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Gonna Rise Up, Throw Down My Ace In The Hole

It signifies the unknown but also the letter "U" kinda giving you the finger.

It signifies the unknown but also the letter “U” kinda giving you the finger.

So. I woke up the other day and had a multi-part epiphany, as is the custom among my overthinkish people.

The first part is that I don’t just enjoy giving readings to clients; I adore giving readings to clients. I mean, when I know I have readings coming up, I feel energized, excited, hopeful, happy. Part two of my epiphany is recognizing that I want to make it my main work, and do the muggle shrink stuff on the side. That was a major revelation to me, and I had to laugh at the fact that I’d never really given it serious consideration before.

I can only assume I never thought seriously about it because becoming a clinical psychologist is a long process. I’ve put a good amount of front-end work into my professional life. Four years of college, then eight hundred years of gradual school, followed by internship, post-doctoral training, and then licensure. Then of course there’s continuing education, supervision of trainees, workshops, and actually assessing and treating patients and writing reports and whatnot. And let’s not even talk about on-call.

I’ve been involved with psychology in some fashion (mostly voluminous floral print dresses and white tights back in the day oh goddess why why did I bring this up) since 1988 when I took Psychology 101 in college. And even before that, I was always fascinated by the workings of the brain and mind, and bought my own garage-sale copy of Freud’s classic, The Interpretation of Dreams, at age 12. Yeah. Total psych nerd, and proudly so.

What initially motivated me? Pure curiosity. I wanted to understand how this squishy Jello-lookin’ thing that only weighed a few pounds could possibly function without benefit of gears or pulleys. I wanted to get to the whys and wherefores of human existence. A tad lofty for a 12 year-old, but whatev.

Fast forward to today. What motivates me now isn’t the same thing. After many years of being privileged to serve others as a psychologist, I now want to serve in a different way.

Make no mistake; I paid some dues over the years. My right foot and left ankle are kinda blown from standing around on concrete floors. I’ve seen a lot of life’s underbelly. I’ve dented a lot of wristwatches by clanging them against rebarred concrete walls and steel doors. My working environments haven’t exactly been suited for the dainty, or, arguably, the sane. But I chose them deliberately. I made a few serious attempts at working “on the outs” in posh practices and such, but invariably I eventually drifted into feeling unchallenged, disinterested, and stifled, and once more unto the breach I’d return.

I even opened my own psychotherapy practice here. But I still had half my ass in the broom closet and wasn’t really paying attention. I wanted to somehow keep my weird ugly psychic secret on the DL so that no one noticed or made fun of me in professional circles. I reflexively cared about what some fictive “others” in my head thought of me, to the exclusion of my own deepest desires.

I get to have desires? What?

But as I’ve said before – a life lived in fear, is a life half-lived. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

And those of us who have decided on a life of service share a common trait; putting ourselves last. I’m not the only one. Just ask any nurse if they’ve peed within recent memory. Ask a law enforcement professional how well they sleep. Ask a teacher if they use their planning time for its intended purpose. Women are taught to do this, regardless of profession. Irish Catholic women like whut raised me are TOLD to do this. And it’s bollocks. You can’t be effective if you’re tired all the time, a kind of tired sleep won’t fix. You can’t be really present to your loved ones if you’re running around like a goddamned chicken trying to heal the world. I know this. I knew this. I have known this a long damn time.

But I didn’t feel it really, not deep down in my bones. It was kind of a nice idea that I would sometimes try to heed by scheduling massages or scheduling time with friends. But after awhile, the work would seem to take over, like a tide rolling in, pulling me back out to into the demands of whatever work I was doing. Teaching, committee work, clinical work, supervision, consulting, you name it – in the last few years it’s been all of the above.

I think one of the toughest things during the last year or so has been letting go. I think the Buddhists would saying I’m trying let go of illusion and see things as they simply are. I’m used to pushing, planning, charging, climbing, strategizing, striving, molding, shaping, challenging, trying, doing, analyzing, thinking, goal-setting, accomplishing, yadda yadda. And the long and the short of it is that anymore I don’t want do this like I’ve been doing it.

In the coming months I’ll be adding a lot more readings and subtracting a lot of clinical stuff, and also continuing to finish my various writing projects as I apply this course-correction. Pulling up this 1988 vintage anchor isn’t easy. But I have my heading now, and for once it’s not against the wind. Christ, did this just devolve into a Bob Seger lyric?

Anycuteboatshoes, I’m changing up the website. Be sure to look for some newsletter-type bullshit on a landing page, and for my eBooks when I decide they can be born into the world. I might make a few videos of myself pontificating and then I’ll realize that videos aren’t my thing and then someone will point out that hey, maybe pontificatey videos are totally my thing after all and then I’ll change my mind and you’ll still be stuck with the pontificating. Chagrin ensues, but you put up with it because I’m on a goddamned sailboat and there’s nothing you can do about it.

This song has been stuck in my head for the last several weeks.


How To: Increasing Positivity, Decreasing Assholery

PIcture is unrelated but doesn't it make you feel nostalgic? For David Burns' Big Suit?

PIcture is unrelated but doesn’t it make you feel nostalgic? For David Burns’ Big Suit?

Yesterday I read this blog post by Dr. Judith Orloff, psychiatrist and empath, and then reposted it on the Facebooks. It’s all about increasing the good stuff in one’s life. She begins by asking the reader to examine where they are in terms of embodying positivity, and provides working definitions of what positivity is and what it isn’t, and ends with a 4-point list of strategies to attract more positive people and situations in your life.

I used to recoil whenever someone would remonstrate with themselves “I just need to be more positive” or “I need to think positive”. UGH. NO. My contention is that we need to be realists, generally. When I worked in a detention facility for ICE detainees facing almost certain deportation or further imprisonment, and I’d ask them what their plan was, many many times the answer was “I know God won’t let me get deported” or “God will watch out for me, so I’m just going to stay positive” or some iterations thereof.

This is just to distract you from the fact I’m not good with figuring out where to put pics relative to the text.

I often wanted to blurt “Well, I don’t think you know this, but God has pretty much been acting like a giant prick lately, sending many thousands of detainees back to their country of origin, many unfairly. I suggest you either get an attorney or start calling in favors back home. God doesn’t have a very good track record around here, and his word ain’t shit.” My actual response was usually something along the lines of stressing how important it is to hope for the best while planning for the worst. “God will provide” is a comforting mantra, but in terms of developing real-world plan to address the complete upheaval of one’s life…not so much. It does less than nothing to prepare you, in practical, here-and-now terms, to survive the process.

So that’s my bias against “positivity”. /end rant

All that said, having courageous, authentic, compassionate and honest people in one’s life is infinitely more pleasant and constructive than having whiny, assholic meanies, isn’t it? Decreasing the fuckery sometimes needs to happen first. Yup. So, I’m swallowing my hoity-toity aversion to the use of the word “positive” in a psychospiritual context, and presenting you Dr. Ding’s version of How to Attract More Positive Peeps, accompanie by the relatively more erudite phrasing of Dr. Orloff.

Recognize Your Strengths, FFS aka Identify Your Best Parts and Speak From Them

It’s really hard to be a beacon of awesome when beacon is such a distracting word that sounds sooo much like bacon. Bacon, beacon, omg. Just serve as a bacon of positivity, and you’re good. I checked.

Just playin. What I’m saying here is that if you’re running around feeling all shitty about yourself, it’s hard to know your own best traits and skills, and vice-versa. So sit the fuck down and replay all the awesome things people have said to you, about you. About the things you know in your bones that are supercool about you. And remember them.

For example, I've accepted that if I approach the world in a state of New Jack Swing-induced inspiration, things just go better.

For example, I’ve accepted that if I approach the world in a state of New Jack Swing-induced inspiration, things just go better.

I once tried to downplay my naturally irreverent, somewhat flamboyant speaking style when I first worked in corrections. EPIC FAIL. Giant classroom full of correctional professionals in refresher training , snoring through their open eyeballs. It was deeply unsettling. After the first break, I had the high-minded thought of “fuck this” and decided to bust out the Full Ding on them. Mission accomplished, everyone woke up and participated, with no more creepy eyelid snoring.

I of course went on several more times and tested this whole compare/contrast situation of being true to myself vs not being true to myself really really thoroughly just so I could feel good about suggesting it to others. And that was the only reason I did that.

If You Can’t Be a Lover, Don’t Be a Hater aka Extend Love Outward

This is probably the hardest one for me: in traffic, at the DMV, in line at the post office, when I’m super-tired or super-hungry, or around assholes or even those afflicted with assholic tendencies.

I try super-hard to be a loving, compassionate person and I fail every.fucking.day. Every day, y’all.  So I think it’s acceptable, especially when struggling, to simply strive to not extend your personal bullshit outward. It’s YOUR bullshit. Own it, and don’t splash it all over people just because you’re In A Mood. Keep your bullshit in check. The extending love outwards can wait until when you’re less hangry.

Sometimes we just have to bear down, grit our teeth and suck it the fuck up.

Alternatively, you could just start a blog.

Slow the Fuck Down aka Regularly Meditate

I am all for meditation, meditating, being meditatey, meditation-style kung-fu, whatever. It’s great stuff, improves bodily health and mental well-being and general spiritual condition. However, I have a lot of trouble remembering to do it, even when I put it in my calendar. But I’ve found something just as good. Ok that’s a lie. But it is an alternative.

I’m here to offer you the suggestion of just slowing your roll, taking a few timeouts during the day to just breathe in, breathe out. Pause. Maybe even sit down and finish your sandwich. I’ve started this practice and have been doing it over the last 3-4 months and it’s definitely helped me, even though it’s not very sexy.

I wear many hats professionally, so most weekdays find me seeing clients, teaching, grading papers, driving from place to place, trying to stay hydrated, nibbling on my lunch at stoplights, and that is no way to treat yourself. I tend to not to take breaks, also not an effective method of self-care. I had been trying hard this past Fall to carve out time to meditate, but had very erratic results. So I decided that maybe not driving myself mercilessly was possibly something to look into.

Bottom line: it takes a surprisingly little amount of effort to be more mindful, more deliberate, and less hurried. I use my rearview mirror to help me with this; I make eye contact with my fine ass self and remind myself that the radiant glory of my soul, housed within, is located pretty close to the nice roasted chicken sandwich, sliced apple and bottle of seltzer I brought for my lunch. And that I should immediately shove them into my piehole unless I want to be in a DEFCON-6 crabbypants-headache situation for the next two sessions.

Don’t Be a Dick aka Commit to Emotional Housecleaning

If we want to attract less icky people and situations into our lives, we need to actively address our own ickiness and strive to release it, making room for the good stuff.

And what kind of ick? Those maladaptive behavior patterns and old beliefs, self-limiting ideas, defense mechanisms, presuppositions. You get the idea – another way of saying it is the ick is the stuff that keeps us from being most fully ourselves, from getting what we want, from connecting with others in meaningful ways.

The ick keeps us from love, writ large. From loving. From experiencing love.

My belief is that it’s helpful to hit “refresh” in your psyche every so often so you can install upgrades. If the psyche is a place, be mindful of where you hang out in it; like my grandpa used to say, if you hang out in bars, you’re gonna meet drunks.

To sum up for the TL;DR crowd:

  1. recognize your strengths, for fuck’s sake
  2. if you can’t be a lover, don’t be a hater
  3. slow the fuck down
  4. don’t be a dick

I’d like to get more of a dialogue going here on AskDrDing, so what are your tried-and-true methods for attracting overall positivity in your life? Please reply in the comments.


Let Me Adjust My Amulet/Clear My Throat

I actually find these guys pretty endearing.

Being a responsible consumer of metaphysical information ain’t always easy, peeps. I’ve noted in the last several years an abundance of TV programs that if viewed uncritically, can really make you wonder why you’re not having dramatic exciting paranormal experiences like, say, being lightly scratched by demons on the regular. Or being chased by Bigfoot.

I’m including a TV guide-of-sorts to deciphering the idiotic from the sublime, the real from the fake, and the weird from the really weird. Or something.

FAKE: Any plot device on Mountain Monsters or Alaska Monsters or pretty much Monster-anything.

REAL: Redneck ingenuity. That shit is real. The traps and contraptions they build are pretty clever despite the fact that all they ever seem to catch is, well, themselves. A bunch of colorful characters carting their big asses around the backwoods in a goddamn golfcart, a-whoopin’ and a-hollerin’ is a bollocks way of trying to catch an elusive creature, but is far more interesting to watch than a bunch of people sitting quietly for hours on end up in deer stands.

FAKE: Members of the cast or crew becoming possessed by eeeeevil forces, mysteriously and suddenly.

REAL: Experiencing headaches or strange sensations while on a monster or ghost quest, which are often subconsciously self-induced. Yeah, I said it. You’re all jazzed about capturing good evidence but you’re all jacked on Mountain Dew, holding your breath and trying not to fart audibly, which, let’s face it, is a great way to freak yourself the fuck out.

FAKE: Mediums, psychics, intuitives and the like getting 100% of the details correct, 100% of the time. If it looks or sounds like this, it’s editing. Most intuitives have their truly great moments, but it’s certainly not all the time.

REAL: Getting about 80% of the details correct, most of the time.

REALLY RUDE AND PROLLY FAKE: Walking up to randos in public and telling them you have a message from their dead relative right damn now. Really? This is a massive boundary problem, both with the living and the dead, and really fucking immature. What if they’re not okay with you telling them Aunt Myrna says that the money is in the banana stand?

REAL AND SOCIALLY LESS STANKY: Getting a strong feeling, deciding if it’s worth annoying someone just trying to do their grocery shopping, and skipping the dramatic reveal in the middle of the frozen vegetable aisle. Context is everything here –  if you see folks doing this type of reveal, it’s because their director told them to, or because they have a really strong need for attention. Ethical folk avoid making people uncomfortable, especially in public.

REALLY WEIRD: As part of a paranormal research team, declaring that unusual phenomena in a home or around a person is omg akshully a daymin, without any sort of medical, neurological, or psychological assessment, to say nothing of a good plumbing, electrical and structural assessment of the dwelling. This seems to be happening more frequently of late; when paranormal shows first gained traction in the early aughts, the topic of demonic bidness never came up. Nowadays, it seems like Ole Nick’s minions are, like, everywhere.

LESS WEIRD: After carefully weighing the evidence, attempting to first rule out alternate and far more parsimonious explanations such as seizure disorders, psychosis, high EMF fields due to power line proximity, dissociative identity disorder, delirium, toxin exposure/drug abuse.


I mean really. A very high percentage the shit you see on these reality shows ain’t even close to reality. It’s doctored, edited, and dramatized, and just really really scripted, y’all. In many cases I suspect there’s a lot of off-camera staging of sounds, voices, knocks, you name it.

She gets to dress like this because olden times.

She gets to dress like this because olden times.

You wanna know what really paints my ass red? The sensitives, spirit mediums, and intuitives who show up wearing a gothy ren faire ensemble. OH MY LORDT.

You do not want to go skulking around some ancient prison or abandoned hospital in a velvet ballgown or Sith Lord cape unless you want to end up rolling around in the dirt like some kind of fool.  Madame Blavatsky you are not. Which is good, because honey she’s dead.

I once quit working in a metaphysical bookstore because I couldn’t deal with the drama there, drama which included what I can only describe as costumed staff sort of flapping around in Ren Faire attire and waving their hands a lot as they assessed your “energies”. Hoo golly. (Sure, I see dead people sometimes, but I really don’t think that going full-on Stevie Nicks is the best way to facilitate the ensuing convo.)  I would show up in my black Adidas Sambas, drainpipe jeans, Boondock Saints hoodie and giant hoop earrings, because that’s mostly what I wear when I’m not seeing patients, and immediately get shaded. It took me months before I realized that it was because I was violating an unspoken airy-fairy, woo-woo dress code.


Often in consultations, it becomes apparent that a client is really gifted for intuitive work. What saddens me is that just as frequently, they will then express fear or hesitancy in developing these abilities further. And you know what, I can hardly blame them. When all you’ve been exposed to in terms of metaphysical pursuits is people who run around on the daily like they’re auditioning for the role of the warlock in, well, the movie Warlock, or who cannot seem to talk about anything other than overtly magickal topics…it tends to discourage further development.

Intuitive work simply doesn’t require a performative stance towards your client or case. Wearing costumes 24-7 or using overly a lot of arcane terms connotes a fundamental inauthenticity, a difficulty in being real, and I tend to distrust things that aren’t real. Most practicing shamans and readers I respect have a day job, and while they might adorn themselves with a few tchotchkes, they don’t roll out of the house clad in head-to-toe Hello Look At Me I Haz Powers ensemble every day. While I greatly enjoy playfulness and self-expression through fashion, there’s a limit here, and it exists at that point where people find the crafted persona more interesting than the message being relayed.

So. All that said, it’s time to jam out to DJ Kool.















Phone: (720) 235-8135
Website: justineuselding.com
Email: askdrding@askdrding.com


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