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  • Writer's pictureJayna Newbold

What's in YOUR Frontal Lobe?

Dear Hearts,

I hope all is well in your neck of the woods these days!

Lately, in this survival-of-the-fittest situation which we're living, I am reminded of a basic psychological theory we all know and love: Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.

If you flunked Psych 101, slept through "Maslow Day" (don't judge me), or never took the class in the first place, have no fear as I have taken the liberty of providing a snapshot.

Asserting that there is "order" to survival, psychological theorist Henry Maslow's list of basic human needs goes something like this: 1) Physiological; 2) Safety; 3) Love; 4) Esteem; 5) Self-Actualization. Higher needs in the hierarchy begin to emerge when people feel they have sufficiently satisfied the previous one. All of the above are interchangeable depending upon circumstances and, sometimes, stages of life. Naturally, there's more to it, but Dear Hearts are smart. You get the gist.

While I believe we all can relate to where good old Henry was coming from when he came up with his theory, I'm uncertain as to whether or not he ever lived through a technologically-dependent society in the midst of a COVID pandemic, and was sequestered for six weeks or more while trying to work from home dealing with homeschooling his kids in Common Core Math (Maybe he did. Somebody fact check me on that, please).

We've all seen the commercial for a popular credit card company. You know, the one where an actor opens with the question, "What's in your wallet?". Yes, I'm going somewhere with this. Come along, Dear Hearts.

In these trying times -- where, although money, food, and toilet paper still matter -- I'm more interested in what we have in our frontal lobes. You know, the one that's primarily responsible for conjuring up stuff? In the interest of said curiosity, Dear Hearts, I have done the world a favor by coming up with my own set of hierarchical needs for this crazy time. Mine go a little something like this: 1). Physiological, Safety, Esteem, Love, Self-actualization (all of Maslow's lumped into one. Don't judge me. Keep reading)

2). CREATIVITY (The ability to use that noodle in your noggin to achieve any item listed above).

3). Walk Away.

Simple, right?

Allow me to elaborate. If you find yourself lacking these days -- let's say . . .food, for example. You open the fridge and see nothing but mayonnaise and eggs. Sorry, Dear Heart, but love and esteem -- as nice and warm fuzzy as they are -- aren't going to help you. You need to get creative! Number two is your only option!

Or, let's take another example -- one which called for number three (see above). I'll use my own situation to help you understand.

Two weeks ago, I experienced technological glitch after glitch. On a tech-skill scale of one to ten, I'm about a minus two with a frustration level that can go from zero to ninety in a heartbeat. My solution was to text my kids all day (who are about an eleven on the tech-skill scale, but a negative five on the one that measures oh-my-goodness-mom-is-having-computer-issues-it's-your-turn-to-deal-with-her) with my rant.

I truly am the worst. My late husband was a wizard at programming, troubleshooting, etc. And he had the patience of Job. But Job wasn't married to me . . .so, there's that. He even once told his corporate VP that I was his worst user. It's true. We always laughed about that together, but the reality is, my love / hate relationship with technology is one for the books.

After my frustration mounted to the point of almost a waterfall of tears (Again, don't judge me. I'm a natural born "leaker" of the eyeballs. I cry when I'm happy, sad, excited, frustrated, you name it), and after texting my kids all day produced no solution, I had to completely skip number two and go directly to number three.

Yes, Dear Hearts, sometimes you have to just walk away. Sleep on it. Things are better in the morning. And you know what? They were! ZOOM and AT&T resolved their security issues (See? It wasn't me or my hardware after all!) and et voila! But back to number two. This is a better story! Trust me.

Last week, I did a porch drop off of items I knew my friend needed and was unable to obtain. She is a grandmother of three and since her grown kids work in essential service capacities, she has been homeschooling and boarding all three children for the past several weeks. When I texted her to let her know I would leave her items on her front porch, she returned her message containing a profuse "thank you" followed by six emoji's and instructed me to return to my car afterward, but to stay in the driveway because the children (ages six through ten) had something to show me.

Once I completed my mission and returned to my vehicle, out came one of the kids. Representing the Corona Virus, she was dressed in a red M&M costume (undoubtedly left at Grandma's last Halloween) and had somehow fastened about twenty-five red golf tees - point in, head out - all over the front. Clever! The second she bounded out the front door, this normally calm, sweet, little girl maniacally ran all around the front yard, shooting everything in sight with her pointer finger, shouting, "Pew pew!". Next, came another kid, nonchalantly walking around. Just as "Corona M&M" spied him, she started for her target. But then, out from behind a bush, sprang a third kid, dressed in tights and a cape, wearing a face mask and goggles. He leaped in between Corona M&M and her prey, and quickly slapped a face mask on the other kid. Then, the two kids pretended to beat the snot out of the Corona M&M. Signaling the end of their little play, all three stood up, held hands and took turns bowing. My friend sent a text to inform me that the children made this little play up all by themselves as a thank you to me for bringing supplies. I laughed, applauded, and yes, Dear Hearts, I "leaked" out the eyeballs. Like many of you, I have had the pleasure of attending many professional Broadway level productions. As an opera singer and symphony violinist, I have experienced the distinct honor of performing in some of the Great Halls myself. But nothing compares to the creativity, generosity, thoughtfulness, and gratitude of this performance by these three children. All over social media, I see your creativity, Dear Hearts. It is the one global survival characteristic that is helping us get through this insanity. Whether it is science developing a cure (yes, there is a creative component to science), entertainment, caring for a sick loved one, fashioning a mask out of whatever we can find around the house, creativity is definitely number two on this Happy Heart Writer's hierarchy of needs!

I'm pretty certain that if Henry Maslow were alive today, he would feel the same.

So, I ask you: What's in your frontal lobe? Stay safe and be well.

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