Category Archives: Uncategorized

Thanksgiving in August

Although I regularly write a gratitude list in my journal, I have taken my eyes for granted. Last week I went for my annual eye exam. All went well until the end when Dr. Parsons discovered a possible a detached retina. He sent me immediately to Dr. Connolly, a retinal specialist in Rochester, who confirmed that I had a detached retina and scheduled me for surgery the next day.

I arrived at the Brighton Surgery Center in somewhat of a daze and rather nervous as you might imagine. I received wonderful care from the staff including Julie, Rita, Eric, Jillian and Ray as well as others. I left with a gas bubble in my eye to hold the retina in place while it reattaches. My post­op recovery has so far been uneventful and I am being patient with my eye as it heals.

I was scheduled for jury duty last week. If I had ended up serving, I would have had to cancel my eye exam. Who knows when the detachment would have finally been discovered? Not attending to a detached retina can result in blindness.

Among the uncertainties, confusion, chaos and disasters of the recent past, I am most grateful to God for leading me back to the path of wellness, to Carol my lover and nurse, and to my medical team mentioned above.

What are you grateful for today?

 

 

 

Violence in the Forefront

Drum Circle at Englewood Beach

The pace of life has become faster and more frantic in recent years. Many people leave little time for thoughtful reflection or just sitting still. If you are older, you might remember when life was simpler and less hectic. If you are younger, you might have heard about more peaceful times from your relatives. How did we get from living in relative peace to being obsessed with anger and its expression in violence?

Many people lately have become alarmed by “senseless” violence around the world. Have you wondered whether there is a connection between the spate of suicide bombings in Europe and the mass shootings around the world, including those in this country? I have long considered a possible connection between these events and their relationship to fear and violence. Let’s take a closer look.

If you have ever studied psychology or even read about it casually, you are most likely familiar with the fight or flight response to fear. Depending on your circumstances, when faced with something fearful to you, you react by attacking the source of your fear (fight) if you think you can overcome it or avoiding it (flight) if it seems more powerful than you are. Fear and these responses to it follow a direct and immediate threat of attack such as by a wild animal or person. You don’t have time to think about it but automatically react almost immediately.

Anxiety is related to fear. The feared object might not be immediately present, but you might worry about what might happen or not happen in the future. You become anxious about your own welfare or that of your family. You might also fret about the possible behavior of other people or the course taken by the society in which you live.

If you are unable to find a way to relieve this anxiety, it builds and eventually leads to a sense of desperation or hopelessness. This can take place inside you and possibly remain invisible to others. You might find someone whom you trust with your concerns and share them or act on your anxiety by lashing out. Based on my experience and reading, it seems clear that everyone has a breaking point when  they feel forced to act in ways not typical of them. Perhaps some people turn to violence as a way to be taken seriously for once. Some commit suicide when they feel their life challenges are more than they can bear.

The result can also be a lashing out toward other individuals or society in general if you see others as responsible for your predicament. If you could understand the workings of others’ minds, much of the violence in the world might not seem quite so senseless. Violence often makes sense to people feeling overwhelmed by life burdens. Most people tend to react emotionally to such situations without giving their response much thought.

If you could step back from your emotions, you might see more constructive possibilities and be able to choose one of them. Once you are overwhelmed, it might be too late to step back. You could make a practice of learning to take a break from your daily routine even when you are not under pressure. Then you will have a better idea how to handle stressful life events when they arise.

But what can you do about that pressured feeling? Perhaps the best place to start is to realize that technology has resulted in amazing inventions allowing you to contact others around the world in a matter of seconds. Yet the overload of immediate communication has resulted in separating people rather than bringing them closer together. Here is what General Omar Bradley had to say, “The world has achieved brilliance without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we do about peace, more about killing than we know about living.”

In the process of becoming immediately connected, we seem to have forgotten the purpose of communication. It is to help us understand each other and learn to work together to find harmonious ways for us to exist together. Instead, we use our channels of communication to persuade others to think as we do. We use them for entertainment, validating ourselves and for advertising.

Although our technology to some extent helps us understand each other, we need to do much more to appreciate each other in our search for meaningful lives. People who tend toward violence may have goals not much different from our own. Yet they might have had their dreams crushed along the way. They no longer see any path toward a fulfilling life and look for a way to express their frustration.

Violence is seen as aggressive behavior with the intent to cause physical or psychological harm. Hostile aggression also fits our definition of violence for the purposes of this book. It is performed in anger for the purpose of harming another person. By constant exposure to it, we have come to be more accustomed to violence in our society, regardless of the presence or absence of a relationship between perpetrator and victim.

Mindfulness is a way you can come to understand yourself and your inner workings. It involves reflecting on your thoughts and emotions rather than acting on them impulsively. It is a form of meditation and involves making your body and mind still.

You do this by being in a place of serenity free of distractions. You pay attention to your inner state as well as the sounds, sights and smells around you while making no judgments about anything in your awareness. This is a practice where you can exist in just this moment without any concern for the past or future. You can practice mindfulness in order to take your mind and your body down a more constructive path than it might have otherwise taken. Rather than letting your emotions direct your whole day, you could step back from them and put them in context. We will look at this in greater detail later.

Do you usually react with immediate anger when something upsets your routine and then let it consume you for the rest of the day? Do you look for someone to blame for everything that happens to you, when you might be at least partially responsible? Do you let your mood take over your decisions and actions rather than trying to look at situations more rationally? Are you always on alert to find someone at fault? These are a few things to explore in a calmer mood once you find one, but it takes practice to set this mood.

Many people tend to look closely at another person’s behavior, decide what they don’t like about it and then think about how that person should act to make them happy. Yet you are not in charge of what everybody else does or thinks. If you want to understand someone’s inner workings, the closest person at hand is yourself. You can start by looking without judgment at your own thoughts, feelings and actions and work toward understanding them. Again I am referring to mindfulness. With a better understanding of yourself, you will be in a better position to understand and make sense of others’ actions. Maybe you and they can even find ways to work together on handling emotions.

 

We’re Biologically Driven To Be Compassionate: 6 Surprising Health Reasons Why We Should Follow That Instinct

Studies have shown that our DNA drives us to carry out acts of compassion for the greater good of our species. There’s evidence indicating that infants show a preference for people they perceive as helpful, and other research suggest compassion is a motivator of kindness among toddlers as young as 2 years old. It turns out that those of us who offer — and receive — more compassion reap some hefty health benefits. We partnered with Dignity Health to look at a few of the ways compassion may boost your well-being.

Excerpt from Dignity Health’s article in Huffington Post– read more

Reflections on the Meaning of Christmas

rainbow

 

I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.

~Charles Dickens~

What usually comes to mind as Christmas nears? Before we have a chance to think about it, ads bombard us from all directions, encouraging us to buy everything under the sun. We must wade through all the commercial trappings to get to the spiritual aspects of Christmas.

Christmas is about a birthday, that of Jesus. To some people, Jesus is the Son of God, part of the Trinity which constitutes God. To others, he was a good man who brought some new ideas about how to live peacefully with each other. To still others, Jesus is irrelevant to their daily lives.

Regardless of our beliefs, I think we can all agree that a baby named Jesus was born about 2000 years ago. The birth of any baby is truly a miracle. The study of embryology shows us the thousands of steps which must take place successfully in order for a fertilized egg to become a living, breathing baby.

If you know someone who has a baby and you visit the baby on two occasions a week apart, you will be amazed at the changes that have taken place between your two visits. The baby who once stared unresponsively learns to smile, roll over, wave, clap hands, stand and eventually communicate with you.

Holding a newborn baby brings us a sense of awe and a reverence for life rather than allowing us to take life for granted. It is a reminder of how far we have come since emerging from the womb. A baby’s innocence reminds us that we can look at things around us in a fresh way, no matter how jaded we have become over the years.

Babies hold great promise for the world. Alexander the Great, Churchill, Michelangelo, Mozart and Shakespeare all started out as babies. Who could tell, looking at any of them as babies, what their lives would hold? What do you think your parents imagined for you when you were born? If you have children, what did you imagine for them?

Sometimes we think we only have one chance in life. We feel trapped by how our parents raised us, how we have allowed ourselves to become mired down by our mistakes or by how others have treated us. We sometimes dwell on our physical or mental limitations or those imposed by poor health. Somehow, it seems easier to think about what we can’t do than about what we can do. I remember the story of a woman who had no arms but became an excellent office manager and private secretary using her toes. Sometimes our limitations point us toward our capabilities or ways of doing things.

What does all this have to do with Christmas? We have a chance to be reborn with Jesus, not just on Christmas but every day. What if we woke up tomorrow morning with none of the old thinking which keeps us from trying something new? What might we be able to do if we did not let our negative thinking hold us back?  Would you like to try it?

 

Life Lab Lessons

  • Remember your own birthday.
  • What dreams do you think your parents had for you?
  • What dreams did you have as a child?
  • Start a new phase of your life today.
  • Try to live in peace with everyone you meet.

From Commonsense Wisdom for Everyday Life

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Wake up to your life: too late to smell the roses

Cheryl Perrault

This week I am just coming around to realize that I never made time to stop and smell the lilacs in my yard. I had all the best intentions of doing so. I kept thinking something like “I’ll make time for them tomorrow.” Regretfully, “tomorrow” came and went in a flash and now the lilac blooms are all withered and brown.

(Excerpt from Cheryl Perreault’s column in The Hopkinton Crier- Read the rest of her article here,)