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A Tangle of things.

It was a week of intentional distractions from the stress of a situation that’s 100% out of my control.

Don’t you love those?

God, grant me the Serenity
To accept the things I cannot change…
Courage to change the things I can,
And Wisdom to know the difference.

Okay, God. I’m on it.  I get it. I can’t do anything about it.

Nothing. Nada. Zero. Not a thing.

So of course I only say “but maybe,” “if only,” “but just” and “but what if” about a thousand times a day.

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My Favorite Crush

I fell in love with Adrienne Shelly long before she wrote and directed the amazing Indie film Waitress. You can read about her incredible achievements in this article from The Guardian.

I first saw Adrienne Shelly in 1989 in The Unbelievable Truth, directed by Hal Hartley. In the movie, Shelly played Audry, an intoxicating and breathtaking high schooler headed for college and obsessed with the threat of nuclear destruction. A year later, Shelly played Maria in Hal Hartley’s Trust. The plot of Trust and the description of Shelly’s character are too crazy and complex to describe succinctly. But it doesn’t matter because you’ll end up watching the movie ten times if you watch it just once.

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Just do it! with bullets!

#journallife

Journaling is a great way to self-manage your mental and physical health, improve cognition and boost creativity. It’s also really satisfying. And PositivePsychology came up with 83 Actual Benefits!!

Here are some links to websites that help you figure out the best approach for your needs. There are so many ways to journal. And you don’t have to be a writer. You might just want to make lists. You might like bullet lists. You might prefer calendars. Personally, I keep a daily journal using DayViewer.

I also journal in greater detail by event. For that, I tend to use MicroSoft OneNote. I like OneNote because it automatically updates while you’re adding to it throughout your meeting, event or day. I use OneNote on both PC and Mac. I use it on PC for work and on Mac for other stuff.

Check out Bullet Journal and Journal Buddies. Both very cool. And completely different!

In case you’re overwhelmed by the thought of a journal or intimidated by the thought of writing, good news! You don’t have to produce anything amazing. My journals are made up of phrases and lists and words and curse words and exclamation points and doodles and quotes and, quite often, the word DUH. Although sometimes I type it this way: D.U.H.

More on journaling later. In the meantime, think about yours!

Or at least put journaling on your list!

With bullets!

xoxo, dee

Great CBT Podcast!

All about CBT and how it works and how it can help you!!

Dr. Julie Osborn, a therapist specializing in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), shares her experiences in the field and helps her listeners; addressing the issues they face and the situations they find themselves in. CBT is a short-term, goal-orientated psychotherapy treatment that takes a hands-on, practical approach to problem solving. Dr. Osborn teaches how cognitive behavioral therapy can be used everyday in our lifelong pursuit of happiness.

  • MAY 28, 2021

Self-Sabotage

Self-Sabotage

Do other people get annoyed with you because you act or react a certain way?Do you feel like you’re always messing up or losing relationships because of certain behaviors?Do you feel hopeless and stuck in an endless pattern of negative thoughts and automatic reactions?In this episode, Dr Julie h…

  • MAY 21, 2021

How To Reframe Your Feelings

How To Reframe Your Feelings

Do you struggle with negative feelings – anxiety, loneliness, depression, resentment, anger, fear?Do you wish you could just make them all go away?In this episode, Dr Julie shares with you a CBT technique that will empower you to reframe your thoughts and feelings in a positive way, bringing yo…

  • MAY 14, 2021

Are You Judging Me?

Are You Judging Me?

Do you feel exhausted trying to keep up with other people’s expectations of you?Do you feel like you’re constantly being judged?In this episode, Dr Julie looks at the insecurities and anxieties many of us feel in response to other’s perceived judgement of us. She explains some of the reasons these in…

  • MAY 7, 2021

How To Assert Yourself

How To Assert Yourself

Do you struggle to communicate your desires and preferences?Do you feel like people walk all over you and you are powerless to change it?In this episode, Dr Julie talks about what it means to be assertive in a healthy way, how it can benefit you and how to do it. Using the power of Cognitive Beh…

  • APR 30, 2021

Understanding Personality Disorders

Understanding Personality Disorders

What is the difference between personality quirks and a personality disorder?Why do people have personality disorders?If you’re in a relationship with someone with a personality disorder, what is the best way to deal with that? In this episode, Dr Julie Osborn helps demystify personality disorders, ex…

Chuckie’s in Love

Wow. Two of my favorites! Marc Maron interviewing Ricki Lee Jones.

WTF with Marc Maron Podcast

1246 EpisodesShareFollow77 minutes | May 20th 2021

Episode 1228 – Rickie Lee Jones

Rickie Lee Jones is, first and foremost, a storyteller. She realized at a young age that she could process her feelings and tell her own story through the fiction of songs. As she tells Marc, that same impulse prompted her to write a memoir in which she could present her life story through the narrative of her extended family of vaudevillians. Rickie Lee and Marc also talk about her formative and tumultuous relationship with Tom Waits and why it’s hard for her to reminisce about her early albums and the hits that made her a star. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Yeah.

The Problem with Depression: Again. And again.

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I was on Amtrak’s Northeast Regional from DC  to Baltimore when I got the alert that Kate Spade had ended her life.  I couldn’t believe it and I desperately searched the internet for posts that proved the news a hoax.

But it wasn’t a hoax and the horrible news was confirmed immediately by credible sources.

I texted my sister-in-law.

Kate Spade killed herself.”

Knowing she would be pressed for the best way to respond, I added “I can’t un-know that.”

Kakki, the sister I had always wanted, texted back.

oh no,” she said.

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Fa la la la la ly2…

Falalalala

I’m a big fan of leaving the house.

I don’t do it often, but I enthusiastically support the practice.

One of the great things about leaving the house is witnessing other humans’ experiences of life.  Other people are a good reminder about how little influence your own perceptions could have if you’d just give them less rope to run around with.

This morning I left the house.  I went to an office I go to now and again.

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#metoo #notyou

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This week I lent my support to the #metoo campaign of women and men helping to make more women and men aware of what we all supposedly already know, but apparently also don’t know.

Really? We still don’t know?

I’m sorry. I guess I thought we all knew.

And honestly, I thought one of the reasons we all knew was because it had happened to most, if not all of us.

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What about 100% of Effective People?

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“100% of effective people seem to have read that book.”

Listening to Scott Adams plugging Influence by Robert Cialdini.  Tim Ferris asked him for his opinion on best book ever (or book he’d be most likely to gift to others). This is a great listen for Scott Adams fans. He covers broad territory – from hypnosis to affirmations (always fascinating) to cartooning to Builder protein bars.

So I’m moving on to ‘Influence’ after I finish Tools of Titans.  I’ve pretty much reached the point where I’ll do whatever Tim Ferris says to do.  If Scott Adams seeks to eliminate decision making from his daily routine, I am seeking Tim Ferris to make my decisions for me.

 

 

 

Flash Cards for a Functional Year

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I’m sorry the title of today’s offering isn’t better.

I should have written something about a happy or joyous year, right?

But seriously, happy and joyous aren’t my goals.

I wouldn’t mind being happy and joyous, mind you.  It’s just that I don’t generally set out to be happy and joyous. Generally, I set out to be functioning and, hopefully, very high functioning.

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Don’t you want something different?

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The puppy who’s no longer a puppy has been fed, walked, watered and thrown balls to.

Well, they weren’t actually balls. They were actually pieces of penne pasta, if you must know.

This puppy who’s no longer a puppy likes the half-crunchy-half-chewy pieces from the top of the casserole. So she gets them thrown across the room and she chases them down.

Nah.

She’s not too spoiled.

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Why didn’t you call me?

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Okay. Phone rang. Answered phone. Call over.

Back to Rob Kardashian and Part II of how his experiences with depression can help others.

(2) Sometimes it’s hard for the Person With Depression (PWD) to pick up the phone. 

So there are a bunch of episodes where Rob disappears.

As the official disappearing member of my family, these episodes are especially special to me.

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Learning to Live with Life.

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Glenn Fleishman sharing the New York Times on Tom Brokaw just popped up on my Twitter feed. 

Now I’ll get the info in sets of three since I follow all three sources.

I like Tom Brokaw. I like him in all of the basic ways – as a professional, as a journalist, as a man, as a human. He’s a good egg.

I’ve followed Mr. Brokaw’s journey through his diagnosis of multiple myeloma at the age of 73.

I like people with issues, especially medical issues and major life crises.

I like watching people confront struggle and triumph over life’s bad badnesses.

I like witnessing the humility of life’s constant reminders that we’re SO not in control when it all comes down to it.

I like when good, reputable, professional, accomplished, successful eggs like Tom Brokaw share their experiences of real life’s ongoing struggles.  It helps me to know that I am not alone in feeling alone.  And it helps to give me words to define my own struggle…and ways to understand my own struggle.

Specifically, I’ve been working lately to come up with my own “take” on my message. For the first time in my life, I’m sharing the stories behind my art, none of which are lovely, upbeat or positive. My art is dark and morbid and depressing.  My art is the art of depression, which is dark, morbid and depressing, at least for me.

So basically it goes like this:

I’ve spent a lifetime living with depression. I’ve created a ton of art inspired by my dark experience. The art is dark. And now I’m sharing.

The thing is that darkness scares people. They assume you’re in the dark place at the very time when they themselves experience the darkness you’re sharing, even though the darkness you’re sharing could have been inspired by experiences from ages (or hours) ago.

So I like the idea of “Learning to Live With“….because it reinforces the reality that when you experience anything difficult, you experience it on a continuum.  You experience the discovery of the difficulty as you define it and identify its scope.  You experience the difficulty as you have it, hate it, fight it, embrace it, and own it. You experience the difficulty as you fix it and then move on to recovering from the fixing phase.

And then you clean up.  You experience the cleaning up of the odds and ends that invariably result from any life disruption.

And then, just when you thought you’ve cleaned everything up and put everything back into its proper place, you experience the fact that your normal is no longer the normal that other people experience.

And, if you have a chronic condition, the cycle repeats.

And repeats. And repeats. And repeats.

I suspect my next essay will be about the stages of living with depression…. or whatever difficulty, struggle, condition or other life reality you’re living with. Because yes, we are all living with something. And yes, we are all somewhere in the journey or process….somewhere in the stages.

And it’s life.

It’s just life.

So go live it.

And help others live it if you’re lucky enough to be in one of the easier stages today.

xoxo, d

Not-so-Manic Monday

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I’m looking for an essay I wrote years (and years) ago. An essay about how, when men don’t call after amazing first dates, it’s only fair to assume they have died.

I’m looking for the essay for my buddy Jon Birger who wrote a book on why men appear to be disappearing.  And why I will be alone forever.

Oops. Sorry for giving away the ending, Jon.

Along the way to finding the essay, I found another billion essays.

One in particular caught my eye because of its commitment to a recurring (i.e., SO OLD) theme: what works and what just feels like it’s working.  It’s kind of like that age old question of whether you should strive for an A or strive to write a paper that actually takes a risk and explores some facet of your talent and intellect that may not guarantee the A.

For years, I didn’t fix certain things because the high of starting to fix them seemed like enough. I was an A student who just needed to get the A to keep moving forward.

Now, of course, as with most things, the high of an A isn’t high – it’s just a way to forestall anxiety about not getting the A.  So now, at the tender age of way-too-old-for-this, I’m trying hard to fix some of the fundamental conditions that invariably result in pain.

Enjoy the read, if you choose to read.  This essay would have been written around 2010.

 

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Observations of the information age, where everything evolves quickly. Except people

“What else should we talk about?” I asked the therapist.

We were only five minutes into our session when I ran out of material. I had already briefed him on the weeks of my life since our last visit. I reported my success in managing workplace stress and how I could now get through a day without a bottle of Tylenol. He, in turn, praised me on my follow through.

Good doctor. Good patient.

So now we were free to talk about anything. But nothing came to mind. I had sought out his guidance after experiencing one migraine too many and now the migraines were gone. I was running and meditating and breathing lots of fresh air, all quite conducive to relieving the pressures of a typical professional life.  In my book, we had accomplished our goal.

“What would you like to talk about?” he asked. He was finished writing notes in my file and appeared ready for some good old neurotic entertainment.

The truth was I didn’t want to talk. It was a beautiful day and I had many other tasks that needed my attention. I wanted to be excused. But I didn’t want him to think I was using him only in times of crisis – even though that’s exactly what I was doing.

I decided to talk and to see where my innermost thoughts led.

“I was really mad at my mother last week,” I offered, trying a little to remember her offense.

“What happened that made you upset?”

“I don’t remember. But I was definitely mad,” I assured him.

“And did you confront your mother about your anger?” he queried with only the slightest hint of interest.

“Of course not!” I laughed. “I told her I was tired of hearing her talk. She said ‘fine, I won’t ever talk again.’ And then we went to CostCo.

“And now? How do you feel now?” he insisted.

“Feel about what?” I mumbled, completely confused about whether we had even chosen a topic with which to soak up the remaining time.

I should have explained to this very nice man that I didn’t care about any issue unless it was immediately disrupting my life. I grew up in a house where nothing was allowed to fester for long and any hint of misery was quickly nipped in the bud. At the earliest indication of upset, anger, confusion, frustration or anxiety, my mother would descend with a heavy bang and yell “What’s wrong? Something is wrong.”

After the required dysfunctional dance of “nothing’s wrong” and “I don’t want to talk about it,” my mother would reach deep inside of our throats and painfully pull out the problem by its roots.

A tearful and emotional intervention fit for reality television would ensue. And then, my mother would matter-of-factly say “Let’s talk to someone about this!” Emotional issues were nothing more complicated than leaky faucets or creaky doors. The key was to find a professional who owned the exact set of tools necessary for a quick and final fix.

My mother would race to the phone, conducting a full-on aggressive campaign to identify the best expert for the job. She was inspired and determined as she explained the urgency of the situation. Within hours we would be in the car on the way to a highly recommended specialist.

“Just tell us what to do,” my mother would beg, perched on the edge of her seat with her stenographer’s pad ready to capture every audible sound.

It was rare that we visited a professional more than once after that first consult. More often than not, we returned only to report on our prideful success in carrying out the expert’s strategy. Again and again, we heard that we were incredible and that we would do very well going forward given our outstanding performance in the current challenge.

Whatever the problem, we were always fixed in an hour or so. Low self-esteem? One hour. Trouble focusing in school? One hour. Confusion about whether to put off college for a year? Thinking of murdering a sibling? That would be one hour. I was completely spoiled, convinced that we could fix anything with one phone call and an office visit.

But I wasn’t as efficient once I left home. I remember my first visit to a university counselor. I divulged an enormous and disproportional anxiety about turning in papers that were less than excellent. Within five minutes, she had resolved my episodic perfectionism and was searching for more interesting fodder. Perhaps I was obsessive, she opined? Did I find myself testing the lock on the door more than twenty times before being convinced it was secure? I tried to thank her and get out before she discovered real problems, but she tricked me into staying. She said she could help find the real me. It turned out that the real me was a comedian who visited her regularly for a year, regaling her with funny stories of how I talked myself down on a daily basis.

I didn’t return to therapy for many years. I was busy working and loving and learning to get through the normal burdens of an independent life. But when I went back, so many years later, I was convinced that I finally had enough conflicts to fill up an hour.

I was at a critical point, personally and professionally. Should I stay or should I go? Should I fight or should I flee? Rent or own? Boxers or briefs?

“I am easily a once-a-week patient,” I commended myself.

But the fact is that I was worse than before. I had become expert at resolving my life issues. I could easily anticipate what a counselor would say and I just wanted to get busy on following through. With useful tools like acceptance, meditation, Diet Coke and Dr. Phil, I could fix myself. Counselors were quickly becoming the middle man with high rates for overhead.

“Why are you here?” a new therapist asked?

“I don’t remember,” I said. “I made the appointment last week when I was upset, but now life is good. I have nothing to say.”

And for the first time ever, a therapist earned my trust.

“Well, then…life is fine! You should be happy! That was your goal, right?”

I agreed. I was fine and I was happy.

And then I set up a meeting for the follow week. I may not have a problem, but I’m not stupid enough to dismiss a therapist who works that fast.

 

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