Your Weekly Diversion, Week 31

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Photo courtesy For Arts Sake Boutique

Week 31. Just when you don’t think things can’t get worse, all hell breaks loose and people die. Then the spin machine wobbles, spitting out more crazy, and causing many to scratch their heads nearly bald. As a Buddhist, I was asked recently by a reader of this blog if I hate the president. I’ve been taught, as you probably have, to hate bad actions but not the actor. I said no, but sometimes I know I say that I do, so troubled am I by his demeanor, utterances, actions and incitement to anger and violence. It’s a process.

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Sign available from Rustic Decorating

What should we do with our negative emotions felt towards other beings, especially public figures who seem to be sending our civilization and the world hurtling toward mutually assured destruction? I practice Metta meditation daily, and sometimes, not as often as I wish, I remember to send it toward Washington. I also have used the 12-Step practice of praying for those towards whom I feel resentment for two weeks, three if necessary, until the resentment eases. I offer thanks to the person who reminded me through that question that I have a spiritual obligation to exercise the practices I know. Both Tricycle magazine and Lion’s Roar have run features in the past eight months offering Buddhist perspectives on this very dilemma.

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So, first distraction right here! Do you know your Ayurvedic mind type? Check this out to learn more.

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Graphic courtesy of Devon Hosford

Organic or not? Fooducate explains that for the most part, organic is better.

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Gif from thund3rbolt at imgur.com

Smiles are very good for you. They’re great to see and great to get, and wonderful to give. Some say smiling is healing. Here’s an exercise from Karl Duffy that really works.

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Photo from stoffy/Reddit

Animals provide wonderful examples of joy in action. Portraits of dogs at the beach illustrate my point. And this video of a bunch of dogs, and a cat, enjoying a swim is exhilarating to see, and “Happy” by Pharrell makes the perfect sound track!

 

Namasté

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 30

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Photo courtesy of Julia Webb, flickr.com

This is Week 30 of my chronicle of changing times, except I’m not really doing that, just offering a brief general observation, followed by interesting diversions to edify my readers, as they have edified me.

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Sylvia Boorstein, photo from onbeing.org

This week’s observation: as we are stunned by the “fire and fury” and “locked and loaded” off the cuff blurts spewed Eastward and globally to our collective potential peril, it helped me to read what Karl Duffy posted this morning on his daily Mindful Balance blog, a quote from esteemed Buddhist teacher and psychologist, Sylvia Boorstein, starting with this:

The line from the Dhammapada, a compilation of sayings attributed to the Buddha, that seems the best expression of wisdom, is: “Anyone who understands impermanence, ceases to be contentious.”

Impermanence means that whatever is going on right now will change, for better or for worse or in some other way we cannot foresee. So being freaked out by the crazy machinations of any world leader, East or West, is a waste of the limited precious moments of this life. Click on the link above and read what Sylvia Boorstein says about it.

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Having a home to call one’s own, be it transitional, rented or owned, is deemed essential to a healthy life. If you have land you can use, even if you don’t own that land, this house can be brought to the site and “built” in under 10 minutes. The company, Ten Fold Engineering maintains that a foundation is not required, just stable ground, and when the structure is towed away, it need leave no trace. The structure can even be completely off the grid. While not available for most of us yet, it’s an example of what can be done. The structures can be stacked and connected to form multiunit dwellings.

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Photo from calfinder.com

Homelessness is a serious problem in the United States. Over half a million individuals were counted as homeless in 2015, as this site details. They do report that the number of homeless people has declined, although my working in New York suggested otherwise. For more modest examples of housing one can build out of materials often seen as “trash” check out Calfinder, the videos here or Relax Shacks for plans and tons more information.

Another challenge can be having a home but no longer having access to one’s usual faculties if dementia robs one of speech. But, it’s not always as gone as it seems.

Let’s just remember, we are only one call away for someone who needs us, as Charlie Puth sings. Let us hope that they remember, too.

Check out this video on YouTube:

 

Namasté

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 27

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House number from eBay.uk

Today in the midst of Week 27, we are also in the midst of summer. I have finally been able to harvest vegetables from my garden, planted late, only on May 27. I picked tomatoes, Swiss chard, cilantro, lemon basil and young scallions, And as I am trying to get in more exercise, I walked to our community garden, which is a good ten minute, brisk walk from the house.

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I must admit that in part I am motivated to be more active again, since being sick a couple of months ago, by my new  Apple Watch, as I just knew I would. I waited for over a year for this one, wanting the Apple Watch 2 so I can wear it in the pool and ocean. I’m enjoying Minnie’s cute voice telling me the time randomly as well as when I ask for it, and so far I like this clock face best. Her toes tap and eyes blink with the seconds and her hands point to the minute and hour. There are great fitness reminders. I selected the breathing option, so once an hour I’m reminded to take seven deep breaths during a one-minute breathing break. I’m also reminded to stand up at least once per hour, which I usually do, but it’s a great reminder when reading and writing, because I can sit virtually motionless forever, and when I finally stand up, I’m so stiff and achy. I like that breaking news items, texts and weather and traffic warnings I get on my iPhone come through on my wrist. I just have to silence the watch when seeing patients to avoid unnecessary distractions

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Looking for a crafts project, for yourself or with your older children? Why not make some cool paper stars! This blog gives step by step instructions, in Danish. Fortunately there’s a yellow “translate” button on the lower right so you can change the text into English and a number of other languages.

I love cat people. When I see a car decorated with cat stickers, it makes me feel good.

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This story exemplifies why I think most cat people are really cool.  And here’s a sticker I’d be willing to put on my car, and those who really know me know why!

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We’ve been enjoying listening to the Coffee House channel, Channel 14, on SiriusXM Radio.

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My cousin turned me on to it  when I visited her in Tennessee last month. One artist I’m enjoying is John Mayer, and “In The Blood” is one of my favorite songs of his. In a live version he explains that it came to him, lyrics and melody, in only seven minutes. I love the tune, but the words are sobering. It seems to highlight the nature versus nurture debate. Are we destined to repeat the characterological traits and mistakes of our parents, or with insight can we chart our own course? As a clinician, a psychodynamically trained psychologist, I believe the latter, but there are plenty of examples of the former. I chose this version of “In The Blood” because the audio is of a much better quality than the live ones I found, and it gives the lyrics which are truly food for thought.

 

Namasté

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Getting to Cloud Nine

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I’m not sure where to start with this. So I’ll start where I think it begins. We moved from New York City to rural Pennsylvania last summer. We eventually got a new MD locally. Then in May I was hospitalized with diverticulitis, a very painful intestinal infection. I was given excellent treatment in our local hospital and I was out the next day.   My primary doctor had been concerned about a serious abdominal condition other than diverticulitis, so in the ER they did a CT scan with contrast and found a couple of possible problems while confirming the diverticulitis diagnosis. I was discharged with referrals to cardiologist, colorectal surgeon, and pulmonologist. The pulmonologist referred me to a neurologist due to migraines. I saw them all.

I was off asthma meds for the first time in many years while in the hospital. I imagine they were waiting for me to complain of breathing problems to give them to me, but I didn’t have any, even with the gorgeous, big floral arrangement my colleagues at work sent me. Time was when I would have been sneezing and wheezing with flowers in the room.

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When I went to the pulmonologist and told him I hadn’t used any steroids or rescue inhaler, or even any allergy meds, in a week, he was impressed, but he also ordered pulmonary function tests and a CT scan of the lungs. I went to see him yesterday for the results. He brought out copies of the tests and said to me, “You do not have asthma!” and he explained the numbers. He said I no longer need any asthma meds, not even a rescue inhaler.

I’ve taken a lot of medications, many very expensive, for asthma and respiratory allergies over the past 35 years, which is over half my life: albuterol and its newer spinoff ProAir HFA, Advair (at the highest strength), Breo, and Symbicort (also at the highest strength), Singulair, Zyrtec, and Flonase, and others both over the counter and prescribed. I’ve been to the ER with asthma attacks, although thankfully not for decades. I’ve been on inhaled steroids and courses of prednisone for about 15 years and other asthma meds since my son was in grade school. I have the skin of an 80-year-old, in that it tears and gets purple bruises incredibly easily, and about five years ago I sustained a spontaneous fracture of the femur at the knee, all probable side effects from long term corticosteroid use for asthma.

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So I’m on Cloud Nine that I’m so much healthier than I used to be, and I credit this to several factors:

  • Being vegetarian for the past 8 years and almost totally vegan for 5 ( two of my new doctors are vegetarians, so I have solid support to continue a plant-based lifestyle).
  • Meditating almost every day for the past 6 years, a practice known to boost immunity and improve health.
  • Following the spiritual practice of Buddhism that helps me cope with stress and keep life’s challenges and changes in perspective.
  • Having wonderful and supportive friends, many of whom like myself are healthcare providers who have stressed to me the importance of self care and getting answers.
  • Working out regularly in the gym and taking more walks over the past year.
  • Meeting a holistic New York medical doctor before we moved, who urged a healthier diet, exercise and supplements over prescriptions whenever possible.
  • Moving out of the city and into a less stressful, more rural life.
  • Closing my solitary New York psychology office and opening one in East Stroudsburg, PA where amidst wonderful colleagues and staff I thrive.
  • Getting a whole new look into my health with all new medical providers, including the very thorough medical work up I was given at our local hospital.
  • Having access to good healthcare, thanks to Medicare and before that employer-provided health insurance. At this time of uncertainty over affordable health coverage for millions of Americans, I am most grateful for this and hope that goodness and compassion for those in need will prevail.

So I do like to end some of my posts with a good tune. This one feels just right, and I choose it in part in memory of a good and soulful man I treated for nearly 20 years, a man who grooved to the Motown Sound and whose passing I sadly learned of today. Danny, this one’s for you.

 

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 25

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Twenty five weeks feels like a long time, almost half a year. I started this blog as the world found itself in the grips of a dismal, shocking, discouraging, unbelievable, and heretofore unthinkable period of global history. In this time we’ve seen legislated environmental safety measures rolled back, facts cast aside in favor of subterfuge, and allies sent reeling with rudeness as they’re treated with a failure to commit to continued support, and pacts and agreements are sent to the dustbin. Sabres are rattling, juvenile phallic jousting is in full, disgusting display, and we need our distractions today even more now than then. So I’m publishing this a little early.

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First I have a unique jewelry find. What can be more diverting from distressful circumstances than shopping for pretty things? This high frequency jewelry has natural energy properties tailored to one’s particular need. I see they’re selling out on Touch of Modern, so if you want one, don’t miss out. You can also visit Om d’eon directly.

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Sometimes the best diversion is a cute animal doing something funny. What could be better than a raccoon pancake face?

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Okay, maybe it feels as if I’m wasting your time today. That would be terrible, right? Surely wasting time is never a good thing. Well, if you think so, you’d be wrong. Check out the Importance of Wasting Time.

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If you’d love to treat yourself to a pretty necklace but find some too expensive, why not make your own? Here’s a DIY beachy necklace that looks pretty easy, so check it out here.

Beauty is as beauty does. Let’s celebrate beauty today, look for the good, explore the overlooked, resonate with harmony and turn away from discord. It may require turning off the news for a while, as much as I vehemently support a free press and the hard work of those reporting and researching the truth. We need them desperately and the facts they unearth. Don’t let anyone tell you the mainstream media don’t matter. Without them we’d be left with rumor, innuendo, falsehood, doxxing, and outright fake news, hacking and selfish hatred.

So for now, let’s have a beautiful day!

Namasté

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 24

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It’s week 24 and I’m in Tennessee watching my cousins and friends play gin rummy at my aunt’s 92nd birthday party. I bask in the warmth of family love. It helps to offset the insulting rhetoric that one who probably knows better is slinging toward folk who don’t deserve it. No people deserve to be insulted in schoolyard fashion, especially by the purported leader of their nation. Then someone shoots several of his former medical colleagues and kills one, and then kills himself, in a hospital where people are try to get well and live. Yikes!

Diversions on the way….

 

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Photo from pixabay.com

Are you interested in learning about Zen meditation? Norman Fisher explains it well in Lion’s Roar.

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Photo from Smitten Kitchen

This is the season for gardening and for grilling, and when you can combine a margherita pizza grilled outside with a salad of tomatoes and greens from your own garden, why wouldn’t you? We had a great Tennessee BBQ with my cousin’s husband serving as grillmaster, presiding over grilling hamburgers, artisan chicken sausages, and for the vegetarians, Fieldburgers, chipotle marinated tofu steaks and veggie skewers wth homegrown veggies. We didn’t grill any pizza, but the idea is really intriguing, so here’s how.

 

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A week or so ago, I covered the Danish concept of hygge,  what I interpret to include a rather enchanting sense of comfort, simplicity, beauty and cozy utility. There are many interpretations of hygge (pronounced “hoo-gah). While in an independent Tennessee bookstore filled with special finds, I found Meik Wiking’s book, pictured above.

And for some music to bring some hygge into your world, you might find this Hawaiian song by Kason Gomes helpful.

Namasté

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 23

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Graphic from Race Fashion

Week 23 is upon us and there is much to cause concern. There’s a major fight afoot in Washington to greatly reduce Medicaid coverage throughout the nation. Maybe you don’t have a need for it now, but it behooves us all to be aware that if you or a loved one is elderly on a low fixed income, a child or adult in dire financial straits, disabled, living in a nursing facility or group home, or in any other way dependent on Medicaid health coverage, including utilizing the help of home health aides, that coverage could evaporate or greatly shrink in the not so distant future. There are demonstrations across the country to show support for a compassionate health legislation. If you’d like to learn ways to help make a difference, Indivisible offers plenty of useful information. Tempted though I am to detail the reasons for this, my Diversions blog is not a political blog. I trust you to Google this to learn more in the unlikely event that you are as yet unaware of this.

I’ve curated a few disparate items to distract you from the many varied challenges you face day to day. 

Are you a woman who’s never sure how a new lipstick will look on you when you buy it? Then you should be interested in this new app that lets you try on shades of various major brands, and then order the ones you like. It’s big in Asia.

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Millions suffer from chronic inflammation. It plays a role in many chronic conditions, from asthma, arthritis, and some migraines, to fibromyalgia, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Check out this piece on beverages that may help.

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Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast. This quote by Willam Congreve from his 1697 play, “The Mourning Bride,” is frequently misquoted as “Music hath charms to soothe the savage beast. In 1697 “music” was actually spelled “musick”. Why tell you all this? Because I have more than one musical treat for you today. And most of us have savage moments daily, often when we speak with our spouses or children, since we get under one another’s skin because we know one another so well. So we all deserve more soothing.

First, here is an interview with Bèla Fleck on playing JS Bach on the banjo, followed by a video of him performing. I heard him on NPR and found his playing magical.

Last I’ll end today’s diversions with “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” long considered the Black national anthem. This month featured Juneteenth, and I didn’t want the month to end without sharing this. If you aren’t aware of some of this important American history, do check the links.

 

Namasté

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