The Difference Between Bamboo and Violets

In my blog last week, I marveled at the creativity, innovation, and adaptability of the human brain.  This week, I am going to tackle another facet of the miracle of the mind.  It is true that our individual minds are capable of transforming to meet the needs of our individual environments.  It is also true that different brains work very differently right from the get-go. 

This thought came to me a couple of weeks ago when Max was trying to explain some fine point of Christian apologetics.  Now, I am not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but I am by no means unintelligent.  I do like to think deep thoughts and consider meaningful questions.  Still, my brain’s tolerance for detail and abstract reasoning is quite limited when compared to his.  It can be overwhelming listening to Max follow a point of theology or scriptural history through a frenzied labyrinth of names, dates, and arguments.  When I try to keep up with the breakneck pace at which his synopses are firing, I crash against the wall at the first turn.  I try to slow him down, interrupt him to ask questions, and have him repeat his points in different words, but he still almost always leaves me in the dust by the second lap.  The good news is that I usually get something from the conversation.  The bad news is that what I get from it is a fraction of the information Max intends to impart.  I guess getting some knowledge beats getting nothing except annoyed (which I admit I often also get.)

I have to say that this mental pattern of Max’s is nothing new.  It is just the way his brain works.  He tends to get interested in a topic and just inundate his mind with it.  I have seen him go through periods when he has scavenged all the information to be had about The Titanic, William Desmond Taylor, East German military, cosmology, and Jack the Ripper… just to name a few of his mental renovation projects.  Some of these projects have been easier for me to grasp than others.  Now that he seems to be on the Christian apologetics kick, I seem to be particularly abysmal at keeping pace.

I was talking to our rector about the issue a few months back.  I really did feel badly that I was being such an incompetent conversation partner on such an important issue, but I also felt like there was no way I was ever going to have the energy, inclination, or nimbleness of brain to meet his need for theological conversation.  My rector was holding weekly “coffee and philosophy” sessions at a local café and I thought that it might be more satisfying for Max to have the opportunity to exchange ideas with people whose brains were more in line with his.  The rector told me that he and his wife have a similar experience.  He will be caught up with some theological point he is researching and will have to curb his enthusiasm… or at least the minutia… when sharing it with his wife.  My rector said he would be happy to have Max come to the sessions, but that I should know that it probably would not be an outlet for Max to burn off his theological energy.  He warned me that it would likely kindle Max’s desire to explore theological ideas even more. 

Max did decide to attend, but only if I went with him.  We have gone to about half a dozen of these sessions.  We both enjoy them.  My rector was right; it has done nothing to curtail the plethora of theological ideas being uttered in my household, but it has helped us both benefit a little more from the discussions. We have also had some rich conversations about how much apologetics is more than I can absorb.  We have also had some conversations about our different approaches to faith.  It is not that we disagree; it is simply a question of emphasis.  St. Anselm of Canterbury said, “I do not seek to understand in order that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand.”  Both of us think sturdy faith is faith that comes from both reason and spiritual experience.  I am just more on the “believe in order to understand” side and Max is more on the “seek to understand in order that I may believe” side. 

One day, when we were attending the “coffee and philosophy” session, Max alluded several times to an idea saying, “even Terri was seeing the holes in that statement.”  Other attendees kind of took him to task for making it sound like he thought I wasn’t that smart.  I did not take it that way because I knew he was referring more to brain orientation than brain power.  Max thinks I am very smart… far smarter than I am.  Max tried to explain this to the group and the rector said he knew what he meant… that my intelligence was more an intrinsic wisdom (rather than a scholarly approach.)

That got me thinking about how each person’s brain operates differently.  We all grow ideas and thoughts and solutions and relationships in the messy gray matter of our minds.  We all grow them differently and cultivate different crops, as a result.

This brings me to bamboo and violets.

Max grows bamboo in his brain…. Tall, towering, practical, sustainable ideas that are limitless and sometimes out of control.  You can watch a whole bamboo forest of ideas grow to the very stratosphere just by listening to him for five minutes.  You can literally see the bamboo of his thoughts grow before your very eyes. Bamboo will grow almost anywhere.  It has shallow roots, making it easy to harvest.  If one idea gets harvested, he is on to the next one.  He mulches and fertilizes and lets the momentum of growth carry him along. 

I, on the other hand, grow violets in my brain.  Violets are deep rooted.  They are a little delicate but are much stronger than they look.  They tend to grow out rather than up.  They need to be kept out of the direct sun and nurtured with some restful, contemplative shade.  They do not really have any practical purpose.  They are just there to be beautiful and interesting and colorful and joyful.  My brain is just as powerful, but the output is nothing big, noticeable, or intrinsically valuable.

Sometimes I wish I could have a bamboo brain.  On the other hand, the world needs violets, too.  No one who trades in beauty and joy is powerless.  I enjoy stretching my mind and finding the parts of it that could grow bamboo if necessary, but I also enjoy knowing that the best of me will always be the best of me.    

How would you characterize your brain? What kind of mental crop do you raise? What about the way you think makes you uniquely you? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at

Have a growth-filled day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂


If there was a word to describe 2020 (besides the unprintable ones, of course), I think it would be “pivot.”

The human brain is a strange and wondrous thing to behold.  Especially during the pandemic, we have seen how adaptable and creative it can be.  I marvel at how nimbly many people resculpted their brains to accommodate the changing times. There are many examples.  

After a brief period of discombobulation, the world figured out new ways of doing old activities. Disney World scrambled their approach to queue management and replaced parades with cavalcades- single floats that wandered through an entire park to prevent people bunching together to watch a parade.  Churches have employed various online platforms and “drive-in” methods to continue to engage congregants.  Doctors have developed “telehealth” to handle medical visits that do not require “hands on” examinations or treatments.  People who never thought they could work effectively from home and collaborate with their teams are running efficient, effective businesses from inside their Zoom accounts.  In times of plummeting sales, many retailers have expanded their product lines to include snazzy face masks and hand sanitizer.

It is also true that the strain on our collective brains has caused many people to temporarily throw in the towel on “normal” activities.  They started spending their time doing new things that they never would have explored before the pandemic.  I hear a lot of people talk about completing big home projects, catching up with old friends with whom they have not communicated in ages, taking up new creative pursuits, learning new skills, and finding more time to settle into God’s arms.

The more deeply we delve into the COVID19 world, the easier retooling our lifelong routines, thoughts, activities, and perspectives seems to become.  I hope we have not become so comfortable with our new circumstances that we permanently discard some of the activities and traditions that used to give us joy.  I can see people thinking that there is no longer a need for in-person continuing education conferences because, while it was pleasant to get together and share ideas, “we’ve been doing the same thing on Zoom for a year, and it is so much cheaper.”  I can see people thinking that they miss traveling, but it does take a lot of work and planning to implement a vacation.  I can see people thinking that they used to like going to church services, but it has turned out to be so easy to simply watch YouTube in their pajamas.  I can see people thinking that they enjoyed all the clubs and activities they had pre-COVID19, but that it has turned out to be quite restful not to have to juggle such a full calendar.  I can see people abandoning hugging, shaking hands, and touching each other because it now feels awkward. 

I have been worried about the slow degradation of communal life since we began the “two week” stay-at-home order.  Our experimentation and discoveries about alternate ways of doing things have been wonderful.  I love that the pandemic has forced us to re-examine the way we live and relate to one another.  I love that some of the strategies we are forced to employ to promote social distancing have allowed us to be more inclusive.  For instance, my Alpha course is meeting online, which has allowed guests from all over the country to attend.  Entertainment has become more interactive, in some ways.  I am thinking of the Disney Sing-along television specials that popped up during quarantine.  In the past, most television entertainment was extremely passive.  The action focused on the performers while the audience just sat at home, staring at a screen.  Because performers could not be on stage together during the pandemic, Disney changed the emphasis to creating strategies to allow the audience to provide their own entertainment.  The place where I get my nails done now has a plexiglass wall between my face and the technician’s face.  I put my hands through a small opening at the bottom of that barrier.  Surely, this is a better procedure, COVID19 or no COVID19.  The technicians really do not need to have client after client breathing their germs of any kind into their faces all day long. 

All the positive changes aside, I still believe there is a more sinister downside to month after month and year after year COVID precautions.  As people’s acceptance, tolerance, and lethargy about our “new normal” grows, so does the danger that we will never regain the things we have lost.  I do not want to lose the warmth of hugs, the excitement of traveling, and the rich connectedness of gathering with people in person.  All the restrictions and adaptations have been necessary over the past year.  I am glad we did them.  I just do not know how long we can continue without permanently losing some of the emotional and social richness of living communally in the world. 

I do have some hope.  A friend and I have been stubbornly supporting our community’s book club over the past year.  Before the pandemic, our club was extremely well-attended.  In fact, it was starting to get a bit unwieldy, with 20 members often attending the discussions.  We discontinued meetings for a few months at the beginning of the pandemic.  We discussed going to Zoom, but most of our participants were not ready to enter the Zoom-asphere at that time.  As soon as our community center opened, we went back to scheduled meetings.  For several months now, our attendance has ranged from 4-6.  Well, things are changing.  Many of the people in our community have now been vaccinated.  At our March meeting, we had 10 participants.  Clearly, people are emerging to start searching for the good things we left behind in the pre-pivot world. 

What’s next?  Hugging? 

Have you seen any indications that the world is starting to get back to its pre-pandemic state? What are you observing? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at

Have a normal day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

The Bunnies Are Running!

Everybody’s heard of the Elf on the Shelf.  Some people also have the privilege of having a “Bun on the Run.”  I’m special that way. 

I have a whole family of bunnies in different colors and sizes on my kitchen table.  I originally had two bunnies… but, you know, they are rabbits.  They multiplied, as rabbits are wont to do.  See my own personal Rabbit Hole:

Here is where Archibald, Arabella, Wynken, Blinken, Nod, Tumble, Eenie, Meenie, Miney, and Mo live from Ash Wednesday until Easter.  Most people give up chocolate for Lent.  I indulge in bunny hunting.  Every morning, Max hides a bunny somewhere in the front living area of our house and I stalk the missing “bun on the run.” 

My bunnies have an active life.  They have individual personalities.  They manage a series of complex, interconnected relationships.  At least they do in my own mind. 

Archibald and Arabella are the mommy and daddy bunnies.  Archibald always looks long-suffering.  He doesn’t have two carrots to rub together. Arabella, frankly, always looks exhausted.  She is afraid she is losing her girlish charm. Archibald and Arabella, being the largest, are the easiest to find.  This is a problem for them because all they really want is five minutes of peace and quiet away from those kids.

The diaper babies (Wynken, Blinken, Nod, and Tumble) are also easy to find.  They are each about the size of a ping pong ball. Wynken and Blinken are very close and never go anywhere without each other.  Nod tends to fall asleep as a defense mechanism against his chaotic childhood.  Tumble is a little behind his siblings developmentally and is always “falling” behind!

Those newborn siblings (Eenie, Meenie, Miney, and Mo) are the sneaky ones.  They are out of control.  You cannot blame Archibald and Arabella too much.  Just imagine if you gave birth to quadruplet babies while still having quadruplets in diapers at home.  Rabbits running rampant is the requisite result of riotous reproduction.   Kids, please do not try this at home. 

I often need several hints to find the hiding newborns.  They are each just a touch bigger than a cube of cheese… or the tip of a baby carrot.  Meenie and Miney are especially clever at the game.  They are the most competitive of all the kids and like to “get one over” on each other… and on me. 

The first time I almost gave up on the game of bunny hide and seek was when Miney decided to hide on a small support disk under the kitchen table.  This first picture shows what the scene looked like before I started rummaging about looking for Miney.  The second picture shows him perched on the table support.  Would you have found him?

The next time I almost surrendered, Meenie was hiding in the wireless television headphones.  Various creatures- both bunnies and elves- have sidled over to the headphones before, but this was the first time one actually climbed INSIDE the ear covers.  It was kind of gruesome… like the earwig scene in the Wrath of Kahn.  Happily, I found Meenie before some poor sap unknowingly donned the headphones and had a rabbit burrow through his or her brain. Again, here are pictures of what I saw before I found Meenie and what I saw once I spotted him.

I have a couple of weeks left of my bunny quests.  Both Max and I are enjoying them.  We live such a full and rewarding life!

Your turn?  Where would a bunny hide in your house?  Why would you WANT to hide a bunny in your house?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at

Happy Easter!

Terri/Dorry 😊

P.S. I know Easter is more than bunny running.  It is the most important day of the year to me.  As I write this, it is a beautiful spring day and I am just playing with y’all!


Not misty watercolor memories.  Vibrant, solid, high-definition memories.

That is how I spent the week that I did not publish a new blog post.

Yes, I originally decided to let the blog take second fiddle to working on my new book this year.  After careful consideration, I decided that I would spend more of my overall writing time on the book instead of the blog.  The first time I did not publish a new post this year was on 2/24.  I would like to say that I spent hours working on Puppies, Guppies, and Letting Go instead.  However, I gave up lying for Lent.

For some reason, I spent most of the week daydreaming and recalling some specific events of my childhood. 

I thought you all deserved to know what kinds of things cluttered my brain that week.  Here are some of the highlights:

  • When I was in kindergarten, we had a May pole in the middle of the classroom.  Every day in May, we danced around it, braiding ribbons of multi-colored crepe paper around the pole.
  • When I was waiting for the school bus one winter morning in New York, I noticed that the vacant field by the bus stop was beautiful in the snow.  I had this bright idea to sell tickets for tours of this winter wonderland.  I even got a couple of takers.  My appalled parents could not figure out a way to explain why this activity was wrong.
  • My family visited some sort of combination amusement park and zoo when I was about four.  We walked past a cage with a sign that announced the animal residing inside was a flying squirrel.  I saw no animal residing in the cage at all and told my father, “He must have flown away.”
  • When we moved to California, I had a small round suitcase that I took with me on the airplane.
  • The very first ice cream place we visited in California was the Baskin Robbins 31 Flavors that was about a mile from our house.  The man who owned it was named Mr. Zero.  He was very nice and bought Campfire Girl nuts from me.
  • When my mother’s mother was in the hospital, my father would sit in the car with my brother and me while my mother visited.  He sang us songs.  I particularly remember him belting out “I’ve got a sixpence, a jolly, jolly sixpence.  I’ve got a sixpence to last me all my life.  I’ve got tuppence to spend and tuppence to lend and tuppence to send home to my wife… poor wife.” 
  • When camping in Idyllwild with my family when I was about nine, I used to sit and watch squirrels for hours, as they harvested acorns.  There was a quietness that you could feel rather than hear.  The path was blanketed with pine needles.  There were fallen logs where I would sit, breathing and thinking.  Pine air tastes good.

I would like to believe that these memories have some productive purpose.  Perhaps they will eventually work themselves into fodder for the book.  I seriously doubt it, however.  I think my brain just went on a little vacation down memory lane and chose some pretty bizarre highways to get there. 

I think there might be something seriously wrong with me. 

What is one of your vivid childhood memories that seems inconsequential but is actually means a lot to you? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at

Have a memorable day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

Did You Miss Me?

I’m baaaaack.

Did you even realize I was gone for a week? 

Last week was my first “not posting because I did not have anything prepared to say” Wednesday since I started the blog in January of 2016.  Did the tectonic plates shift?  Did the world stop spinning on its axis?  Are icebergs melting at the polar caps more rapidly? Has the Liberty Bell cracked once again?

It sure felt like it.  To me.

I am sure that most of you are only aware that a Wednesday has come and gone without a Terri LaBonte morsel just now as I bring it to your attention.  You are probably reading this and saying, “oh, yeah, she didn’t publish last week.”  After all, I know that most people are understandably too wrapped up in their own lives to be unduly concerned about the absence of one weekly blog post.  I am not self-absorbed enough to think missing a week of Terri time counts as a problem in your lives. 

Since this blog is all about me, however, I did want to share how not posting for a week impacted me. 

I was fidgety the week before my FTP (failure to post) and could not settle myself.  It was like there was something that I was trying to forget, but just could not.  A vague conception of there being “something” up in the air never left me.  That feeling was probably bigger because I kept pushing it away from my consciousness until it was about something amorphous and intangible rather than a specific task.  I think I used to get like that when I was working, too.  There might be something I did not want to do that I decided I did not have to do. The task would not completely remove itself from my mind.  I did not focus on it enough to name it and vanquish my dread about it but did focus on it enough to keep me awake at night.  It was kind of masochistic.  I made a conscious decision that I did not have to do the task, but still seemed to believe I had to feel guilty about it.  I think it is important to do the right thing in life.  It does not have to be important to feel bad about not doing something that you have intellectually decided is not a moral imperative, however.

When Wednesday morning came around and I did not publish a post, I had a sense of failure.  Even though nobody cared, I felt like I had somehow let someone down.  Maybe it was just me I was afraid of letting down.  It seemed a defeat to me.  That was especially true because I did not spend any time at all last week working on my new book, which was the whole reason I decided to post less regularly.  The idea was that I would allow myself to skip the odd week of blogging in order to use my writing time to work on my book.  I did not write at all last week.  Just typing this feels somewhat like a shameful confession. 

After Wednesday, I started compulsively checking my blog statistics to see if there was any negative impact from not posting.  You would swear the blogging stakes are much higher than they are.  I did not see any particular downward trend in views or visitors.  Even if there were a downward trend, what would it matter, really? 

Of course, I know that I do not have to have a reason to skip a week.  Writing is my pleasure and if becomes a chore or a stressor in any given week, I should respect those feelings and take a break.  No one is paying me to write.  Blood will not be spilled if I do not write.  The pandemic will not spread further if I do not write.  You all have supported my plan to only write when I feel called to say something interesting… even if it is only interesting to me.  In short, there is no reason for me to have such complicated, unpleasant feelings surrounding the issue.

I suspect that the unpleasant feelings stem from something much bigger than just not posting for a week.  COVID crazy has been eating away at me this week.  Everywhere I turn, there seem to be challenges and barriers.  My book is not going well just now.  I have a book club meeting coming up and I have not read the book… nor am I particularly interested in doing so.  I guess there seem to be a lot of barriers in my way just now.  I think I will probably get over it, but I would not put money on the result.  As I said, I see my current mood to be a kind of lifelong pattern. 

I have said it before, and I will say it again.  The most difficult change most of us will ever undergo is changing our minds.

So, did you miss me?  How did you use the 2.1 minutes you usually spend reading my blog?  I hope it was something fun.

Have a useful day!

Terri/Dorry 😊