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What do we refer to when we talk about “doing the work”? And when, if ever, is the job done?

All of us I believe, arrive at adulthood with slights of childhood still needing to be healed. For some, the more fortunate, the wound needs but a suture or two. But many of us have suffered damage that remains problematic for decades. And the healing process can be lengthy. Self-esteem and capacity for love and trust are not easily restored. Thankfully, there are resources for helping you mend. Therapy and interventions with compassion as the balm, can lead to healing. The goal is to reveal the experiences that scarred us when we were young, helping us to watch the scenes unfold as if in the audience of a cinema. Separated from the screen, we have perspective and can watch the characters acting in the roles they were selected to play when the film was cast. When the lights come on...
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How do we live normal lives in a world gone mad?

Reading the New York Times on a Sunday morning makes for an animated family dynamic. “All the news that’s fit to print” leaves my husband fit to be tied. He spends an hour reading the articles in the front sections, another hour on the opinion pieces in the Week in Review. Finally, a second coffee emptied, he looks up from the newspaper, a grimace telling me the question on his mind is more a declarative sentence than a request for an answer. Has the world gone mad? he asks. He shows me a picture of a border control officer on horseback, riding down a Haitian refugee like a plantation slave master. The article about the restrictive voting “rights” bill signed into law by the governor of Texas leaves him apoplectic. “Arlene,” his voice rising, “there are QAnon crazy people in Con...
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Delayed response to a birthday come and gone

Can it be that I am done with drama? Maybe I only can get up for the fives-and-tens, as in nine-gasp-oh coming up next year. Or could it be I’m becoming okay with living in a state of equanimity, a psychological condition to which I never give capital. Equanimity! I mean, what kind of wasted wish is that when blowing out the candle? Why would I want to be undisturbed by neither experience nor emotion? I call that sleeping. My life was living for the ‘ups’ and always managing to get through the ‘downs.’  Party hardy was the rule, and the blues was a Sinatra song after the party was over. My thinking was, ‘being emotional’ was ‘being alive.’ If you were composed and undisturbed by the events swirling around your head and heart, you were a dead fish. Having a disposition that ...
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Dealing with a hole in my memory

Like so many of my friends and contemporaries, I’ve begun to encounter those awkward moments when memory fails.  The incidents happen occasionally and although bothersome, they are not occurring with a frequency that would elevate my concern.  Still, I’m a bit uneasy about what might lie ahead. As I’m guessing anyone my age would be.  So here’s how I deal with a lapse in memory when it unexpectedly pops up.  It begins with a simple sentence, perhaps a descriptive phrase in the course of a casual conversation.  I might be heading off to the grocery store with my wife, Arlene, meaning to simply add an item to the shopping list, as in “Let’s get some of those…” and suddenly, there’s a hole in my recall.  I try again, “You know, those…” and there’s n...
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Aging with grace

I had the good fortune to renew a relationship with a friend I had not seen for many years.  He knew me during a rough patch and curious about my current frame of mind he asked me, “Are you happy?” His memories of me were fraught with personal and business crisis so it surprised him when I answered that I had never been happier; that my so-called elder years were filled with joy and meaning. Later that day my words sunk in for me as well; never been happier? That was quite a statement.  How could it be that in the twilight of my life, decades from the top of my profession, a tenuous retirement fund reminding me of a hundred capricious decisions, a body dealing with an expanding waist and a brain with shrinking neurons -  how did I ever conclude, never been happier! ...
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Take a lesson from a top-notch surfer boy (catch a wave, catch a wave)

Staring at the screen… don’t know what to write, lacking all inspiration or outrage or energy.  Maybe a sugar rush would help… tramping up and down the stairs surreptitiously snatching Hersey Kisses from the frig after spending five minutes on Spell Check trying to spell surreptitiously.  Up and down the stairs… reminds me of my dismay at moving into a house with stairs to a second floor and Arlene assuaging my reluctance by replying, “what stairs, I see a built-in tread mill.”  Hmm, could be a piece about perspective determining how we view life.  Nah, too big a stretch. Thought about this being the anniversary of our first year in the boonies.  Title: “It’s been a year since we left the city, but the city hasn’t left me.”  Pretty good lead into the dange...
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When old dogs learn new tricks

We’ve become accustomed to the ‘kind of amusing but not really funny’ jokes about being old: my back goes out more than I do… I took up jogging so I could hear heavy breathing again… I’m so old I remember when emojis were called hieroglyphics.  Bada boom. Thankfully, notions of aging as defined by some stereotype of a crabby old guy or cantankerous grandma smelling slightly rancid and hamming it up on an awful sitcom, are becoming fewer and farther in between.  I remind you that President Biden will end his first term as an octogenarian. When older men and women complain about no longer “being in the game,” the truth is, they’ve stopped playing.  They turn into curmudgeons when they dwell on their perceived loss of influence and affluence.  They settle for a reti...
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The passage into elderhood

Our lives are a series of passages: from boyhood to manhood; son to father; daughter to mother.  Of them all, perhaps no transition is more difficult than the traverse from middle age to senior citizen; reluctant to leave the glory days of our life’s chronology we struggle mightily to resist moving on. Having enjoyed the luxuries and leniencies of living in the liberating decades of the seventies and eighties it’s understandable that we find it decidedly uncomfortable to go from being in control to being overwhelmed by the information age.  We can handle Facebook but aside from Donald Trump we are not natural tweeters. Grasping technology is problematic.  But the real discontent and unhappiness we suffer is the result of having lost a precious pathway to the full ...
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Ten years ago, I was not the man I used to be. Now I’m not the man I was ten years ago!

My body is getting older.  Not so the brain.  Which often finishes the New York Times Crossword puzzle and is still sharp and alert. Which can be a problem, lest I’m at a rousing party and get an impulse to try that jitterbug move I’m famous for and land up in the drummer’s lap. Case in point.  I’m watching my ten year old granddaughter play softball when the batter hits a slow roller down the third base foul line.  Mind you, in my lifetime I have fielded thousands of ground balls as a kid playing baseball on up through Sundays at the park with the old guys playing slow pitch softball.  So I think nothing about scooping down, gracefully fielding the ball and snapping off a throw to the pitcher. Only problem, I can’t bend down, the ball skips through my legs, an...
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“Even the best of us are at least part time bastards”

When I learned recently that the long time saint in my life was not always thus, it took me a moment to process the reality that my exemplar had feet of clay. My love for her was such that I never allowed for human weaknesses or vulnerabilities to filter her shining light. But it was clear she had a past, and a relative from that time who lived it by her side was an artful narrator of the flaws that spoke to the truth. I had been blind to many events that did not support the picture I wanted painted. I had been wearing blinders, able only to see things one way, unable to consider other possibilities. The realization led to a revelation. Flaws and all, I did not love her less. She still was wonderful. A wonderful human being. A human being, not a goddess. It was a relief in a way,...