Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Article


Tara Haelle, MS
April 14, 2016
Improving Muscular Fitness May Benefit People With Bipolar Disorder

Walking Around

I saw Mark Twain riding a bicycle on the sidewalk. He stopped for a moment and peered into the laundromat and then rode away. I saw Bob Dylan drive by in a chartreuse Fiat. Queen Elizabeth should be showing up any minute now.

Banana

I wrote my name in script on the banana peel using a ball point pen and left it on the turquoise kitchen counter next to the toaster and I went back to my desk. Twenty minutes later my husband walked in to the kitchen and started laughing. "There's a banana here with your name on it," he said.

May Sarton

Why is it that poetry always seems to me so much more a true work of the soul than prose? I never feel elated after writing a page of prose, though I have written good things on concentrated will, and at least in a novel the imagination is fully engaged. Perhaps it is that prose is earned and poetry is given. Both can be revised almost indefinitely. I do not mean to say that I do not work at poetry. When I am really inspired I can put a poem through a hundred drafts and keep my excitement. But this sustained battle is possible only when I am in a state of grace, when the deep channels are open, and when they are, when I am both profoundly stirred and balanced, then poetry comes as a gift from powers beyond my will.
-May Sarton, Journal of A Solitude, pg 40-41

Joyce Sutphen

But still we keep on dreaming, warming
our hands over the fire in that cottage
at the end of the road—where everything
is prepared for us, and someone we
never met has departed only minutes ago.

excerpt from poem A Dream of the Future by Joyce Sutphen from The Green House

Here the Roses Grow Beside the Granite

“It is good for a professional to be reminded that his professionalism is only a husk, that the real person must remain an amateur, a lover of the work.”
― May Sarton, Plant Dreaming Deep

“It was a painful week, swung between doubt and hope. I knew that tension well. It is just the same before I begin to write a book or a poem. It is the tension of being on the brink of a major commitment, and not being quite sure whether one has it in one to carry it through - the stage where the impossible almost exactly balances the possible, and a thistledown may shift the scales one way or another.”
― May Sarton, Plant Dreaming Deep

“I had found one of the places on earth where any sensitive being feels exposed to powerful invisible forces and himself suddenly naked and attacked on every side by air, light, space - all that brings the soul close to the surface. There the poems flowed out.”
― May Sarton, Plant Dreaming Deep

“And how long would the life in me stay alive if it did not find new roots?
I behaved like a starving man who knows there is food somewhere if he can only find it. I did not reason anything out. I did not reason that part of the food I needed was to become a member of a community richer and more various, humanly speaking, than the academic world of Cambridge could provide: the hunger of the novelist. I did not reason that part of the nourishment I craved was all the natural world can give - a garden, woods, fields, brooks, birds: the hunger of the poet. I did not reason that the time had come when I needed a house of my own, a nest of my own making: the hunger of the woman.”
― May Sarton, Plant Dreaming Deep

“Not happiness, perhaps, but something like New England itself—struggle, occasional triumph over adversity, above all the power to endure and to be renewed. For here the roses grow beside the granite.”
― May Sarton, Plant Dreaming Deep: A Journal

“Everything in us presses toward decision, even toward the wrong decision, just to be free of the anxiety that precedes any big step in life.”
― May Sarton, Plant Dreaming Deep

“I know that I myself have felt that prickling of the scalp that Emily Dickinson tells us is the sign of recognition before a true poem.”
― May Sarton, Plant Dreaming Deep

May Sarton

I have a few copies of May Sarton's JOURNAL OF A SOLITUDE and it is my bible. I keep one copy next to the bed and one on my desk and for over 25 years I've reached for it and it always soothes, inspires, illuminates and resonates with me.

The Inevitable Inner Monkeys

"It's tricky trying to help someone because you are inevitably going to encounter their inner monkeys," I said to my husband.
"That's what teaching is about. This is what I'm doing each day, wrestling with my students' inner monkeys as part of trying to teach them."

Melody Moezzi

On Faith and Recovery
Accepting the validity of both spiritual and clinical components of a mental health condition and its treatment can make a world of difference.

By Melody Moezzi

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Today

I decided to swim before walking Lily and see what that was like. I swam 4 more laps than yesterday bringing it to 75. On my way home I noticed big spray-paint graffiti vandalism on the corner buildings. When I came up the drive there were a bunch of strangers taking apart cars. Here we go again.
After my lunch I ran into Claudia when I was walking Lily downtown. She told me she started drinking again and woke up still drunk. She said she has been having seizures. I listened carefully. It was the only thing I could do.

Mat Hudson's Advice

I have to share this magnificent Mat Hudson post about swimming through DEPRESSION with the world.
Swimming Through Depression
https://smoothstrokes.wordpress.com/2012/05/31/swimming-through-depression/
May 31, 2012 · by Mat Hudson · in Heart & Mind, Motivations For Training. ·

A few weeks ago I was hit with depression for about 4 days. I lost my energy and enthusiasm for anything. I just wanted to sleep and sleep until the exhaustion and gloom left.

This doesn’t happen so often any more. I’ve lived overseas for over 4 years now- the first year was definitely the hardest. Though I absolutely love it, it is more challenging and exhausting than I ever imagined. In this adventurous journey- raising a family, building an international business and living in a foreign land- I have to carefully manage my energy levels- mental, physical and spiritual- more than ever.

20 years ago I struggled with depression often, and it reached a terrifying low point in the spring of 1994, during my junior year at university. When I entered the university years I walked into big, unexplored territory- intellectual, spiritual, emotional territory. In the excitement of it all I lost my balance then struggled to gain it back. I lacked wisdom and self-control to manage my mental and emotional health. Things got out of hand, and I plunged down further, coming out of it less often, until I couldn’t tell when it would come or go anymore. I got scared enough that I sought out some help, first some medical advice, then some spiritual- fortunately, I was pulled out and began a revival in my spirit that has been going steady ever since. However, the threat of falling into depression again never fully disappeared. Rather than having the possibility removed, I began to learn how to keep better distance from it. After all, I didn’t need to play with it if I didn’t want to. I learned I had far greater responsibility for my depression than I realized and gradually began to take up that responsibility.

It is possible that I am one of those people with a tendency to be melancholy, to fall into depression. Since the dark experience many years ago, I’ve acknowledged this disposition. But instead of looking for excuses to indulge in it, I’ve turned my focus on reducing my vulnerability to depression by working on the things I do have control over. I’ve built skills and routines to help me stay clear of it, and to pull out of it sooner when I happen to be caught up.

Hopefully, most of you reading this do not have any struggle. But if there is even one of you who does, then it is worth writing this essay just for you.

I simply want to tell you that you are not alone, and that there is great hope, even when you cannot feel it nearby.

It is easy to assume no one else feels what we feel (or has the ‘absence’ of feeling, if that is the form your depression comes in). The calm public exterior we see on others, the confident words we read on blogs (like mine), the ‘down-to-business’ or worse, the ‘smiley-happy-people’ world we interact with can lead us to believe that others don’t struggle like we struggle. When we are in leadership positions, or know that others are looking to us, or up to us, we can feel particularly isolated in our dark times. Feeling like we are letting people down can make the gloom even worse.

But there are things we can do to help ourselves, to keep better distance from the threat. Though there may be many factors contributing to depression outside of our control, there are many things we can do to reduce our vulnerability to it. We are not helpless.

Here are some things I pay particular attention to to reduce my vulnerability:

– I am careful to get more restful sleep.

– I am careful to get more solitary time to recharge emotionally and mentally (I am an introvert with ‘good social skills’). I have social limits that I must respect.

– I am careful about what forms of ‘entertainment’ I expose myself to, especially sensitive to the effects of certain kinds of music and movies.

– I am careful about what I put in my body, including medications, sugar, processed foods, artificial substances, and stimulants.

– I invest heavily in my spiritual life- I maintain a strong sense of connection with God through Jesus. I am connected to some thing good, loving and stable outside myself.

– I have developed skill for ‘framing’ my situations into a positive or constructive storyline- even my struggles and failures have purpose.

– I have cut down my exposure to people who reinforce a negative, or fearful view of life.

– And, I swim.

Years ago, when I was in that darkest season of depression, when my spiritual life was neglected too much to gain much strength from it, I think the only thing that kept me from sinking into complete apathy was my triathlon training routine. Somedays, it was the only thing that could get me out of bed and on my feet. When the darkness hit often the only way I could feel some life was to go out and get into the rhythm of my stroke, or cadence, or stride where I could finally feel blood, oxygen and electricity pump through my system again.

Now I have built up a pattern of health, and have a lot more experience, more tools, and a broader perspective to help me when I feel the threat of depression looming nearby. I recognize the threat earlier then scan my condition more quickly and take some steps to add or remove something critical from my day to prevent most falls. But sometimes I do take on too much and fall into it. It was like that a few weeks ago.

It was the fourth day. A great part of me, the depressed part, was not in the mood to do anything but sleep, and I was feeling the momentum pulling on me to go deeper, to start willingly wrap the heavy, warm blanket tighter around myself. I had not been able to swim for a couple days before but I was headed downtown on my scooter to do a couple tasks- I had my swim bag along like an emergency car kit. When I caught a glimpse of the sea it started was calling me. Just enough of my mind was in control and knew from experience that if I could just get into that water, just slip into the rhythm for a while I would feel some energy, perhaps enough of it to break out.

And I did.

It’s not that my enthusiasm instantly returned, but as I swam for an hour, blood started pumping, oxygen starting flowing, neural signals started firing in a focused, constructive way. It was no ‘happy pill’- it was more like I got a little jump-start on my nearly dead battery, or a slow-drip IV with just enough electrolytes injected into my anemic blood. I came out of the water with a mind recovered enough to think clearly about what to do next.

With that boost I had gained a window of time with a choice to make: take it and get busy refreshing my health and rebuilding my focus, or waste it by wrapping myself back up in the ‘heavy, warm blanket’ of depression hoping something will change without putting out any of my own effort. I was given a chance to build momentum in either direction at that moment. I received the energy from that swim as a gift, and used it to take a few steps forward, out of my gloom. This is what I mean by taking responsibility.

One popular author might advise you to Eat, Love, Pray. My advice is to Sleep, Pray, Swim.

You are not alone. Go swim. It will do you good.

PS- Feel free to write me if you want to talk…

electrolytes

Recognize Resourcefulness

Many people who grow up without much recognize resourcefulness as an essential skill to get by. Those of us fortunate to live in relative abundance can benefit from occasionally experiencing scarcity. To be sure, I’m not suggesting denying children a generous supply of things they actually need like healthy meals, warm clothes and love. But plenty of wishes we cater to teach the wrong message. By having children occasionally experience scarcity, we can help them solve problems more effectively.

To Raise Better Kids, Say No

By Scott Sonenshein

Monday, May 29, 2017

Nail Polish

I painted my toenails black and they looked so cool in the pool poking out of my yellow flippers. Even my husband agreed. "Black is my color, even though it isn't a color," I said laughing.
"Because your skin has a lot of orange-yellow tones, black looks good on you," my husband said.
"Like Halloween colors."
I love wearing black shirts. It's like nature's mascara. The black highlights my black eyelashes and eyebrows without makeup. My friend Rosanne told me "I once dyed my hair orange and it made my skin look green. Everyone asked me if I was feeling sick. I'll never do that again," she said.
I never paint my fingernails because the paint feels too heavy on my nails and it drives me nuts.

Child Psychologist Sidney Brown

I found a PDF article about Sidney Brown giving a talk about single parent households. He was my psychologist when I was 7- age 15. I had no idea he went to Columbia and specialized in children. There were no toys in his office.

"http://fultonhistory.com/newspaper 10/Yonkers NY Herald Statesman/Yonkers NY Herald Statesman 1963 Grayscale/Yonkers NY Herald Statesman 1963 Grayscale - 1457.pdf"

George Bernard Shaw

"The sane man knows that he has a touch of the beast, a touch of the devil, a touch of the saint, a touch of the citizen. Nay, the really sane man knows that he has a touch of the madman. But the materialist's world is quite simple and solid, just as the madman is quite sure he is sane."
- George Bernard Shaw, (Orthodoxy, 1908)

"Fairy tales do not give a child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon."
- George Bernard Shaw(Tremendous Trifles, 1909)

Dream

I dreamed I was in a huge construction truck riding through Providence. I was directing my older brother Shawn how to get out of the city. I looked out the window as we drove up College Hill near Brown University and I saw Meryl Streep in a Victorian costume squirting a plastic water bottle. Did you see Meryl Streep, I asked my brother. She went to Brown University but she's probably here doing a movie. Then I was a passenger in another truck guiding us as my brother's truck followed. We drove around a flooded muddy dugout street and then there were spikes in the road. I was afraid Shawn would puncture his tires and maybe the driver leading us was deliberately trying to lose him. I told the driver I have to get out now so my brother can find me. When I stood on the street my brother caught up to me and got out. "You don't know where we're going do you?" He asked. He had a North Dakota accent which was a surprise since he has always lived in NYC. "I do but there's been lots of problems in the road and many detours," I said.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Hydropsychotherapy: Endorphin Dolphin

It was at college that I discovered the mood lifting and calming effects of swimming. Then I discovered it helped my lows and tame my highs and now we are devoted to each other. Swimming, can be a good friend if you love the water. It's the perfect immersion-introversion. There's usually no noise, no chatter except your own thoughts and the gentle counting if you decide. Recently I decided reluctantly to count laps out of curiosity. I had read about Diana Nyad swimming from Cuba to Florida and I wondered how much distance I am covering at the local pool. Then I decided perhaps I need a big abstract goal. Maybe I am swimming to Cuba one swim session at a time. But really I am just trying to ground my cyclothymic self in my water-loving body and it feels good.

Counting is a tool and I have to resist using it as a weapon! "Do one lap and see where it goes!"

I call my swimming hydro-psychotherapy.

When I get a lift and burst of energy I call myself an endorphin dolphin.

SWIMMING

Sending the body forward on The Path of Least Resistance
Article

Counting for Focus

I also hear complaints from some new students that it is too distracting to count. Yes, counting with part of the brain will take up some portion of the limited attention resources for those not used to it, and for those who have to divert a great portion of their attention to hold more fundamental skills in place. But stroke counting is a skill too – it may not be easy at first, but it will become second-nature to do it, if you practice doing it. We don’t add stroke counting to the beginner’s training process until the swimmer is strong enough in fundamental skills so he can afford to make some room in the attention for stroke counting. There comes a time in the training process when the data provided by stroke count will be meaningful and immediately useful to the swimmer – at that point it may be challenging to start but it will be a welcome addition.
https://smoothstrokes.wordpress.com/2014/07/12/my-head-or-my-watch/

Mat Hudson

Swim for Vision
https://smoothstrokes.wordpress.com/2012/02/21/swim-for-vision-not-for-fat/

Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John J. Ratey

Did you know you can beat stress, lift your mood, fight memory loss, sharpen your intellect, and function better than ever simply by elevating your heart rate and breaking a sweat? The evidence is incontrovertible: aerobic exercise physically remodels our brains for peak performance.

In SPARK, John J. Ratey, M.D., embarks upon a fascinating and entertaining journey through the mind-body connection, presenting startling research to prove that exercise is truly our best defense against everything from depression to ADD to addiction to aggression to menopause to Alzheimer's. Filled with amazing case studies (such as the revolutionary fitness program in Naperville, Illinois, which has put this school district of 19,000 kids first in the world of science test scores), SPARK is the first book to explore comprehensively the connection between exercise and the brain. It will change forever the way you think about your morning run---or, for that matter, simply the way you think.

Swimming through Depression


https://smoothstrokes.wordpress.com/2012/05/31/swimming-through-depression/

by Mat Hudson

It’s not that my enthusiasm instantly returned, but as I swam for an hour, blood started pumping, oxygen starting flowing, neural signals started firing in a focused, constructive way. It was no ‘happy pill’- it was more like I got a little jump-start on my nearly dead battery, or a slow-drip IV with just enough electrolites injected into my anemic blood. I came out of the water with a mind recovered enough to think clearly about what to do next.

With that boost I had gained a window of time with a choice to make: take it and get busy refreshing my health and rebuilding my focus, or waste it by wrapping myself back up in the ‘heavy, warm blanket’ of depression hoping something will change without putting out any of my own effort. I was given a chance to build momentum in either direction at that moment. I received the energy from that swim as a gift, and used it to take a few steps foward, out of my gloom. This is what I mean by taking responsibility.

One popular author might advise you to Eat, Love, Pray. My advice is to Sleep, Pray, Swim.

You are not alone. Go swim. It will do you good.


~
https://smoothstrokes.wordpress.com/2013/04/21/swimming-and-depression/

I know well the benefits of exercise in helping adjust brain chemistry – even better than anti-depressant medication can. I have been tremendously encouraged by this book: Spark – The Revolutionary Science of Exercise And The Brain, by John J. Ratey MD.


It addresses not just depression, but how exercise enhances learning, combats stress, anxiety, attention deficit disorder, womens’ hormonal challenges, addictions, and aging.

My wife and I have found encouragement even for parenting our kids!

Basically, getting the heart and brain up and working together in some good exercise challenge (like intelligent TI SWIMMING, of course) is one powerful thing we control that can seriously combat the neurological (and hence, mental and emotional) challenges you and I face.

So, last week I headed to the sea and plunged in despite the feelings of burden and desperation and I let those cool waves carry a good portion away from me. My problems were not gone when I got out, but I had a sufficient boost of strength to get back in the game and face them. And sure enough, I eventually pulled out and see sunny skies again.

Go swim, my friend.

Provocations

“The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly.”
― Søren Kierkegaard, Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard

Intimate Confidant

“In addition to my other numerous acquaintances, I have one more intimate confidant… My depression is the most faithful mistress I have known — no wonder, then, that I return the love.”
― Søren Kierkegaard, Either/Or: A Fragment of Life

Either Or

“I see it all perfectly; there are two possible situations — one can either do this or that. My honest opinion and my friendly advice is this: do it or do not do it — you will regret both.”
― Søren Kierkegaard, Either/Or: A Fragment of Life

Greatest Hazard

“The greatest hazard of all, losing one’s self, can occur very quietly in the world, as if it were nothing at all. No other loss can occur so quietly; any other loss - an arm, a leg, five dollars, a wife, etc. - is sure to be noticed.”
― Søren Kierkegaard, The Sickness Unto Death: A Christian Psychological Exposition for Upbuilding and Awakening

Kierkegaard

“What labels me, negates me.”
― Søren Kierkegaard

Despair

“The most common form of despair is not being who you are.”
― Søren Kierkegaard

Freedom

“People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.”
― Søren Kierkegaard

Prayer

“The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.”
― Søren Kierkegaard

Abhor

“I abhor the idea of a perfect world. It would bore me to tears.”
― Shelby Foote

Seeking Truth

“The point I would make is that the novelist and the historian are seeking the same thing: the truth – not a different truth: the same truth – only they reach it, or try to reach it, by different routes. Whether the event took place in a world now gone to dust, preserved by documents and evaluated by scholarship, or in the imagination, preserved by memory and distilled by the creative process, they both want to tell us how it was: to re-create it, by their separate methods, and make it live again in the world around them.”
― Shelby Foote, The Civil War, Vol. 1: Fort Sumter to Perryville

A University

“A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library.”
― Shelby Foote

“I can’t begin to tell you the things I discovered while I was looking for something else.”
― Shelby Foote

Shelby Foote

“I think making mistakes and discovering them for yourself is of great value, but to have someone else to point out your mistakes is a shortcut of the process.”
― Shelby Foote

Defined Us

“The Civil War defined us as what we are and it opened us to being what we became, good and bad things... It was the crossroads of our being, and it was a hell of a crossroads.”
― Shelby Foote, The Civil War: A Narrative

North

“North was only a direction indicated by a compass--if a man had one, that is, for otherwise there was no north or south or east or west; there was only the brooding desolation.”
― Shelby Foote

Emancipation

“Right now I'm thinking a good deal about emancipation. One of our sins was slavery, another was emancipation. It's a paradox. In theory, emancipation was one of the glories of our democracy - and it was. But the way it was done led to tragedy, turning four million people loose with no jobs or trades or learning. And then in 1877 for a few electoral votes, just abandoning them entirely. A huge amount of pain and trouble resulted. Everybody in America is still paying for it.”
― Shelby Foote

e·man·ci·pa·tion
əˌmansəˈpāSH(ə)n/
noun
noun: emancipation; plural noun: emancipations

the fact or process of being set free from legal, social, or political restrictions; liberation.
"the emancipation of feminist ideas"
the freeing of someone from slavery.
"the early struggle for emancipation from slavery"

Enshrined Mediocrity

“Ours is the only civilization in history which has enshrined mediocrity as its national ideal. Others have been corrupt, but leave it to us to invent the most undistinguished of corruptions. No orgies, no blood running in the street, no babies thrown off cliffs. No, we're sentimental people and we horrify easily. True, our moral fiber is rotten. Our national character stinks to high heaven. But we are kinder than ever. No prostitute ever responded with a quicker spasm of sentiment when our hearts are touched. Nor is there anything new about thievery, lewdness, lying, adultery. What is new is that in our time liars and thieves and whores and adulterers wish also to be congratulated by the great public, if their confession is sufficiently psychological or strikes a sufficiently heartfelt and authentic note of sincerity. Oh, we are sincere. I do not deny it. I don't know anybody nowadays who is not sincere.”
― Walker Percy, The Moviegoer

Small Disconnected Facts

“Small disconnected facts, if you take note of them, have a way of becoming connected.”
― Walker Percy, The Thanatos Syndrome

A Nostalga

“It's one thing to develop a nostalgia for home while you're boozing with Yankee writers in Martha's Vineyard or being chased by the bulls in Pamplona. It's something else to go home and visit with the folks in Reed's drugstore on the square and actually listen to them. The reason you can't go home again is not because the down-home folks are mad at you--they're not, don't flatter yourself, they couldn't care less--but because once you're in orbit and you return to Reed's drugstore on the square, you can stand no more than fifteen minutes of the conversation before you head for the woods, head for the liquor store, or head back to Martha's Vineyard, where at least you can put a tolerable and saving distance between you and home. Home may be where the heart is but it's no place to spend Wednesday afternoon.”
― Walker Percy, Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book

Percy on Suicide

“The difference between a non-suicide and an ex-suicide leaving the house for work, at eight o'clock on an ordinary morning:

The non-suicide is a little traveling suck of care, sucking care with him from the past and being sucked toward care in the future. His breath is high in his chest.

The ex-suicide opens his front door, sits down on the steps, and laughs. Since he has the option of being dead, he has nothing to lose by being alive. It is good to be alive. He goes to work because he doesn't have to.”
― Walker Percy, Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book

(When Percy was 13, his father committed suicide and two years later, his mother drove off a cliff. He and his brother were adopted by an uncle, but the legacy of suicide and depression in his family would haunt him for the rest of his life.
-Writer's Almanac)

Lost in the Cosmos:The Last Self Help Book

“The peculiar predicament of the present-day self surely came to pass as a consequence of the disappointment of the high expectations of the self as it entered the age of science and technology. Dazzled by the overwhelming credentials of science, the beauty and elegance of the scientific method, the triumph of modern medicine over physical ailments, and the technological transformation of the very world itself, the self finds itself in the end disappointed by the failure of science and technique in those very sectors of life which had been its main source of ordinary satisfaction in past ages.

As John Cheever said, the main emotion of the adult Northeastern American who has had all the advantages of wealth, education, and culture is disappointment.

Work is disappointing. In spite of all the talk about making work more creative and self-fulfilling, most people hate their jobs, and with good reason. Most work in modern technological societies is intolerably dull and repetitive.

Marriage and family life are disappointing. Even among defenders of traditional family values, e.g., Christians and Jews, a certain dreariness must be inferred, if only from the average time of TV viewing. Dreary as TV is, it is evidently not as dreary as Mom talking to Dad or the kids talking to either.

School is disappointing. If science is exciting and art is exhilarating, the schools and universities have achieved the not inconsiderable feat of rendering both dull. As every scientist and poet knows, one discovers both vocations in spite of, not because of, school. It takes years to recover from the stupor of being taught Shakespeare in English Lit and Wheatstone's bridge in Physics.

Politics is disappointing. Most young people turn their backs on politics, not because of the lack of excitement of politics as it is practiced, but because of the shallowness, venality, and image-making as these are perceived through the media--one of the technology's greatest achievements.

The churches are disappointing, even for most believers. If Christ brings us new life, it is all the more remarkable that the church, the bearer of this good news, should be among the most dispirited institutions of the age. The alternatives to the institutional churches are even more grossly disappointing, from TV evangelists with their blown-dry hairdos to California cults led by prosperous gurus ignored in India but embraced in La Jolla.

Social life is disappointing. The very franticness of attempts to reestablish community and festival, by partying, by groups, by club, by touristy Mardi Gras, is the best evidence of the loss of true community and festival and of the loneliness of self, stranded as it is as an unspeakable consciousness in a world from which it perceives itself as somehow estranged, stranded even within its own body, with which it sees no clear connection.

But there remains the one unquestioned benefit of science: the longer and healthier life made possible by modern medicine, the shorter work-hours made possible by technology, hence what is perceived as the one certain reward of dreary life of home and the marketplace: recreation.

Recreation and good physical health appear to be the only ambivalent benefits of the technological revolution.”
― Walker Percy, Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book

Deranged Age

“I have discovered that most people have no one to talk to, no one, that is, who really wants to listen. When it does at last dawn on a man that you really want to hear about his business, the look that comes over his face is something to see.”
― Walker Percy, The Moviegoer

“What is the nature of the search? you ask. The search is what anyone would undertake if he were not sunk in the everydayness of his own life. To become aware of the search is to be onto something. Not to be onto something is to be in despair.”
― Walker Percy, The Moviegoer

“Fiction doesn’t tell us something we don’t know, it tells us something we know but don’t know that we know.”
― Walker Percy

“You live in a deranged age - more deranged than usual, because despite great scientific and technological advances, man has not the faintest idea of who he is or what he is doing.”
― Walker Percy, Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book

“They all think any minute I'm going to commit suicide. What a joke. The truth of course is the exact opposite: suicide is the only thing that keeps me alive. Whenever everything else fails, all I have to do is consider suicide and in two seconds I'm as cheerful as a nitwit. But if I could not kill myself -- ah then, I would. I can do without nembutal or murder mysteries but not without suicide. ”
― Walker Percy, The Moviegoer

“There is only one thing I can do. Listen to people, see how they stick themselves into the world, hand them along a ways in their dark journey and be handed along.”
― Walker Percy, The Moviegoer

Question

by May Swenson

“Body my house
my horse my hound
What will I do
when you are fallen

Where will I sleep
How will I ride
What will I hunt

Where can I go
without my mount
all eager and quick
How will I know
in thicket ahead
is danger or treasure
When Body my good
bright dog is dead

How will it be
to lie in the sky
without roof or door
and wind for an eye

with cloud for a shift
how will I hide?”

― May Swenson

May Swenson

“I'm two eyes looking out of a suit of armor. I write because I can't talk.”
― May Swenson

“Take earth for your own large room and the floor of earth carpeted with sunlight and hung round with silver wind for your dancing place.”
― May Swenson

“The best poetry has its roots in the subconscious to a great degree. Youth, naivety, reliance on instinct more than learning and method, a sense of freedom and play, even trust in randomness, is necessary to the making of a poem.”

“‎It's not for me - religion. It seems like a redundancy for a poet.”
― May Swenson

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Body’s Opioid System Implicated in Trauma Sensivitity

While the opioid system is supposed to alleviate pain and fear, it does not work as effectively in all of us. This might be one of the reasons some people develop anxiety syndrome merely by seeing others experience a trauma, the researchers said.
Article

Melody Moezzi on Faith and Recovery

Article

Goodstuff Smokehouse Blackstone MA

Goodstuff smokehouse lives up to its name! We had a phenomenal couple of dinners there tonight.

Excellent Reviews

Goodstuff Smokehouse
97 Main St
Blackstone, MA 01504
Phone number (508) 928-1815

Also... They have a Bluegrass Jam Session on the second Tuesday of the month 6:30 PM until closing

Mon Closed
Tue 11:00 am - 9:00 pm
Wed 11:00 am - 9:00 pm
Thu 11:00 am - 9:00 pm
Fri 11:00 am - 10:00 pm
Sat 11:00 am - 10:00 pm
Sun 11:00 am - 8:00 pm

Raised by a Narcissist

Another excellent article on Narcissism.

13 Ways Being Raised by a Narcissist Can Affect You
By Dan Neuharth, PhD MFT

When you were growing up did one or both of your parents:

Criticize or second-guess your choices?
Ruin happy times with their selfish behavior?
Give you gifts with strings attached?
Forbid you to disagree with them or punish you for doing so?
Use guilt or pressure to make you put their needs first?
Have a come-here/go-away style that was confusing and unsafe?
Behave unpredictably?
Over-scrutinize you?
Create drama, scapegoating and disharmony in your family?
Seem never satisfied with you?
Play the martyr?
Become unhinged by your questions or independence?
Tell you that you could trust them, then disappoint or use you?
Minimize or ridicule your feelings and desires?
Need to be the center of attention or dominate conversations?
Leave you feeling trapped, unloved, hopeless or helpless?

Cyclothymia: It's Lonely

I tell my husband all the time, "It's lonely to be cyclothymic because I'm always too much!"
Excerpts from a great article on cyclothymia.
It’s usually loved ones who notice a problem, finding it hard to live with someone who has unstable moods, Preston said.

It’s essential that individuals who think they might have a mood disorder seek a professional evaluation. It’s also key for loved ones to understand that a person with cyclothymia can’t undo their disorder or control their mood shifts.

“Cyclothymia is driven by biological changes in the nervous system,” Preston said. However, fortunately, treatment is tremendously helpful in minimizing symptoms and leading a healthy, fulfilling life.

If you’re diagnosed with cyclothymia, learn as much as you can about the disorder. As Van Dijk said, “in order to deal with something effectively, you need to know what it is you’re dealing with.”

Many experts, Preston said, advise against treating cyclothymia with medication. For one, mood stabilizers have troublesome side effects. Second, antidepressants are well-known for worsening cyclothymia in the long run, he said. (They can trigger hypomania.)

Preston stressed the importance of two major lifestyle issues in treating cyclothymia or any kind of bipolar disorder. One is maintaining healthy sleep patterns, because poor sleep activates mood episodes, he said. Avoiding caffeine after noon can dramatically improve your sleep. (You can download this helpful caffeine worksheet from Preston’s website.) If you’re feeling really tired, go for a 10-minute walk, which Preston said offers virtually the same amount of energy as a caffeine-filled drink.

The second is avoiding drugs and alcohol. Alcohol abuse is common with cyclothymia, he said. When people are depressed, they reach for a few drinks for relief. However, alcohol exacerbates mood disorders and sabotages sleep. While you’ll probably fall asleep faster, you’ll disrupt your quality of sleep. (Alcohol – along with caffeine – doesn’t let you progress to the deep, restorative stage of sleep.)

Psychotherapy also is highly effective. Research has found that both cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal social rhythm therapy (IPSRT) are helpful for treating bipolar disorders. Van Dijk and Stokl also noted that dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is valuable.

Interpersonal social rhythm therapy focuses on two goals: improving relationships and creating healthy routines. According to Preston, relationships can be a significant source of stress for people with cyclothymia and may contribute to their mood episodes. Social rhythm therapy is similar to couples or family therapy and helps individuals learn better communication skills and solve their problems, he said. It also helps loved ones better understand that cyclothymia is a neurochemical disorder – not the person’s fault – and how it functions.

Routine is key for stabilizing moods, and people with bipolar disorders are especially sensitive to change. Any changes made to their eating, sleeping or exercise routines can interfere with their circadian rhythms and trigger an episode, Preston said.

That’s why it’s so important that all three are done on a regular basis. For instance, experts suggest going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. While this might seem tough and tedious, Preston said that it can help tremendously with regulating mood.

Dream

I dreamed I saw a white snowy owl on Carter Ave in the bushes. I circled around to show Sandy, a girl who used to live in my neighborhood. There was also an orange tiger cat nearby just like my former cat O.J.

I dreamed I was on a walk and I ran into my former dog Lucy (a coon hound) being walked by the lady next door. Lucy was her dog. I wondered out loud, "Does she remember me?" And my husband said "No, dogs don't do that." I pet her and noticed the lady looked like Lucy. "Your brown hair looks just like Lucy's long ears," I said.

I dreamed I was in the pool and had been swimming for an hour. I was on the verge of leaving when a class started and they wanted me to stay. "Oh please don't be offended, I just have to go," I said. I stayed for a few more minutes and noticed the pool was full of tropical fish they were small like neon tetras but they were zebra fish. "Hey, there's fish in here," I said. They knew all about it.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Be a Good Student and a Good Teacher

I felt so sloggy today as I do in receive-mode. My one lap turned into feeling good and I continued swimming and ended up staying the course. I left clean calm and contented. The same was true for playing my horn. My one song became fun and led to a full session.

If I never experienced the energy and confidence of transmit-mode I wouldn't be SPOILED with the comparison, I think to myself. Would that be easier? Who knows. What is THIS seasonal mood cycle teaching me? Since the cycle is non-negotiable I must become an expert on cyclothymia, a good student and a good teacher.

A Beautiful Sight

Our parking lot has been full of HAPPY kids playing together and a few supervising mothers from their apartment windows. Yesterday I saw two kids playing basketball in the rain. These kids are all about the same age and they are from neighborhood apartment buildings. It's a beautiful thing. We still worry about the unregistered cars that get planted back here and messed with in the mysterious garages but the majority of activity has been about happy kids and for this we are GRATEFUL. This is a dream come true. These kids are getting the best aspects of urban living: friends to play with, basketball hoop, corner candy store, and a visiting ice cream truck. Cheers to team WOONSOCKET! It takes a village and we are an amazing one.

Dorthea Lange

Today is the birthday of photographer Dorothea Lange, born Dorothea Nutzhorn in Hoboken, New Jersey (1895). She contracted polio when she was seven, and her left leg was noticeably weaker than her right for the rest of her life. She came to see that as a kind of blessing: “[It] was the most important thing that happened to me, and formed me, guided me, instructed me, helped me, and humiliated me.”

“You know, so often [photography] is just sticking around and being there, remaining there, not swooping in and swooping out in a cloud of dust; sitting down on the ground with people, letting the children look at your camera with their dirty, grimy little hands, and putting their fingers on the lens, and you let them, because you know that if you will behave in a generous manner, you’re very apt to receive it, you know? People are very, very trusting; and also, most of us really like to get the full attention of the person who’s photographing you. It’s rare, you don’t get it very often. Who pays attention to you, really, a hundred percent? You doctor, your dentist, and your photographer.”
- Dorthea Lange
source: The Writer's Almanac

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Approachable Small Steps

I'm so relieved that it's raining today because the neighborhood is quiet for the first day in weeks. Amen to that. After lingering at my desk this morning, I was hesitant to swim but I reminded myself that one lap is enough. I had a transformation during the swim and kept going. Then later I was reluctant to play my horn and I reminded myself that one song is enough and I had an enjoyable practice.

Receive mode is a slog but when I steady myself in a routine and proceed in spite of my mood I feel a subtle reward. Perhaps it's from following through on the commitment to myself. Occasionally I am surprised at the transformations that occur for example when I am resisting the most and I go ahead and try anyway, like today.

I read an article about a guy who wanted athletics back in his life. So asked himself to do one push-up each day and little by little he was able to make a fitness routine but he had to start with just one pushup to make it approachable.

Perhaps receive-mode feels so damned and transmit-mode feels so inspired but both scenarios are irrelevant distractions better known as moods. It's just that I feel them both so vividly. I need to muscle through the blanket of mood with a firm loving-kindness so I can learn to trust my strength and courage.

The tricky balance for me is not allowing these activities to become weapons of judgement to earn approval and self-respect. I must remind myself that they are both tools and a privilege. This is why one step has to be enough.

Wayne Thiebaud

“I often feel that I’m always starting over, in a way.”
- Wayne Thiebaud

“I think I’m lucky – when I started painting food I thought it would be the end of me. I take it very seriously: I didn’t know if anyone else would.”
- Wayne Thiebaud

“Most good painters that I know always question their work. It’s a wonderful, enduring and lifelong challenge.”
“I make my students criticize the work! At first they’re very hesitant to do it, but people know more than they think they do about criticism. Our bodies tell us empathically what is or is not ‘good space’, that something feels bad or does not belong.”
- Wayne Thiebaud

Article

The Sound of Rain

I am so glad to hear the rain this morning. The world has been too loud lately. Perhaps this will postpone the noisy and industrious racket for a few days. As an introvert I find spring agonizing. At least it's quiet underwater.

Private Library

“Lost opportunities, lost possibilities, feelings we can never get back. That's part of what it means to be alive. But inside our heads - at least that's where I imagine it - there's a little room where we store those memories. A room like the stacks in this library. And to understand the workings of our own heart we have to keep on making new reference cards. We have to dust things off every once in awhile, let in fresh air, change the water in the flower vases. In other words, you'll live forever in your own private library.”
― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

An Unquiet Mind

“Manic-depression distorts moods and thoughts, incites dreadful behaviors, destroys the basis of rational thought, and too often erodes the desire and will to live. It is an illness that is biological in its origins, yet one that feels psychological in the experience of it, an illness that is unique in conferring advantage and pleasure, yet one that brings in its wake almost unendurable suffering and, not infrequently, suicide.”
― Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness

“I am tired of hiding, tired of misspent and knotted energies, tired of the hypocrisy, and tired of acting as though I have something to hide.”
― Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness

Beyond Solace

“When people are suicidal, their thinking is paralyzed, their options appear spare or nonexistent, their mood is despairing, and hopelessness permeates their entire mental domain. The future cannot be separated from the present, and the present is painful beyond solace. ‘This is my last experiment,’ wrote a young chemist in his suicide note. ‘If there is any eternal torment worse than mine I’ll have to be shown.”
― Kay Redfield Jamison, Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide

Kay Redfield Jamison's Memoir of Moods and Madness

There is a particular kind of pain, elation, loneliness, and terror involved in this kind of madness. When you're high it's tremendous. The ideas and feelings are fast and frequent like shooting stars, and you follow them until you find better and brighter ones. Shyness goes, the right words and gestures are suddenly there, the power to captivate others a felt certainty. There are interests found in uninteresting people. Sensuality is pervasive and the desire to seduce and be seduced irresistible. Feelings of ease, intensity, power, well-being, financial omnipotence, and euphoria pervade one's marrow. But, somewhere, this changes. The fast ideas are far too fast, and there are far too many; overwhelming confusion replaces clarity. Memory goes. Humor and absorption on friends' faces are replaced by fear and concern. Everything previously moving with the grain is now against-- you are irritable, angry, frightened, uncontrollable, and enmeshed totally in the blackest caves of the mind. You never knew those caves were there. It will never end, for madness carves its own reality.
― Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness

Kay Redfield Jamison

I compare myself with my former self, not with others. Not only that, I tend to compare my current self with the best I have been, which is when I have been midly manic. When I am my present "normal" self, I am far removed from when I have been my liveliest, most productive, most intense, most outgoing and effervescent. In short, for myself, I am a hard act to follow.
― Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness

Stone by Stone

“We all build internal sea walls to keep at bay the sadnesses of life and the often overwhelming forces within our minds. In whatever way we do this--through love, work, family, faith, friends, denial, alcohol, drugs, or medication, we build these walls, stone by stone, over a lifetime. ”
― Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness

Kay Redfield Jamison

Which of my feelings are real? Which of the me's is me? The wild, impulsive, chaotic, energetic, and crazy one? Or the shy, withdrawn, desperate, suicidal, doomed, and tired one? Probably a bit of both, hopefully much that is neither.
― Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness

Celebrate Emerson

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Always do what you are afraid to do.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emerson in His Journals

Murakami

“The most important thing we learn at school is the fact that the most important things can't be learned at school.”
― Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Murakami

“I look up at the sky, wondering if I'll catch a glimpse of kindness there, but I don't. All I see are indifferent summer clouds drifting over the Pacific. And they have nothing to say to me. Clouds are always taciturn. I probably shouldn't be looking up at them. What I should be looking at is inside of me. Like staring down into a deep well. Can I see kindness there? No, all I see is my own nature. My own individual, stubborn, uncooperative often self-centered nature that still doubts itself--that, when troubles occur, tries to find something funny, or something nearly funny, about the situation. I've carried this character around like an old suitcase, down a long, dusty path. I'm not carrying it because I like it. The contents are too heavy, and it looks crummy, fraying in spots. I've carried it with me because there was nothing else I was supposed to carry. Still, I guess I have grown attached to it. As you might expect.”
― Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

To the Fullest

“People sometimes sneer at those who run every day, claiming they'll go to any length to live longer. But don't think that's the reason most people run. Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest. If you're going to while away the years, it's far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive then in a fog, and I believe running helps you to do that. Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that's the essence of running, and a metaphor for life — and for me, for writing as whole. I believe many runners would agree.”
― Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Cozy, Homemade Void

“All I do is keep on running in my own cozy, homemade void, my own nostalgic silence. And this is a pretty wonderful thing. No matter what anybody else says.”
― Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

An Exercise and a Metaphor

“For me, running is both exercise and a metaphor. Running day after day, piling up the races, bit by bit I raise the bar, and by clearing each level I elevate myself. At least that’s why I’ve put in the effort day after day: to raise my own level. I’m no great runner, by any means. I’m at an ordinary – or perhaps more like mediocre – level. But that’s not the point. The point is whether or not I improved over yesterday. In long-distance running the only opponent you have to beat is yourself, the way you used to be.”
― Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Seek

“In other words, let's face it: Life is basically unfair. But even in a situation that's unfair, I think it's possible to seek out a kind of fairness. Of course, that might take time and effort. And maybe it won't seem to be worth all that. It's up to each individual to decide whether or not it is.”
― Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Clouds in the Sky

“Sometimes taking time is actually a shortcut.”
― Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

“The thoughts that occur to me while I’m running are like clouds in the sky. Clouds of all different sizes. They come and they go, while the sky remains the same sky always. The clouds are mere guests in the sky that pass away and vanish, leaving behind the sky.”
― Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

“Being active every day makes it easier to hear that inner voice.”
― Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

“To keep on going, you have to keep up the rhythm.”
― Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Brautigan

Your Catfish Friend

If I were to live my life
in catfish forms
in scaffolds of skin and whiskers
at the bottom of a pond
and you were to come by
one evening
when the moon was shining
down into my dark home
and stand there at the edge
of my affection
and think, “It's beautiful
here by this pond. I wish
somebody loved me,”
I'd love you and be your catfish
friend and drive such lonely
thoughts from your mind
and suddenly you would be
at peace,
and ask yourself, “I wonder
if there are any catfish
in this pond? It seems like
a perfect place for them.”

― Richard Brautigan, The Pill vs. the Springhill Mine Disaster

Excuse Me

“Excuse me, I said. I thought you were a trout stream.
I'm not, she said.”
― Richard Brautigan, Trout Fishing in America

Brautigan

I saw thousands of pumpkins last night
come floating in on the tide,
bumping up against the rocks and
rolling up on the beaches;
it must be Halloween in the sea

― Richard Brautigan, The Pill vs. the Springhill Mine Disaster

That is My Name

“If you are thinking about something that happened a long time ago:
Somebody asked you a question and you did not know the answer.
That is my name.”
― Richard Brautigan, In Watermelon Sugar

One Day

One day
Time will die
And love will bury it

― Richard Brautigan

Picnic in a Dream

“I’ll affect you slowly
as if you were having a picnic in a dream.
There will be no ants.
It won’t rain.”
― Richard Brautigan, Loading Mercury With a Pitchfork

Brautigan

I will be very careful the next time I fall in love, she told herself. Also, she had made a promise to herself that she intended on keeping. She was never going to go out with another writer: no matter how charming, sensitive, inventive or fun they could be. They weren't worth it in the long run. They were emotionally too expensive and the upkeep was complicated. They were like having a vacuum cleaner around the house that broke all the time and only Einstein could fix it. She wanted her next lover to be a broom.”
― Richard Brautigan, Sombrero Fallout

Richard Brautigan

Karma Repair Kit Items 1-4.

1.Get enough food to eat,
and eat it.

2.Find a place to sleep where it is quiet,
and sleep there.

3.Reduce intellectual and emotional noise
until you arrive at the silence of yourself,
and listen to it.

4.
― Richard Brautigan

A Distant Star

“Sometimes when I look at you, I feel I'm gazing at a distant star.
It's dazzling, but the light is from tens of thousands of years ago.
Maybe the star doesn't even exist any more. Yet sometimes that light seems more real to me than anything.”
― Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun

Murakami

“I dream. Sometimes I think that's the only right thing to do.”
― Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart

The Storm

“Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions. You change direction but the sandstorm chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts. Over and over you play this out, like some ominous dance with death just before dawn. Why? Because this storm isn't something that blew in from far away, something that has nothing to do with you. This storm is you. Something inside of you. So all you can do is give in to it, step right inside the storm, closing your eyes and plugging up your ears so the sand doesn't get in, and walk through it, step by step. There's no sun there, no moon, no direction, no sense of time. Just fine white sand swirling up into the sky like pulverized bones. That's the kind of sandstorm you need to imagine.

An you really will have to make it through that violent, metaphysical, symbolic storm. No matter how metaphysical or symbolic it might be, make no mistake about it: it will cut through flesh like a thousand razor blades. People will bleed there, and you will bleed too. Hot, red blood. You'll catch that blood in your hands, your own blood and the blood of others.

And once the storm is over you won't remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won't even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won't be the same person who walked in. That's what this storm's all about.”
― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

Loving

“A person learns how to love himself through the simple acts of loving and being loved by someone else.”
― Haruki Murakami, 1Q84

Introversion vs Social Anxiety

Read

Haruki Murakami’s Memoir

“I’m the kind of person who likes to be by himself. To put a finer point on it, I’m the type of person who doesn’t find it painful to be alone. I find spending an hour or two every day running alone, not speaking to anyone, as well as four or five hours alone at my desk, to be neither difficult nor boring. I’ve had this tendency ever since I was young, when, given a choice, I much preferred reading books on my own or concentrating on listening to music over being with someone else. I could always think of things to do by myself.”

“After I left college I ran a bar, so I learned the importance of being with others and the obvious point that we can’t survive on our own. Gradually, then, though perhaps with my own spin on it, through personal experience I discovered how to be sociable. Looking back on that time now, I can see that during my twenties my worldview changed, and I matured. By sticking my nose into all sorts of places, I acquired the practical skills I needed to live. Without those ten tough years I don’t think I would have written novels, and even if I’d tried, I wouldn’t have been able to. Not that people’s personalities change that dramatically. The desire in me to be alone hasn’t changed. Which is why the hour or so I spend running, maintaining my own silent, private time, is important to help me keep my mental well-being. When I’m running I don’t have to talk to anybody and don’t have to listen to anybody. All I need to do is gaze at the scenery passing by. This is a part of my day I can’t do without.”

“In certain areas of my life, I actively seek out solitude. Especially for someone in my line of work, solitude is, more or less, an inevitable circumstance. Sometimes, however, this sense of isolation, like acid spilling out of a bottle, can unconsciously eat away at a person’s heart and dissolve it. You could see it, too, as a kind of double-edged sword. It protects me, but at the same time steadily cuts away at me from the inside.”

- Haruki Murakami’s memoir, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Deep Wells

“She waited for the train to pass. Then she said, "I sometimes think that people’s hearts are like deep wells. Nobody knows what’s at the bottom. All you can do is imagine by what comes floating to the surface every once in a while.”
― Haruki Murakami, Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman

Murakami

“Here she is, all mine, trying her best to give me all she can. How could I ever hurt her? But I didn’t understand then. That I could hurt somebody so badly she would never recover. That a person can, just by living, damage another human being beyond repair.”
― Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun

Murakami

“What happens when people open their hearts?"
"They get better.”
― Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood

Seeking

“Whatever it is you're seeking won't come in the form you're expecting.”
― Haruki Murakami

No War

“Listen up - there's no war that will end all wars.”
― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

Sputnik Sweetheart

“I have this strange feeling that I'm not myself anymore. It's hard to put into words, but I guess it's like I was fast asleep, and someone came, disassembled me, and hurriedly put me back together again. That sort of feeling.”
― Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart

Silence

“Silence, I discover, is something you can actually hear.”
― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

Be Sure

“Be sure that whatever you are is you.”
― Theodore Roethke

Dirt

“Nothing would give up life:
Even the dirt keeps breathing a small breath.”
― Theodore Roethke

A Mind

“A mind too active is no mind at all.”

― Theodore Roethke, The Selected Letters of Theodore Roethke

Vulnerable

“Those who are willing to be vulnerable move among mysteries.”

― Theodore Roethke, Straw for the Fire: From the Notebooks of Theodore Roethke

Roethke

“What we need are more people who specialize in the impossible.”
― Theodore Roethke

Flowers

“Deep in their roots all flowers keep the light.”
― Theodore Roethke

Theodore Roethke

My Papa's Waltz

The whiskey on your breath
Could make a small boy dizzy;
But I hung on like death:
Such waltzing was not easy.

We romped until the pans
Slid from the kitchen shelf;
My mother's countenance
Could not unfrown itself.

The hand that held my wrist
Was battered on one knuckle;
At every step you missed
My right ear scraped a buckle.

You beat time on my head
With a palm caked hard by dirt,
Then waltzed me off to bed
Still clinging to your shirt.

― Theodore Roethke

Roethke

“I lose and find myself in the long water. I am gathered together once more.”
― Theodore Roethke

“The visible exhausts me. I am dissolved in shadow.”
― Theodore Roethke

The Darkness

“In a dark time, the eye begins to see.”
― Theodore Roethke

“The darkness has its own light.”
― Theodore Roethke

“Over every mountain, there is a path, although it may not be seen from the valley.”
― Theodore Roethke

At the End

“How body from spirit slowly does unwind, until we are pure spirit at the end.”
― Theodore Roethke

Art

“Art is the means we have of undoing the damage of haste. It's what everything else isn't.”
― Theodore Roethke, On Poetry and Craft: Selected Prose

Inventing Myself

“I understood that I was inventing myself, and that I was doing this more in the way of a painter than in the way of a scientist. I could not count on precision or calculation; I could only count on intuition.”
― Jamaica Kincaid, Lucy

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Stay Skeptical

“[T]he longer you stay skeptical, doubtful, intellectually uncomfortable, the better it is for you.”
― Joseph Brodsky

Exile

“If there is anything good about exile, it is that it teaches one humility. It accelerates one’s drift into isolation, an absolute perspective. Into the condition at which all one is left with is oneself and one’s language, with nobody or nothing in between. Exile brings you overnight where it would normally take a lifetime to go.”
― Joseph Brodsky

An Approach

“Poetry is rather an approach to things, to life, than it is typographical production.”
― Joseph Brodsky

Snobbery

“Snobbery? But it's only a form of despair.”
― Joseph Brodsky

Towards Language

“For a writer, only one form of patriotism exists: his attitude toward language.”
― Joseph Brodsky

Brodsky

“Try not to pay attention to those who will try to make life miserable for you. There will be a lot of those--in the official capacity as well as the self-appointed. Suffer them if you can’t escape them, but once you have steered clear of them, give them the shortest shrift possible. Above all, try to avoid telling stories about the unjust treatment you received at their hands; avoid it no matter how receptive your audience may be. Tales of this sort extend the existence of your antagonists....”
― Joseph Brodsky

Vocabulary and Violence

“What concerns me is that man, unable to articulate, to express himself adequately, reverts to action. Since the vocabulary of action is limited, as it were, to his body, he is bound to act violently, extending his vocabulary with a weapon where there should have been an adjective.”
― Joseph Brodsky

Brodsky on Boredom

“When hit by boredom, let yourself be crushed by it; submerge, hit bottom. In general, with things unpleasant, the rule is: The sooner you hit bottom, the faster you surface. The idea here is to exact a full look at the worst. The reason boredom deserves such scrutiny is that it represents pure, undiluted time in all its repetitive, redundant, monotonous splendor.

Boredom is your window on the properties of time that one tends to ignore to the likely peril of one's mental equilibrium. It is your window on time's infinity. Once this window opens, don't try to shut it; on the contrary, throw it wide open.”
― Joseph Brodsky

Darkness Restores

“For darkness restores what light cannot repair.”
― Joseph Brodsky

Joseph Brodsky

“The surest defense against Evil is extreme individualism, originality of thinking, whimsicality, even—if you will—eccentricity.”
― Joseph Brodsky

Dream

I dreamed that I wandered into a tiny church and inside there was a video playing of a couple performing traditional Polish folk dances. It fascinated me.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

What We Want

by Linda Pastan

What we want
is never simple.
We move among the things
we thought we wanted:
a face, a room, an open book
and these things bear our names --
now they want us.
But what we want appears
in dreams, wearing disguises.
We fall past,
holding out our arms
and in the morning
our arms ache.
We don't remember the dream,
but the dream remembers us.
It is there all day
as an animal is there
under the table,
as the stars are there.

― Linda Pastan, Carnival Evening: New and Selected Poems, 1968-1998

Linda Pastan

Across the street on benches,
my grandparents lifted their faces
to the sun the way the blind turn
towards a familiar sound, speaking
another language I almost understand.

- Linda Pastan, excerpt from poem Market Day from Carnival Evening

Jane Kenyon

“A poet’s job is to find a name for everything: to be a fearless finder of the names of things.
― Jane Kenyon

“The poet's job is to put into words those feelings we all have that are so deep, so important, and yet so difficult to name, to tell the truth in such a beautiful way, that people cannot live without it.”
― Jane Kenyon

“Be a good steward of your gifts. Protect your time. Feed your inner life. Avoid too much noise. Read good books, have good sentences in your ears. Be by yourself as often as you can. Walk. Take the phone off the hook. Work regular hours.”
― Jane Kenyon

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Misprint

My Month-at-a-glance calendar has WINTER BEGINS printed in an extra tiny typeface in today's square. No wonder why it only cost two bucks at Joblot.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Alexandra Petri

Read
and this too.

Paris Spleen

“The devil's finest trick is to persuade you that he does not exist.”
― Charles Baudelaire, Paris Spleen

Innocuous Dreamer

“A friend of mine, the most innocuous dreamer who ever lived, once set a forest on fire to see, as he said, if it would catch as easily as people said. The first ten times the experiment was a failure; but on the eleventh it succeeded all too well.”
― Charles Baudelaire, Paris Spleen

Mr. Suspicious

When I opened the back door to take Lily for a walk a suspicious young man was walking through the parking lot. I lingered for a second and he flashed an artificial smile. I was walking behind him with my dog down the drive. He flashed a hand signal at Sleepy the drug dealer who was on the stairs across the street. When Mr. Suspicious turned left I saw his two buddies were waiting for him. I walked by with my dog and they were walking behind me. At one point my dog was held up sniffing something and the three guys walked past me. That was when I noticed Mr. Suspicious take a bowie knife out of his front right pocket and put it back in. I turned at the next block and walked back home.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Stand By

Box Elder, door knob, sex pot, road kill, pig Latin, weed killer, snow man, hedge clipper, bank robber, mind reader, fortune teller, garbage man, blow hard, tin man, straw man, dead man, word play, fore play, fast food, slow food, train ride, end table, dead end, pants suit, wheel barrow, garden snake, chimney sweep, mini skirt, picnic table, library book, lamp shade, fire man, table top, book ends, book case, turn table, washing machine, desk top, stove top, top less, paper clip, tax forms, bird cage, ground swell, mustard gas, stove pipe, anti freeze, butcher wrap, corn husk, motor car, train wreck, postage stamp, free way, sleeping pill, cruise ship, anti body, bio sphere, income tax, whipped cream, chocolate fudge, layer cake, dish soap, ironing board, hair cut, banana peel, stone soup, ice cube, run away, shaving cream, belt loop, bell hop, belt buckle, tow truck, car wreck, hair net, lip stick, nail file, Moby Dick, Lester Young, yin yang, voo doo, Captain Crunch, Chesapeake Bay, type face, ear lobe, ring leader, circus tent, brief case, shoe horn, boat horn, police car, siren scream, screen door, nose bleed, sound track, race horse, hat rack, mouse trap, bird's eye, race track, race car, purse snatcher, horse thief, ground cover, odor eater, air conditioner, stand by.

Amy Gerstler

Poem: Fruit Cocktail in Light Syrup
Article
Poem: Bon Courage
Poem: In Perpetual Spring

Thursday, May 18, 2017

She Won't Mind

On the Monday after Mother's Day I saw a man off in the distance wandering though Precious Blood cemetery holding a rose, stem wrapped in white paper. The weather was gray and drizzly. I met up with him on my way out. "I'm looking for my mother's grave," he said, "And I'm a day late."
"That's okay, she won't mind," I said.

Collage

Empty shopping carts surround Santa Claus
Someone is knitting peppermints at the bowling alley
Do you know where your cat is?
Stop licking dead president stamps
And put on sandals

Monday, May 15, 2017

Charles Simic

A Book Full of Pictures

by Charles Simic


Father studied theology through the mail
And this was exam time.

Mother knitted.
I sat quietly with a book
Full of pictures.
Night fell.

My hands grew cold touching the faces
Of dead kings and queens.


There was a black raincoat
in the upstairs bedroom
Swaying from the ceiling,
But what was it doing there?
Mother's long needles made quick crosses.

They were black
Like the inside of my head just then.


The pages I turned sounded like wings.

"The soul is a bird," he once said.

In my book full of pictures
A battle raged: lances and swords
Made a kind of wintry forest
With my heart spiked and bleeding in its branches.

Charles Simic

The Partial Explanation

by Charles Simic

Seems like a long time
Since the waiter took my order.

Grimy little luncheonette,
The snow falling outside.


Seems like it has grown darker
Since I last heard the kitchen door
Behind my back
Since I last noticed
Anyone pass on the street.


A glass of ice-water
Keeps me company
At this table I chose myself
Upon entering.


And a longing,
Incredible longing
To eavesdrop
On the conversation
Of cooks.

Charles Simic

The Initiate
by
Charles Simic

St. John of the Cross wore dark glasses
As he passed me on the street.
St. Theresa of Avila, beautiful and grave,
Turned her back on me.

“Soulmate," they hissed. “It’s high time.”

I was a blind child, a wind-up toy . . .
I was one of death’s juggling red balls
On a certain street corner
Where they peddle things out of suitcases.

The city like a huge cinema
With lights dimmed.
The performance already started.

So many blurred faces in a complicated plot.

The great secret which kept eluding me: knowing who I am . . .

The Redeemer and the Virgin,
Their eyes wide open in the empty church
Where the killer came to hide himself . . .

The new snow on the sidewalk bore footprints
That could have been made by bare feet.
Some unknown penitent guiding me.
In truth, I didn’t know where I was going.
My feet were frozen,
My stomach growled.

Four young hoods blocking my way.
Three deadpan, one smiling crazily.

I let them have my black raincoat.

Thinking constantly of the Divine Love
and the Absolute had disfigured me.
People mistook me for someone else.
I heard voices after me calling out unknown names.
“I’m searching for someone to sell my soul to,"
The drunk who followed me whispered,
While appraising me from head to foot.

At the address I had been given.
The building had large X’s over its windows.
I knocked but no one came to open.
By and by a black girl joined me on the steps.
She banged at the door till her fist hurt.

Her name was Alma, a propitious sign.
She knew someone who solved life’s riddles
In a voice of an ancient Sumerian queen.
We had a long talk about that
While shivering and stamping our wet feet.

It was necessary to stay calm, I explained,
Even with the earth trembling,
And to continue to watch oneself
As if one were a complete stranger.

Once in Chicago, for instance,
I caught sight of a man in a shaving mirror
Who had my naked shoulders and face,
But whose eyes terrified me!
Two hard staring, all-knowing eyes!

After we parted, the night, the cold, and the endless walking
Brought on a kind of ecstasy.
I went as if pursued, trying to warm myself.

There was the East River; there was the Hudson.
Their waters shone like oil in sanctuary lamps.

Something supreme was occurring
For which there will never be any words.

The sky was full of racing clouds and tall buildings,
Whirling and whirling silently.

In that whole city you could hear a pin drop.
Believe me.
I thought I heard a pin drop and I went looking for it.

-Charles Simic, The Book of Gods and Devils, published by Harcourt Brace & Company, 1990.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Dream

I dreamed of a number ten can of bloody hands.