Saturday, February 1, 2014


While I was sleeping, the canvas of the city got a fresh coat of white paint.  It has been a long winter and it is only February first.  I feel like Phil in Groundhogs Day.  This winter is never going to end.  Hopefully when it does end we will be rewarded with a glorious spring.

This morning however, because it is a Saturday, the world feels less hurried about clearing paths to get out.  I have the weekend off so I am not in any hurry either.  I wonder only briefly if the day shift made it to work or if the night shift had to stay over.  I took a cab part way home last night after work because I had to pick up my billfold that I had left at a restaurant the night before.  The roads were already becoming slick and the cabby was going home after he dropped me off.  "Too dangerous" he said.  "Not worth it.  And it isn't busy anyway".

I have taken a lot of cab rides this winter.  Mostly to work when the temperatures drop below 0.  I don't mind the snow, I can get around in the snow not having a car and being only 4 blocks from the train. But I hate the bitter cold with the wind chills in the minus 40's. When the temperatures reach the twenties it seems almost balmy.  A friend has already been out this morning and texts that it is actually warm.

I texted someone yesterday that I had been hibernating since December 1.  Although it seems that way, I suppose it is not actually true.  I do tend to stay in my bed on the extremely cold days because the apartment is not warm on those days, only getting up to call a cab to get to work.  Poor Rachel, living in New Orleans doesn't have any heat in her apartment and had to finally get space heaters because it has been cold (relatively) there.  But my friendships continue and I get out for breakfast some days or lunch on my days off.  I have seen lots of movies and several plays.  A friend's niece was in the chorus of The Sweet Smell of Success.  Later I heard she had a terrible migraine through the whole musical but you would never have know it.  She was the most animated one out there with the highest kicks during the dance scenes.  I know I will be saying I saw her when.  We all work and carry on most days no mater how we feel or the weather outside.  I am suppose to see a play tonight with a group of friends.  We will see if we carry on as the snow continues to fall outside.

Tomorrow my movie group meets in Evanston.  I am doing a double feature seeing Groundhogs Day at two and the Dallas Buys Club at 5.  Can't get much interest for the first but 13 people are signed up for the second and dinner after.  All people I know.  Maybe one or two first timers that won't actually show up. The nature of meetups.  I have seen both movies.  While radically different there are similarities in that both main characters under go enormous transformation in character.  But then that is what movies are about and why I go see them.  To see how the characters face events in their lives, good and bad, and how they are changed by those events.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Change is Hard

Change is hard, whether it is in your thinking or in your habits.

The best book I have read on dating is The Tao of Dating: The smart woman's guide to being absolutely irresistible by Ali Binazir, M.D., M.Phil.  Now here is someone who changed from being a doctor, though he may still practice to authoring a book helping women to find love.  The book is mostly about caring for yourself.  My favorite quote is "contentment is not a person it is a feeling."  It is important for me to remember it is about me.  I am the star of my own show.  (I stole that line from About a Boy a great movie about change.)

Anyway, I have been dating a man for about 9 months.  We have gone out exactly 5 times.  We text and occasionally talk on the phone.  From the beginning, I have suggested to him I need to be a little higher priority.  He works incredibility hard.  But obviously, if I was important to him I would see more of him.  I finally decided to choose myself and tell him exactly want I want and need.  Because I am not overly invested in this relationship I have been able to practice expressing my feelings instead of letting things build until I get angry.  Men do not like angry women.  Still waiting to hear back.  But the out come is not important. Choosing myself is the important part.

Which brings me to a great book on change I have been reading called Choose Yourself by James Altucker.  Mr. Altucker believes that we will not be able to depend on the old style of work.  That cubicles are empty and we are entering into a era where we will all be working for ourselves.  At least if you want to get ahead in this world.  And as I was laying in bed this morning trying to go back to sleep I thought about my brothers and sisters.  They are already there and have been for a long time.  Jane doesn't work but has many wonderful creative ideas everyday.  Bill has been self employed forever as a landscaper mixing both hard work with creativity.  Judy, although now working for the school system, use to head a nonprofit working with children.   Susan, has her own fiber business and farm where she raises sheep and chickens.    John buys and sells stuff.   And Tom, has been self employed as an architect for most of his career.  I am the only one who has always worked for someone else.  Not that I work in a cubical.  But I am the one who has to plan vacation time and can't just do something spontaneously.  (I know it isn't that easy for the others either but they can plan their own life to a greater degree than I can.

Mr. Altucker is all about ideas.  He has made and lost millions of dollars and is now finding a way to stabilize his life, changing from the inside rather than the outside.  Makes me feel like all my internal changes may pay off after all.  He talks about daily practices in the 4 different areas of life, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.  For me the most difficult to embrace is the physical practices of choosing health.  In later blogs I will talk about his other areas.  But as I was rereading the book he mentioned a diet he follows called the slow carb diet basically invented by Timothy Ferriss, author of The 4-hour body.  You see how one thing leads me to another, to another.  I love my Kindle app and Amazon.

So I decided to give the slow carb diet a try.  It appeared from the book, I might actually be able to meet my 50 # goal in my allotted time limit if I suck with the diet.  The diet is basically a low glycemic diet designed to keep your blood sugar level even.  This in turn keeps your body from producing high levels of insulin that causes fat storage.  No grains of any kind, no fruit, no sugar, no dairy, and only a little red wine.  Lots of high quality meat, eggs, poultry and fish.  Lots of vegetables and lots of legumes.

And it worked well for 3 weeks. I lost 14 pounds. He also lets you have a cheat day every week.  Makes the body think it really isn't in starvation mode.  The problem was I never really felt that great.  I know some of it was detoxing from sugar and grains.  But I was also still having some acid re-flux.  Not as severe as I was having but it was still there.  Usually when I diet, it completely goes away.  I was also really missing fruit and having trouble eating the beans.  After some research on the internet I found a theory that re-flux may be caused by carbohydrates more than anything else and actually complex carbohydrates are worse than refined carbs because they take longer to digest and build up gas.  What I liked about this diet was that my sweet cravings completely vanished.  I was still drinking diet coke which may have satisfied some of it, but still, I wasn't even tempted to cheat on non cheat days and really didn't eat much sugar on days I could cheat.   So I wanted to find something to go to right away and not  loose my momentum and gain back the weight I had lost.

A friend suggested the South Beach diet, which I looked at.  The problem with that diet however, is it does not follow my philosophy about food.  It relies on low fat versions of dairy and proteins.  Not whole foods. And then I came upon and their 30 day challenge.  They propose something very similar to my previous diet except they do not like legumes and instead let you have some fruit.  Still no sugar, no dairy, no grains.  Plus no legumes, no soy,  no alcohol and no diet coke.  Rather than being focused on the glycemic index and insulin spikes, they are focused on foods that cause inflammation.  They are less concerned about weight and fat loss than becoming healthy.  (I can't even weigh for the 30 days).  Besides detoxing from the foods they feel cause inflammation, they want you to really change your relationship with food.  I will let you know how I progress.

Addendum:  Day number 3 of the 30 day challenge.  I am tired of cooking.  Fortunately I have been off for several days and so I have been able to cook.  But I don't like it much.  One thing that is helping is that one other change I have made is to quit playing computer games, (spider, freecell and hearts).  I suddenly have lots of time on my hands.

The high quality protein is costly, but less than eating out.  A pound of wild salmon $21.  But if I cut it in 4th's it is only 5 bucks.  Oh and I made mother's goolash.  All perfectly legal with grass fed ground beef.  Except the macaroni of course.  I substituted spaghetti squash.  Very, very tasty.  Going to have some left overs right now.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Law of Attraction

First I wanted to say thank you to all of my family that sent such warm, wonderful (and some very funny) comments regarding my last blog via email.  While it was not a hard blog to write it was a difficult one to post.  I am grateful it was well received.

In that blog I said I would talk about a new book I am reading but I need to put that on hold for a few blogs and back up a bit.  Some time ago I wrote a blog on reading. I have started to do more reading again and what I am finding is how it wakes up my mind in a way nothing else does.  I can almost feel the brain cells activating them selves and hear them saying ahhh, finally some stimulation coming our way.  And the great thing about trying to make changes and reading is one thing seems to just logically lead to the next thing and the next thing.  Even if I am reading fiction, I find a common thread with what is going on in my life.

So I was at work one day doing a group on my own spin of cognitive therapy which will be a subject of yet another blog.  But for now just know that it was a successful group and the patients were interested in what I had to say.  After the group one of the women went to her room and brought out the book  "The Secret". She thought I might find it interesting.  I paged through the book and decided I needed to give it a closer look and down loaded it from Amazon.  The book it turns out is about the Law of Attraction.  Something I had heard about from a couple of different sources but not something I understood.

In a nut shell this is what I now understand and try to practice:  1) What you think about is what you attract.   2) You can ask for what ever you want because there is plenty for everyone.    What I noticed as I read the book was how closely it reflected the religion I was brought up with, with some very important differences that made me feel a little uncomfortable.  Yet I know that even some pretty conservative Christians believe in and practice The Law of Attraction. After doing the briefest of research on the internet I discovered that there is a more "religious" or Christian view of The Law of Attraction and a secular view.

Some Christians point to the Bible as being full of the law of attraction and feel this is where the concept originated.  "Ask and you shall receive."  Is this not what praying is all about?  And yet the key difference between when I was young and praying to God for what I wanted and now being able to ask the universe for what I want is 1) I don't have to feel guilty about what I ask for and there is no bargaining involved (Please God let me pass this test and I promise I will study harder)  2) The Universe does not seem to judge 3) While the universe does appreciate gratitude, it doesn't need to be worshiped and adored. 4) You don't have to defer to the Universe's "will" though I do think that there are basic laws of the universe and when you go against those laws you begin to have difficulties.  But the Universe kind of lets you figure that out on your own.

I am not trying to judge anyone's religion or beliefs.  I am just expressing my own.  While the law of attraction makes sense to me, religion does not.  But that old religious upbringing keeps nagging at the back of my head, "maybe you are just being selfish and you are taking all the good parts but leaving all the hard parts behind."  Maybe.  And maybe God and the Universe are one in the same and that it is simply man and religion that is all screwed up.

What I like most about the Law of Attraction is the focus on abundance and gratitude.  I believe if the world could just adopt those two concepts we would be far better off.  I thought I had blogged about gratitude but I can't find it so perhaps that will be another entry.

There are critics to the law of attraction.  "It is just all positive thinking.  And people think they can just get what they want magically."  By the way Rhonda Byrn's (author of The Secret) follow up book is called "Magic".  I haven't read it.  And I read a great blog (very funny) making fun of the book  I am giving you the link to prove I have a sense of humor.  And there are parts of of the book I don't agree with.  But negative thinking never got anyone anywhere.  That I know.  And maybe things don't happen magically, but once we figure out what it is we want and ask for it, our own brains begin to work for solutions.

I have asked the Universe for certain things.  To lose 50 pounds in 6 months.  To be debt free in 6 months and finally to have a million dollars in my bank account. (I did not put a time limit on that.)  The weight thing is not working so well yet but I still have 4 months to go. I am getting some insights into the problem.   The debt is close to being resolved and now I have to work really hard to make it happen.  I have 3 months left.  And the asking for the million dollars has led me to another book that will be the subject of my next blog.

Change.  It will happen.  I know it.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Life is about change.  We can't get away from that. Nor should we want to.

I have not posted a blog since May 2012.  Since that time I have been struggling to find a theme for my writing.  I miss writing.  I miss sharing my thoughts with others.  So I asked myself  what is my life really about?  And it occurs to me it is about change.  Movement.  Hopefully progression.

Ask my children about my incurable desire to improve myself.  Kate once gave me a book called "One Frog Can Make a Difference, Kermit's Guide to Life in the 90s".  It was a satire on self help books. Very funny but it made me realize how I might be influencing my children perhaps in a negative way. If you look at the books on my book shelf,  most of them are self help, with a little poetry and fiction thrown in.  And as I think about all the books I have read, I wonder if they have made a difference.

I once complained to a therapist that I felt I had made many changes  internally, but none of those changes manifested in outward changes..  I still had a weight problem, I still had a dirty house and I still wasn't writing. I wasn't completing things I started.  I have no idea what he said about that.

Years later I still struggle with that question.  Another question might be do you need to make the internal changes before you see behavioral changes, or can you simply engage in the behavioral changes and skip all the time consuming internal dialog?  But for me, the internal changes have been important.  All in all the changes internally, the changes to thought processes have made me happier, than a clean house might have, or being thin.

I have had three life defining moments,.

The first came in my therapist's office.  He told me I was good at therapy.  That I always came prepared, that I always followed up on things we talked about.  He said he would write down points he wanted to come back to but that I always came back to them on my own and he just had to check them off his list.  I don't know why this was important to me.  But in that moment I had the overwhelming sense that I was O.K. That I was not in some way horribly flawed as a human being.  Later in life I would learn that we are all flawed but that's O.K.  I am not more or less flawed than anyone else.

The second came by way of text.  An old friend repeated something I had said to him a year before.  Again, nothing really important, nothing earth shaking, but again I had this overwhelming feeling that for the first time in my life I was lovable.  My shell had cracked and I could feel love from another person.  Not just from him, but from all the other people in my life as well.

About a year later the third one came  I can't remember the trigger. Again just a sudden feeling that after all this time, at 62 I really did love myself.  That not only could I now feel love from other people, I could feel love from myself, to myself.  More than love, I cherished myself, I am my most favorite person to be with.

And then yesterday possible a 4th. Time will tell.  Something I have struggle with my whole life.  Other people's attention or non attention in no way defines who I am.

But again, all internal changes how ever important, not effecting major behaviors I want to change. Or possibly behavior has changed, but not in areas that can be easily measured.

Things I have changed in my life.  I chose happiness over duty.  (maybe O.K. maybe not O.K.)  I became social again.  I choose more the direction of my life than wait for it to happen.  Certainly important things.

So what is it that I still want to change?  Isn't feeling that I am O.K. not irreparably flawed, that I am loved by others and finally loving myself enough?

Well for one thing, I want to be financially solvent.  Actually I would like to be rich, but right now I will settle for solvent.  I would like to be thin.  And I would like to write a book and have it published, even if it is self published which happens more and more these days.  Those are the major things.  Then there are minor things like taking better care of my teeth, keeping my house cleaner, taking more photographs, getting better at the ukulele.  Oh, one other thing, get a boyfriend.  That one is a little different because I have a little less control over that one.

I have come to be softer on myself.  To give myself more credit for what I do accomplish than for what I don't.  I have stopped beating myself up for not doing things.

In the beginning I talked about all the self help books I have read over my life time.  When I read each one, I think, this is it, this is the answer,  It never is, but I still feel that way each time I read something new (as long as it goes alone with my values and way of thinking).  And it is true of the new book that I am reading called "Mindset, the New Psychology of Success."  Brilliant.  But I will save that for my next blog.  Stay tuned.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Door Ways

I have always been intrigued with door ways and entry ways, both from a photographic perspective and psychological perspective.  The idea of going through a door, choosing one door vs another. 
This first photo is of my doorway.  The one I pass through everyday out into the world and then back home again.  From safety to possibility.  From  isolation to socialization.  The second photo is one I took several years ago when I went to visit Rachel in New Orleans. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Old Town School of Music

The Old Town School of Music is one of Chicago's most unique cultural centers.  Founded in 1957, Old Town has moved to various locations finally ending up close to me in Lincoln Square.  The school offers both individual and group lessons in many instruments (including djembe) as well as all types of dance classes.  There are now 6600 students that take weekly classes a third being children.  Concerts featuring music from around the world are a daily happening.  Completion of a new building across from the old building in Lincoln Square boasts state of the art in both acoustics and ecology. 

I bring this all up because I am now one of their newest volunteers having gone through the 2 hour orientation yesterday.  As a volunteer I can earn points to use towards classes and concerts.  I can meet new people and there are an awful lot of old guys taking guitar lessons.  A friend who use to take guitar lessons there says it will be like shooting fish in a barrel.  We'll see about that.   Oh yea and I can help the school promote music and culture with in my community. 

In the new building

Part of the new building

Cute guy playing a Dobro.  Sounded great.  Says he has been playing for years.
 Pictures taken with the new camera.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Indian Dinner with a Friend

Today my battery was charged, but hurrying out the door this morning at 6 am, I forgot my camera.  I would have like to have photographed the colorful dishes and sauces at the Indian restaurant where I joined a friend tonight. Instead  I returned home and I threw a couple of objects together with the left over wine that Wesley had brought to dinner.  The funny thing is he doesn't even drink.  A nice rich Bordeaux to compliment the Indian food.  My previous experiences with Indian food left me a little cold, but tonights dishes (we chose the buffet) were all delicious.  I didn't quite understand what I was suppose to do with the sauces even after the explanation but just over rice they were wonderful.  Nothing too spicey.  Everything flavorful.