Day 3: 13 Minutes

I had a great conversation with my friend. We meet ever Sunday, she, I and another close friend, for coffe and conversation as well as peer led yoga. I always get inspired talking with her.

I usually have an abundance of ideas and get too disorganized. Having this be 13 minutes helps stop me from continuous rambling. I think I will pick a topic each day to keep this coherent.

Today I’d like to talk about precondition mental health issues and dealing with this crisis. It is hard on everyone, whether they have any mental health issues or not.

Anxiety disorder and trauma related disorders are usually part of a mental health diagnosis, whether it be depression, eating disorder, etc, because having a mental health issue in today’s societal invalidating environment causes anxiety. Now many healthy people are having panic and anxiety.

So for people who have bipoar disorder, depression, complex trauma, OCD, Panic disorder and all the other ones, how do you manage and use distress tolerance now?

If you’re in therapy, continue your therapy by phone or video. Now is not the time to decide on leaving therapy if you have a longstanding relationship with your therapist and if you just started and founds someone who is a good fit, keep up your therapy. Be in frequent touch with your therapist if need be.

Talk openly with your therapist about your financial issues in general and pertaining to paying for therapy if you do pay a fee or copay. I believe in sliding scale for therapy which also involves sliding scale in the present. For example, if you have someone who pays $90 on sliding scale from your regular fee, and they can only pay $60 due to job issues connected to the Coronavirus, I would ask your therapist for a temporary change in fee.

I have been informing clients that if they can’t pay their regular fee due to current hardships, they can pay a reduced fee. If this whole disaster becomes very extreme, I will offer free sessions to clients, partly for my own sanity. One client out of her job not paid anymore reduced her fee with me by 50%, so I am happy that my new plan is working. I don’t want current clients to drop their therapy with me due to financial hardship.

Also, if you’re needing a $30-60 per session for people, you can guide them to go to the Open Path Collective; we’re a group of therapists dedicated to providing therapy that is accessible and affordable for people who can’t afford high fees. The client pays a one time fee of $59 and can choose a therapist and start affordable therapy.

I am already doing remote sessions with a lot of clients due to other issues, so many of them are familiar and comfortable with phone and video sessions. Ask your therapist for telehealth sessions. Many therapists are starting to do this exclusively, whether they are experienced with it or not. I am very greatful to be part of Open Path as I believe strongly in our mission. I will be contacting all my current clients who come in person about starting remote sessions and notifying all appropriate ones about temporary discounts. That’s all for today. See you tomorrow. I plan to continue this topic with providing links to info about it.

Day 2: Saturday, March 14, 13 Minutes

Happy Pi day! I have a great Pi t-shirt I got at a science museum in Myrtle Beach on summer vacation. It’s 3/14!

Daily photo, another great t-shirt:

I am sometimes sad that in high school I was so good at math and did BC Calculus and took the exam. Now I barely know what Calculus is. I have a terrible memory for exact experiences that are recent and my memory of the far-gone past is terrible. I can’t remember how to play the piano or read notes. In high school I was playing Chopin Nocturnes.

Anyway, the silver lining in my terrible ADHD memory where everything is like trying to hold sand, is that I remember odd irrelevant things, and they can be fun to write about.

Today I had a WhatsApp video call with one of my best friends who live in Milan with her 13 year old. They are very inspiring, as they obviously are in the later stages of the Coronavirus, but still have hope and a sense of humor, despite there now being strict rules about leaving your house: only to walk dogs, go food shopping or to the pharmacy, so not even a curfew, a total stay home order.

I have a nail polish bottle in my studio where I keep my nail polish collection. You can use nail polish for art, like decorating your pillbox or the front and back of a journal.

This nail polish bottle is special. I actually bought it with my Italian friend soon after 9/11 or maybe before, in downtown Brooklyn where we worked. We both lived right near Ground Zero. Anyway we went to a department store near work. I can’t remember if it was a Macy’s or another one. We both bought the same color of Lancome nail polish, a kind of iridescent peach color.

Not only do I still have that nail polish, it still works, meaning it hasn’t thickened and gotten clumpy like many other nail polishes do in even 2 years. You open this bottle and it’s like your bought it yesterday. I wish I had a photo of it.

Some stores that have closed long ago, like Pearl Paint, I remember the exact layout and where they put the Sakura gelly pens and the frames. I remember the fancy pen case and the floor with sculpture tools, all the floors. I remember waiting on line on the paints floor in the palette aisle and seeing Bob Ross brand of things and the paint knives on the left side. Pearl Paint had a few specialty stores on Lispenard Street across from the main building, which was red and white brick. There was a store for home depot kind of stuff, wallpaper and paint and home decorating stuff. There was a store just for art furniture towards Church Street. There was an awesome craft supply store, with 2 stories and you went up the stairs for stuff and could see the bottom floor.

The main building had an old creaky elevator with a cramped waiting space and a bulletin board of flyers and announcements for art lessons and other things. The stairs in the main store were worn dark wood that wasn’t flat anymore. I remember where the turpentine was and the orange scented one that I discovered and bought, on one of the lowest shelves to the left of the entrance to the paint floor. You had to purchase whatever you got on that floor. There was a little room for specialty paper with someone behind a counter who would get certain papers that weren’t out on the racks. They wrapped your big paper carefully in brown paper. One of my clients even reminisced about going there after therapy with me and picking up art supplies. I even remember the customer service nook. All the cashiers and stock people were artists. It was the most magnificent art supply store I ever went to. It was an experience. I remember seeing people with their typed out lists of supplies from their painting classes searching for maybe their first tube of oil paint in September.

Thinking of Pearl Paint always makes me happy because it was so connected to me of my first ten years or so of being an artist. Going in there was magical.

 

Day 1 Yesterday’s 13 Minutes

Friday, March 13: I decided to use my 13 minute daily writings to be a kind of diary of living with new restrictions and a state of emergency during the Coronavirus Pandemic. Remember, life is all around you and there is still nature to appreciate even in NYC: trees, birds, the sky…

I live in NYC a few blocks below World Trade Center. I’ve lived in this apartment since 1998, except for a few years post 9/11.

Anyway, my plan is to focus on positive things in here. Anyone reading this knows you can easily access what’s going on and the news, and I believe focusing on good things that are facts happening alongside bad stuff is a way to keep one’s humanity intact. I saw a Hawking video I posted on Facebook 2 years ago today when he died. It is especially a great message for right now. I think I can find the link from Facebook.

Stephen Hawking Video

Technically it’s Saturday, but I’m writing my 13 minutes for yesterday, Friday the 13th. I will also post art I make daily; I hope to inspire people to use art making as a coping tool and if you’re doing it even 15 minutes, it is your life, not just a distraction tool. I strongly believe in DBT’s Distress Tolerance skills, but I also think that even if you’re doing something to calm yourself and avoid something for a while and then get back to it, that while you’re doing your art or music or crossword puzzle, you aren’t avoiding your life; that’s is you living it.

I was inspired yesterday to get back to my Daily Comic, “The Daily Grind”, which I’ve been only doing sporadically. I want to commit to some daily “self-care” minutes of my life spent doing things I already do but will be more mindful to keep up now.

Daily photo: I just got this t shirt and wore it to work yesterday. Some of my clients quite enjoyed it, even by video session!

 

Favorite Video Of Last Week: “Raised Without Gender”

A 10 year old showed me this video last week.  It was really great to see how schools of the future may eventually evolve to adopt a philosophy of not inculcating gender norms and gender roles on young 4 and 5 year olds. Maybe in about 50 years, most schools will just be like this. The family in it is really great. My favorite part is when the parent is sort of accused of inculcating their views of gender and forcing them on their children. The parent replies, Yes I am doing that. So does every other parent. I’m just not doing it the way many others do, but I’m doing the same thing all parents do. So true.

The Mid Life Crisis, Continued. Movies

There have been great movies made about people having a mid life crisis. Too many are about men experiencing one: “American Beauty”, “Lost in Translation”, “Manhattan”, etc.

Are there any good movies about women or other gender identified people having a good old fashioned mid life crisis? Woody Allen made one, “Another Woman”, (1988). It’s a great def fpiction of a woman going through all the aspects of a mid life crisis. There’s the idea of having a sudden break of time, where you’re not doing everything as usual, in this case a sabbatical, then the way things can suddenly appear different and give you a different view of yourself, noticing other people’s perceptions of you not matching your own, the typical suddenly looking at a long marriage and seeing it and yourself and your partner differently. Noticing someone else and it having a big effect on your own self identity and concept of who you are. Big changes happening as a result, some that you don’t engage in as a choice. I found the movie very compelling even when I wasn’t viewing it as a mid life crisis movie.

I can’t really think of or find many movies about women having a mid life crisis. The Huffington Post dug up movies that will make you feel better about your mid life crisis, with women as the protagonist, “Enough Said”, “It’s Complicated”, “The Bridges of Madison County”, “Kramer vs. Kramer”. I draw the line at that one. Just because Meryl Streep is in the movie does not mean it’s a genuine mid life crisis movie. Yes, it has a lot of the ingredients, and she is the character that’s going through a crisis of identity, but she is just too young to make it convincing to me. It feels like she is questioning her life and choices, but it doesn’t have the elements of urgency having to do with a sense of the life span. It’s more like, she’s still young and wants to rewrite her story, but it isn’t that she wakes up and looks back on a long life with many choices and all the other complicated elements of a mid life crisis.

This is movie land, so all the movies you could dig up on this topic are full of the usual drama. There has to be a lot of extreme stuff going on on the outside to portray the big conflicts of mid life that go on inside the character.

In real life, it isn’t always about affairs, divorce, affairs, losing one’s mind, affairs, falling in love with someone really young to gain back one’s youth.

The title “In Search of Lost Time” sums it up well. I haven’t read the book, so it’s the title that appeals to me.

To be continued…

The New Mid Life Crisis

What is a mid life crisis? Everyone thinks of some middle aged guy with a receding hairline in a red Porsche having an affair with a 20 year old when they here the phrase.

Well, we’ve come a long way baby, since those backwards days. Now your gender doesn’t matter, it’s age that does. It doesn’t have to be about feeling physically past your prime either.

Maybe being 40-45 used to be when people had this “syndrome”. Now it could happen to you in your late 30’s, early to late 40’s or 50’s. Whatever feels mid life to you.

You don’t have to leave your spouse or disappear or find a new identity. You don’t have to spend tons of money on something stupid that is supposed to represent your last threads of holding on to your youth.

What is a mid life crisis? My definition is, you reach an age in your life, where you start looking back on your life, and wondering, sometimes regretting, sometimes wishing, sometimes scared to death. Usually it sinks in that you have less days ahead of you than behind you (I just heard that one, and it shook me). Even if you think you may live to 100, you have an equal number of days ahead of you than behind you, or you feel the weight of whatever many years are behind you and the time ahead of you looms as time you don’t want to waste, time you want to do something that makes you feel alive.

If you’re even thinking in terms of days you’ve spent that are over and days you have got left, you’re probably in the land of the Mid Life Crisis.

So it starts or is defined by a sense of urgency, thinking about your life as limited, ta a thinking about your death and what you did, could have done, could be doing, could do, might miss forever if you don’t do it now.

The actions that go with this self conception, the “red Porsche”, can take many forms. It may seem mild to some, getting a tattoo, changing your hair, going on a trip, taking trapeze or tango lessons, sky diving or bigger things, moving, spending a lot of money on something, whether a house, a car, a swimming pool, a horse, or picking some collection of books to read you never were interested in before. Its could be crazier, starting a drug habit, doing stuff that you always thought were “against the rules”…

There are other types of actions that are not so “bucket list” like things. Changing careers, suddenly realizing you want to run a bed and breakfast instead of working in a big city. Taking up some creative activity nobody thought you were interested in.

What do you think of when you think of Mid Life Crisis? What have you done or seen others do? To be continued…

Writing 101, Day 3: One Word Inspiration: Chosen Word: UNCERTAINTY

Life on earth is mostly about uncertainty, so the word Equanimity expresses a way to be in and live in “uncertainty” and remain grounded and joyful, and equanimity as a principle is about being in the middle of things and able to look over what’s in the moment with no judgment.

“Tell me, what is it that you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

great poem! thanks Krista!

The Daily Post

Perhaps this might be, as American author Joan Didion phrases it, a “bankrupt morning” where you wake up, devoid of inspiration for your creative projects.

Learn more about Mary Oliver and see her complete bibliography. Mary Oliver and Percy Photo Mary Oliver and Percy. (Photo 2005 by Rachel Giese Brown.)

In honor of National Poetry Month, I’ve got some inspiration in a very short recommended read from the poet Mary Oliver. In her poem The Summer Day, she mediates on creation and attention, and in so doing, urges us to seize possibility with a beautifully simple question:

Tell me, what is it that you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
The Summer Day by Mary Oliver

Listen to Mary Oliver read The Summer Day:

And now, Tell me, what is it that you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

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Is There a Right Way to Spell Hanukkah? Chanukah? Hannukah?

happy chanukah! that’s how I spelled it as a kid, when nobody put up menorahs in NYC; times have changed. Spell it however you want! The festival of lights: put a little light in your heart! Put a little love in your heart, whether you celebrate any holiday at all, or none. There is always room for more love to spread around, and it starts with me and you:” put a little love in your heart!” No I am not crazy, just drunk on Bill Murray’s ending monologue in the movie “Scrooged”! This is the first day of the rest of our lives…