Sunday, January 30, 2011

Weekend's End ( while still in transition)

It's the end of the weekend.  I have two hours left to do whatever I want, then go to bed, wake up and begin the new week.

It is kind of different now, as I consider slowing down at work.  This is the first time in my life that I kind of feel that work could be optional.  We have reached a stage were we seem to have enough money that I really don't have to work too hard.  It's not that we are really up there with the bankers and the bond traders, but we are OK.  What I earn from now on will help, and money is certainly a good things to have here in America in the age of the Tea Party, but it isn't crucial.  I could hang around, drink coffee, read the paper, and visit my granddaughter, email my four friends, and still be able to pay all my bills.

Also, there is about two hundred feet of snow and ice out there.  The roads are narrow, the driving is difficult, the cold is uncomfortable, and more snow is coming.  That doesn't make me want to rush out and face the new challenges of the emotionally suffering.

But here, in the waning hours of the weekend, I just kind of stare out at nothing and let the time slip into the unstructured darkness.  My granddaughter is being taken away for a week to seek warmer air.  My wife is on the phone.  I could read more of the paper, but I already know enough about what's happening to stay upset, and new fashions are not my thing.

It's kind of nice to just sit here, with no pressure, not doing anything for a while.

I'm not that good at it.  I try and tell most of my clients to learn to do that.  They need to get away from the stress, not be constantly churning, not worry about every detail all the time.  Yet the world is in tough shape. There are so many families and many relationships and many children out there that are suffering and are a mess.  They could all use time and thoughtful attention.  There are too many people acting selfishly, or thinking sloppily and causing stress, strife, struggle, illness, injury and even death.
That's not good. It's not fair, it's not right.

But, that's not really new.  It's kind of been going on for 20,000 years.

I'll see how I feel tomorrow.

Right now  I'll take a Tums and maybe everything will feel better.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bad Endings

Zine El Abidine Ben Ali has has been thrown out of Tunisia.  He ruled the country for twenty-five years, took a lot of money for himself, but stayed too long on the job.

Now it seems that President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt is having a tough time after thirty years.  As is President Ali Abdullah Saleh. who may have held on too long in Yemen.  The Middle East is trying to make  changes.

But it isn't just rulers who seem to reach ignoble ends.  I see several people in my practice who, given the difficult economic times here, are being forced out of jobs after successful careers: A long-time, well decorated member of a police force, an owner of a car dealership, an older lawyer who had been in practice for years.  I am even seeing a very successful salesman for a national corporation, and it is clear that he has out-priced his usefulness.   They are making it clear that after almost thirty years they want someone younger and cheaper.  It has shades of Willie Loman.

it probably isn't fun being Brett Favre at this stage in his career.

Here I am trying to makes changes myself.  My own profession is, again, going through turbulent times. Again they are looking for new ways to (not) pay us.  We are being blamed for the high cost of health care, when we have not only not received an increase in fees for over a decade, but now most insurance companies are cutting back.  It's easy to feel unappreciated.

So while I deal with my own feelings I have to deal with many people who feel that twenty to thirty years of their lives amount to almost nothing.  It is difficult to convince them that they have done a good job, supported themselves and their families, and accomplished something worthwhile, when they are made to feel that they are no longer good enough, and no longer necessary.

There are few good endings, not too many gold watches any more.  But at least most of my patients are doing better than the Ceausescus did on their way out.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

transitions, still

I was away.
I went somewhere it was warm.  That was very nice. I kind of freaked out when I came down to the poll and it was full of people doing water aerobics.  Some hot chick was leading a huge number of people, many of whom were my age, through a stress-less, non-strenuous routine of  lifting and rotating their own limbs. I ran away as fast as my aging knees could carry me.

But it was 81 degree there.  It is 8 here.  I am still wondering why I came back.

I came back because I have a full week this week.  I was supposed to keep cutting back so that I can free up a day a week to do other things.  I can collect checks from out government soon.  That should help defer the lost income.

But what will I do?

I am still very torn about how to manage my time.  There is so much to read and learn about, but to what end.  If I just keep it in my head, so what?

I could write more blog entries -- which I should, just to try and remain coherent -- but there is so much noise and confusion going on out here in the blogosphere. Everyone has an opinion, which is good.  But no one, hardly even me, pays attention to anyone else.  Yes, sometimes I do read one of your blogs, and sometimes I lean that you guys are doing something interesting, or struggling in a fascinating way, or just trying to get by, which is also fascinating.  Many of you are doing and trying new things, which is encouraging.

But when it come to really changing anyone's mind, not much really happens.  Everyone is a pundit.  Everyone has an opinion. Usually, everyone is wrong.

I also see that few people are really interested in big-picture things, and that is the way I think.  I am messy at details.  But the details are what is interesting. yet, it is really big picture stuff that could benefit from change.  Yet, what is also clear, is that it probably won't happen.  At least not the way that I want it. ( won't everyone just LISTEN TO ME!! )

It's too easy to slip back into work.  I can take more calls and take more cases and full up my hours, even if the pay gets worse and the obstacles to collecting that money become greater and more complicated.  I won't admit it but it has become more tiring to keep up a full schedule after all these years.

But as I cut back the work becomes less fulfilling because I don't get to take new people, and I get stuck with the more chronic, unchanging folks who will never leave me until I force them to go away.

Maybe I will just use the free time to watch soap-operas --- too late, their not on any more.
    Maybe I'll study astronomy, learn to cook better.
         Then there is this grandchildren thing.......

By March, I promise you (me) I will be working one day less a week. No more than 25 clinical hours. Got that.  Promise.

Let's see, wanna bet? 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Dopamine ?

Guess it's all about dopamine on the brain. Over these last holidays I have been seeing four couples, of many variations, who are parting. it is not gentle on the brain to lose your lover,no matter how intense the conflict, how strained or how long dried up the relationship. When they leave, they leave a gapping hole in your life, and they drain the brain of huge amounts Of dopamine. That's what all the pretty pictures on the colorful fMRIs show.

It's bad, it's sad, and their ain't no cure, except maybe country music.

In contrast, for months I have been seeing two men whom I have been working with to open up, to not try to be impressive, to just be the good,open, honest guys that they are. Suddenly, each of them has found romance. Each is now in a relationship that is over month old. With that, almost all of their doubts, anxieties and listlessness have vanished. Their negativity and cynicism is gone. Their world is now full of sunlight and color.

Love! Better than cocaine; longer lasting, but even more addictive. Much better than any psychotropic medicine ever concocted, or ever will be. No contest.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011


So, It's a new year.  What are you gonna do?
Lose weight? Drink more? Learn to SCUBA dive? Bet on nothing but Black and #27?

This year is going to be different for me.  How?  I'm not sure yet, but I am being told that it's time to make changes.

Change come with difficulty.  I know that.

All I expect to do is change one day a week.  Soon, the government will send me checks so I won't have to work so hard.  But what else is there to do? That's the question.

I can spend the time that I  gain from not working to stretch, exercise, cook well, eat right, and get more rest, so that I can live longer, and have more time to stretch, exercise, cook well, eat right and try not to die.  That doesn't seem too exciting.

Or maybe I will through caution to the wind and eat a lot of bacon-cheeseburgers and go heli-skiing until my knees fall off.

But I have been reading that doing and learning new things is the best way to rejuvenate my old brain and get it to perform better and longer in many different areas. So maybe, using this one a day week, I can learn to play the banjo and go to school and get a Ph.D. in genetics.

At least it will give me more time to write a blog.  Have to keep my mind open to all possibilities and see what emerges.