A MOVIE LOVER’S FAVORITES TO GET YOU THROUGH THE PANDEMIC #11: Seymour: An Introduction

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A Movie Lover’s Favorites to get you through the pandemic #11: Seymour: An Introduction (2015.) This meditative documentary tells the story of Seymour Bernstein, former concert pianist and teacher to world-class pianists. The movie exquisitely illustrates what the life of an artist looks like. True confession – I was so moved I wept. Even if you don’t care about classical music this film is worth watching.

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A MOVIE LOVER’S FAVORITES TO GET YOU THROUGH THE PANDEMIC #4: Dr Zhivago

A Movie Lover’s favorites to get you through the pandemic, #4: Dr. Zhivago. (1965). What could be better than three plus hours of the Russian revolution? This film stars possibly the most gorgeous cast ever, Omar Sharif and Julie Christi. Make some borscht, pull your balalaika out of the garage and strum along to the haunting and lovely Lara’s Theme.Dr. Zhivago

Tough Times

Running a therapy group on happiness is one of my favorite job responsibilities. There’s a huge industry focused on happiness. While doing research for the group, I learned that optimism boosts happiness, so we discuss this concept in the group. Like many of the things that make people happy, optimism may be innate, or we may have to mindfully develop the habits and skills that boost this attitude. Here’s my template for optimism: Be hopeful. Show up. Do your best. Let go. Repeat. Over the years, I’ve found it’s a winning formula.

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Frugality Gone Too Far (implementing small updates)

Early this year I realized I’d let my natural frugality go too far, and I needed to replace more than a dozen items in my house. I replaced a pocket calculator that had numbers I could barely see, a light bulb that was too dim, all of the old pillows on my couch, and numerous other old or worn items. None of the new items were expensive. I doubt I spent $200.00 total. But the numerous small home improvements made my life easier by removing small irritants. I’m not sure why I waited so long, but I now feel more relaxed at home. Sometimes it’s good to take stock of our daily habits and environment and assess room for improvement. Small changes can have a big impact.money-79657__480

Lights Out

March, 2019: After I returned from my nephew’s wedding in New Delhi, I became ill with a severe cold. The cold turned into a sinus infection, and I missed a total of three weeks of work over the course of two months. When I was at work, I’d start each day feeling adequately energized, but as the day progressed, I felt like a dimmer switch was slowly being turned down. Some days I would lose energy quickly, as if someone abruptly turned off a light.bulb-742428__480I’ve been chronically ill for all of my adult life, but this mostly slow although occasionally sudden loss of energy at work was a new phenomenon for me. I’m not all better yet, but I’m getting there. And I’m adjusting to this new way of losing energy. I try hard to pace myself at work, to not rush, and to take three-to five-minute breaks if possible. I’m doing everything I can to get my work done while modulating and conserving my energy so that I last through the day. This is not the worst health challenge I’ve had, but it’s a new one. I’m trying to be mindfulof it and to remain hopeful about meeting its new challenges.

For New Tech Challenges, Hire a Millennial

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When overwhelmed by tech problems, I hire a millennial. Instead of trying to install my back-up hard drive, I employed a friend’s grandson to do it for me. When I couldn’t master the basics of Instagram, I paid my thirty-year-old hairdresser for her time and assistance. I was born when Eisenhower was president. I’m very comfortable with computers and use a handful of programs continuously throughout my workday. But I’m often challenged when I have to learn the mechanics of a new program or app. Hiring a millennial for assistance is a nice way to get some extra cash into the hands of a young person, and they always know how to help.

ENJOYING THE HOLIDAYS WHILE CHRONICALLY Ill

Readers, I stumbled across this unpublished article I wrote about the holidays. I know it’s  late in the season for this post, but I’d thought I’d share anyway in the hopes that a reader finds something in it helpful.

My guiding principles during the holidays are simplify, prepare, and prioritize. When we live with chronic illness the holidays can be especially stressful, but that stress can be reduced if we’re thoughtful about how we manage our time and energy.

I love a beautifully wrapped gift as much as the next person. But during the holidays, with multiple presents to prepare, I roll my gifts in tissue paper, put them in a gift bag, and call it a day. As long as the gifts look festive, no one cares if they’re wrapped or bagged. This helps me conserve my energy.

I begin my shopping in October. During the year I gather numerous presents that I’ve saved for the holidays. I take stock of my gift stash, assess who still needs a gift, and search the Internet for ideas. I pop into my favorite bargain store in October to stock up on inexpensive gift bags and boxes, and buy more than I’ll require, so I’ll be prepared for the unexpected. If I need to visit a mall during the holidays, I go as soon as the stores open, and I’m usually able to avoid the worst of the holiday crush and find a parking space.

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If someone is too ill to shop in stores, there’s no shame in doing all of the holiday shopping on the Internet. The first year after Christopher Reeve’s riding accident, which left him a quadriplegic in 1995, he and his wife, Dana, did all of their holiday shopping through catalogs. (This was before people shopped on line.) No one would have blamed them if they’d skipped giving gifts that year. But they found a way to holiday shop, working around the actor’s extreme limitations. We can figure out how to work within our limitations too.

Many people like to make homemade gifts or bake during the holidays. I’m usually not up for a bake-a-thon, but still want some of my gifts to have a personal touch. I scout the weekly ads at my local markets and buy bulk candy when it’s on sale. Then I’ll purchase as much as ten pounds of a treat like chocolate covered almonds, and give them in holiday boxes or tins. These gifts are great for the office or an unexpected party.

None of my loved ones ever goes without a holiday gift from me. But I simplify the process as much as possible by preparing early, and being organized. I let go of small touches so I can save my energy for what’s important, which staying as healthy as possible while having happy times with my friends and family.

SIMPLE TIPS:

Make a plan

Shop early

Cut corners where possible

On-line shopping is your best friend

Buying store bought food is OK

 

 

 

The Two-Bite Rule

macaroons-3375255__480I’m a hardcore sugar addict. My addiction waxes and wanes, depending on the level of self-control I’m able to muster. When my addiction is under control, I’ll indulge in a sweet treat once every week or so, or not at all. But I don’t believe in deprivation. I have sugar in my morning coffee, and I employ what I call the two-bite rule. This rule allows me to eat two average-size bites of anything sweet. So if there’s a birthday cake at work, I’ll have two bites of it. Two bites don’t seem to trigger sugar cravings and I always feel as if I’ve indulged just a little. When I can implement the two-bite rule, it works well, and I don’t feel deprived. When I jettison the two-bite rule, I’m always striving to return to it.