A MOVIE LOVER’S FAVORITES TO GET YOU THROUGH THE PANDEMIC #10: Shaft

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A Movie Lover’s Favorites to get you through the pandemic #10: Shaft (1971). I saw it with my family when I was eleven. What was Dad thinking? (We all had a great time.) The movie has one of the best opening sequences ever filmed and was wildly innovation its day. Theme from Shaft won Isaac Hays a well deserved Oscar. The movie is a standout of the Blaxploitation movement. It’s a little dated, but who cares? “Who is the man who would risk his life for his brother man” still resonates. Watch it on Pay-per-view and feel the groove.

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A MOVIE LOVER’S FAVORITES TO GET YOU THROUGH THE PANDEMIC #7: Weekend

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A Movie Lover’s Favorites to get you through the pandemic #7: Weekend (2011.) You don’t need big production values to make a perfect film. This small gem of a movie has big themes. It’s about a brief but heartfelt love affair. I own two movies, and this is one of them. Snuggle in bed with your sweetie and watch it together.

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A MOVIE LOVER’S FAVORITES TO GET YOU THROUGH THE PANDEMIC #3: Wings of Desire

A Movie Lover’s favorites to get you through the pandemic #3: Wings of Desire (1987). This German movie is the cinematic equivalent of great jazz. It’s a mood piece about an angel who tires of helping others and falls in love with a woman. The scene where they meet will stir your soul. The film is poetic and haunting. Watch it with someone you love and you will love them more deeply when it’s over.

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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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Brotherly Wisdom #6

In December 1981, I moved into an apartment in Mountain View, California, when Silicon Valley was in its nascent phase. My brother, Charles, and, Margaret, my future sister-in-law, who lived over an hour away in Berkeley, visited me several times, together and separately.tools-864983__480Sometime in the spring, Charles looked around my apartment and asked if I owned any tools. I didn’t—not a hammer, screwdriver, or pliers. This seemed to trigger some paternal impulse in him. He declared that I needed to own basic tools. At his insistence, we walked over to Sears, located few blocks away, and he bought me a hammer and screwdriver combo. I still use them almost forty years later. I am forever indebted to Charles for his fount of big-brother wisdom and care.

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.

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.

Life as Charades: Sounds Like . . .

My hearing is fine, but the way my brain processes sound is not. I have an auditory processing disorder. I clearly hear things that I shouldn’t, like the small beeping noise in the far corner of a room. Except I hear the beeping as if I’m wearing headphones with the volume on high. I call this my supersonic dog hearing.

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Under certain other circumstances, I don’t hear things other people can hear well. I can’t hear anything but cacophony, for example, if two people are talking at once. When I don’t understand what’s being said, I try to figure out what the sounds I’m hearing are like. It’s as if I’m in a perpetual game of charades, but with indistinguishable vocals. Sometime this method works, and I can figure out what someone said. Other times I have to admit that because of the background noise or multiple speakers, I can’t hear, and I have to ask people to repeat themselves. I feel bad about doing this, but in order to live in the world, sometimes I have to request tolerance and kindness from others. This is simply life. I don’t like it, but I’ve accepted it.