Monthly Archives: October 2017

An Abstract-Random Mindfulness

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It finally happened just like I knew it would. I’ve been having a few health issues (that I still haven’t accepted–never thought it would happen to me!) so I’ve been going to a lot of new doctors and filling out those long forms. At one doctor’s office, the forms didn’t just cover your physical health, but also mental and emotional. So here was the question I’d been waiting for:

“Do you ever go into a room and not know why you were there?”

The answer to that is : “YES! But I have a BUT! Please listen to my BUT before you institutionalize me!!!! I’ve been walking into rooms like that since I was in my twenties.”

Between the kitchen and the bedroom, I start thinking of other things. Or I start outlining a story in my head. Or I remember I need to call the podiatrist. It’s not Dementia for me–it’s my Abstract-Random learning style in my Overactive Mind. Truly, my brain is mostly in overdrive, but I know the young doctors won’t believe me.

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I, of course, have senioritis as do most of my contemporaries. Like the other day, Valerie was telling me about the great lecture she attended the night before.

“It was sponsored by National Geographic and….” She pauses and gives me the round-eyed look we all get when we can’t remember the dang name of something.

“It’s a great museum. The best. It’s in Washington D.C. ” she says.

I start nodding. “Yes, I know what you mean. It’s on the Mall. It’s got everything. From airplanes to first ladies inauguration dresses.”

Valerie nods back. “Yes, yes. It starts with an S.”

We continue to nod and mutter “yes” as we go to our respective cars.

Two hours later, while cutting up carrots,  I shout in triumph, “Smithsonian!”

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But that’s senioritis. I’m talking about a more fundamental way of approaching the world. My learning style is defined as Abstract Random, which is great for creativity but can get in the way of task completion. For instance, I need to pack for an upcoming trip. That was the task I put on my list.

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(Lists, btw, are my salvation. I have lists on top of my lists. I have long range lists. I have weekly lists. I have daily lists. If I lose my daily list, I can become like the “Frog and Toad” character: I can spend my day looking for my list but not accomplishing anything on it.)

Getting back to packing. Somehow instead of filling my suitcase that I carried up to my bedroom at 8:00 AM, I’m writing this blog. A random thought flitted through my mind that on my trip I won’t be able to write a blog for a couple of weeks so I should write one before I leave. So here I am at 12:10 PM at the computer. And this blog wasn’t even going to be about memory. It was going to be about old Betamax tapes I just found.

Oh, well. That can be for another day. I need to go pack.

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Superwoman Bites the Dust, Part 2

You know how people say, “Listen to your body,”? It occurred to me this morning that I rarely do that. Instead I say, “Listen, body, do what I want.”

Since I had pneumonia, I must have had fifty people say, “Listen to your body.” I jokingly reply that the doctor should never have diagnosed walking pneumonia because I just kept walking around. Instead, she should have said, “Cindy, you have ‘going to bed and resting pneumonia.” I’d end up in bed only because I couldn’t do anything else, and I’d feel guilty about it.

Although I’m much better (I’ve turned the corner!), I’m still a work in progress. I may start off well when I get up, but I can hit the wall at about 11:00 A.M. Then I might be done for the day. So I’ve been trying to short circuit the fatigue by resting before I’m overcome by exhaustion. I make plans for what I can do—things that I never counted before like going to the market or dropping stuff at the cleaners.

When I walked this morning, I got quiet and went inward. I tried to listen? What was my body saying? It was hard to perceive any instructive advice because I’d turned that voice off years ago.

“How the hell should I know?” were the only words that came out—and those were from my mind. Which continued: “You can walk a little farther. You should be able to! You were walking five miles some days before. You need the exercise—you gained weight on your vacation! No pain, no gain! Don’t be a sissy!”

All of a sudden Dr. Phil was there in my head too. “And how’s that been working for ya?” he asked.

When the pulmonary specialist had said, “Don’t push yourself. Don’t walk too far so you’re too tired to walk back,” the words floated to my memory bank but not my conscious decision making center.

But Dr. Phil’s a big guy. His booming voice stood out in the crowd of bullies in my brain who urged me on. So I listened to him and turned towards home.

There’s more to this never-ending story, which I’ll share later. It includes chest X-rays, CAT scans, blood tests, pulmonary tests, inhalers, netty pots and a “No cancer,” diagnosis. It also includes me needing to make an attitude adjustment, which I’m working on. It’s hard to give up the feeling that you’re invincible. I don’t like it.

 

 

 

The High Holy Days

People often ask what we Jewish people do on the High Holy Days. What’s the Jewish New Year? “Do you have parties and fireworks?” And what’s the Day of Atonement? “Do you get absolved of all the things you’ve done wrong?” Let me see if I can provide some answers from my Reform Judaism and own point of you. Apologies already to my Orthodox friends who are much more observant than we are. This is bare bones here.

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Rosh Hashanah celebrates the beginning of the Jewish New Year. It’s in the 7th month of the Jewish calendar. Wikipedia says: Rosh Hashanah customs include sounding the shofar (a hollowed-out ram’s horn), as prescribed in the Torah. (Below is Moe practicing at our daughter’s in Seattle while we’re Skyping with our son and daughter-in-law’s family in California. Our granddaughter is in awe while I’m busting a gut.)

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Despite this moment of hilarity, the High Holy Days are very solemn. It is a time to look into your soul.

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People attend synagogue services and read special prayers and liturgy that has been read by our forefathers and mothers for thousands of years.

 

It’s also a time to gather with family and friends to enjoy delicious meals with symbolic and traditional foods. (This requires hours in the kitchen and sacrificing manicures!!!!)

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Here’s part of something I wrote for our Rosh Hashanah dinner this year.

Tonight, we celebrate the beginning of the Jewish New Year 5778.

We celebrate

  • our love for family and all humanity,
  • our desire to help our fellow man,
  • our hope to be the best people we can be,
  • our prayers for peace in the world.

We celebrate by reflecting on our past year. We remember the good things we have done, and the bad. We make a pledge to be better people—to do more good things—to put our words into action. Life is not a game of perfect, we will make some mistakes. But we never give up. We have ten days to think about who we are and who we want to be. We search our inner selves. We slow down to take stock. We recite the prayers our great-great-grandmothers and grandfathers did, as well. We carry on our heritage and connect with the generations before us. In these Ten Days of Awe, we center ourselves by remembering we are not the sum of our accomplishments or the amount of our possessions. No, we are just human beings. Human beings who are moral at our core.

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On Yom Kippur, you fast from sundown to sundown. It is a time for prayer and reflection, a time to get back to your center—to listen to the still, small voice inside that knows right from wrong. As we did on Rosh Hashanah, we go to synagogue to pray together . We ask forgiveness from God for what we have done wrong, and ask for the wisdom to not make the same mistakes. We say memorial prayers for our loved ones who are no longer with us.

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At sundown, we once again gather to break-the-fast. Another time to be with family and eat traditional foods.

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This is not in any way a definitive explanation of the High Holy Days. Mostly it’s a glimpse into how the family Muscatel observes them.

Shalom. Peace. Amen.