Innovations and Learning Every Day

cai-guo-qiang-elegy-explosion-event-the-ninth-wave-at-huangpu-riverfront-of-the-power-station-of-art-shanghai-china-6

On January 1, 2017 the NBC News app Breaking News closed down. I checked it several times daily for the latest news and updates on current events. Okay, I checked it compulsively! So when it went away, what to do? I chose to get apps from BlogLovin‘, Flipboard and the venerable BBC. Sure, I do still read news stories, but now I’m perusing sone great blogs and learning new things. All 3 apps invite you to select areas of personal interest so what you see is curated for you. Always stashing promising recipes on Pinterest, I’m pinning cool-sounding recipes like crazy from blogs I never would have seen before.

In this new year, so much new information and many new things abound, as blogs I’m visiting this year so far prove out. I’ve read about:

  • Cai Guo Qiang, a New York artist, has produced some incredible daytime pyrotechnics displays utilizing not just gunpowder but organic vegetable dyes with fantastic results. The photo headlining this blogpost today features “Remembrance” from a Shanghai performance. Learn about a Netflix documentary on Cai here.
  • On Craft Gawker, I found a free, sweet sleeping fox painting by Hungarian artist Panka to use for wallpaper on my iPad and iPhones.
  • I love foaming hand soaps, but they get used up so fast. But wait, you can refill them yourself! I learned how to do it here, using any delicious-scented hand soap of your choice. It took Goo Gone to fully remove the label, but worth it.
  • An innovative new hairdryer (Dyson) that promises great results for around $400. Probably good but just too costly. When hairdressers start using them in my salon, I’ll think about it.
  • A new countertop cooking device called an Instant Pot that serves as rice cooker, slow cooker, steamer and pressure cooker (and even more). Not sure about this one yet. I still remember my mother’s beets-on-the-ceiling story.
  • Mindful Eating as a blending of Buddhist mindfulness and therapeutic treatment of compulsive overeating. Definitely something to implement this year. (Mindfully drinking a very tasty cherry, lemon, grape spirulina Vanilla Vinyasa smoothie as I write.)
  • What I should put in my gym bag. This is a very useful post that I’ll start to implement for Monday’s gym workout.
  • The five dirtiest things you touch every day. Yikes! Who knew that virtually 100% of shopping cart handles have E. coli!

I’d love to hear which apps and blogs you, my much-appreciated readers and subscribers, recommend! Please comment here so we can all learn. Thank you!

Namasté

IMG_0154

What is Psychotherapy?

 

Made with Repix (http://repix.it)

My Manhattan office

In New York City where I practiced for over twenty years, it seemed as if everyone knew what psychotherapy is, even if they hadn’t ever experienced it personally. Occasionally I’d meet with an older patient whose primary physician or psychiatrist had referred them to me for treatment, and they’d say something like, “I don’t know why I’m here or what I’m supposed to do.” A discussion would follow, and soon we’d be “doing psychotherapy” every week. But many elderly people are psychotherapy-savvy, a case in point being a ninety year old woman in New York who had undergone a lengthy psychoanalysis fifty years before she came to me to address a current issue.

image

The techniques I have employed throughout my career, including the newer ones I’ve learned along the way, offer the individual an opportunity to explore experiences and articulate thoughts and emotions never before expressed or if so only incompletely. When someone opens up aloud, insights and meanings often become more clear. I also use the session time to offer information, often referred to as psychoeducation, about the science and processes at work with emotion, cognition, memory, identity, consciousness, and perception. Sometimes I explain the mechanism by way certain medications work to alleviate symptoms and why sometimes they cause other problems.

Not long ago, I closed my New York office, after several years of careful planning and preparation, and opened an office in the college town of East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. I’m fortunate to work with an excellent psychiatrist who sometime refers patients to me, and I find myself explaining again just what psychotherapy is. In the early days, I devote session time to asking questions about the individual’s history, family of origin, and what brings them in. The answer to the latter often is simply, “The doctor said I should see you, so I’m here.” When someone relates certain problems, I will administer a questionnaire to clarify symptoms and experiences.

image

So these days, I’m explaining psychotherapy a little more often, and helping shed a light on experiences that have baffled, frightened, confounded or annoyed my patients. I’m describing how certain medications treat depression and why they aren’t good for people with the mood swings of bipolar disorder. I’m cataloging symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and helping patients gauge how much those symptoms interfere with functioning and their overall quality of life. Sometimes just asking a question about obsessions triggers access to a deeper emotional issue never before spoken to another. As I was psychodynamically trained, I enjoy helping a patient explore a dream for its value in clarifying issues, past and current. I take my role as therapist and guide along this most challenging journey very seriously.

As we prepared to move out of New York, I considered retiring. For about five minutes. I got a late start on my career as a psychologist so there’s a practical, financial incentive to continue, but there’s an even more important reason I am still actively working as a clinical psychologist who provides psychotherapy: I love the work. I enjoy meeting new people and sitting down with them to see what we can do together to alleviate their distress, resolve their conflicts, arrive at healthier alternatives to their problematic habits and behaviors, and find greater and deeper meaning in their lives, both in terms of the past, the present, and into the future.

I find it to be a great blessing helping people traverse very intense points on their path, such as dating, marriage or divorce; pregnancy, miscarriage, or birth; seeking, losing, improving or getting new jobs; illness, accident, treatment, death and grief, and as the late death and dying pioneer Dr. Elizabeth Kübler-Ross taught us, acceptance. Acceptance of what has been and of what is, even when we wish it were different. Acceptance of what we’ve done and who we are, and acceptance of our ability to learn and grow and change despite the past, even though it can be extremely challenging and a lot of hard work.

e37dedb5-dc2e-413b-a04f-6f4b64684cff

I alway end these posts with the Sanskrit word namasté, which basically means, “The goodness in me bows to the goodness in you.” And so it is.

Namasté,

IMG_0154

What Beliefs Are We Feeding Our Children?

This sweet, brief post is so sharply to the point, I couldn’t pass the opportunity to share it with my readers. Our human race depends upon our understanding grave threats looming in order to overcome them, if we can.

Endless Light and Love

IMG_9570

How do our children learn to hate, become racist, judgemental or prejudiced?

We all come into this world innocent, we don’t harbour any belief systems, we don’t hold any hate in our hearts, we see every other human being as the same as us, we make friends easily irrespective of social, religious or ethnic differences and we love each other unconditionally…..

…….So what goes wrong, how do we learn these behavioural and emotional traits?

As parents, grandparents and siblings, it is our duty to help our children to grow, to learn and to evolve, to help them achieve the best life they can and live their lives in peace with love and compassion in their hearts, this is our duty…..

Is it yours?……….

Be a part of your child’s life, show them the right ways in life, allow them to meet with and integrate with other children from other religious…

View original post 165 more words

Thanksgiving Thoughts

 

image

Thanksgiving is one of those conduits through this life I’ve been living since 1951. No, I don’t remember each and every one of them, but I do remember many. Here are some of those:

  • The turkey dinners ordered from Zucky’s kosher deli with all the trimmings
  • Mom learning from Gracie how to stuff and truss a turkey, with needle and button thread
  • The lentil loaf we had one year instead of turkey when Mom was a vegetarian
  • Thanksgiving dinner with Granny at the Santa Ynez Inn
  • The year when Lucille put her turkey on the counter and our cat and hers dragged it onto the floor and gnawed on it
  • Making my first pumpkin pie in high school from canned pie filling and a store-bought crust
  • Learning to make pumpkin pie from canned pumpkin and scratch crust
  • Jumping up on down on a scratch crust that refused to turn out, and starting all over again
  • Finally making pumpkin pie from a fresh pumpkin and a frozen crust
  • Getting the Betty Crocker Cookbook and making the turkey and everything for the family
  • Discovering the ubiquitous green bean casserole with French fried onions on top
  • Spending Thanksgivings during boarding school with my aunt and uncle in New Jersey
  • Discovering the ease of the disposable foil roasting pan, learning to put a cookie sheet under it
  • Adding a roasting bag and making the whole thing so much easier
  • Wanting to go to Dysart’s (inspired by Tim Sample) but new friends insisted we join them
  • Spending more than one Thanksgiving serving turkey at a church covered dish supper
  • Realizing there are many different Jell-o salads and Ambrosias, all with lots of whipped topping
  • Becoming a vegetarian briefly and actually making a lentil loaf for our Thanksgiving one year
  • Going on Atkins and eating way more turkey than anyone else at the table, and not much else
  • Watching a Mercy for Animals video on factory farm cruelty to turkeys, cows and other beings
  • Becoming a vegetarian again and eventually going vegan and remaining so
  • Making my first vegan Tofurky Feast, lots of work but good, especially the stuffing and gravy
  • Enjoying the Gardein Holiday Roast, a tasty turkey substitute

image

And that brings me to this Thanksgiving. It was supposed to snow all over the northeast but in New York it only rained yesterday, and Wednesday is a very bad day to try to drive from New York to Pennsylvania, a Gridlock Alert Day, because everyone wants to get out of town at once. So this morning we drove to PA and once we hit New Jersey it snowed the rest of the way. There was about a foot of snow on the back deck, and although our driveway had been plowed this morning, there was another inch or two of fresh snow on our walk and driveway. The house warmed up fast with the fireplace and heat pump working beautifully. I put on my apron and started cooking. I roasted a turkey leg for my husband according to a recipe with rave reviews (it was disappointing), and I made stuffing in the crockpot, mashed potatoes, gravy, and green beans, and a wonderful Field Roast Celebration Roast as my vegan main dish. We had a lovely loaf of cranberry bread, cranberry sauce and olives. I turned to Mary McDougall and the Happy Herbivore for my recipes. Last week I had made butternut squash soup in advance for today. Dessert was a three-berry crumb pie from Fairway, with decaf. Delish!

image

The food was fine, but I am so thankful for my family, our health, my recovery from back pain, our cat, our friends, my Buddhist practice, our material blessings, my work, and so very much more. And this year, as my teacher Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh lies in a hospital in France recovering from a severe brain hemorrhage, I am so thankful to have learned so many valuable lessons for my life from him. I hope and pray for his full recovery. I also understand that at 88 he may transition from this life before long.

image

 

Namaste

IMG_0154

 

 

 

 

 

Guides in Life, For Better

image

How do we allow another to provide us with guidance? It can be so difficult to trust enough to listen, consider, and follow even the best guidance. How do we know the recommended course of action is right for us? How do we know the guide is the right one for us at this particular time?

Think back to those guides who have seen you safely through treacherous terrain. Were they perfect beings? Surely not. Were they without annoying qualities? No one is, you know.  Looking back, do you agree with everything they stood for? It is not necessary for you to now agree with anyone who helped you then, and thankfully so.

As I write this I am reminded of a woman named Gloria, a family friend, and a gifted being who demonstrated strong spiritual faith and abilities. As a teenager I met with her and we just talked, about school, about boys, about my family and the frustrations we were giving each other then. She encouraged me to study, to write and to be true to myself. I listened. And then, as many teens do, I stumbled ahead into adulthood, making so many mistakes, trusting the wrong people, doing the things that make one less safe and not being true to myself. But her strong spirit helped me.  I came to see life very differently than she did, and my parents felt she was too eccentric to remain a friend. But I will always be grateful for the guidance she gave me. In many ways, she showed me how to be a strong woman, one to whom others can turn for help.

So let us not wait for the perfect people to guide us out of the dangers we place ourselves in. Let us listen and learn and know that we too will be guides to others who stumble in ways they do not fully understand, and will not understand until after we are no longer holding the lantern to help them.

image

Namaste

IMG_0154

Exquisite Beauty Transcending Time

 

99 of 100 Views of Edo, by Utagawa Hiroshige

99 of 100 Views of Edo, by Utagawa Hiroshige

We will not be on this earth forever. Our time here is brief. Perhaps we will leave beauty for those who come after us to enjoy. It may be our wisdom, or it may be our art. I grew up with a print of this beautiful wood cut by Utagawa Hiroshige. A little girl stared and stared at this beautiful image of snow over Edo, as Tokyo was known then. Little did she know then that she would come to follow the teachings of the Buddha to whom this temple was built, when she was a grown woman. The beauty with which we adorn our homes and our lives can have amazing influence. May we choose carefully.

Kinryuzan Temple, Asakusa (Asakusa Kinryuzan), No. 99 from One Hundred Famous View of Edo
The color scheme of this composition—red on white—is reserved for propitious occasions, in this case the beginning of winter. The place is the entrance to the temple of the Buddhist deity Kannon in Asakusa, the oldest and most venerable Buddhist temple in Edo. Formally known as Kinryūzan Sensōji, it dates back to 628, when two brothers discovered a tiny gold image of Kannon in their net while fishing on the Sumida River. The image was enshrined here, and over the centuries the temple became the object of a widespread popular following that remains strong today. As with all popular temples in Hiroshige’s time, the Asakusa Kannon Temple was also a major entertainment center.

From the collection of the Brooklyn Museum.

Yes, may we choose very carefully.

Namaste,

IMG_0154