptly described as “lust at first sight.” In general, these variations in brain activity across gender lines are supposed to aid humans in perpetuating the species. Men are better equipped to determine fertility by scouting an attractive hip-to-waist ratio, and women are more discerning of behavior and character, to determine if he would be a good father and provider.

d4bd3-lo2262Love and lust are also located in different areas of the brain, at least initially. A subsequent study in which individuals looked at erotic imagery while having their brains scanned, revealed none of the “in-love” brain activity. Activity was found in the hypothalamus and amygdala, part of the Limbic system of the brain involved with instinctual needs such as hunger, thirst, and arousal (Fischer & Brown, 2004). It is important to note the four phases of love when considering this information, however. Because once lust turns into love, our instinctual drives eventually arrive at a chemical crossroads, for both men and women.

According to neuroscientist and New York Times bestselling author, Dr. Amen, there are four phases of love—attraction, infatuation, commitment, and detachment—each phase with its own chemical trigger. Sometimes when the infatuation chemicals drop off, people mistake the lack of intensity and euphoria with falling out of love. Also, because they feel the withdrawal from infatuation chemicals, they seek other partners or stimulating substances to re-create that feeling.

Whether you are a monogamist or not, this cyclical pattern of relating can be destructive if left unexplored. When we fall in love with someone, eventually they will become imbedded in the Limbic part of our brains (their smell, the touch of their skin, the sound of their voice, the beat of their heart, etc.). When we cannot interact with our love object as we are used to, that part of the brain becomes inflamed, looking for him or her. This inflammation is associated with low serotonin levels which leads to depression, trouble sleeping, feeling obsessed, loss of appetite, and wanting to isolate ourselves. Additionally, a deficit in endorphins, which modulates pain and pleasure pathways in the brain, may be responsible for why we feel physical pain during a breakup. Your heart, quite literally, aches.

But before you go diving into Limbic depression because your hubby fell in lust and it must mean he doesn’t love you anymore, remember, men are better equipped to differentiate lust from love… Then again, they also use and perceive lust as an expression of love. Allan and Barbara Pease assert, “For men, love can be love, and sex can be just sex, and sometimes they happen together.” And if that isn’t confusing enough, “Men express themselves emotionally through sex” and perceive a woman’s lusty interest (or lack thereof) as a sign of love (or it’s absence).

If that’s the case, how is a woman supposed to know if it’s “just sex” versus an expression of love, if her partner is using the same act to express two different things (as most men are apt to do)? And why should a woman believe a special act when performed without meaning doesn’t degrade the value of the act when it’s performed with her? I thought women expected men to be mind readers. Oh, he who casts the first stone.

11353-ethical_slutThe authors of SEX AT DAWN and the ETHICAL SLUT would assert this perspective is derived from a “deprivation economy,” rising with the advent of agriculture and divvying up farmland, in which love is considered limited and must be cornered and defended. They would argue the “other encounter” doesn’t mean “nothing,” just something different. The more love you give, the more there is. And that doesn’t make it any less special between you and your partner; in the same way parents are supposed to love all their children, but still manage to play favorites. The authors also suggest long-term marriages develop into a bond much like that between brother and sister. And once that level of intimacy is achieved, an anti-incest mechanism kicks in, making us less in lust with our spouses, while more deeply in love. Ryan and Jetha state, “Like every other kind of hunger, sexual desire tends to be smothered by its satisfaction”(p. 301).

Perhaps the most important thing to consider before throwing your relationship under the bus of ‘socially sanctioned romantic ideals,’ is what you actually need out of a committed relationship. On the bright side, men and women tend to value the same things when considering a long-term commitment, though different glues hold them together.

 Allen and Barbara Pease assert, although men and women differ on short term dating goals (i.e. men have short term dating goals, while women have only long-term dating goals), when it comes to long-term commitment, men and women tend to see eye to eye.

Men’s Long Term List

  1. Personality
  2. Attractiveness
  3. Brains
  4. Humor
  5. Good Body

Women’s Long-term List

  1. Personality
  2. Humor
  3. Sensitivity
  4. Brains
  5. Good Body

Importantly, “commitment” is not necessarily defined by sexual fidelity, though it is considered concurrent with feelings of love. For a man, it would appear feelings of love mean a willingness to commit his resources to one “primary” partner. In other words, he decides this woman has priority access to his time, money, emotional life, and could possibly bear his children. He’s willing to provide these things because she meets all the bullets on his Long Term List, but above all, he respects her. No, it’s not a lusty or very romantic word, which says a lot about how men view marriage.

Groom looking at his wifes wedding ring c 1949. In the past, traditional marriage afforded women social status and financial security; it would be foolish and imprudent to leave a good provider for a quiet indiscretion. But nowadays, women are hunting and gathering for themselves, with a third of women in the United States earning more money than their husbands. And while these high earners still prefer men with greater resources, those resources aren’t gonna keep her in line the way they used to, if she ain’t feeling the love.

Men view commitment with a sense of duty and respect (again, in their minds, neither of these concepts are defined by sexual fidelity). A woman might ask her husband, “Don’t you love me, baby?” And he’ll reply, “Of course, honey. It’s my job.” Women view commitment with a sense of romance and self worth. This might explain why women are typically the ones to end a marriage, regardless of who did the philandering.

A man might sleep with another woman, or his wife might sleep with another man, but if he doesn’t perceive either event as a threat to the status quo of their day-to-day activities, and it doesn’t diminish his respect for her as a person, he sees no reason to rock the boat. A woman, on the other hand, more often than not, sleeps with another man because she’s dissatisfied in the relationship (unless she’s among a certain thirty percent of women in their forties). And if her husband sleeps with another woman, it’s a direct assault upon her self worth. The love is gone. The relationship failed. In her view, the commitment is fractured and/or essentially flawed. Where did she go wrong?

German philosopher Johann Wolfgang von Geothe observed, “Love is an ideal thing, marriage a real thing. A confusion of the real with the ideal never goes unpunished.” Proponents of monogamy, Allan and Barbara Pease assert the problem is that a woman’s expectations of a man are unrealistic and often lead to disillusionment. Men might be susceptible to Internet porn, but women are equally vulnerable to unrealistic standards of masculinity on television, in social media, and in the highest selling genre the book publishing industry has to offer: Romance (i.e. porn for women). Ryan and Jetha point out, “Women who spend their time reading romance novels are the most dissatisfied with their lives, however studies show they experience more frequent orgasms.”

In conclusion, when it comes to the subject of sexual fidelity, women will struggle with a man’s ability to dissociate sex from emotional intimacy, and men will feel frustrated with a woman’s propensity to intertwine two obviously disparate things (except when they’re not). But perhaps with trust and honesty we can strive to accept what we do not understand. Determining your expectations for commitment and love, and communicating those things without judgment, is essential before entering into or ending a long-term partnership. In confronting the ‘inconvenient truths of sexual passion’ remember men and women express their sexuality in different ways, though both deserve equal consideration and sensitivity. Be sure to allow enough time for dopey brain chemicals to run their course before making any drastic moves. And above all, after all that, “to thine own self be true.”

Want more like the above? Take our poll and visit the Yellow Bricks Love and Psychology page.

Portraits and Prose: The Ideal Relationship

brenna final portraitWhat is your ideal relationship?  Can you describe it in two sentences?

I have started a portrait series where I ask my subjects to give me two lines describing their ideal relationship, however they interpret the question. Then I render a selfie of their choice, illustrating their statement.  I am hoping to reach a goal of 50 women and 50 men before next year.

Contributions are greatly appreciated! If you are interested in participating, please message Yellow Bricks through the “Submissions” page, or through the below contact form, in the following format:

  1. Name:
  2. Age:
  3. Relationship status:
  4. Describe your ideal relationship in two sentences:
  5. Once I have received the above, I will reach out by email to request  your favorite selfie in jpeg format, with a minimum resolution of 300 dpi.

Kelley final portrait 2

Please share your ideals!

The Four Phases of Love: It’s All About Chemistry

The following article was first published in RWA/NYC’s January Keynote’s Newsletter  (2014).

Couple kissing in restaurantWe all know how important it is, that first meet-cute. For a romance novel, it is arguably the make or break component of the entire book. Typically, our heroes and heroines become star-crossed at a moment of conflict (if you want your book to sell), and that conflict is complicated by an undeniable physical attraction. A sensual chem­istry that is impossible to ignore, struggle as they might. But what is the root of this chemistry? What makes one person feel dumb struck, and the other hold back? Is there such a thing as love at first sight? According to neuroscientist and New York Times bestselling author, Dr. Amen, there are four phases of love: attraction, infatuation, commitment, and detachment.


  1. Attraction: Attraction is a craving for sexual gratification and is primarily driven by male and female hormones (testosterone and estrogen), the chemical nitric oxide, and potentially pheromones. Men tend to be attracted to symmetrical, fertile, healthy, younger-looking women (big surprise), and the visual system is sensually dominant in men. Studies have shown when men are exposed to pictures of beautiful women, their limbic system fires up (controlling emotion and motivation) and their pre frontal cortex heads south (abandoning the areas controlling judgment). In other words, beautiful women make men stupid. Interestingly, when women were exposed to images of attractive men, their brain activity showed no changes in judgment, though they may have reported an equal level of interest. Women are more concerned with how a man thinks and acts. So despite the myth of the fairer sex being “overly romantic” (or overly emotional), according to Dr. Amen, men are more likely to fall in love at first sight, than women.
  1. Infatuation: Infatuation is not so much of an emotion as it is a “motivational drive” fueled by the chemicals involved in the brain’s reward system; epinephrine, norepinephrine, dopamine, serotonin, and phenylethylamine (PEA). Epinephrine and norepinephrine are produced in the adrenal glands, spinal cord and brain and are con­sidered excitatory neurotransmitters causing an “adrenaline rush” after the initial phase of attraction. Dopamine is associated with pleasure, motivation, and concentration (“Why can’t I get him out of my head?”). Serotonin is the “feel good” chemical producing feelings of satisfaction with a partner. And PEA is an adrenaline-like sub­stance known as the “love molecule” that initiates the flood of chemicals, creating that euphoric feeling.
  1. Commitment: After a period of six months to two years, the brain eventually downshifts from infatuation into a desire to commit (otherwise, people would collapse from maintaining a lust-crazed state). Oxytocin and Vasopressin are the chemicals involved in this drop off. Oxytocin is related to feelings of closeness and being “in love.” Higher levels of oxytocin are also associated with increased feelings of trust. Vasopressin is involved in regulating sexual persistence, assertiveness, dominance, and territorial markings. Notably, while men might be attracted and fall in love more quickly than women, this chemical switch-over into committed feelings is more likely to occur in women first.
  1. Detachment: Sometimes when the infatuation chemicals drop off, people mistake the lack of intensity and euphoria with falling out of love. Also, because they feel the withdrawal from infatuation chemicals, they seek other partners or stimulating substances to re-create that feeling. When we fall in love with someone, they become imbedded in the Limbic part of our brains. When we cannot interact with our love object as we are used to, that part of the brain becomes inflamed looking for him/her. This inflammation is associated with low serotonin levels which leads to depression, trouble sleeping, feeling obsessed, loss of appetite, and wanting to isolate ourselves. Additionally, a deficit in endorphins, which modulates pain and pleasure pathways in the brain, may be responsible for why we feel physical pain during a breakup. You’re heart, quite literally, aches.

So, yes. It is possible to fall in love at first sight, but it is more likely to happen to men. Unfortunately, men are less likely to commit before a woman (how’s that for a horny, thorny rose?). While bonding chemicals are essential for a relationship to develop, Dr. Amen also emphasizes that communication and mutual support are essential for pushing initial attraction into the realm of commitment. But if you happen to find yourself caught up in the “fishhooks” of detachment, be sure to stay healthy and avoid idealizing your past partner. As Dr. Amen states, “Being well is not only the best revenge, it’s the best way to be.”



Joseph Campbell on Faking Orgasms: The Truth About Myth and Love Conquers All

[The following article first appeared in the September 2013 issue of RWA/NYC Keynotes newsletter.]

I faked an orgasm. Yes. I confess!  I squeezed my kegels, breathed rapidly, and moaned like I was really feeling it. I even threw in some nail-scratching and ass-grabbing for effect. Why did I do it? Or, more importantly, why have I confessed?
Believe it or not, Joseph Campbell comes to mind.
That guy.
Every author and screenwriter’s go-to guru about myths, psychology, history, art, story structure, and stuff. Dare I associate this voice of an age, with my subpar coitus? If the title of this post is any indication, than you already know, I dare.
Having been accused of being a hypocritical liar after I laid my sins bare, this quote struck a particular chord with me.  In MYTHS TO LIVE BY, Joseph Campbell states, “Lies are what the world lives on, and those who can face the challenge of a truth, and build their lives to accord are finally not many, but the very few. It is my considered belief that the best answer to this critical problem will come from the findings of psychology …specifically those that have to do with the source and nature of myth.” Three questions come to mind: What is truth? What is a lie? And what is myth?
How many times have you heard someone tell a story, and in response another says, “Oh, that’s just a myth?” This would seem to suggest deception is the ‘source and nature’ of a myth; equivocal to a lie. Western society, revering rational thinking and hard sciences over mystical or “magical thinking,” would seem to concur. Unless you can touch, taste, see and/or shoot it, it doesn’t exist—and that’s the truth.
But western society says one thing, and does another (what I affectionately refer to as “mind fuckery”).  For example, the United States is the grand ol’ melting pot, land of liberty, justice, and freedom for all— except for poor people, gay people, and illegal immigrants. Girls should learn to be independent, have self-respect, and high self-esteem—so long as they strive for a size two and have lips like Angelina Jolie. And in seeking romantic fulfillment, when you stop looking for love, that’s when Prince Charming will find you.
Um, is that rational, let alone true?
It’s a myth (says the romance writer) and a powerful one at that. Case in point: everyone knows what I mean when I say “Prince Charming.” Men roll their eyes while Old Spice commercials flicker across their minds. Women sigh while dreaming of square jaws, cowboy hats, and big bank accounts. But as Campbell points out, if we are to ascribe strictly to the notion that only the most rational can be considered “real” and thus “true,” then we are ignoring not only the internal life of man, but also the “life sustaining” moral equilibrium myth provides.  A myth is a myth, and not a lie, because we all relate to it on some level. It carries a grain of salt. Rings true in an esoteric melody. Organizes us emotionally. Helps us endure what is “real.”
So by saying “Prince Charming” is a myth, I am not saying it’s a lie. What I am saying is it represents a particular psychic structure that we all understand in the context of romantic fulfillment. On occasion, when I am enraptured with the myth myself, I manage a smidgen of optimism. And optimism gives rise to wonderfully touching and unique bonding experiences. Optimism has also provided me with a great opportunity for ruminating on the original two questions, “Why fake an orgasm?” and “Why confess to it?”
I faked it because I didn’t want to spoil the myth.
I’d been on a few great dates with my partner. He was a good kisser, smart, attractive, financially stable—the whole nine. He did almost everything right. If I’d have only opened my stupid mouth and uttered a sexy,  “left… right… harder… softer… that’s good…clockwise is so much better…biting there is off limits…” I could’ve achieved the big O.
But if I said something that meant he didn’t already magically know what would make me feel good, and thus he must not be “the one.” And if I were to instruct someone who wasn’t “the one,” on how to pleasure me, I would be giving the keys to my bonding chemicals to someone I am not meant to be with, but to whom I would become physically addicted—a recipe for mind fuckery  (just listen to any Maroon 5 song).
Been there, done that.
My therapist thinks it was a fear of not getting my needs met once I voiced them, and then feeling rejected. In the past, when I have tried to voice my needs in a sexual situation, I was often met with defensive reactions and egotistical anger. If I was not pleased, there was obviously something wrong with me.
I think its six one way and half a dozen the other.
Whether speaking up meant he was not “the one” or it meant there was something wrong with me, either way, the myth would be destroyed. The romance ruined.  If I just kept my mouth shut, there was a chance the missing “O” was a fluke, and the result of using a condom or where I was in my menstrual cycle.
Maybe blaming it on a desire to perpetuate a myth sounds like a cop-out. But scoff all you want, myths are powerful things. They are what encompass our sense of awareness as human beings and differentiate us from animals. Campbell states, “It is that of the individual, conscious of himself as such, and aware that he, and all that he cares for, will one day die. This recognition of mortality and requirement to transcend is the first great impulse to mythology.” The takeaway is that while myths are so powerful because they stir feelings about life and death, it is not physical life and death, but that of the heart and soul.
            “Real” life does not necessarily encompass the truth of one’s inner life. “True” life is what writers refer to as the “heart” of their characters, and it can survive them even after death. The movie, Thelma and Louise, is a good example of this. Thelma and Louise have decided to die. And to the very end we want them to renew their faith in humanity, to believe in love again, which they find in their own sisterhood. Even as they sail over that cliff, we cheer for their emotional rescue. That’s Heart. The same concept can be seen at the end of Gladiator. Death was the only way to honor the heart of the story (myth). And it satisfies us, because we have maintained our moral equilibrium. Sure the hero died, but justice was served and hope is still alive.
So what myth did I perpetuate by faking an orgasm? Initially, I thought it a two-fold reaction. On the surface: “Love conquers all” (so long as I remain in denial). Just below the surface: “My needs are unattainable” (so I’ll shut up and take what I can get).
But why confess? Why was I comfortable to live on the surface in the heat of the moment, but not a week later?
Perhaps I ultimately had a three-tiered reaction. On the surface: “Love Conquers all.” Just below the surface: “My needs are unattainable.” And at the core of the matter: “Love still conquers all.” Maybe deep down, I refuse to give up on the idea that there is a Prince Charming tailor made for me. And I know I will never find him in truth, or in reality, if I never admit to my needs. And that ain’t easy.
It’s hard.
And embarrassing.
My confession, I believe, was a test of my inner mettle and perhaps of my partner’s true heart. Of course, tests are not the way to go about starting a healthy relationship (mind fuckery and all that), but they do make for a good hook into a story…or not. As I mentioned, my partner called me a hypocritical liar and bowed out. Once again, there was something wrong with me.
Yet, myth and optimism still reign supreme, falsely contracting kegels and ass-grabbing aside.  Next time, I’m not going to fake it.  Because there’s no way to know for certain he isn’t “the one” unless I admit my needs. And a true Prince Charming would take direction, and love me for it. Now that’s a real test.
I’d like to finish by sharing a shred of proof I voraciously cling to. This year, at the National Conference for the Romance Writers of America, Kristin Briggs was a keynote speaker. She gave a wonderful speech that made us laugh and cry, citing romance novels such as GONE WITH THE WIND as pulling her through the hard times. She ended by thanking her husband (sitting in the audience) for “all the great sex.” My immediate response was to howl, then tweet her quote including the following hashtag; #HopeSpringsEternal. I think Campbell would agree.

5 Money Myths Holding You Back

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Yesterday, we assessed the Root Chakra and got a good idea of the nature of your energy; overactive, underactive, or cycling between the two.

(If you haven’t signed up for our FREE 5-Day Challenge on Unblocking your Power and Unleashing your Financial Flow, sign up here to take a Root Chakra assessment.)

Now, Today you’re going to clear out your Root Chakra and dispel those raggedy old money myths!

Let’s take a closer look at how your energy might attract certain popular money myths out there.

And we’ve all heard them, right?

“A penny saved is a penny earned.” You can imagine someone saying this would have root energy that is contracted and withholding; rigid.

“Money is the root of all evil.” This type of person uses moral justifications for their own fears around stepping into their own power and assuming personal authority; they prefer to remain contracted and victimized.

“No pain, no gain” and “Work hard, play hard.” These myths resonate with the person who also struggles with deservedness and worthiness. They are often overworked, exhausting themselves beyond what is necessary (or healthy), and then boomerang into “playing hard,” which is only a form of escapism (sometimes in the form of addictions, another indicator of Root Chakra imbalances).

We can see these myths are borne of either contracted or overtaxed energy patterning in the body and psyche. These myths evolved out of a scarcity attitude, suggesting that wealth and abundance can only be achieved through misery and a pound of flesh!

Or how about this one…

“Money doesn’t grow on trees.” Grant Cardone, business consultant and author of “The 10X Rule” says, “Money comes from a cotton bush, actually…But seriously, the concept that money is scarce is just not true. There is just a shortage of people going for money with courage and the right attitude.”

And our attitudes surrounding money are usually picked up from our parents, family, and friends. And its not always just what our parents say, but what they DO. What we OBSERVE. What we witness as children has a significant impact on our money myths.

What is your parents’ relationship to money?
* Did they clip coupons every Saturday?
* Always buy the generic brand?
* Give you hand-me-downs to wear?
* Say they couldn’t afford something, when you knew they could?
* Hold money over your head to make you do whatever they said?
* Make huge investments with the expectation that you would assume responsibility for it, when you got older?
* Spend money like they had it, when they didn’t?
* Always rely on other family members to bail them out?
* Refuse to ask for help, even when they really needed it?
* Try to buy your love with gifts?
* Steal from your sock drawer?

This is not to blame our parents or accuse them of anything, our parents probably did they best they could with what they had!

But it’s important to name and acknowledge what you might have adopted by osmosis, so that you can make a conscious choice about how much you want THEIR myths, to limit YOUR beliefs about what is POSSIBLE for your financial abundance, in this lifetime.

Henry Ford said, “If you think you can do a thing, or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”

Spiritual abundance and wealth coach Jenny Shiltz once said to

“If we replace the word ‘money’ with ‘energy’ everything begins to shift. Look at your life as existing in one bucket, and that bucket holds all your energy. If you allow the bucket to empty out, you will see many areas suffer. Relationships, finances, health…you cannot break your life up into these categories. Shift the focus and think, ‘How am I supporting me?’”

To support you in supporting yourself, we invite you to listen to this meditation, in which you’re going to be grounding in and clearing out any blockages, debris, and old stories that might be hanging out in your Root Chakra. (We’re going to be clearing those old cobwebs out, so-to-speak).

It’s time for these blocks to hit the road because they’re what’s keeping you from feeling grounded and safe, achieving your goals, and taking positive action on your manifesting your dreams, including financial abundance.

So find a comfortable space to relax and connect in with your Root Chakra.

To access your guided meditation, login to your “myTeachable” dashboard here, and access your course materials. You will find the meditation under the “Day 2” lesson module.

And We’d love to hear from you in the Facebook group.

What are the intergenerational Money Myths in your family? What are the myths you’ve adopted for yourself?

Let us know in the comments!

If you like what you hear, And want access to more videos like these,
make sure you sign up for our FREE e-course: unblock your power and unleash your financial flow 5 Days to activate the root chakra!

Join the FREE 5 -Day Challenge to Unleash Your Financial Flow here:

There still three days left of the challenge and you can join at any time and receive all of the content.

You’ll gain access to a private Facebook group and daily lessons and meditations on how to empower your root chakra.

Hope to see you there!

Warmest regards,

Briana MacWilliam ATR-BC, LCAT

Please click here for Webinar FAQs.

If you have any problems or technical difficulties, please contact Briana MacWilliam at is recognized by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for Licensed Creative Arts Therapists. (#CAT-0014.)


Love Your Body and Make More Money


Hi there! 

Today, I am joining you today from right outside my gym where I just completed my morning routine. And wanted to share an important insight about generating real financial abundance in your life. 

If you want to make money doing something that is meaningful to you, that is alignment with your highest purpose, and perpetuates it’s self because it flows from the soul deep commitment to be in service of others, you’re going to have to stimulate your root chakra. And the root chakra is all about your relationship to your body.

Money is an embodiment of value–the more you consciously and unconsciously value yourself, the more money you will attract. 

I’ll say that again in a different way: if you want to see material results then you have to start at the portal to this material world, which is the body!

Now, this doesn’t mean you have to do a work out every day, like me. It doesn’t even necessarily mean that you have to go on a diet, or compare yourself to societal standards of health and beauty…what it means is you have to discover what improves your RELATIONSHIP to your body. 

How can you love it for exactly what it is in this moment? How can you stop beating yourself up by constant comparison?

We all carry in our minds the seeds of self-sabotage in the form of two negative voices. One voice is the judge and the other is the victim; these are the twin children of fear and self-rejection. 

Your inner judge is constantly looking for what you and others are not doing “right,” and your judge has impossible standards. Your victim self is always looking to the judge –internal or external–for validation, which it never receives. 

It is important to note there is a difference between judgement and discernment; and the difference is in the energy. When we judge, we make the mess bigger, when we make a discernment, we are simply making a choice. 

Let’s say I’d like to lose a few pounds. To judge myself would sound like: “I’m fat. I hate my body. I wish things were different.” 

Discernment sounds like: “I feel sluggish and would like get into better shape. I think I would feel better if I did.” 

Judgement leaves you feeling burdened and “not good enough” or unworthy. Discernment simply examines the options.

Among your options today, what is one thing you can and WILL do to improve your relationship with your body? 

Let us know in the comments below!

If you like what you hear, And want access to more videos like these, Check out this link! 

And make sure you sign up for our FREE e-course: unblock your power and unleash your financial flow 5 Days to activate the root chakra! 

You’ll gain access to a private Facebook group and daily lessons and meditations on how to empower your root chakra. 
Hope you’ll join us and increase your financial abundance!

Three Brains, One Mind: The Secret to Financial Abundance

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Hello Subscribers!

Welp, today’s video is raw and uncut, because I was too excited to wait until I got home to share with you all the cool stuff I learned at the Lowcountry Mental Health Conference!

Sooooooo excited about my experiences here in Charleston, SC!

What a great conference. What inspiring speakers. And total validation for the projects I have been building with the lovely Kristen Boyer and others.

I feel like it really tied in to the free course we are offering right now:


It’s always satisfying when a psychiatrist and neuroscientist starts talking about love and energy flow on stage!

Or join my Facebook page to watch more videos and pick up tidbits on using energy flow to increase cash flow and overall happiness!

The challenge officially kicks off TOMORROW, August 1st, and  I’m just bursting with excitement in welcoming you to this super fun and lucrative event that we are hosting.

But this is not just an event –and I want you to take this to heart–this is an experience that we are all exploring together. We are pushing the boundaries and dancing along the edges of our consciousness to discover what is possible, on and below that bridge between the material and the immaterial, the spiritual and the embodied. We are finally asking a question…

What would it mean for me to step into my full sovereignty? 

Kristen and I are using the framework of the chakra system to talk about the flow of energy and how that impacts your life in real and material Ways. And it starts with your basic sense of security, including financial abundance. 

Now, in the therapy world when we talk about felt security we’re talking about our attachments. We’re talking about how comfortable we are within our own skin. We are talking about how our thoughts and feelings not only shape our beliefs and myths about money, but the neural pathways in your brain.

This is a bio-psycho-social-spiritual journey that you have agreed to take with us! And we are so privileged to have you here.

Today, I am making this video in Charleston, South Carolina, after attending a mental health conference. And while you might think that a conference like this would focus on clinicism and cold, hard science, what is interesting –and what has just made my heart burst with joy– is that these keynote speakers and scientists are talking about the importance of mindfulness, empathy, compassion, and the interconnectedness of mind, body, spirit and All That Is.

Dan Siegel, a prominent psychiatrist in the field of interpersonal neurobiology, uttered my favorite quote of probably the whole conference,

“The system of a mind is energy and information flow within and between; it is one process; and neither the skull nor the skin are limiting boundaries for energy and information flow.”

Thus, the mind is simply energy that flows both within us and between us, and as the physicist say, everything is made up of energy, including money, so it stands to reason the first step in attracting more of that kind of energy, is to promote healthy energy, which requires organizing your mind.

The second point that he made is that we have found that there are neuronal networks not only in your brain, but also around your heart and around your intestines. So we have a head brain, a heart brain, and a gut brain. 

Um, what?!

And this is really important. Because in order to organize, integrate, and make coherent your energetic field, or the entirety of your mind which remember is both within and without, we must clarify the conversation between head heart and gut. Between the mind body and spirit.


So make sure you enroll in our free five day challenge and join our Facebook group where Kristen and I will be checking in and posting more videos like this as well as some inspiring material, as you take those first steps towards financial abundance and spiritual sovereignty! 

Warmest regards,

Briana MacWilliam ATR-BC, LCAT

Please click here for Webinar FAQs.

If you have any problems or technical difficulties, please contact Briana MacWilliam at is recognized by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for Licensed Creative Arts Therapists. (#CAT-0014.)

The Heroine’s Journey: Understanding Women’s Depression and Anxiety

To My Dearest Divine Gods and Goddesses,

I am delighted to be sharing this update with you on my last day in Copenhagen, Denmark! Fortuitously, my hotel room has wifi and I wanted to share this moment with you.

This picture is the view from my room…

First Hotel Kong Frederikson

The theme for this month,The Heroine’s Journey, has been on my mind, as I explored this new country and culture.

Fun fact about Denmark: it is reported to be the happiest country in the world. This is presumably due to several contributing factors:

  1. Denmark supports maternity leave for both mothers and fathers.
  2. Health care is a civil right — and a source of social support.
  3. Gender equality is prioritized.
  4. Danes feel a responsibility to each other and have high rates of volunteerism.

Given that levels of happiness are so high in Denmark, it is reasonable to assume that Danes also enjoy good mental health. But a study published in 2014 by the American Medical Association tells a different story.

When it comes to so-called “internalizing” conditions, rates for Danish women are higher than for Danish men: for anxiety disorders 19% of women will receive treatment compared with 13% of men; for depression the figures are 16% and 9% respectively.

Men, on the other hand, are more vulnerable to “externalizing” disorders: in Denmark 8% of men will receive treatment for alcohol or drug problems, twice the figure for women.

For both sexes and for most conditions, it usually manifests during adolescence and early adulthood.

The Grand Central of Copenhagen, Denmark

What does this have to do with The Heroine’s Journey?

There are ten stages to The Heroine’s Journey, which is a psycho-spiritual stage model of female identity development, created by Maureen Murdock.

The Heroine’s Journey is perhaps most uniquely characterized by the “Descent into the Dark Goddess,” which is a stage that looks exactly like anxiety and depression.

For this month’s live-online events, we are going to focus on three essential aspects, in a two-part presentation:

  1. The idea that all women experience a split or division within themselves that is the result of a societal disregard and devaluing of femininity.
  2. Women must confront this feminine wound on both a personal and archetypal level, in order to recover their feminine parts.
  3. This recovery leads to an integration of self that allows for a healthy and harmonious balance of feminine and masculine energies.
The Heroine who traveled with me and visited the famous Little Mermaid statue, in Copenhagen. 

A few disturbing statistics…

Raised on psychologies that examine a woman’s femininity as a reaction to a male paradigm (as opposed to her own inherent trajectory), women have become lost and unable to find our way back to center, leading to the highest rates of depression and anxiety ever recorded, in the United States.

  • Approximately 12 million women in the United States experience clinical depression each year (nearly twice the rate of men).
  • About one in every eight women can expect to develop clinical depression during their lifetime.
  • Depression occurs most frequently in women aged 25 to 44, and girls ages 14-18 have a consistently higher rate of depression than boys at this age.

With numbers like these, chances are you have experienced depression or anxiety yourself, or treated a woman struggling with it.

Please join me, live and online, to learn more about The Heroine’s Journey, and how this framework may be used in combination with mindfulness-based creative arts therapies interventions to help women in need. 

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The Heroine’s Journey Part I: Theory (1.5 CE’s)

This presentation includes:

  • Review of Psychodynamic Theory as it Applies to The Heroine’s Journey
  • Important Aspects of Female Adolescent Development
  • An introduction to an 8-week treatment protocol, Embracing the Feminine.
  • A Sample Experiential

Register for FREE!

For CE contact hours, LCATs will need to pay a $35 fee.

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The Heroine’s Journey Part II: Applications (1.5 CE’s)

This presentation includes:

  • A case study examined through the framework of The Heroine’s Journey
  • 3 creative arts therapies techniques that may be applied in treatment
  • An introduction to an 8-week treatment protocol, Embracing the Feminine.
  • A Guided Meditation Experiential

Register for FREE!

For CE contact hours, LCATs will need to pay a $35 fee.

This course is right for you, if you are…

  • A creative arts therapist
  • A mental health professional
  • Seeking self-help
  • Seeking creative inspiration

The framework of The Heroine’s Journey is primarily focused on the experiences of cisgendered women. However, I do believe that the work we cultivate around the “womb space,” which is also the sacrum or sacral chakra, can apply to all who wish to cultivate their feminine aspects.

The sacral chakra is associated with receptivity, emotional intelligence, affect regulation, the embracing of dualities, sexuality, pleasure, play, and creativity. It is where we first explore and learn to organize our sensuality and felt experiences.

Exploring this part of the self as represented by the energetic or spiritual body is a benefit to all, even if the physical “parts” may be different than that of a cisgendered woman, or have been surgically altered, removed, or damaged.

Be sure to look out for more emails this month on the topic of feminine empowerment, and feel free to reply to this email with any questions, comments or concerns. I’d love to hear from you!

Warmest regards,

Briana MacWilliam ATR-BC, LCAT

Please click here for Webinar FAQs.

If you have any problems or technical difficulties, please contact Briana MacWilliam at is recognized by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for Licensed Creative Arts Therapists. (#CAT-0014.)

[FREE, Live Webinar] Affects as Energy: Applying the Chakra System to Psychotherapy

My Dearest Day-Dreamers and Moon Masters,

There has been SOOOOOO much going on in such a short time, I don’t even know where to begin with today’s update!

So, I will start with the sun and the moon and the planets, and then bring it back down to earth 🙂

On Wednesday, 5/10, a magical Scorpio Full Moon will shine light on your inner spiritual self, inspiring some much-needed soul-searching. This exquisite time also welcomes a 10-10 Activation that’ll fill you with confidence and forward momentum. The combination of these events will pack a punch of instant manifestation, but only if you know how to tap into this energy. (To learn more about this, check out this video.)

And so, in a quick turn of events, I have postponed this month’s presentation of The Heroine’s Journey, and decided to share Affects as Energy: Applying the Chakra System to Psychotherapy, instead.

And you will have two opportunities to catch it:

Friday, May 12th @ 7pm
Saturday, May 13th @ 2pm

Just in time to make the most of your manifesting power!

I feel so strongly about this I even went so far as to make a video promo. I hope you like it!

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It is my belief that affect theories are perhaps the most compatible with using the Chakra System as a framework for working with energy in the body, mind, and spirit. And it is my intention to illuminate those connections for you, so that you may be seduced too!

In this presentation we will cover…

  • Theories of Affective Response
  • The Diagnostic Meaning of Affect
  • Affects as Energy and Applying the Chakra System to Psychotherapy
  • Overview of the 7 Main Chakras
  • 8 Mindful Tips for Working with Early Chakra Imbalances
  • A Guided Meditation and Art-Based Experiential to Explore your Root Chakra

Your learning Objectives Include…

  • The ability to identify at least two out of four diagnostic indicators for affect.
  • The ability to identify the difference between concordant and complementary affects.
  • The ability to identify at least two out of eight mindfulness-based tips on treating Root and Sacral Imbalances.

You will also receive…

For LCATs and/or art therapists who would like to purchase the learning assessment and course materials in order to obtain a certificate for continuing education contact hours with New York State, or for recertification with the ATCB, there will be a 35$ fee.

Enrollment will open after the webinar is completed.

For further instruction, please view this tutorial.

April’s webinar replays have also now been made available as self studies!

Catch up quick with our bundled offers. Save $20 with each bundle you purchase!

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Healing the Root and Sacral Chakras: Mindfulness and Creative Arts Therapies

(3.0 Self-Study CE’s)
$60 (save $20)

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Healing the Solar Plexus and Heart Chakras: Mindfulness and Creative Arts Therapies

(3.0 Self-Study CE’s)
$60 (save $20)

If you were super stoked about The Heroine’s Journey, don’t despair. I have a WILDLY generous offer for you, coming up next week.

All I will say, is that if you attend our FREE live webinar event on The Heroine’s Journey in June, you will be eligible for FREE enrollment to a self study course worth 12 CE’s…


I guess I just gave away the big surprise!

But stay tuned for the catch  🙂

Briana MacWilliam ATR-BC, LCAT

Please click here for Webinar FAQs.

If you have any problems or technical difficulties, please contact Briana MacWilliam at is recognized by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for Licensed Creative Arts Therapists. (#CAT-0014.)

[QUIZ] 4 Questions to Decipher Your Partner’s Brain Type, and How It Impacts Your Love Life!

To My Dearest Hearts-Open-to-the-Universe Community Members,

Have you ever wondered how your partner’s brain type might be affecting your love life?

Oh, maybe you never thought about it quite like that…

But I guarantee you’ve had more than one moment, in the heat of passion, when you begged God and anyone else who might be listening, “What the hell makes this person tick?!!”

In those moments, our compassion fails us and we are dumped in the rapid waters of confusion and anger; feelings we particularly dislike.

Trust me, I’ve been there!

But after spending four years of my professional life as a research outcomes coordinator for the executive team, at the Amen Clinics Inc., those moments don’t have the same power to knock me off my center.

Dr. Amen has pioneered a method of psychiatric practice that focuses on using brain scans and SPECT technology to provide accurate diagnosis and integrative treatment for mental health problems, poor nutrition, and other obscure conditions.

He has been a guest on CNN, PBS, Dr. Oz, Entertainment Television, Dr. Phil, The View, TedX, Rachel Ray, Larry King, and more. Currently, he has a show, Lying on the Psychiatrist’s Couch on PBS.

Also the author of The Brain in Love, Dr. Amen has found it useful to think about the brain in five different systems that relate to human behavior.

The brain is very complex and there are, of course, more than five systems. However, these systems appear to be the “Big Bosses.” Each of these systems interacts with other areas of the brain to produce the effective or ineffective human behavior.

What we do, how we perceive the world, interpret other people’s actions and perceptions, process our bodily and sensory experiences–especially in LOVE and attachment relationships— are ALL a reflection of our brain function…and our brain function is a reflection of all these influences!

This is the heart of Mindfulness–as is within, so is without. 

We must acknowledge the interrelationship between mind and body, which is the basis for understanding how one mind and body interacts with someone else’s!

It is the resiliency and plasticity of the brain and body that makes real therapeutic and life changing experiences possible.

To give you a taste of what we will explore in this months FREE WEBINAR on Brain Basics in Relationships… 

I put together a little quiz and assessment to help you discover your partner’s brain type, based on Dr. Amen’s “Big Bosses” system.


In our webinar this month,  Creative Arts Therapies and Brain Basics in Relationships, we will:

  • Explore “The Five Big Bosses of the Brain” in the context of relationships.
  • Conduct a self assessment.
  • And create our own Brain Maps, to foster consciousness around our experiences of love.

We will also explore:

  • 4 Deep versus surface structure communications
  • 3 Dimensions of interdependency
  • 3 Creative Arts Therapies Techniques for Affect Regulation and Communication
  • And explore a “Heart-Soul” Mindfulness-based experiential and guided meditation, focusing on fostering empathy and compassion in relationships, through mirroring and entrainment.

We will be offering this LIVE Webinar twice this month, so pick the day that works best for you! Registration is FREE.*

*If you are an LCAT interested in CE contact hours: the course materials, learning assessment and certificate of completion will be made available for $35.

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Creative Arts Therapies and Brain Basics in Relationships

A LIVE Webinar

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017 @ 8pm

Sunday, April 30th, 2017 @ 2pm

(1.5 Live event, continuing education contact hours available for LCATs in New York State and with the ATCB; $35 fee applies.)



We hope to see you there!

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Briana MacWilliam ATR-BC, LCAT

Licensed and Board Certified Creative Arts Therapist

Author, Educator and Reiki Practitioner

YouTube Channel

If you have any problems or technical difficulties, please contact Briana MacWilliam at is recognized by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for Licensed Creative Arts Therapists. (#CAT-0014.)

[Webinar Tonight!] FREE Registration For Healing The Heart Chakra (1.5 CE’s Available)

To All My Messengers of Love and Spirit,

I’m so excited because tonight Kristen Boyer and I dive into our Healing the Heart Chakra Webinar.

And because the best things in life ARE FREE, like LOVE, Registration is FREE to the public.

In our Heart Chakra Webinar this Wednesday, April 19th at 8pm EST where we’ll be talking about attachment styles, psychological relationship patterning, and how to step into healthy partnerships.
Specifically, we will debunk three commonly held beliefs:

  1. “The perfect romantic partner will make me happy.”
  2. “Good relationships shouldn’t be hard.”
  3. “If I allow myself to experience my feelings, I will spin out of control.”

These myths and their concordant “truths” will be examined in the context of attachment theory, as well as shamanistic approaches to energy healing.

Participants of this event will be able to identify the following on a multiple choice quiz and learning assessment, which will be part of the course evaluation:

  • Identify the shadow aspect of the Heart Chakra.
  • Identify at least two observable behaviors of someone experiencing Heart Chakra imbalances.
  • Identify one guided meditation that may be used in working with Heart Chakra imbalances.

You will also receive…

  • A Guided meditation for opening the Heart Chakra
  • An outline of the presentation
  • Handouts to assist with working on Heart Chakra imbalances, in practice
  • A FREE,  introductory lecture on all 7 Chakras, which is part of our 7-week, LIVE, Online Master Class, Healing the Chakras: Mindfulness and Creative Arts Therapies
  • A FREE, Introductory, 30- minute Guided meditation to all 7 Chakras, which is part of our 7-week, LIVE, Online Master Class, Healing Through the Chakras: Mindfulness and Creative Arts Therapies
  • A FREE, introductory, 30-minute guided shamanic journey, which is part of our 7-week, LIVE, Online Master Class, Healing Through the Chakras: Mindfulness and Creative Arts Therapies

This is definitely a free event you won’t want to miss! So Sign up for Free HERE.

And to give you a head start on getting clearer about where you stand in your own way and block the development of healthy partnerships, I want to invite you to take this FREE QUIZ to identify your attachment style.

So make sure to join in this Wednesday at 8pm EST for our FREE Heart Chakra Webinar, and get your heart healing on with me and Briana so that when that special someone comes along you can fully embrace it and receive those juicy love vibes because nothing will be holding you back anymore!

If you are an LCAT interested in CE contact hours: the course materials, learning assessment and certificate of completion will be made available for $35.

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Healing the Heart Chakra
Mindfulness and Creative Arts Therapies

A LIVE Webinar

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017 @ 8pm

Applicable for self help and mental health professionals.

(1.5 Live event, continuing education contact hours for LCATs in New York State, with a $35 fee.)



We hope to see you there!

electronic signature

Briana MacWilliam ATR-BC, LCAT

Licensed and Board Certified Creative Arts Therapist

Author, Educator and Reiki Practitioner

YouTube Channel

If you have any problems or technical difficulties, please contact Briana MacWilliam at is recognized by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for Licensed Creative Arts Therapists. (#CAT-0014.)