Your Weekly Diversion, Week 4

Diversion seems essential these days. I get mine from observing the birds, turtles and dragonflies on the large pond behind our place, reading well-written legal novels and police procedurals, cooking and baking, walking and working out, visiting with friends and family, and enjoying the gorgeous Florida weather, sugar-sand beaches and gulf waters. And my writing is less of a diversion and more of focused, creative process, which thanks to WordPress and the Daily Post I’m doing much more regularly. I also read the blogs of my fellow WordPressers. Many have inspired me to do more, write better, and persevere. We really have some great writers in this community. I’ve begun a series of short stories on this blog, or perhaps chapters of something bigger, but for now it’s at least a serial fiction. Lit crit is welcomed!

So where are we this week with diversions?

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Do you meditate regularly? Me, too, but there are many kinds of meditation, and you might enjoy trying something new.

 

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Did you ever wonder what your choice of car color may mean about you? Gas Buddy has some answers.

 

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Photo courtesy of Demoose, airliners.net.

 

 

 

 

 

I never knew how dehydrating inflight air can be until I read several blogs on the subject. I don’t fly more than once or twice a year, but some of my friends and family take lengthy flights across the globe with some frequency. Info in these three blogs might just save your skin. Really! Even you guys might learn something you can use.

 

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Flow chart courtesy of Ferguson fan @tbskyen

Lastly, I need to remember this above all. Truly. I mean tattoo it on the insides of my eyelids. Or print it out and put it on a mirror or inside of a cupboard door, or over my desk. These short questions are golden. Many thanks to Craig Ferguson for asking them. He probably wasn’t the first to say them, but he has brought them to the masses, i.e. us. In fact, this may be the best part of this post today.

So, Lionel Richie:

Namasté

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 2

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Howdy, ya’ll. Well, we’ve made it through another week of  crazy news and stressful circumstances, so here’s what I’ve been noting down this week for you to enjoy or learn from.

First you might be interested in the latest from Martin & Company. Back in the 70s I knew a guy who worked there, and he told me employees got to make their own guitar.

Now, did you know that President Barack Obama published three (3) scholarly articles in esteemed journals this month alone? Me neither, and I’ve scanned them, and they’re pretty impressive. No other sitting president has done this, I believe. Boy, do I miss him!

It looks like any official efforts by the United States to stem climate change aren’t going to happen in the next four years, but as I posted last week, Forbes Magazine published this great article telling us what each of us can do, so let’s do our part. By the way, check out how many scientists have decided to run for office since January 20, 2017. Cool, right?

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Photo by Troy Dillard, courtesy of Lion’s Roar

As a Buddhist, I am very grateful that my people turned out in women’s marches all over the world last Saturday. Check this out. That’s the very cool abbot Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara of the Village Zendo in the pussy hat, which you’ll see when you scroll through the article.

And I want to leave you with your feet tapping and your heart soaring so let’s hear it for the indomitable Carole King who re-released this for the Women’s March she attended in the Northern Tier. She offers this song, “One Small Voice” to us all free to stream and download.

 

Namasté

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Opening Up to Learning

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Image from PNG Mart

Take a habit, tweak it a bit and open your world! When my habitual evening iPad crawl lost a regular haunt when the NBC News Breaking News app was put to bed for the last time on New Year’s Eve, I found some new haunts and my eyes opened anew.

A favorite haunt I still enjoy is Recolor. Here’s an image I colored this week, using my Apple Pencil:

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Recolor image colored by Shielagh

Recolor isn’t totally, freshly creative if you use their line drawings, but you can upload your own drawings and color those. The color palette in the free version is quite extensive, many with gradient effects such as those above. The creativity is in which colors you choose to put where. There are extra metallic and pearly ones, and more, that you can buy, but I haven’t wanted to buy any so far. I’m not a great one for in-app purchases for anything.

I still enjoy the daily New York Times Crossword and credit it with helping to keep my aging brain more agile than it might otherwise be. And I torture myself with “hard” level sudoku, usually resorting to “medium” and I soon lose interest.

But, back to the learning of new things!

I’ve been capturing interesting articles and saving them on Google Keep, which by the way is an amazing tool. This week I found the following:

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Photo by Todd Hido, New York Times

A feature on Dr. B J Miller in the New York Times Magazine fanned an ember in my being of working with death and dying, as I did for several years in an outpatient HIV-AIDS unit. His own painful life journey has formed the foundation of a most unusual and giving human being. This TED Talk with Dr. B J is worth checking out.

Not all my finds are as profound as the amazing work of  Dr. B J. Some are just delightful in their own right, or useful, or fun, or seriously instructive.

Now-13-year-old Grace Vanderwaal wowed me with her performance of an original composition on “America’s Got Talent.” Watch this one! She’s already on a rocketship to stardom.

On the blog Style by Emily Henderson I found her style quiz. She nailed me! How about you?

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Photo: Kaylyn Messer

Photographer Kaylyn Messer happened upon an exquisitely perfect circle of ice in a river.

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Blogs abound with how-tos but this one really intrigued me. Nika Rouss shows us how to paint a still life using a combination of stencils, sponged on colors, finger treatment, markers and more. Very cool!

As a psychologist who treats anxiety disorders, I found this short video on social anxiety to be very clear and even fun as it addresses this painful problem so many struggle with. In fact, I have found that for many alcoholics I’ve treated, disabling social anxiety often preceded their addiction. So when they get sober, that social anxiety may return with a vengeance and therefore needs to be understood and compensated for. It’s okay. Even though we believe ourselves to be in the spotlight, usually we’re all just bozos on the bus.

And now, because you’ve been so good at wading through my week’s discoveries, here’s a treat for your ears and those stompin’ feet!

Namasté

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Innovations and Learning Every Day

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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

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Why Buddhists Should be Vegetarian

As a Buddhist and imperfect vegan who more accurately fits the definition of vegetarian, this post offers much food for thought, if you’ll pardon the unfortunate cliché, and the comments that follow are every bit as thought provoking and helpful in their way as the author’s most excellent writing on the subject. Let us all reason together, explore, discuss, evolve and change for the better. May we try each day to live Metta, or loving kindness, to the very best of our imperfect ability. Namasté, Sonnische/Shielagh

Sujato’s Blog

The Buddha ate meat. This is a fairly well attested fact. The issue of vegetarianism is addressed a few times in the Suttas, notably the Jivaka Sutta of the Majjhima Nikaya. The Buddha consistently affirmed that monastics were permitted to eat meat, as long as it was not killed intentionally for them. There are numerous passages in the Vinaya that refer to the Buddha or the monastics eating meat, and meat is regularly mentioned as one of the standard foods.

For these reasons, the standard position in Theravada Buddhism is that there is no ethical problem with eating meat. If you want to be vegetarian, that is a purely optional choice. Most Theravadins, whether lay or monastic, eat meat, and claim to be acting within the ethical guidelines of the Buddha’s teachings.

This position sits squarely within a straightforward application of the law of kamma, understood as intention. Eating meat…

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What is Psychotherapy?

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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,

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Many Changes, Most Good, Some Hard

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We are relocating, sort of. We are transitioning from Brooklyn, New York part time to northeastern Pennsylvania full time. To say this is a challenge, a monumental adjustment, would be an understatement. This moving is a huge challenge, even though the apartment has been sold furnished, as we strain every muscle, mental as well as physical. Living nearly 25 years in one small city apartment, it would seem a cinch for us to pack up our gear and go. Not so. Stuff hides behind every closet and cupboard door, cubbyhole and forgotten cache spot. We probably put this off too long, but ever since we went into contract we’ve boxed, stuffed, toted, schlepped, donated, discarded and given away a ton of stuff. Nearly all of it carried down three flights of stairs ourselves. Maybe our “never” was we thought we’d never move. Or we thought it would never be this hard, or we never considered the result of bringing new stuff home.

It is really freeing to get rid of excess belongings. The issue was having double of almost everything to make shuttling back and forth the 100 miles or so every week less daunting. So we’ve made at least one and often more trips to the Salvation Army with shoes, clothing, dishes and kitchenware, and other assorted stuff we don’t need. Then there is the quandry of whether or not to keep any winter things. We both elected to keep some winter boots and outerwear, just in case we get surprised by an early snowstorm before heading to our winter snowbird nest, or a late one after we return.

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Earlier this year–or was it late last year?–I ordered an assortment of heirloom seeds from the Grommet, produced by the Hudson Valley Seed Library, a small business devoted to preserving and proliferating the wonderful, flavorful heirloom plants as they were before hybridization and genetic modification “improved” them for us. They are awesome seeds, and I can’t wait to see what they yield for me, a gardener who has relied on garden store seedlings for years. I bought seeds for Cherokee Purple Heirloom Tomato, Swiss Chard, Italian Parsley, Basil and Scallions. I planted them last weekend in my 4′ x 8′ raised bed plot in our community garden. I also planted a couple of big tomato plants from the nursery near us to get a start on this process. There’s nothing tastier than homegrown tomatoes!

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I am opening a new, spacious psychotherapy office next month in the college town of East Stroudsburg, with Pocono Psychiatric Associates. I plan to offer groups once I get settled. This is awesome and very exciting for me,  especially as one who has paid an arm and a leg and another arm for a very small, high-floor Manhattan office that could barely fit me, a client and one other person. The people there are wonderful and I welcome this new phase of my career. Challenges are terminating with clients I will sorely miss, getting my Medicare provider credentials set up for Pennsylvania, changing my address with a myriad of business and personal correspondence entities, and dealing with people who don’t handle change very well. Even if it is wonderful and exciting.Talking to myself here, too.

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On a brighter note, our local seasonal local ice cream stand has dairy-free vanilla soft-serve this year! How cool is that? I had my first dipped vanilla cone in over 5 years last weekend. I’ve been vegan at least that long, imperfect but sincere. And they offer some 24 different flavors that can be added to it. I can see have some tasty work ahead of me!

So out goes the old, mingled with the newer, in with the fresh, and learning new things every single day! Today it was figuring out how to send a fax from home, not an intuitive effort when the phone line is part of the cable package. It’s raining like cats and dogs, as per usual at this time of year. For the second year in a row, the opening events of the tennis season here have been postponed, leaving game-hungry tennis bums thoroughly bummed.

So just one more challenging change. Blue highlights!

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Namasté

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