I remember I don’t remember being hung-over

I have little, VERY little, memories of my childhood or adolescence – or adulthood for that matter.  It concerned me when a therapist colleague said “not remembering” was an indication of repressed memory probably of horrible childhood trauma.  Ai yiiii yiiiiii.  Maybe I was beaten, or worse, and all these years believing I had nice parents.

I told a psychiatrist friend about my memory “affliction”thinking he would suggest decades of psycho-analysis at best and in-patient treatment at worst.  He looked passively at me and without the slightest hesitation said, “All that indicates is your childhood was boring.”

This is one of my aha moments that I DO remember and spurred me to investigate the neuro-biology of emotion.  What does that have to do with hang-over?  Read on!

Hung Over by Peggy

Excerpts from:

You already know without a doubt that most of your memories are ones that were highly emotional experiences.

“Emotional experiences can induce physiological and internal brain states that persist for long periods of time after the emotional events have ended, a team of New York University scientists has found. This study, which appears in the journal Nature Neuroscience,also shows that this emotional “hangover” influences how we attend to and remember future experiences.”

“How we remember events is not just a consequence of the external world we experience, but is also strongly influenced by our internal states–and these internal states can persist and color future experiences,”explains Lila Davachi, an associate professor in NYU’s Department of Psychology and Center for Neural Science and senior author of the study.”

“‘Emotion’ is a state of mind, . . . findings make clear that our cognition is highly influenced by preceding experiences and, specifically, that emotional brain states can persist for long periods of time.”’

” . . . data showed that the brain states associated with emotional experiences carried over for 20 to 30 minutes and influenced the way the subjects processed and remembered future experiences that are not emotional.”

“We see that memory for non-emotional experiences is better if they are encountered after an emotional event,” observes Davachi.

I’m so relieved!  Not only wasn’t I beaten . . . or worse . . .  the biggest hang-over I’ve experienced was the result of my exceptionally boring life.

(jw)

Initially posted on CATNIPblog.com

*To read the entire article, who the authors are and the research behind it click HERE.

Sunday Sermon, Part IV, Two Wings of a Bird

“Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light-years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual … “

Carl Sagan (1934-1996)

Hold up your hand for just a second.  Feel anything?

At any given second 100 trillion neutrinos are passing through your body  . . .RIGHT NOW.

The majority of neutrinos in the vicinity of the Earth are from nuclear reactions in the Sun. The solar neutrino flux for us on Earth is about 65 billion neutrinos, passing through just one square centimeter of area on earth, every second.  That’s a lot of neutrinos and we are not able to see them, sense them nor understand them.

There is so much, too much, that is not perceivable to our limited senses nor explainable by our reason.

I was a psychotherapist in private practice for 30 years.  Not only did people share their fears and sorrows but unexplainable encounters with spirits, near death experiences and life altering experiences with the divine. I admit I was sometimes skeptical.  Over time it became impossible, to dismiss what intelligent, discerning people shared.  

I now think of science as one wing and religion as the other wing of a bird; a bird needs two wings for flight, one alone would be useless . . .  

 . . .  and I circled back to my study of faith and my belief we live a domino life where when one falls we all fall, where one succeeds we all succeed.   I discovered two faiths I’d not originally studied – Unitarian Universalism and Baha’i. They not only complemented each other but each offered something a bit different.  

Baha’is believe in and share all the UU principles:  

  1. The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  2. Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  3. Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth;
  4.  A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  5. The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process;
  6. The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;

. . . and most importantly the 7th UU principle –

Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

The Baha’i World Faith brought me full circle back to childhood and to God but it wasn’t the God of fear but of love.

When I read the three core principles which are the basis for Bahá’í teachings and doctrine: the unity of God, the unity of religion, and the unity of humanity From these stems the belief that God periodically reveals his will through divine messengers: MuhammadJesusMoses, Zoroaster, Buddha, Krishna the Bab and Bahá’u’lláh.  It was an “ah-ha moment for me that all establishers of religion. the great religions of the world, represent successive stages in the spiritual evolution of human society. That religion is seen as orderly, unified, and progressive from age to age unexpectedly resonated.

Through decades of trials and tribulations I realize the magical thinking in my childhood, that the world revolved around me, wasn’t quite accurate . . . however,

. . .  perhaps some magical thinking persists 60+ years later.   Every morning I say a Baha’i prayer for family, friends, acquaintances,  past clients and a prayer for those who have passed.  The recitation of all the people grows longer each day and takes longer than the prayers . . . The difference between then and now is my prayers are steeped in love, not terror. 

        *          *           *

I’m attending a sermon writing workshop led by Kent Doss, the reverend at Tapestry Unitarian Universalist Congregation – not because I plan to deliver sermons but because I’m fascinated how ministers, rabbi’s, priests and preachers write and deliver something inspiring enough to capture the imagination and stir humans to transformative right action. week after week after week which seems a daunting undertaking.  

To read Part I, The Interconnectedness of All Beings click HERE

Read Part II, Head & Heart click HERE

Read Part III – Stardusted, click HERE

 

 

Mini Sunday Sermon, Part III, Stardusted

Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist, says it best . . .

“So you’re made of detritus [from exploded stars]. Get over it. Or better yet, celebrate it. After all, what nobler thought can one cherish than that the universe lives within us all?”

Not only are we synchronizing our heads and hearts, one with another, (Part II) we are interconnected with the Universe.  All is  from the same matter.

We are made of stardust. It’s like a line from a song, but there is some solid science behind this : Almost every element on earth, including you and me, was formed from the heart of a star.

Next time you’re out gazing at the stars, (all 5 stars we can actually see in a city) twinkling in the night sky, you are looking at the energy released by nuclear fusion reactions at their cores.

When a massive star explodes at the end of its life, the resulting high energy enables the creation of oxygen, carbon, iron, nickel, and all the other elements – the building blocks which make up the world around us and in us. 

The explosion disperses these elements across the universe, scattering the stardust through stellar winds which makes up planets including Earth, eventually some of it finds its way into our bodies.

There is so much we are not able to perceive through our senses:  The Earth’s electromagnetic fields that guide animals engaged in long-distance migrations, sea turtles and Monarch butterflies, birds, use Earth’s magnetic field as a navigational system; smells which compel my dog Freddie to lift his leg; dreams that portend the future. 

I admit I don’t understand science.

How do liver cells know how to make more liver cells and new heart cells know how to take up the beat?   We’re not fixed at all. We’re more like a pattern or a process, a transient body, cells continually dying and rebuilding all the time, and a continual flow of energy and matter being created . . . without my awareness . . .

Not only are our hearts synchronizing, our brain waves vibrating in unison but the very atoms of our cells are dying, being reborn and quivering in recognition we are all made of stardust.

Everything around us does this. Nature is not outside us. We are nature.

     *          *           *

To read Part I,  Interconnectedness of all Beings click HERE

 Part II, Head and Heart, click HERE

Part III – Stardusted, click HERE

 Part IV, Two Wings of a Bird, click HERE

 

Mini Sunday Serman, Part II, Head & Heart

As you read on my last Mini-Sermon post – I didn’t pray again for 50 years*.  During those decades I studied or was exposed to the tenants of many faiths and beliefs:  Buddhist, Greek Orthodox, Seventh Day Adventist, Catholic, Jewish, Lutheran, Baptist and even atheist. 

I discovered two things: First,  the bedrock of all religions is love, compassion, unity and the interconnectedness of all beings.  Second,  no matter what belief I studied something was amiss to me.  It just didn’t make sense (if belief could ever make rational sense) how each could claim to be the only truth, the true spiritual path.

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So scientific research became my focus and bolstered my belief in the interconnectedness of all humans  (and animals).  With newer and newer technology the science continues to be even more fascinating and compelling.  Here’s just a small sample**:

  1. Mirror Neurons – These are a type of brain cell that respond equally when we perform an action and when we witness someone else perform the same action. This neural mechanism is involuntary and automatic and with it we don’t have to think about what other people are doing or feeling, we simply know.  When I see you smiling, my mirror neurons for smiling fire up, too, initiating a cascade of neural activity that evokes the feeling we typically associate with a smile.
  2. Touch – When you hug another person, brains release oxytocin and causes secretions of endorphins.You don’t have to be in love, have sex, or give birth to get a boost of oxytocin (although these experiences certainly do that). Cuddling, hugging, making eye contact, and even shaking hands gets oxytocin, the bonding hormone, flowing
  3. Epigenetics – Scientists have long-known that parents pass genetic traits down to their children, current research suggests that life experiences like famine, trauma, stress can also produce chemical effects in DNA which shorten life-spans, appear as anxiety, depression and fear, inherited through generations and generations down the line.
  4. Neural synchrony –  Singing in groups triggers the communal release of serotonin and oxytocin, the bonding hormone, and synchronizes our heart beats.  When we pet an animal our blood pressure lowers and even more astounding their blood pressure lowers too. Studies of 3-month-old infants and their mothers have determined their heartbeats synchronize to mere milliseconds.

The electrical neuronal activity of two people involved in an act of communication “synchronize” in order to allow for a “connection” between both subjects.  The rhythms of the brainwaves corresponding to the speaker and the listener adjust according to the physical properties of the sound of the verbal messages expressed in a conversation. This creates a connection between the two brains, which begin to work together towards a common goal: communication.

Scientists can find out if two people are having a conversation solely by analyzing their brain waves. 

There is more research but just these four areas alone reinforce my belief in the interconnectedness of all beings. Next . . . our inter-glactic connection on Mini Sermon, Part III.

    *           *           *

To read Part I,  Interconnectedness of all Beings click HERE

 Part II, Head and Heart, click HERE

Part III – Stardusted, click HERE

 Part IV, Two Wings of a Bird, click HERE

Mini Sunday Sermon – Interconnectedness of all Beings, part I

I’m attending a sermon writing workshop led by Kent Doss, the reverend at Tapestry Unitarian Universalist Congregation – not because I plan to deliver sermons but because I’m fascinated how ministers, rabbi’s, priests and preachers write and deliver something inspiring enough to capture the imagination and stir humans to transformative right action. week after week after week which seems a daunting undertaking.  

Our first workshop assignment was to brainstorm topics.  Probably because I spent a large part of my life as a psychotherapist, steeped in life and death matters, I thought up dozens of topics.  Thinking is one thing, writing another . . .  and sermonizing? . .  .

My topic choice was “selected” by two of the participants (who shall remain nameless in case my topic is a bust) as the one that interested them most.  Not sure about the title yet but the theme is the interconnectedness of all beings.  

Here’s the first 5 minutes:

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“This limitless universe is like the human body, all the members of which are connected and linked with one another with the greatest strength . . . “   –(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, pp. 245–246)

Sounds lofty but I’ve believed that since childhood.  Don’t know where my belief came from – it wasn’t from any religious leader because I didn’t have any.  Even as a child I had the notion – I hesitate to call it a knowing – that we are all connected. . . that we live a domino life where when one falls we all fall, where one succeeds we all succeed.

My belief probably originated in my own magical thinking.

I was in grade school during the height of the threat of nuclear destruction, the cold war between the United States and Russia. In 1950 the U.S. began the construction of the hydrogen bomb. Nuclear destruction wasn’t an abstract idea in my 6-year-old mind because I had seen newsreels at the movie theatre – (the days of black and white newsreels, two cartoons and a double feature for 50 cents)newsreels with pictures of hydrogen bomb tests and people digging bomb shelters.

During the school day I believed the drop-and-cover drills we regularly practiced would protect me . (How adults thought that going into a school cloak-room because there were no windows and covering our heads with our arms would protect us from nuclear attack boggles my mind today.)  

At night, in bed, in the dark I lay awake trying to decide where I could go in our tiny 2-bedroom house when we were bombed and I wasn’t at school.  There was no safe place, all the rooms had windows.  In our backyard there was an old, deep, dark cellar dung into the ground and covered by huge, heavy wooden doors.  Too heavy for me to open. The concrete steps were really steep and led into a pitch-black hole.  It smelled and I knew that there were spiders and maybe even snakes inside. The cellar was even more scary than the bomb.

The more I thought about being killed by a bomb, the more terrified I became.  

I knew nothing about prayer, not to mention God, but one night, having exhausted all the possibilities of safe places, I silently prayed.  Silently, so no one would hear me, I prayed for world peace.  The next night I prayed for world peace and my mother and father being safe.  Another night I added my younger brother.  I didn’t particularly care for him but I was as scared of my parents’ thinking I was a bad sister as I was of the bomb and the cellar.  Night after night I silently prayed, each night adding another relative.  Newly added was my fear it would be my fault if anyone was killed by the bomb because I didn’t pray for them.  It was my secret ritual and the only way I could stop thinking about that cellar.  One night I was over-whelmed with the responsibility of remembering to include everyone I knew . . .  . and I stopped praying . . . I stopped praying for almost sixty years.

    *       *       *

To read Part II, Head and Heart, click HERE

Read Part III – Stardusted, click HERE

Read Part IV, Two Wings of a Bird, click HERE

 

 

The 3 “R’s of Old Age-Raving, Ranting & Regretting

maybe-better-not-do-a-tantrum-on-the-floor-because-who-knows-if-I-ever-will-get-up-again (title – compliments of Sarah! http://secretartexpedition.wordpress.com)

I do not like being an old lady.  There’s not much I can do about it but I don’t like it.  I don’t like it!  I do NOT like it!  If there was someone watching right now I would lay down on the floor, pummel my legs up and down and scream out obscenities which I’m too embarrassed to write down proving I’m an old lady because I was taught that ladies, no matter their age, don’t swear.  Even now, when I can’t be sent to my room, I hesitate to say “hell” or “shit” much less utter worse.  The problem is I don’t even know what current swear words are.  (There’s even a bigger problem if I lay down on the floor.  With no one here to watch  I might not be able to get back up without help.)

The urban slang dictionary didn’t exist until I was well past middle age and I couldn’t even look up cuss words that were creative.  I’m now stuck with the “hells” and “I don’t give a damns” because that’s all I learned.

Let’s talk about wrinkles (it’s easier than the belly fat that has accumulated around my mid-section when even sucking in my stomach it still blubs around like Santa Claus’ bowl full of jelly.  So wrinkles it is.) 

Why would I want wrinkles? . . . to  prove I’m as wise as I have ostensibly become?  Phony baloney, I’v never seen a wrinkled owl.   Rather than look wise it’s easier to look down my elongating nose at people who have plastic surgery, botox or collagen treatments.  If I weren’t scared of pain and had the money I’d get rid of my wrinkles.  Instead, I’m doomed to cultivating a self-righteous attitude about my aging, sagging, bagging body and pretend to embrace how old I am.

I’ve tried political correctness – how wonderful it is to be wise, to have accumulated all this worldly experience and be on social security . . . I’ve tried to embrace aging, smile when people ask me what I do and act like it’s  wonderful to have no career, no purpose, no energy.  I’ve tried wrinkle creams that promise me youth.  I’ve tried laughing at the “old age” cartoons that appear in my in-box and sting in their truths.

Give me the money (and a bottle of numbing vodka – ladies don’t want alcohol breath) and I’ll be on the next surgeon’s schedule to tighten my jowls, pull up my eyelids and get rid of the bags under my eyes . . .  

I’ve even considered moving to another country where old age is supposedly venerated.   But I’m too tired to pack so I live in these here United States where I’m wise enough to know it’s the youth who say it like it is and have the energy to make this world a better place.

Old age – phooey. It’s highly over-rated . . . by the elderly.

A Cautionary Tale

Dance while you’re young

Pierce your tongue

Dye your hair green

Eat fat, not the lean

Don’t give a lick what makes you tick

Eat, drink and be merry

because if you tarry

you’ll soon be too old

all covered with mold

and have to scrap it off with a stick

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday with Mae & Me

“When choosing between two evils,

I always like to try the one I’ve never tried before.

Mae West

 

RATS! Hunger, Chronic pain & Me

Penn neuroscientists have found that animals’ brains can suppress feelings of chronic pain when they are hungry.

The study, which was published in the science journal Cell, found that temporarily shutting down chronic pain is part of animals’ survival behaviors when searching for food.

According to a press release, approximately 300 neurons are capable of shifting the brain’s focus to hunger, thus eclipsing the effect of chronic pain.

The researchers apparently didn’t set out expecting that hunger would influence pain sensation so significantly, but when they saw these behaviors unfold, it made sense to them. “If you’re an animal, it doesn’t matter if you have an injury, you need to be able to overcome that in order to go find the nutrients you need to survive.”

The Penn team also discovered that the neurotransmitter NPY is primarily responsible for selectively suppressing pain responses. This research could potentially be applied in humans to ameliorate chronic pain after injuries and serve as an alternative to opioid medications.

Naked Mole Rat sez:  “At your service. We rodents are here to help”.

 

Update on my fractured ankle

 Week 7 – My nudge to budge :

  • Gained 6 pounds from sitting and knitting

  • My belly is swelling while I’m dwelling

  • There’s solace in chewing while I’m stewing

  • Now my left arm is sore. Could there be more?

Fractured Head to Toe

Food for the Heel

In Pain, Need Sympathy

Whine On!

Twenty-eight days since fracturing my ankle (but who’s counting).  I was looking forward to my doctor’s appointment yesterday (“looking forward to a doctor’s appointment” – now, that’s a first for me) thinking I will finally give the orthopedic boot the boot and be frrrrrrreeeeeeee.  Not.  I forgot the ligament was going to take longer to heal than the bone.

  • The good news: The bone is healing, I don’t have to wear the boot to bed, the wrapping is off and can take a shower without my foot sticking out into the room.
  • The mediocre news:  I have to transition from the boot into an ankle brace sloooooooooowly . . .  for a month.
  • The bad news:  My ankle hurts if I walk and pain makes me crabby.

Elixir Fixer by Peggy

This would make a lesser person take to the bottle.  Which reminds me, today is National Wine Day. Read this fascinating post on the benefits of wine which include things I need RIGHT NOW:

  • Anti-aging  (who knew?)
  • Blood thinning (so it no longer boils)
  • Boosts immune system
  • Increases bone density
  • and . . .  6 more benefits (you’ll have to click on the link below to learn how all 10 benefits help you)

Click here: WINE ON!

 

I’m Afraid Being Afraid Shrinks My Fluffy Brain & Creativity

 I don’t have a great memory. Never have.  The worst is retrieving numbers.  In the “olden days” when telephones were attached to land lines when you moved you got a new phone number. Every time I moved I immediately forgot my old number and it took months to learn the new one.  

That hasn’t changed.  What has changed is now not remembering why I just deliberately got up, walked into the bathroom and can’t remember why I’m there.

Now I’m learning that the brain centers largely responsible for remembering are connected to the creativity centers.

Fear and long-term stress

“We have a lot of knowledge about what happens when we are in a constant state of fight-or-flight. And those examples come from syndromes like PTSD, experiencing terrible situations for a long period of time. Here we come to a concept of brain plasticity, which basically means that what you’re experiencing can change your brain. It can make your brain grow so that it’s nice and fluffy and strong or it can shrink it down.”

“PTSD, high stress, can shrink the size of your temporal lobe and increase the size of the amygdala structure that is processing fear information. It also shrinks the size of a key brain area that I’ve studied for the last 25 years called the hippocampus, which is critical for long-term memory.”

“The hippocampus has been more recently implicated in creativity and imagination. Because what imagination is, is taking those things you have in your memory and putting them together in a new way. So just in the way that the hippocampus allows us to think about the past and memory, it also allows us to imagine the future. Long-term stress is literally killing the cells in your hippocampus that contribute to the deterioration of your memory. But it’s also zapping your creativity.”

I’ll put some art supplies in the bathroom so when I forget why I’m there I can sit down and do something creative.

Who knew I’d be a “national symbol”?

I’ve written many posts about my history of fibromyalgia, just not recently.  

My “foot episode” has caused a bit of a fiber flare-up, just in time for National Fibromyalgia/ME Chronic Fatigue day on May 12th.  

Here’s my story and I’m sticking to it:

In 1995 I contracted an invisible “illness”.  Out of nowhere I experienced excruciating burning pain in my hands, arms and legs followed  by years of gastrointestinal, cardiological, dermatological and emotional symptoms.  At the onset I was also in peri-menopause and experiencing mood swings, wildly, uncontrollably ric-o-shaying swings between happy to annoyed – which I’m minimizing for public consumption.

Back then fibromyalgia was not recognized by the medical community as a “real” ailment. Doctors considered it to be a syndrome: Unexplainable, unverifiable and psychosomatic. It was a Hysterical Middle Aged Woman’s Syndrome, as doctor after doctor told me. based on test, after expensive test coming back negative.  I was told nothing was wrong with me and to go home and “Get a life”.DSCN1413

Forever imprinted in my memory is an appointment with the chief of neurology at one of Los Angeles’ major medical schools (the doctor and medical center shall remain nameless because this is a true story)  He reviewed the test findings, looked at me knowingly – as if we shared a secret – and said, “You’re a psychotherapist. You know about psychological issues”.  He leaned forward, compassionately touching me on the knee and winked,  “Go home, live a good life and take up a hobby like kick-boxing.”  The only reason I winked back was to blink away the tears that were threatening to disrupt the façade that I wasn’t a hysterical middle-aged woman.

DSCN1414

I searched for anyone – gynecologists, gastroenterologists, cardiologists, neurologists, rheumatologists, environmental specialists, acupuncturists, immunologists, chiropractors – to name to what I had, to give what was invisible to everyone but myself a label other than HYPOCHONDRIAC.  I looked fine, acted fine, and thousands of dollars of medical tests came back negative.  All I took away from the 100’s of doctor’s visits was a stack of psychiatrist’s cards doctors handed to me on the way out of their office.

After years of  pain, escalating exhaustion, depression, countless doctors and tests I did qualify, on all counts, as a hysterical middle-aged woman .

Well over a decade later fibromyalgia was recognized by the medical community as “real”.  Current research indicates it might be a neuro-inflammatory/auto-immune disease impacting the  central nervous system.  No one knows for certain and there is no current cure.  

I’m no longer middle-aged or hysterical.  

But the doctors were right – it is, all in my head.

 Check out Carolyn Thomas’ My Heart Sisters –“You look great!” – and other things you should never say to heart patients and lots of other great posts about invisible illness.

  • Why, when you tell someone who is ill that they look good, they’re offended?
  • Practical ways you can encourage someone who is ill.

May 12th has been designated as International Awareness Day for Chronic Immunological and Neurological Diseases (CIND). The CIND illnesses include Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), Fibromyalgia (FM), Gulf War Syndrome (GWS) and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS).

May 12th was chosen as it is the birthday of Florence Nightingale. She was believed to have suffered from ME/CFS.

This is National Invisible Illness Awareness Week

P.S.  There are hundreds of millions of people with “Invisible Illness” in this world.  Click above to  read more information.  

Fractured head to toe, day 10

Judy judy in a chair

TV blaring, messy hair

Foot throbbing, rumbled clothes 

bleary eyes, throbbing toes

Judy judy bored bored

slowly going out’a her gourd

Judy by judy

 

Meet my Feet, Day 5

My journal pages are filled with scribbles, scrawls, doodles, smushes of paint and free writing as evidenced here:

Smushed paint, “found image”

Smushed paint, doodles with marker, free thought writing

This is what I wrote.  Looked at the picture I doodled and wrote spontaneously.

We create life trails and no not, not know

where they lead nor what we encounter on the way

as we make our way to an unknown end.

We leave a line for others to follow.  

The trail of our life

Clear paths or littered with debris.

Need to catch up? Here’s what happened to me:

In pain, Need Sympathy

Food for the HEEL

 

Meet My Foot Feat, day 4

It’s only DAY 3 of my “convalescence” and the thought of spending most of my time sitting with my foot up for 3 WEEKS is __________.  Fill in the blank and it’s probably close to the mark.

So far I’ve worked on CATNIPblog posts, worked on Peggy & my Happiness project, started reading a new book and watched far too much TV.  My “rear-end” is already beginning to hurt as much as my foot.

I have more time on my hands (and feet) than ever yet have less focus than ever.  Looking for something creative to add to my sit-down-activities I decided to finish pages (upon pages) I started years ago in my many journals.  

judy’s journal, collage, acrylic, marking pens

Today I picked a page that required no thought, just schmearing a bit of paint with my finger and doodling with marking pens.  I have no clue why I wrote the fishy-poem I remember from childhood on the page.

Fishy fishy in a brook

Papa catch ’em with a hook

Mama fry ’em in a pan

Baby eat ’em like a man

Need to catch up? Here’s what happened to me:

In pain, Need Sympathy

Food for the HEEL

 

 

 

 

In pain, need sympathy

A stroll was my goal

Stepped in a hole

Spring, sprung, sprankle

twisted my ankle

It’s a painful thing

Put my foot in a sling

Can still squawk 

but it’s hard to walk

Read What the doctor said here

How to get the most from your hot soak

Here is the follow-up to 

research on lowering blood pressure, helping dementia and brain trauma with hot baths

 “A hot bath is the original hydrotherapy — water treatment — and still the best. Immersion, buoyancy, heat, and vibration (if you’ve got jets) all have useful biological and sensory effects, many of which are useful to people with injuries, pain, anxiety, depression, and more”.

Bath Buddies

1. Don’t make it too hot. Hot baths are a soothing escape, but too much heat will stimulate the nervous system. While you may feel tired ,you are not as relaxed and  may not be able to sleep for a while.
2. Cool your head–or feet. Sticking your feet out of the bath lets off some excess heat, while keeping the benefits of a raised body temperature. You can also pour cool water on yourself . This will help you to feel better after the bath.
3. Do some self massage in the bath.  
4. Stretch in the bath. The warmth decreases muscle tone, flexibility is increased and the buoyancy makes me stretches easier. 
5. Drink water-you will sweat in a hot bath (which helps eliminate waste from the body). Drink before and after. Being dehydrated can make you grumpy.
6. Baths are a great treatment for muscle soreness. The heat gets in much deeper than using a heating pad/pack. They are especially good for low back pain. Most low back pain is muscular, especially “knots” in muscles, which a hot bath can ease.
7. Try deep breathing-it may increase your relaxation. Not slow breathing but deep and strong.

Source: https://www.painscience.com/articles/bathing.php

Click here for the research on lowering blood pressure, helping dementia and brain trauma with hot baths

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Fuzzy Apples and a scam

Sharing a warning:  Clicking away yesterday my computer screen turned red, screeeeeeeching noises went off, a warning sign appeared that my computer had been “compromised” that instructed me to call a 1-877 number IMMEDIATELY so that Google Support could help restore my computer.  Nothing I tried would stop the screeching or change the screen.

The screeching continued for what seems like an hour but probably was 5 minutes.  Suspecting the worst, that my computer had been hijacked, I manually turned it off.  When I turn it on again it was back to normal.

 

A is for FUZZY Apple.  Doodle by Shari Bonin-Pratt

Peggy’s Apple Computer did the same thing a day later.  

I had been on Pinterest and Peggy was on Instagram.  The only thing we both had in common was clicking on links from those sites.  

Thank goodness neither of us bit and poisoned our Apples.

Family comes in all forms

My brother and sister-in-law’s wonderful dogs have recently passed.  This is dedicated to Duffy & Ozzy and all the wonderful critters who bless us.

Ozzy & Duffy

Thanks LYN!!

“To blessed animals the utmost kindness must be shown, the more the better. Tenderness and loving-kindness are basic principles of God’s heavenly Kingdom. Ye should most carefully bear this matter in mind.”

Baha’i World Faith

Sneek a Peek at my sketchy life – Humbly Yours

In my teen years it was not “cool” to admit you did anything well, much less brag. You were suppose to be humble.  It seems times have not changed.  When I admire someone’s drawing in art class the usual response is to point out why it’s not very good and point out all the mistakes they made.  Is this humility?

We all are probably our own worst critics but I was wondering where the origins of this denying of our accomplishments comes from.   There are many students in class who have immigrated from other countries – Germany, China, Latvia, Vietnam, Korea – and at first I chalked it up to cultural norms.  However, the students native to the United States downplay or outright devalue their accomplishments too.

Is this false humility? Inability to celebrate our accomplishments?  Embarrassment?  

Charcoal, green pencil, water-color pencil – 15 – 20 minute sketches

Having posted my journey in life drawing classes  I can see where it’s not working and I can see my progress.  So I try to squelch my own inclination to negate a compliment and just say thank you.

Do you have trouble receiving a compliment?  . . . and why?

 

Seenagers R Us (Senior Teenagers)

Epiphany! My CATNIPblog co-creator, Peggy, and I are not elderly, we are not senior citizens, we are not wise-women, we are NOT, we are NOT, we are NOT.

We are Seenagers and  have everything we wanted as teenagers.  It just took us 60 years to get “there”.

Judy & Peggy (Peggy is actually taller than Judy but Judy wears high heels and has to stand up straighter so the birdie doesn’t fall off)

We don’t have to go to school or work.

We get an allowance every month.

We don’t have a curfew.

We have driver’s licenses and our own cars.

We have ID’s that gets us into bars and wine stores.  We like the wine store best.

We are not scared of getting pregnant.  We aren’t scared of anything because we’ve been blessed to live this long. Why be scared?

We don’t have acne.

Thanks Sharon M.!!!

Check out how Seenagers can improve their BRAINS https://wp.me/p18HbQ-2h4

Sneeeeeek Peek into my sketchy thinking

There were no art classes – because of the holiday – for over a week.  For some unexplained reason I began to wonder why I was taking drawing classes.  Previous to retirement the only “extra-curricular” activities I did had a purpose – professional enrichment, teaching others, meeting requirements etc.  I have no desire (we won’t talk about talent) to exhibit or sell nude drawings . . .  For some reason, simply seeking personal enjoyment seemed strange at best and hollow at worst.  

I’m still not sure why my disquiet and only share it wondering if you, too, have questioned just doing something simply for self-enjoyment?

  *      *      *

This model was known for his muscular, regal bearing.  He has lost weight and thee is a vulnerability that wasn’t apparent before.

20 Minute sketch, conte crayon

10 minute sketch, charcoal

20 minutes sketch, charcoal

Sneak a Peek into My Sketchy – Life’s Not Always Black & White

As a psychotherapist I knew that one of the biggest pitfalls of all relationships* was  “seeing” others through the clouded lens of our own eyes.  We humans tend to think everyone feels as we do and should understand what we know.  It’s hard to take someone else’s position because we live in the bubble of our unique experiences and interpretations.  In psychological terms it’s called projection.  I was surprised to see this phenomena in artwork.

During the breaks in life drawing I noticed that many (not all) drew the model in “their own image”:  Short students tended to draw the models legs too short; stocky students drew her a bit too stocky and; muscular students created muscular images.

Although all art, whether dancing, singing, painting etc. is  ultimately a “projection” of the artist I’m wondering if what sets apart renowned artists from amateurs is a true reflection of the artist rather than an “accurate” rendition of the subject?

Charcoal, 20 minute sketch

Conte Crayon, 20 minute sketch

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Each sketch, 20 minutes

To read about the pitfalls of relationships click here:  

*6 Factors that Can Predict Divorce or Separation 

Mervin the Mole Rat sez: “Her art is a projection of wishful thinking . . .”

Sneak a Peek into my Sketchy Life – The Art of Perspective

The challenge I had as a therapist  (not to mention as a human being) was to look beyond surface presentations, what I “thought” I knew and see my client’s situation/feelings/thinking not only from their perspective but within a larger framework.

Being a therapist was a gift.  It forever helped me understand that perception always informs and colors my experiences, to look for larger patterns and see beyond what appears “obvious”.  Most of the time I can see blessings behind every tragedy, and opportunities created with every mistake & mis-step.

Drawing, too, is about perspective.  This session the class was so crowded  I had to sit closer to the model stand than usual.  It forced me to draw what my eye actually saw rather than what I thought I saw.  For example, In the first drawing the foot (or my outline of the foot) is as long as his head – simply because his foot was closer to me.  

Bet you can tell what was eye-level to me in this next drawing!

This last sketch was a 2 minute quick warm-up which always begins the drawing sessions to help our hands loosen up and draw what our eyes actually see not what our brains think we see.

The art of perspective is not limited to art.

When Politicians Laughed

Michael Davis Ford’s Theater part 2 

(Watch the secret service behind the President trying not to laugh)

With all the turmoil in the world I appreciate more than ever anything that makes me laugh. 

‘THE JUGGLER‘ is worth another watch – even if you’ve seen it before.  

Only those of us over 50 would probably recognize the people in the front row.

Thanks Sharon M.!

I have Sickness Behavior

Been curled up in a fetal position for 14 days (but who’s counting?)  My cold has traveled south  (undoubtedly looking for warmth) into my bronchials.  I don’t want to talk to anyone, see anyone, do anything and my guilty pleasures are no longer pleasurable.  The ever-present fibromyalgia fatigue has morphed into exhaustion and if I had the energy I’d invest in stock in Puff’s-plus-lotion-tissues stock options.

Bob the Blobfish sez: “If she thinks she’s got problems try being me with a cold . . .”

BUT Glory be! I’m not being a wimp!!!!  “Those feelings are a real thing called “sickness behavior,” which is sparked by the body’s response to infection. The same chemicals that tell the immune system to rush in and fend off invading viruses also tell us to slow down; skip the eating, drinking and sex; shun social interactions; and rest.”

“Those messages are so powerful they can’t be ignored,” says Philip Chen, a rhinologist at the University of Texas, San Antonio. But that doesn’t mean we don’t try. Symptoms like a stuffy nose are obvious, Chen notes, but we’re less aware that changes in mood and behavior are also part of our bodies’ natural response to infection.”

“There is plenty of evidence that having a cold impairs moodalertness and working memory and that brain performance falls off with even minor symptoms.”

“Excuses, excuses . . . “

Sneak a Peek into one page outa my Sketchy Life.

This model always poses with “warrior” gear – helmets and swords and leather belts, fake arrows and red capes.  

I undress him with my eyes cuz I don’t like helmets and swords, leather belts, fake arrows or red capes.

Graphite pencil

Don’t tell my husband I’m learning to undress men . . . he thinks I’m learning to draw.

Have a Heart, Give a Gift

Heart disease, not cancer, is the #1 killer of women.  I learned that and other invaluable information on Carolyn Thomas’ My Heart Sisters blog.

Over the years I’ve “stolen” and reposted many a wonderful post from Carolyn Thomas.  Her blog, Heart Sisters, has been one of the few I’ve followed for years.  I have forgotten what led me to her blog but once I read both her compelling stories and the up-to-date information on  women’s health, in particular heart disease, I was a Carolyn-groupie.  

Apparently Johns Hopkins was a groupie too when they asked her to write a book on Living with Heart Disease.  My guess is that her down-to-earth writing coupled with up-to-date research and information appealed to Johns Hopkins as much as it did to me.

Here’s just a sample of info found on Carolyn’s blog:

“Did you know: Women generally fare far worse than men after experiencing a cardiac event? One possible reason is that it can be confusing to make sense of warning symptoms when they do hit. Women are also less likely than our male counterparts to seek immediate help at the first sign of cardiac symptoms. Instead, we end up:”

  • toughing them out
  • waiting to see if they go away
  • blaming them on stress, muscle soreness, indigestion or other less serious non-cardiac causes

Read 12 cardiac symptoms women must never ignore

I can’t say enough good things about Carolyn – you’ll have to read her book and her blog to see for yourself what fabulous advocacy and education Carolyn has provided since her own “widow-maker” heart attack. (Full disclosure:  we are not related, I’ve never met her in person, and I don’t get a kick-back!)

Buy a copy and give the gift of life to a woman you love . . . maybe it’s even yourself

Save 20% when you use the code HTWN when you pre-order the book from Johns Hopkins

Order your copy click here:  Johns Hopkins University Press 

Johns Hopkins University Press is the publisher and here’s a fraction of what has been said about Carolyn’s Book:

[A Woman’s Guide to Living with Heart Disease] gives women the knowledge they need to become their own advocates in a health care system that continues to be weighted against them.”

“This book brings a needed focus to a leading killer of women today and is a must-read for women and their loved ones.”

“If you are a woman, or love a woman, this is a book for you! Cardiovascular disease is the leading killer of women. Here is a book focused on women’s cardiovascular health. It is all here—prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. Read it for the people you love.”

“This work is an important contribution to the discussion about heart attack and misdiagnosis in women. Thomas’s personal story—alongside the stories of millions of other women—provides a needed reminder of recognizing one’s symptoms, avoiding denial, and seeking medical attention. This elegant book is a unique addition to women’s health books and a necessary read for women and the people who care about them.”

Thank you Carolyn for pushing through your own symptoms to write a book of this magnitude.  

 

Frankly Freddie – Halloween Orange Alert

To all Human-beings:  It’s time for my Halloween ORANGE-ALERT.

 This Halloween

Don’t be mean!

Don’t you dare

make others stare

Dressing up

your precious pup

Please be fair!

just let us wear

our own hair.

Example of suspicious clothing

 To All my Canine Cousins:

Be on the look-out for your human coming back from the store with suspicious articles of clothing and paraphernalia that is NOT THEIR color, style or size.  If they start sweet-talking you or offering you treats RUN for your life & HIDE.

Example of humiliation.

No matter how many times I HAVE TOLD HUMANS not to humiliate us because they want to be amused it happens every year.  I prefer to think that Humans just aren’t very smart and have no memory retention beyond a few hours rather than the possibility they are simply insensitive creatures with no regard for our feelings.

Frankly,

Freddie Parker Westerfield, PIC&C

Protector of Innocent Creatures & Critters

“When the waters rise, so do our better angels.”*

“Get busy helping someone else and see — over time — the things you might have in common, instead of only the things that might divide you.”

“Remember what can happen when we love our neighbors as ourselves. There are storms that bring us together and storms that divide us. We have a chance now to choose. Harvey already has reminded us what we’re capable of, when we come together.”

Angelic Meowie from CATNIPblog

“The recovery ahead will be long. Our neighbors need to know they can count on us. The families affected will need our help and our attention as the work of rebuilding unfolds. If we hold our focus on the important matters at hand, we can use the power of the people to create that world we all know exists — if we will simply give it life.”  

*Jimmy Carter

Read entire article by Jimmy Carter, the 39th President of the United States.

Everything in life ministers to our development. Our lesson is to study and learn… Tests are either stumbling blocks or stepping-stones, just as we make them.

Abdu’l-Baha, The Baha’i World Faith

Dirty Words

 I don’t often repost word for word, much less “dirty word” for “dirty word”.  This was so thought-provoking and well written . . .  well,  read for yourself . . . (words by Sharon, color high-lighting and pictures by me)

Dirty words. Stub my toe on the sharp metal caster and you’ll hear me spew lots of dirty words. Crap, kocker, damn it, dreck. It hurt, damn it, I’m allowed to holler, and I don’t have to be nice about it. In English and Yiddish, I holler all the bad words. Feckuckteh caster.

Lenny Bruce, the rebellious comedian who loaded his dark comedy with language considered obscene, made seven particular words famous by virtue of their being too dirty to speak aloud. So of course he did, and was arrested for his defiance. Cover your eyes if you’re the sensitive sort because I’m going to list them here: cocksucker, cunt, fuck, motherfucker, piss, shit, tits. Bruce’s real crime was pointing out the hypocrisies of our culture but the words got him in trouble. He was too vulgar for polite society, no matter that society was too brutal for the underrepresented and downtrodden. Bruce was no angel, and many people lost sight of his legitimate demand for free speech, the very thing we now take for granted. Today, his seven dirty words hardly raise an eyebrow, so often are they hollered through the night.

An infant’s first word is “mama” or whatever word in her native language aligns with that individual. Fathers have been trying forever to get the first word to be “dada.” But the first word ever uttered by the very first human who found she had a voice box that allowed more verbalization than a huff, grunt, or yowl? It was “fuck.” Had to be – standing small and alone in the African desert, she found the world terrifying, she saw her life in peril, and she said what we all say at such realization. “Fuck.”

Here are dirtier words, much dirtier:  abandonment, abuse, arson, betrayal, bigotry, deceit, drug trafficking, exploitation, false accusation, forced starvation, genocide, holocaust, human experimentation, human rights suppression, human trafficking, incest, lying, misogyny, murder, prejudice, racism, rape, religious persecution, sexism, slavery, terrorism, theft, torture, war, xenophobia – sadly, I’m certain there are more. This is the real dirty language. Still, language is benign. Add music and every word sounds like sugar being spun into cotton candy. To be offended by dirty words but ignore the acts they identify is akin to disdaining the menu but still ordering awful food.

You can put in all the asterisks, ellipses, blank spaces, bird calls, or underlines you want in order to grant your writing a measure of gentility, but face the facts. You may swear upon your holy books, mutter amens and hosannas, grovel on your knees, pledge your honor, and promise repentance. None of it means a thing without follow through. Every writer, humanitarian, philosopher –  every decent person accepts the same truth. Words are harmless, scratches in the dust even when howled under duress. It’s the acts that are horrific, and the reality that these acts take place every single day all over the world – the acts are far worse. More hurtful, longer lasting, intentional.

Writing these words does not make writing a bad act. Writing them brings the implied actions to the attention of a public that often wants to hide behind prayers, lattes, and cell phones. There is no indecency in words. The indecency is in the fact that so many engage in the actions described by the words. When we eliminate these bad acts so completely that to say one of these words engenders genuine confusion among all people – what does that mean? I can’t understand words that don’t relate to the human condition anywhere in the world– then we can label them as really bad words.

Words can lead the ignorant to understand the complexity of past events, so write. Words can warn or instruct, so write. Write the truth in any and every way you can. Employ words that hoist power, and worry little about words that bear no weight. Even if they’re ugly. Worry about acts that injure, abuse, kill, threaten, maim, enslave, bludgeon. If the dirty words you write make someone see the other side, feel the pain, and change their behavior, you’ve done your job. If the dirty words you raise on a poster cause the government to enforce justice, you’ve done your job. If the dirty words you speak arouse the pulse of the apathetic public and encourage them to find out the truth for themselves, you’ve done your job.

Call me a dirty girl. I yearn to be that and more. I will not stand down. The only thing I own is my integrity. Pen to paper. Truth to power.

Here in fact are the very most vile, horrendous, and disgusting words in English, and they can be translated into any language and still carry the same inherent evil. I hold out my hands for the cuffs. Arrest me. These are the dirtiest three:

GUILTY AS CHARGED

(Check out Sharon’s Blog: Ink Flare)

Sneek a Peek into my Sketchy Life – last ditch efforts

Last day of life drawing for this semester.  I’ve missed several classes, something I would have been loathe to do in my high school and college years when I never ditched nor dropped a class.

I distinctly remember the first time I stopped attending a class simply because I no longer enjoyed it.   Wish I could say it was a daring and rebellious move . . .  it was a community college class that I was taking  just for enjoyment.  I was in my 40’s and high time for a bit of rebellion . . . don’t you think?

But I digress . . .  here’s the best of the last sketches . . . in my opinion

Starting with my favorite

Caught the likeness of both his front and his back . . . 

All these sketches were 20 minutes or less.  I’ve discovered that my attention span is smack dab in the national average of 20 minutes.  Ah . . . the things you learn in drawing class.

My Sketchy Life – hatch, hatched, hatching

Ai yi yiii – ever look up a word in the on-line “Urban Dictionary”?

I looked up “hatch” and was “blown away” by the uses . . . many of which I can not put in print on a G-rated blog . . . most of which I had never heard of nor heard spoken.

Why look up “hatch”, you wonder (or not)?  In art class the focus was on hatching – an art technique where lines are drawn in various forms & intensities to create shapes & shadow.

These two quick sketches were done prior to Easter.   Eureka! I thought: Hatching and eggs were perfect for an Easter blog post.

Then I got “hatched” – another fibromyalgia flare-up and I missed a week’s worth of art classes.

I’m still not feeling good and not pleased health issues keep hatching . . . but this chick got off her fibro-inflated rear and went to class this week.  

HatchVerb – To lose it; to get wound up over something; to be upset.

I’ve been hatching . . .

P.S.  Thanks Peggy A. for doing all the scheduled posting on CATNIPblog!  

Sneek a Peek into my Sketchy Life – Life imitates Art

Not too very long ago, I thought that really good artists (writers included) got it exactly right the moment they laid pencil to paper.  When I write posts I spend exponentially more time editing than on the first draft.  When I draw I correct and correct and correct some more. 

Not too very long ago, I learned that this is what 90% of artists, writers, dancers, singers etc. do . . .  adjust, correct, redo, undo . . . and it never will be perfect.  It’s knowing when to stop and move on.

It’s a great metaphor for life.  We keep adjusting, correcting and practicing, knowing we can’t get it perfect . . . just better.

LOVE LOVE LOVE this model.  She has curves.  

Much more fun to draw than muscle & bone.

Warm-up poses, 5 minutes

Am I Addicted to Dairy Crack? (parenthetically speaking. . . )

I’m baaaaaaack . . . sorta . . . missed all my art classes, missed church . . . cancelled The HeART of Spirituality workshop cuz I’ve been feeling puny.  (And when I am feeling puny I eat,  watch the cooking channel, download recipes and read all I can about what not to eat in the hopes that I will follow that advice.)

The only constructive thing I’ve done is work on the NEW BLOG Catnip with my good friend and colleague Peggy Arndt.  

(Peggy is a retired psychotherapist too AND an artist and author.  I’ve never caught Peggy feeling puny and eating since she’s within a pound or two of the same weight she was when we were in high school together.  If I didn’t like her so much I’d hate her.)  

Between the two of us we have amassed decades of information on neuroscience and behavior and relationships . . .  and eating . . . and addictions.  We’re going to share all that on a new blog called CATNIP (but I digress . . .)

While I was researching for CATNIP this article caught my eye . . .   here are some excerpts:

DSCN5582

cow by judy

The Case Against Dairy Crack

By Barbara J. King*

“The average American eats more than 33 pounds of cheese a year.”  (Thirty-three pounds is about the amount of weight I’d like to lose.  I need to stop eating my American share of cheese.)

“This is according to Neal Barnard, physician and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. And that’s a problem, he says, because it’s helping to make us overweight and sick.”

“Loaded with calories, high in sodium, packing more cholesterol than steak, and sprinkled with hormones — if cheese were any worse, it would be Vaseline …”

Some foods are fattening. Others are addictive. Cheese is both — fattening and addictive.”

“Barnard explains that dairy protein — specifically a protein called casein — has opiate molecules built in. When babies nurse, he notes, they’re getting dosed with a mild drug: “Milk contains opiates that reward the baby for nursing.”‘ 

“It’s no different with the cow’s milk — or other mammalian milk — from which cheese is made. In fact, Barnard says, the process of cheese-making concentrates the casein”

dscn6854

Non-dominant hand, one-eyed, fat-tipped marker, puny drawing

“Call it dairy crack.”

 “Dairy proteins appear to trigger inflammation, apparently by triggering the release of antibodies, which leads to the constriction of the tiny muscles in the airways. By avoiding dairy proteins, the trigger for the [asthma] attacks is gone.”

“. . .  Barnard notes that vitamin D may play an important role in protecting us against some types of cancers. Citing prostate-cancer data, he suggests that because dairy products are high in calcium and calcium intake can slow down activation of vitamin D, cancer risks may increase with cheese-eating.”

“The National Dairy Council (or cows who would rather be milked than molded into meat patties) does not endorse Barnard’s descriptions of cheese . . .  and points to research from Harvard School of Public Health that shows no association between cheese and long-term weight gain.”

“However, if one’s goal is to lose weight, there is something to be said for not teasing yourself with occasional doses of the very food that caused the problem in the first place. (I might add sugar and refined carbs to the list . . . might?) Better to end that bad love affair. If a person is concerned about asthma, migraine, rheumatoid arthritis, or other sensitivities, one soon loses all desire for the food product that caused the problem.” (So far THAT argument hasn’t worked with me.)

(Maybe every time I feel puny  I should picture myself eating 33 pounds of VASELINE . . . )

Read the entire article and click HERE.


*Barbara J. King is an anthropology professor emerita at the College of William and Mary.  Barbara’s most recent book on animals is titled How Animals Grieve, and her forthcoming book, Personalities on the Plate: The Lives and Minds of Animals We Eat,

The Cheese Trap, How Breaking a Surprising Addiction Will Help You Lose Weight, Gain Energy, and Get Healthy by Neal D., M.d. Barnard, Dreena Burton and Marilu Henner

How to gain control of your free time

March 1st will mark two years since I retired.    Now that I have all the time in the world I have much more time to procrastinate.  During retirement I have fine-tuned my procrastination skills. 

I also have a continued quest for self-improvement.   In between TV shows and relaxing I squeeze in reading articles and watching videos that inspire me to develop better habits.

Here’s the latest video which I found so inspirational I turned off the TV.

After listening to this Ted Talk I decided to do a trial run before my actual  two-year retirement anniversary. 

I’m going to treat the things I keep saying I’d like to do like a flooded basement.  (you’ll have to watch the video).  So!  here’s what my emergencies are for this coming week:

  1. Do something everyday (as opposed to doing nothing)
  2. Cut out sugar from my eating “habits”.

I’ll let you know next week . . . or two . . .  how I did.

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Blame game: roosters, virus and my dorsolateral prefrontal cortex

It’s the Year of the Rooster – I was born under the Chinese sign of the Rooster.  Always thought it to be a curse I was born under a sign that wasn’t fertile enough to lay an egg or two.

imgres

According to my friend Sharon Bonin-Pratt (whose last post inspired this post) People born under the sign of the Rooster are hardworking, funny, trustworthy and talented.

I’m not hardworking, at times am funny, almost always trustworthy, and have latent talents that get laid but never hatched.

This Rooster year started off with a cold virus that delights roaming the cozy recesses of my sinus passages.   It’s day 11 (but who’s counting).  I’ve been a total slug – no energy, no resolve which gives me a perfect excuse for not making New Years’ resolutions.

(The truth be told, I never make resolutions for the New Year – learned long ago that when I inevitably fail to keep a resolution it leads to feeling badly.)  

What energy I have has been directed toward resolving to be more creative this year. 

In preparation I’ve been obsessively reading everything I can find on how to break my creative block and stop procrastinating.

Most everything I read about procrastination indicates that we procrastinate when we don’t want to do something that is not enjoyable.   Being a master procrastinator I also procrastinate with things that bring me enjoyment.

For inspiration, I read blogs of people who write, read or draw daily – all things which bring me enjoyment.  I feel badly I’m not like them  which leads me to read articles on procrastination and meeting goals (I know how to set them, just not meet them).

Finally the article below has liberated me! I know what to blame:

My dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is lazy . . . not me.

images

Creative block here’s neuroscience how to fix it.

by Elizabeth Shockman

“What is it exactly that helps us be creative? What fuels us when we get into an especially productive work flow? What makes the hours disappear when our brains focus on a task?”

“What, in other words, is happening in our brains when we’re being creative?”

“Cognitive neuroscientist Heather Berlin at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai says we know a little bit about what’s going on. Berlin studies the neuroscience of imagination, creativity and improvisation. And for those people who might be facing writer’s block? “There’s really no prescribed medication,” Berlin says. “There is no real magic pill.”’

Instead, she says, creativity depends on which part of the brain you might be using.

“When [people] are improvising, there tends to be a pattern of activation where they have decreased activation in a part of the brain called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex,” Berlin says. “And that part of the brain has to do with your sense of self, your sort of inner critic, making sure that your behavior conforms to social norms.”

“Translation? When you’re at your most creative, “basically you lose your sense of self,” Berlin says. “You kind of release your inhibition. The second you become too self-aware that comes back online and you lose that flow state.”’

“In addition to losing inhibitions, people who are in a creative state have increased activation in a part of the brain called the medial prefrontal cortex, which has to do with the internal generation of ideas. In other words, the ideas are coming from within.”

“Some people, when they’re in the flow state … a lot of people say ‘It feels like it’s flowing through me. It’s coming from someplace else,’ you know, ‘It’s coming so naturally I don’t even have to think about it,’” Berlin says. “It’s called liberation without attention. You can only keep a certain number of variables in mind when you’re thinking about something consciously. But if you let it go, you actually can come to a greater understanding because the unconscious can do much more complex processing.”

“For those suffering from creative block, Berlin has some practical advice:”

“You have to take in all the information and then go for a walk,” Berlin says. “Go out, do something else. Because those people who sit there and just obsess over thinking about it too much, using your prefrontal cortex you’re actually limiting yourself. So letting it go can actually help you get over, let’s say a writer’s block or a creative block.”

I’d go for a walk but I have a cold.  Maybe some other time . . .

 

 

The Queen and me

I admit I’m obsessive about steering clear of people who are sick.  I’ve been “known” to remove my groceries off the counter and go to another check-out if I see a clerk sniffing or coughing.  With fibromyalgia everything lasts longer and is more severe so I go to great lengths to avoid people who even appear to be sick.

My husband caught a cold 2 weeks ago and I’ve assiduously washed everything down – counters, door knobs, light switches and my husband – with disinfectant. 

Turns out I was disinfecting the wrong person.

I woke up yesterday with a scratchy throat, a headache and feeling even less chipper than I usually feel in the morning.

The Queen gave me a cold

How do I know, how am I told?

This cold is a dignified one

no snorting, sniffling nor dripping a ton 

My makeups impeccable, not a hair undone

Despite a sore throat and my throbbing head

staying all day, aching in bed

I shan’t complain

For how often does one contract

 a ROYAL pain.

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Queen is feeling better, says Princess Anne

“But at 90 . . . she is exercising caution as she recovers from a heavy cold which she’s had for at least 12 days, (12 DAYS!!!! ) and which is bound to have left her feeling pretty miserable. (tell me about it).”

“She hasn’t yet had an opportunity to go outside and explore her 20,000 acre private Norfolk estate. (So true, so true)”

LONG LIVE THE QUEEN . . . and me too!

P.S. Wash your hands after reading this post – I’m contagious . . .

 

Spinning in control

It’s been a rough year.  Maybe it’s the media bombarding us with political enmity, flood, fire, war, death, illness . . .  but it does seem rougher than usual.   My resiliency is running low.  

To put things in perspective on this last day of the year I remind myself that this earth has been around billions of years and I am standing on a planet hurtling through space and haven’t fallen off . . . yet

NASA archive image, relase date October 17, 2000. This true-color image shows North and South America as they would appear from space 35,000 km (22,000 miles) above the Earth. The image is a combination of data from two satellites. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument aboard NASA’s Terra satellite collected the land surface data over 16 days, while NOAA’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) produced a snapshot of the Earth’s clouds. Image created by Reto Stöckli, Nazmi El Saleous, and Marit Jentoft-Nilsen, NASA GSFC Credit: NASA Earth Observatory NASA Goddard Space Flight Center enables NASA’s mission through four scientific endeavors: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Solar System Exploration, and Astrophysics. Goddard plays a leading role in NASA’s accomplishments by contributing compelling scientific knowledge to advance the Agency’s mission. Follow us on Twitter Like us on Facebook Find us on Instagram

NASA archive image, release date October 17, 2000.
This true-color image shows North and South America as they would appear from space 35,000 km (22,000 miles) above the Earth.  Image created by Reto Stöckli, Nazmi El Saleous, and Marit Jentoft-Nilsen, NASA GSFC
Credit: NASA Earth Observatory

The earth is moving about our sun at a speed of nearly 30 kilometers per second, or 67,000 miles per hour.  Our solar system–Earth and all–whirls around the center of our galaxy at some 220 kilometers per second, or 490,000 miles per hour.

“There are anywhere between 200-400 billion stars in the Milky Way and an estimated 100 billion planets. Around one in five stars are like our sun, and astronomers have estimated that about 22% of them have planets the size of Earth in their habitable zone, where water can exist as a liquid. This means there could be 8.8 billion planets within the galaxy capable of supporting life (not accounting for composition of the planet or its atmosphere).”

“God has created the world as one—the boundaries are marked out by man.”

‘Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith

 

21 ways to keep your sanity for the holidays

 Only  15 days till Chanukah!    15 days till Christmas!  22 days till New Year’s!  Time for my yearly reminder on how to keep sane.

Christmas:

  1. Instead of buying  a tree watch your friends decorate (and take down) theirs
  2. Convert to Judaism
  3. Sit in the lobby of a 5-star hotel and enjoy EXPENSIVE decorations.
  4. ADOPT a pig, instead of eating one.
  5. Make dinner potluck, you supply the paper plates and plastic cutlery
  6. Christmas dinner – Start with dessert and forget the rest.
  7. Sit on the beach in Bali.

8.  Go to bed on the 23rd and get up on January 3rd.*

9.  Only buy presents for Jesus.

10. Put a cover on the outside chimney opening so you don’t have to put out cookies and milk.

Chanukah:

11. Watch your friends decorate (and take down) their Christmas tree.

12. Convert.

13. Stay in a 5-star hotel for 8 days and nights.

14. Use credit cards instead of gelt

15. Instead of gambling with a dreidle at home go to Vegas

16. Don’t give presents, do good deeds

17. Go to bed on Thanksgiving and wake up on New Years**

18. Bake potatoes instead of grating them to death

19. Eat macaroons with Ben & Jerry

New Years:

20. *Remember! Stay in bed until the 3rd, unless you’re Jewish.

21. **If you are Jewish, go back to bed.

 

Peace on Earth & Sanity to all my Friends!

Dizzy blond and I ain’t even blond

Friday: Spent all day and evening in the ER.  I was EXTREMELY light-heading, threw up, missed my art class and spent 24 hours in bed thinking I’d feel fine in the morning . . . WRONG.  

Saturday: In the morning the  room was moving and I wasn’t. Every time I moved I threw up and there was nothing to throw-up since I hadn’t eaten anything (You have probably created a nasty picture in your mind . . .  just make it even nastier).  

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Pencil sketch

The ER was even more fun.  Throwing up,  drawing blood, 2 CT scans (to make sure it wasn’t a stroke . . . it wasn’t) and finally, after 4 different anti-nausea medications and drips, I stopped throwing up. 

Sunday: I’m still dizzy and have to hold on to things to walk (it’s a bit wonky to type) but the good news, the GREAT news, is I’ve not thrown up.  The bad news is I’m still dizzy . . .  and  grey-haired.

"Such drama . ."

“If she thinks walking is hard she should try swinging from trees . .”

To my friends and acquaintances who suffer with Ménière’s disease. . . I have new compassion for you!

P.S.  For those of you I confused . .  I don’t have Menieres just plain Ditzy.

 

 

 

My Sketchy Life . . . Albee it

Edward Albee died the other day at 88.  He was a Pulitzer prize-winning playwright.  He intensely disliked it when asked what his plays were about but finally explained:

“If anybody wants me to say it, in one sentence, what my plays are about: They’re about the nature of identity. Who we are, how we permit ourselves to be viewed, how we permit ourselves to view ourselves, how we practice identity or lack of identity.”  Edward Albee

Most of the models in the life drawing classes have been posing for a long time.  They come equipped with props and pillows and strike dramatic poses that I defy anyone in “real” life to take . . . unless you’re an exotic dancer.

Graphite pencil sketch

Graphite pencil sketch

"quickies"

“quickies”

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Charcoal sketch

Art teachers explain that drawing isn’t about what the hand is doing it’s about training our eye to see what it actually sees rather than the internal image of what we THINK we see.

Right now my drawings are about trying to learn to view shapes and shadows, lines and limbs . . . and hopefully have my hands follow.  Someday, it would be nice to say the same thing Edward Albee said . . . that my drawings are about the nature of identity.

Laughter is the best medicine

The weather is changing

my body rearranging

Help! I’m in a fibro flare

Everything hurts

including my hair.

Sharon Bonin Pratt is a writer, an artist and a dear friend.  I think she also is psychic.  I’ve been not feeling great and the subject of her last post was just what I needed.  AND it’s dedicated to ME!!!!  What an honor!

Shari inspired me to look for a smile (SEE THE VIDEO).  

Here’s a sample from Sharon Bonin Pratt’s Ink Flare:

“Who can laugh without relaxing? Isn’t that why some of us (not me of course, and certainly not you, but other unnamed folks) pee their pants when laughing raucously? Losing all control is not a bad thing, even if you must change your whitie-dities, because when you’re having that much fun – who cares about all the rest? Oh, and it’s contagious! In a good way, not like the flu, but like having enough cup cakes for everyone in the world. So now I not only feel good inside my own world weary bod – I feel good because everyone around me also feels good. Motto for today: Spread cheer – laugh out loud.”

Read her entire post –  Sharon Bonin Pratt’s Ink Flare

My sketchy life – failing my way to success

Sara Blakely’s embrace of failure has helped make her the youngest self-made female billionaire in America.  She invented Spanx (body-shaping undergarments – the modern version of the corset and girdle).

When she was growing up, her father would often ask her the same question at dinnertime.

“What have you failed at this week?”

I was AGHAST – failure!? What a horrible father.  Everyone knows we are supposed to focus on and revel in success.  She went on to say:

“My dad growing up encouraged me and my brother to fail. The gift he was giving me is that failure is (when you are) not trying versus the outcome. It’s really allowed me to be much freer in trying things and spreading my wings in life.”

What a novel idea! Embrace failure as a sign of taking risks, learning and growing. Failure is a victory not a defeat.

“The fact that I had never taken a business class, had no training, didn’t know how retail worked,” she said. “I wasn’t as intimidated as I should have been.”

I read her interview just before my life drawing class.  It was liberating!!  I gave myself permission to fail at trying to draw perfect likeness, perfect proportions, perfect shading.  

Graphite Pencil Sketch

Graphite Pencil Sketches

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dscn6681

My new motto:  Fail Away! 

 . . . it’s never too late to become the oldest self-made billionaire in the United States.

I fail to understand her conclusions . . . that must make me a success . . .

She never fails to confound me . . .

 

The HeART of Spirituality – Journey from Dark to Light

The theme for July is “Journey”.  Held a special 4 hour – yes, count ’em FOUR hours of creative energy – workshop yesterday.  The participants focused on a painful experience, what strengths they developed as a result of the pain and how God’s love or “the universe’s grace” touched them.  

People could share as much or as little as they chose.  It was a wonderful group of women.  (All you men, where are you?!!!!)

Take a look at a sample of wonderful paintings and mini-journals the participants created yesterday!

To see all the paintings and journal pages click HERE!

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Process painting, Journey from Dark to Light

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“Everything in life ministers to our development. Our lesson is to study and learn… Tests are either stumbling blocks or stepping stones, just as we make them.” Abdu’l-Baha, The Baha’i World Faith

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Mini journal – 2- page spread

Sneek a Peek into my sketchy life – nudes and buts

Sorry, I’ve been blogged-out for so long.  I know, I know, yet another sorry-I’ve-been-gone-for-so-long-post.  

BUT I decided today is a brand new beginning.  “BUT” literally and figuratively.  (For those of you who are squeamish scroll down to the nude part because I begin with the BUTT . . .  mine to be exact.)  

Just had a colonoscopy. The bad news – I didn’t have a very good day yesterday.  The good news – I lost 4 pounds.  The bad news – I have wasted today sleeping.  The good news – I don’t remember a thing.  

Now that I’m squeaky clean it’s time for a new start – Going to go back to cutting out (maybe down) on refined sugar & carbs and cutting up on the internet.

Here’s my latest sketches.  I start with my favorite:

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10 minute charcoal sketch

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20 minute charcoal sketch

DSCN6571

10 minute charcoal sketch

Adding insult to injury

I woke this morning feeling like a truck hit me, threw me onto the train tracks where I was run over by a locomotive.

AND lo and behold . . .

. . .  today is National Fibromyalgia Day.  I’m in no mood to celebrate but the Fibro-Fiends that dwell inside me are having a ball!

I’m too tired to write an entirely new post to post on this post so I’ll just post part of a post of a post that I posted sometime ago.  . . . .

Judy's Journal, Mixed Media, Collage

judy’s journal, collage

“I look normalI act normal (relatively normal).  However, I feel exhausted much of the time, my body aches from head to toe and my brain sometimes has trouble remembering or concentrating.  Please don’t tell me to exercise more, eat better, try acupuncture or go to a new doctor.  After 20 years I’ve tried just about everything there is to try that I can afford, swallow or legally do.”

“I don’t even care anymore what you call itFibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, malingering . . . it’s just tiring being tired much of the time.  I push through it otherwise I’d have no life.  But the price for pushing can be days of crashing so I pick and choose my commitments.”

There’s a free on-line Fibromyalgia Summit.  If you’re interested in hearing the presentations click here: http://www.healthrising.org/blog/2016/05/11/three-days-may-fibromyalgia-summit-almost/

________________________________

Confidential:  Send me your prayers because tomorrow I’m leaving for an Unitarian Woman’s Retreat where I’m facilitating 2 workshops.  (I am not planning on taking my Fibro-Fiends with me.  Please don’t tell anyone because if the Fiends get wind I want to leave them home they will be angry . . . very angrrrrrrrrry . . .)

Sneek a peek at my skechy life

What did I learn today in class?  Drawing is just like life! 

I used to think that great artists, good artists got it right on the first pass.  It’s taken me 7 decades to understand that all artists continually make corrections.  Draw, adjust, erase, draw, redraw, erase . . . 

Luckily, it only took me 5 decades to figure out that life was about continually making corrections.  That reminds me . . .  I need a new eraser.

Here’s my sketches for today – One is loose and the other uptight

#CreativeSprint

xxxx

Graphite pencil, I shaved his head so he’d be more “hip”.

Vine charcoal

Vine charcoal, Dilly Dolly

Children’s art – the invisible made visible

“Syrian kids who passed through Milan’s Central Station last year did something very Italian: create artwork. While they waited for trains to take them to northern Europe, Save the Children offered them a chance to draw. They could depict whatever they wanted, says psychologist Vittoria Ardino, president of the Italian Society for the Study of Traumatic Stress, who analyzed 500 of these images.”

Scroll down to last drawing to read one of Ardino’s reflections on the drawings.

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“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. 
Without them, humanity cannot survive.”

H.H. The 14th Dalai Lama

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“God has created the world as one—the boundaries are marked out by man.”

‘Abdu’l-Baha, The Baha’i World Faith

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“I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.”

1 Corinthians 1:10

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“However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you

If you do not act on upon them?”

Buddha

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Here’s one of  Vittoria Ardino’s reflections on these drawings:

“There’s so much happening on this piece of paper — which is maybe a reflection of the child’s chaotic inner world, Ardino says. A flying creature is part butterfly, a common symbol of freedom. But it’s also part gun. A plane dropping bombs is covered by a face that’s half-human and half-fish (or actually, a big fish devouring a smaller one). A flower droops over a series of squiggles, which Ardino believes represent human bodies. All of that points to a child feeling powerless — but “trying desperately to find light,” Ardino adds. The face is surrounded by sun, and an oversized ladder or staircase leads away from the houses. Ardino suggests this is the child’s attempt at answering a critical question: “How can I escape?”‘

Click here to read Ardino’s reflections on all 7 drawings.

 

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