Revisiting the Why of What I Do

My Manhattan Office

How my New York office looked from where I sat for many years

Reposted from August 2016

[The panorama above of my Manhattan office shows so much of what has been important to me. The watercolor over the couch was painted by my mother, an accomplished artist, may she Rest in Peace. The stone Buddha head was a cherished gift that I gave a colleague when shlepping it home on the subway proved too daunting. The glowing shape near the far window is a Himalayan salt lamp. The green mid-century modern chair is the only furniture I brought with me to Florida where I now live and work. It sits in my garage awaiting refurbishing, its woven tape faded and badly snagged often and enthusiastically by the cat after I brought it home.]

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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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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.

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Photo by meo on Pexels.com

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.

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Flatiron Building, Photo by Kai Pilger on Pexels.com

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.

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Photo by Tobias Aeppli on Pexels.com

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 have ended 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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Solemnly Remembering Paradise

My friend David in Northern California posted this most timely and saddening blog post today. Thank you, David. Puts into perspective the fact that I stopped up the garbage disposal (again) with vegetable peelings 🙄. May the healing of body, heart and mind, and of our precious Mother Nature begin in every needed way.

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Ashes of Paradise (taken at noon Thursday) ~d nelson

Remembering that time when
my journey landed me upon
a special high forested mountainside,
inhabited, mostly, with friendly older folks,
who called the place Paradise.
Perhaps you can remember
such a pleasant place, yourself.

Ashes of Paradise 2 (taken at noon on Thursday)

Hadn’t thought about Paradise
for such a long time
until the other day when darkness
suddenly descended at noon
and its ashes rained down on my valley.
A local witness said it was like the gates of hell opened up.

Ashes of Paradise 5 ~usda

Breathing in (with a carbon filtered mask), I taste smoke, again.
Breathing out, clean carbon dioxide.
Sadly reflecting on those lost, newly homeless,
continued windy, bone-dry conditions,
realizing another catastrophic California inferno.
Details are easily found on current news & here.  (my local air quality below)

Ashes of Paradise 6 ~epa

As…

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Under the Bodhi Tree and Serendipity

Good morning! My daily inbox treat from Tricycle magazine recently featured a promotion for a wonderful new children’s book called Under the Bodhi Tree, and this video of the book is narrated beautifully. The voice of Kriste Peoples is perfect for the text. The book gives a lyrical account of the awakening of Siddhartha Gautama.

Now that we’re more or less settled after the move, after just two weeks, I’m beginning to emerge from the state of intensity in which we’ve lived since June when we headed north to sell the house. It was a frenzy of decluttering, packing, making various arrangements and so forth. I even sold my Prius I had kept up there. The one big thing I forgot to do was have the satellite radio activated on my Florida car. It worked fine until Thursday when it shut down. Turns out there was a freebie period going on, and then it ended. So while we were parked in the Aldi lot before doing some food shopping, we called in and after a lengthy call got it reinstated.

We experienced an amazing confluence of kindness, generosity and serendipity over the last three and a half months. A friend and a cousin helped us empty the attic and sort the contents. We gave them art and lovely smaller things in gratitude. A neighbor came by to say goodbye and graciously took away the remaining contents of my refrigerator plus a wrought iron cupcake rack I was planning to leave behind. Despite a slow real estate market the wonderful realtor we chose did an amazing job and had us under contract in just over a week after the listing went live online. We sold some old jewelry and silver items we never used for just what the movers charged. We sent down 37 boxes of personal treasures and needs and a lot of original art. A main concern of mine was where I would put everything once it arrived. We sold the house fully furnished and equipped, so my lovely china closet stayed behind. My husband also needed a desk for his iMac, so we’d been visiting furniture and consignment stores this past week.

We found a stunning solid hardwood china cabinet at a consignment store. It had been sitting there for months so our lower offer was accepted, and we got it delivered yesterday. Now I have shelves awaiting my mother’s Blue Quail china and other much loved things. Right now it holds my butterfly tea set, some Fiesta pieces and a cast iron Dutch oven, just to fill the shelves for now. It’s 8 feet tall and beautifully made. It reminds me of an antique store window on the Rue Royale in the French Quarter.

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The heavy Murano Glass bowl on the top shelf was lovingly carried back from Italy by my mother in 1955 who held it on her lap on the plane. I have carried it everywhere I’ve lived since she died over 13 years ago. I stashed it in a big duffel bag well padded with clothing to bring it down to Florida two weeks ago. Spot the Buddha on the second shelf? I rescue any that I find and can afford (I once found one in an antique store in the Village that was very old and selling for $13,000. I didn’t take that one!) in thrift stores and antique places. This Buddha is a glass tealight candle holder.

Once we found this lovely piece, we redoubled our efforts to find the office furniture my husband needs. Everything we found was either too large for the space or two small for the iMac. We even found an office armoire of beautiful wood with all the bells and whistles, but it was very expensive and he didn’t love it. We looked online and mulled over many options. At last we found a number of suitable desks on Joss and Main (a Wayfair site) and chose a nice, simple one with a keyboard drawer that was inexpensive and looks easy to assemble. We’ll have it and the chair we chose by the end of the week. Easy peasy!

That’s it for now. It feels good to be blogging more regularly. Life changes, but there will always be interesting things to find and share.

Namasté

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Your Diversion: Spring

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Photo courtesy of Emilie Leger, Deviant Art

It’s Spring! Happy Dance! It’s just a date, as the weather forecasts remind us, but it’s something! As you no doubt are aware, the vernal (spring) equinox means that the night hours are equal to the day hours, and the days are getting longer, as opposed to the autumnal equinox when they start to get shorter.

I’ve been remiss in posting original things of late due to life challenges of various kinds. You know, medical appointments of the “we’re getting older” variety, legal things to bring up to date, issues related to being snowbirds. Stuff we can handle, but that also require excellent self-care. The other day it was doing 3 loads of laundry and making dinner after a fun day of being out and about. I made a video of our visit to the city dock. We love to visit the pelicans. They are such majestic birds. A woman and her children were speaking with a fisherman who was cleaning fish, and the pelicans were hopeful for scraps. He couldn’t give them any, however, because pelicans can’t digest the bones of fish any larger than they can catch in their beaks. All the fish seen at the start of the video were larger than that. The red ones were called vermillions, and the biggest was a grouper. The fish he was filleting was a porgy.

We try to get out to the City Dock often. It was mostly destroyed in Hurricane Irma and we’d been watching the rebuilding process avidly. There were huge cranes brought in to set pilings and do other big tasks. The little covered sitting area was gone, so a new one has been put up, and yards of old, unsafe pier, once a favorite hangout for pelicans and manatees, were dismantled and removed.

My cousin is here for a visit ❤️, so this is my post for today. We’re headed for Tommy Bahama for lunch! Mmm.

Namasté, y’all!

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 32

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Another week has passed since I began this weekly blog, 32 weeks in all so far. What do we know? Plenty, and you can learn all about it on your Apple News feed, Flipboard, Twitter, Facebook, television news, local or national newspaper (paper or digital) or whatever reliable source you prefer. Even late night talk shows often give important information. Please support real journalism, the kind that is well-researched, fact-based, honest, and a crucial pillar of our Democracy. Too many are getting all their news from non-journalistic sources such as extremist websites and blogs. We all deserve to exercise our rights to knowledge and truth.

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“Anger” from Pixar’s “Inside Out”

What do we do when we are forcefully misunderstood, misheard, misattributed, falsely accused, or otherwise blasted with anger by another? A knee-jerk reflex is to hit back in like anger. Oh, yeah? Did not! You’re wrong! What’s the matter with you? So how do we avoid the knee-jerk response? First, consider the context of the comment. Despite our first defensive reaction, we may find a grain or more of truth in what is being hurled at us so angrily. Have we offended the other person? If so, do we need to make amends? It may help to re-explain our position, decision, or perhaps even reshape our plans. Even if the accusations are totally baseless, blasting back angrily solves nothing and only pours more fuel on the bonfire.

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Lao Tzu, the ancient Chinese philosopher who is believed to have predated both Confucius and the Buddha, offers us four simple rules of personal conduct that can soften the hardest heart if the willingness exists:

  • Reverence for all Life
  • Gentleness
  • Natural Sincerity
  • Supportiveness

Try them, they really work!

The beautiful glass sculptures above are the creations of Artful Ashes, a company taking a tablespoon or so of a loved one’s ashes (human or animal) and incorporating them into small works of art. I stumbled on this on Pinterest and was surprised at how lovely they are. The white swirl is created by the ashes, and on the website they explain how carefully they track your sample to make sure the one you get contains the ashes you sent in.

I’ve been waiting for just the right week to end my post with this poignant tune by Paul McCartney. I bought the album “Memory Almost Full” years ago but had forgotten this song until I heard it recently when the Phillies honored the members of the team who have passed since their last Alumni Day. It really touched me.

Namasté

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A to Z Challenge: E is for Elementary

E is for Elementary. Here in our part of the US, public grade schools or primary schools, are called elementary schools and serve kindergarten through 6th grade, as a rule. Some of the private or charter schools are called academies or day schools or even country day schools. It took me a while to find a good E for this challenge. Everything I thought was an elm tree turned out to be a poplar or something else. Then I remembered our local elementary school!

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Here in our little town of Pocono Pines, Pennsylvania we have an elementary school, Tobyhanna Elementary Center. From their website, we learn what a comprehensive educational center it is for a town of less than 1,500 residents. Opened in 1981, this rural public school draws students from our township and two others.

Tobyhanna Elementary Center, commonly referred to as TEC, is one of the elementary schools located within the Pocono Mountain School District. TEC serves students in the townships of Tobyhanna, Tunkhannock and a portion of Coolbaugh. Tobyhanna Elementary Center consists of close to 700 students and more than 70 professional employees and support staff.
TEC opened in 1981 and now houses 30 classrooms, a cafeteria/multipurpose room, a gymnasium, and a library. Students and faculty also use two computer labs and classroom computers.
The student body consists of children in grades kindergarten through six. In addition to education in the core curriculum areas, students attend library, music, art, physical education, and health (grades 5 & 6). Students enjoy many extracurricular activities in addition to their school day, such as band and chorus. Students have the option to participate in intramural activities (STEM Club, Odyssey of the Mind, Green Team, SGA).

I’m impressed! And I am grateful that our town offers our children and those from nearby towns the S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) exposure so crucial to our collective future in an evolving world.

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Inspired by my WordPress friend Ruth, I decided to take the A to Z Challenge around my little town of Pocono Pines, Pennsylvania. In the 2010 Census, the population was 1,409 persons. We have one gas station, an art gallery/gift store with wonderful artisan wares, a magisterial court office, an ice cream stand, a pizza place, a family restaurant, one bank, several real estate offices, a US post office, a produce stand, an elementary school, a public library, several residential developments, and a number of other businesses. We are located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania, about 35 miles from New Jersey and two hours from New York City. We have two lakes and are 1,805 feet above sea level.

Father Kindness

This poignant poem and sweet photo posted today by a dear friend really do say it all. Happy day to all who read this, father or not! My dad died 32 years ago. He never reached retirement age and the comforting coverage of Medicare as I have. I know he’d be appalled at obscene attempts to remove healthcare benefits from millions now. How I miss him! Happy Father’s Day, Daddy. 😘

Na'ama Yehuda

fatheringPhoto: C. Moriah-Gibor

Be a father to the vulnerable

Guide the path of those who need

A lift

A helping hand.

Be a father to those seeking

To find shelter

Who need help to

Understand.

Show the way.

Provide

Kind counsel.

If by biology or presence

Be the best

Model

You can.

For it is by kindness

That fathering

Takes hold

And

Grows children

Strong

In body, heart

And mind.

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