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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No One is Above the Law

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything.

Life has been busy here as we continue to unpack, put away, and sometimes even donate or discard the contents of the many boxes of original art and many other things we shipped to our new full-time residence. As I’ve said before, we once were snowbirds and now are flamingos. Every week we’re cutting up cardboard to put out with the recycling. Medical appointments, regular exercise with walks, gym and pool, and endlessly shopping for fresh and healthy food as we eat to improve our wellbeing, all have taken up much of our time of late. It is what it is.

We voted here in Florida on the first day of early voting and watched the coverage late into Tuesday night. We’re thrilled about the blue wave of progressive women and men, veterans, many of them very young and some LGBT, some Native Americans, and all patriots. As an aging lefty, I am so glad the new guard has stepped up so energetically for our collective good. But that wave didn’t make it down here, unless recounts change the senate and gubernatorial races. And yesterday’s unhinged WH press conference, subsequent AG firing, and later the pulling of a journalist’s hard WH press pass after he stood his ground, should leave no doubt in our minds that an autocrat is swinging a cudgel wildly and is very, very dangerous.

If the firing of Jeff Sessions and elevation of a staffer who has called the Mueller investigation a “witch-hunt” to the position of acting attorney general has caused you to fear for our republic, take heart from the protests being held today at 5 pm local time nationwide. Check here to locate the gathering nearest to you. Even in very red SW FL, we have one right near us. It’s never too late to suit up and show up.

Namasté

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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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Animals and Difficult Choices

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Wow! The circus animals depicted on the Animal Crackers box have been freed into their African habitat. How wonderful! I may have resumed eating some beef and chicken for reasons I will explain, but my love and concern for all beings remain very strong.

For about 10 years I have been a fervent, even strident, vegetarian, a large part of that time as a vegan. I eschewed silk, leather and honey. And then my husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and it turned our world up side down. And the Universe brought a number of people and articles into our awareness about a radical new treatment for AD. It’s called the ReCODE Protocol devised by UCLA neurologist Dale Bredesen, MD. We scoffed at first, but I did some research and also asked a clinician who treats AD if it was snake oil or just plain bullshit. She assured me it was legit, adding that a member of the medical staff had presented on it and said it was the real deal. The initial study included only 10 subjects but nine showed significant reversal of their cognitive decline after following the protocol. Dr. Bredesen has proposed a larger study and is awaiting approval by the UCLA institutional review board.

The ReCODE Protocol consists, in a nutshell, of a gluten-free diet that induces mild ketosis, fasting, and individually tailored supplements following extensive blood work and genetic testing, and medication. So I began preparing three meals a day for him following the protocol, and we had to find sources of grass fed beef and pastured chicken and eggs, and wild caught fish (except large fish such as tuna, shark, swordfish because of the mercury in their tissues). This ketogenic way of eating is important to reducing the environment in the body conducive to AD symptoms.

We found grass-fed ground beef at our local supermarket and I made a meatloaf. Pinterest has great ketogenic recipes and I found a winner. I hadn’t realized how much I’d missed beef until this meatloaf was cooking. It was delicious. Then we went to a farm here in northeast Pennsylvania that sells grass-fed and grass-finished beef (some grassfed cattle are sent to standard feedlots to be fattened before slaughter) and bought a chuck roast and a brisket. When the chuck roast was cooking, the aroma was amazing, and it was fork tender and very tasty. I asked the farmer how they were raised and slaughtered, and he assured me both were humane. “They’re my babies,” he said. “I take them there myself. It’s done humanely. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

A local heath food store sells organic pastured chicken and organic, unpastured and uncured chicken sausages. I began making jerk chicken in the crockpot, another winner. I still eat vegetarian sausages because I like them. I serve his and mine with sauerkraut. Fermented foods are strongly encouraged, and I make mashed cauliflower with pastured butter and organic miso which make it creamy and tasty, and miso is fermented. We also make zucchini noodles and cauliflower rice. I steam a head of organic cauliflower at least once a week, and I also make cauliflower home fries to serve him with his morning eggs. It’s a high fat diet, and we use avocados and olive oil dressings, and I cook with lots of avocado oil, coconut oil, and pastured ghee and butter. I prepare salmon patties using wild caught canned salmon mixed with Old Bay seasoning, chopped onion and green pepper, plus one egg, which makes four patties that he loves. One with veggies is usually enough, but sometimes he has two.

We found a doctor who was trained by Dr. Bredesen to treat my guy and she is helping us refine his plan according to the testing. He has lost a lot of weight, so she added brown rice, millet and quinoa to his diet. He is to eat a whole avocado daily. I was eventually too busy and stressed to keep preparing for two very divergent food plans, so I began eating meat again and maybe I was weak, but I’m at peace with it. I also have lost about 12 pounds after adding beef and chicken. Doing so has sped up my weight loss and moved me to within about 10 pounds of my goal.

So I’m so happy Nabisco changed the Animal Crackers box to reflect the reality that the circus has closed and the animals have been released to humane sanctuaries. I have gratitude for the animals who end up on our plates. I hope those who remain vegetarian and vegan will understand my decision to leave the fold. If not, be glad you don’t have to make the kinds of changes we have made in our lives to accommodate and hopefully reverse the cognitive decline of AD. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. The future is uncertain for all of us. But for us it is scary.

Namasté

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A wonderful day in my neighborhood

We both needed haircuts, and my Florida hairdresser said I should look for a good barber to maintain the very short cut I’m rocking these days, so I joined the mister when he went for a cut for himself. Our barber Louis at Brand’s Barber & Co gave us each a great look, and before we left a musician came in to play some tunes, and when I told him I used to have a Stratocaster he even urged me to take his guitar for a few minutes, and when I actually picked out a few tentative notes of Freight Train, the guys all applauded! Haven’t touched my acoustic guitar in years, and his steel strings really smarted, but it was such fun!

Sad News About Missing Man

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Some time ago, I reposted my friend Xenia Tran’s blog post about a man from Scotland who went missing after a bachelors party in Hamburg, Germany. Here’s a link to today’s post, and it contains a link to her original post.

Haibun: Missing in Hamburg

Life brings us all heartaches and bad news. We’ve had both in our lives of late. We got a devastating diagnosis with no hope for a cure, and my dear uncle’s wife has died. We can’t go to the funeral because of our own health drama currently unfolding, but we sent cards and expressed our love and condolences. Despite this sadness and concern we feel for ourselves and our immediate and extended family, we are able to feel deeply for others, and doing so is very important and even healing for us.

Our hearts go out to Liam’s family and his friends.

With much love,

and gratitude for our many blessings,

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 52

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Week 52 has arrived and I’m pretty late in getting to it. I’m not sure why my blogging year is up before January 20th, but so it is! It’s been a busy week for us, nothing worth noting here, but plenty nevertheless. The news continues to create stress and distress, especially the devastating mudslides in Southern California. It’s heartbreaking to see the damage and even worse to learn about the deaths of people and countless pets. Sometimes it feels as if Mother Nature is trying to shake us loose with earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, fires and floods.

 

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Hillary Brooke (1914-1999) (photo from Wikipedia)

My first diversion this week is a tribute to a woman I knew in childhood, actress Hillary Brooke. She was an actress, first noticed in “New Faces of 1937” and she appeared in Abbott and Costello sketches and even had a role in the ‘70s TV show “Soap” and My Little Margie” decades before that. Her name was Hillary Brooke. I met her as a friend of my godmother, a lovely Englishwoman who worked as a diction coach in the film industry and taught Hillary her distinctive, plummy British accent. She was born in Astoria, Queens, after all! Hillary gave me my set of Mary Poppins books, and took me hitchhiking when I was about 12 years old during a stay at my godmother’s mountain cabin, after walking back from the little town center tired us out. She had a dog, a black Scottie named Barney. Hillary was the most glamorous, fascinating woman I’d met at that time. Growing up in Southern California, I met quite a few people in the entertainment industry, most friends and clients of my father. Hillary was the first, and I remember her with love.

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Photo by Peter Landers, Wall Street Journal

Okay, next I have a weird diversion for you. In Japan an unusual version of Coca Cola is grabbing attention. Called Coca Cola Plus, it contains a high fiber, laxative additive that fans believe allows them to eat unhealthy food and not digest the fat, thereby leading some to dub it “weight loss cola” as opposed to regular or “fat” cola. If you have trouble accessing the WSJ article here, since they have a paywall, TimeOut Beijing has the goods. And the text in the second link is funnier!

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Now, remember Superstorm Sandy? So does the City of New York, and the City as an investment entity recognizes climate change as the result of fossil fuels raising the planet’s temperature. Therefore, the City is severing ties with their fossil fuel investments. This divestiture could be a huge deal in global economics and spur positive change.

And there’s no one like Bob Dylan to remind us that A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall.

Cheers, all, and…

Namasté

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