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Do you have memories of objects from your past you want to have again? I do; I have a bunch of them. Spo-fans know from the “Curious things about the house” entries I have heaps of knickknacks and bibelots. Between these and the booty retrieved from my parent’s house last year, you would think that I would have enough. All the same there are some items I would give lots to possess. They have in common they are associated with good times and memories. Here are some examples:

 

This little ornament was poolside at The Big Ruby’s resort in Key West, where some of my best memories come from.

 

Also from Florida is this keyring of three plastic seashells; I like this colour combination. 

 

A later object is this Spo-shirt; it is one of my better-made ones. I made for a friend who has declined into dementia. I can not get hold of him anymore. Goodness knows if he still has it or if his family has thrown it out. I would like it back to remember him by. 

As you can see these items all have photographs. I can pull up anytime and remember. Jack Gilbert, in his poem “The lost hotels of Paris”:

“It’s the having not the keeping that is the treasure. We look up at the stars and they are not there… We see the memory of when they were, once upon a time. And that too is more than enough.”

Memories of things and not the things themselves are what matters. 

All the same there is a childish part of me that wants these things.  

Earlier this month I visited Father, who now lives in a room at Brother #3’s abode. I was curious to see what he had, what carried with him after forty years of living in his house. I thought a lot of things he kept was silly. I tactually did not ask why on earth are you holding onto “X” when it isn’t practical and taking up space. I knew better; I know we are funny creatures who want – need? – to hang on to things, and usually the mawkish not the practical ones. 

In “King Lear” Lear’s daughter’s question why he has to have his knights and finally anything at all. He responds: 

O, reason not the need! Our basest beggars

Are in the poorest thing superfluous.

Allow not nature more than nature needs.

I do not need to find or retrieve these or any items from my past. While waiting for something online to happen I will google-search “seashell keyring’ or “frog statue” to see if the cosmic slot machine pays off, but it is mostly done for fun. I wonder if I would actually purchase these items if someday I hit the jackpot. I guess I won’t. 

With the pending anniversary of my blog* The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections thought to send my annual review early and by email. Normally we do this face to face at Heorot Johnsons, but they are practicing social-distancing and they don’t do zoom. I think I got a good review – my ability to translate from the runes is not stellar:

Sven – ‘Spo works well when under constant supervision and cornered like a trapped rat at Tewkesbury. ‘

Bjorn –  ‘Urspo sets low personal standards and he consistently achieves them. ‘

Helga “Pippi” Long-stocking – ‘He’s did a good job last year to expand the demographics of Spo-fans to include more women, Gauls, and Yokai. ‘

Snorri Sturlson the 23rd –  ‘I would like to go hunting with him sometime. ‘

Slater-Wotan – ‘He has a knack for making strangers immediately.’

Oscar ‘Bunny’ Jarl – ‘By the gods, is he still around? I thought we fired him and hired that guy at “Going Gently”?  ‘

Walter Cnut Fafner–’ He’s a nice Norse; please don’t feed him buns and things.’ 

Herbert – ‘Harmless, if not roused up. By the way, who is this John Gray fellow?’

 

With the report card was a renewal contract, so I guess they were satisfied – or they couldn’t get hold of John Gray.

Along with the review and the contract I got a list of lofty goals they wish me to achieve in the next twelve months. They want more photos of cats – lots of them. Entries about food and my personal shenanigans are strongly recommended – especially if they have cats. And I am supposed to achieve two million visitors by 2022 so frequent flyer Spo-fans like Anne Marie and Old Lurker need to stop by twice daily. 

There’s a lot more but never mind. Here’s a cat photo: 

No cats were harmed in the pillaging of photographs.

*8 February. 

A common complaint from my patients they procrastinate.  It is always the same: they ‘know what needs to be done” but do not do it. They are unhappy about it; they do not like this. They usually attribute their procrastination to their mental illness (depression, anxiety, OCD etc.) or ‘that they are lazy’. Another ubiquitous belief is if their low motivation were remedied this would solve the problem.

Happily, most of these erroneous beliefs and assumptions can be changed.

Putting off something is a universal human endeavor: they are not a sign of mental illness per se. Procrastination has at its heart is the desire to avoid experiencing negative emotions.  Making that phone call, starting those taxes, cleaning out the garage etc. all make us face unhappy feelings: fear, anxiety, pain, embarrassment etc.  We are wired to feel good and to avoid bad things. Thus we go towards sitting on the couch eating nasty chips rather than getting up and starting the new year’s resolutions to do a daily walk, as the later puts us face to face with the sad feeling how out of shape we really are.

Whenever I find myself procrastinating, I immediately pounce on what negative emotions I am trying to avoid. I remind myself while these emotions are no fun they are not devastating. Often, I do a 180 and immediately do something about the task I am trying to avoid.

I teach my patients to first stop to acknowledge their feelings behind procrastination; this is the first step. The second step is rearranging the equation. Motivation is not the first step towards action. Rather, it is the motivation is the reward for taking action.

Let’s say the goal is to ‘clean out the office’. By seeing it as one big task this evokes feeling overwhelmed and coming to painful feelings of the long tedious task ahead. Rather than doing it that way do the following:  set your alarm for the same time of day (we are more likely to do something in a structured time) to do the ‘five minutes’ rule.  For five minutes and five only – regardless of your motivation – go to the office and do something, anything. Start with something small like a drawer or putting papers into piles. After five minutes you feel you cannot go on, stop. Most people keep going though, after they get over the speed bump of starting. Always give yourself credit for having done something! Glorify in it!  Do this every day at the same time for five minutes. Over time you develop a sense of accomplishment, and by focusing on ‘the trees not the forest’, eventually the task is done.  Sometimes the patients complain they didn’t develop ‘motivation’ but they admit it feels good to have done it.

I try to lead by example. Rather than having the vague and mammoth goal to “Learn Spanish”  I have the goal to do the five-minutes rule on Duolingo. Every night at 830PM my phone goes off as if to say “whatever you are doing, cut it out. Time for Spanish lessons – five minutes only – and I don’t care how you feel about it.  I’ve done this over 600 days in a row now. Usually around 8PM I start thinking of it, and when I do, I usually start it then.  I’m slowly slogging my way to proficiency.

I’m considering setting my phone for 9PM now, to tackle a closet. But I’ve been putting it off.  hohoho

Note – this is a draft of an entry I started writing last summer after I finished reading Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods”.  I thought I would pull it out and finish it.   Spo

The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections has mixed feelings about my entries about Jungian psychology. They like the Dungeons & Dragons elements (after all, they are part of that crowd) but the psychobabble elements bores the pants off of them – if they wore any pants at all. We’ve compromised I am allowed an entry on Jungian psychology ‘only once in a while’. And if nobody likes it, they will release the tarasque.

No one knows when Man first invented the gods but it seems it was from the get-go. People need to believe in gods, if only because it is so hard to believe in people. The gods became necessary. They were quite useful to explain things we cannot explain and keep people in check. Ages of thinking this way have imbedded the gods so deep into our collective psyches it has created something what Jung called “The Collective Unconscious”.  Many argue we have better explanations  now of where we came from and what causes thunder* it is time we all stopped investing our time and energy in sky-gods and get on with it. 

While it is good to strip the gods of their blood-thirsty authority they remain important to keep around. Life would be dull without them hanging about in our psyches and stories.  Humans don’t just need fantasy to make life bearable, they need fantasy to be fully alive and human.  We need cucumber trees and three-legged cyclops as much as anything else. To believe in these sort of lies helps us believe in the big ones, like Mercy, Justice, and Hope. You need to believe in things that aren’t true or how else can they become so? 

Last summer I read Mr. Gaiman’s “American Gods” which nicely captures these ideas. In the book the gods who have been imported by immigrants haven’t ‘died’ but are hanging about across America, longing to be wanted again. They need us more than we need them I suppose but we need them all the same. We may not need to pay them homage anymore but the gods need not be forgotten. Rather than sacrificing ourselves to them let’s have them out for a cup of coffee and a chinwag. They enrich our lives; they certainly enrich mine.

Heck if it weren’t for the gods and fantasy figures I’d be out of a blogging job.

 

 

 

*Not Thor. Try to tell as many people as you can in town. 

I routinely encounter people who are afraid of the wrong things. Recently I heard an elderly dame say she won’t be having the covid19 vaccine as she heard tell three people in England died after receiving theirs. I happen to know this same person smokes cigarettes at a pack a day. One of my brothers refuses to take medication for his high cholesterol on the rare chance it could cause side effects but he regularly buys lottery tickets hoping it pays off.  You get the picture. People are notoriously lousy at assessing risk.  I heard recently the number of people who die each year from shark attacks can be counted on or or two hands but we all had to be dragged kicking and screaming into wearing our seat belts to safeguard for the far more likely chance we will be in an accident.*

I think I am pretty good at discriminating neurotic fears from legitimate ones. The biggest fear I ought to have – and do have – is cardiovascular disease.  I am far more likely to have a heart attack or a stroke than being attacked on the street.  This is why I feel the need to exercise and don’t feel the need to carry a gun.**

Don’t think I am above stupid fears. The monkey part of my brain still goes immediate to full panic at the sight of a scorpion in the house before the wiser part (near the front) reminds me no one dies of a scorpion bite and they do not jump, so knock it off. 

Then there are the folks who aren’t afraid of things when the ought to be.Elderly male patients often won’t get rid of their guns even though statistics support they are far more likely to use the gun to kill themselves than on an intruder. 

It is an ongoing process, trying not to be afraid of the wrong things and being fearful of the right things. 

*Seat belts have a grim history that when they were first considered the auto industry was heavily opposed to putting them in cars as it implied their product was hazardous. Later on when they were installed there were ads encouraging drivers to buckle up for their own good.  These ads were a flop. Then it became law, and only then did people buckle up – and the deaths from car accidents plummeted. It is an example of forcing people to do what’s right pays off when simple encouragement fails.

**These fears seem to be flipped in thems of Trump supporters, at least by how they look in the news. They often look heavily armed and grossly overweight. 

I get up every day at 5AM (more or less). This gives me a few hours to myself before the work day begins or on weekends when Someone wakes.  This precious time is dear that I am by myself, things are quiet, and I get things done without distraction. So far I’ve set up my work day, I’ve attended to the dishes, and I started a load of laundry. Before the flood gates open at work at eight, I can do some writing. 

Mornings are when I like to write most. I’ve heard tell many writers did their writing early, either out of discipline or necessity (before their ‘day jobs’ started). That said, I often like to write at the end of the day to finish the day as it were.  The Muses et. al. either don’t have regular work hours or they live in a different time zone* that there’s no rhythm to when they pop by to plant an idea into my gulliver. This usually happens when I have no pen and paper to write ideas down, not when I am sitting at the screen waiting for inspiration. 

Sometimes my ‘have write something” is doubted by others in the household. After all, it is a hobby I am told. It is one thing to have to do a job but having to do a hobby makes no sense. True enough. The difference between rolling down grass hills (my other hobby) and blogging is I feel I really do have to write – regardless of the contents or quality. It feels as necessary as breathing. 

The daylight is enough now for me to put this down and take Harper for her morning walk. Work begins in less than an hour. I’ve done all the necessary ablutions to start the day right – and this includes writing something. Thank you for reading and being part of my morning.

Spo-fans: when do you like to write? Do you have a fixed time of the day to do so?  Do you feel a ‘need’ to write? 

 

 

*Somewhere in Eastern Europe, I imagine. 

Today I made my first ‘over-the-ear’ masks (3)  instead of my usual ones I tie about my head in the style of Jacob Marley. This sixteenth Japanese design is perfect for going to sushi restaurants – which I haven’t done since last March. 

Someone regularly tests for covid19 and his recent test last week was again negative. When he tests negative, I suppose I am negative too. There is some erroneous presumption to this way of thinking. He gets his vaccine in early February.

Yesterday I made my first-ever marmalade. It was some job. I followed the recipe, but my intuition tells me this is didn’t literally gel. I find out soon. I should get some English muffins as there is nothing in the house upon which to spread such. The back up plan is if  failed-spread is runny it will be used as a topping for ice cream. 

Last weekend I did such as good job cleaning the master bedroom and bathroom it inspired me to tackle the formal living room. I dislike this room as we never use it. It is reserved for ‘formal entertaining’ for our gentleman callers. Like going to sushi restaurants, this never happens. Even when we had chums over we all congregated in the kitchen anway. The formal living room and its contents is a conglomerate of dust-collectors. It seems every time we’ve bought a house there have been too many rooms, some we never used. Next time I want to get a place with ‘just enough rooms’. 

I recently heard a story I thought I would share. A friend of Socrates went to The Oracle at Delphi and asked “Is there a man wiser than Socrates?“. Instead of getting the usual cryptic reply he was told “No”. When told this, this friend was amazed by the answer. Socrates spent his whole life emphasizing he knows nothing; we can’t know anything for certain. He investigated what The Oracle meant. What he came up with was other men know nothing, but the don’t know they know nothing. Socrates on the other hand knows nothing, but he knows he knows nothing -and that’s not nothing. So maybe that’s what made him wiser than others.     hohoho. 

*Made from grapefruit, of which I have plenty.

I recently watched a YouTube video made by an Icelander titled “Ten questions Icelanders hate answering”.* I thought it would be fun to try this myself.  

“Ten questions psychiatrists hate answering”

1 – Are you a real doctor?  Yes, I went to medical school and after I graduated I did a year of internal medicine and then a year of neurology prior to going into psychiatry. I became a psychiatrist because I wanted to, not because I couldn’t make it as a ‘real doctor’. Indeed, I was headed towards cardiology but it was boring. This is more exciting.

2 – Where’s your couch? This is not your grandfather’s psychiatry. The couch was when the only tool psychiatry had was psychoanalysis. It is like walking into your primary care doctor’s office and looking around and wondering where are the blood letting tools.

3 – Is everything due to my mother? Not even Freud believed everything was due to Mother. People and their psychologies are complex. Those looking for a single matter to explain things are going to be disappointed.

4 – Do you do anything besides prescribe meds? I spend most of my time trying to get people to do things and solve their problems by NOT using meds. The irony is I am usually the one on the receiving end of someone who wants a prescription rather than a lifestyle change “gee, can’t I just take a pill for that?”

5 – If I say something crazy sounding, will you lock me up? Unless you are at immediate risk to kill yourself or others it is nearly impossible to get people committed to hospital. Again there is irony I am often asked by a patient’s loved ones pleading with me to ‘lock him/her up’ for their welfare. It is hard explaining to folks one can be bat-crazy and going to heck in a hand basket and I can not prevent this. There are no men in the white coats with straight jackets.

6 – Do you ever ‘turn it off’? Yes I do. One of the first things you learn in shrink school is do not become a therapist to your spouse/friend/child etc.  It is a sure-fire way to ruin your relationships.

7 – (Asked at party or social setting) Oh! I better be careful! You’re analyzing me, right? I either tell these folks “Not for free I won’t” or (if I am being catty) “Hmmm, I sense you are anxious about something, tell me more about your childhood and your relationship with your mother”.  

8 – Are you in the pay of big pharma? No I am not. If a psychiatrist is being paid by a company to do research or talk about their products these doctors are required by law to disclose this up and front so the listeners know this. In thirty years of doing what I do not once has a pharmaceutical company tried to bribe me. There are no handsome stud reps throwing themselves on me in exchange for me to push their product.

9 – Can you prescribe me my( pain meds/blood pressure pills/birth control etc.)? No harm asking I tell them but I won’t. I am not up to date on the proper protocols of treating high blood pressure or menstrual problems, and I am not a pain specialist.  Get these things for your body docs who know what they are doing.

10 – Will you write me a letter for me to take my python on an airplane as a therapy animal? Oh the pain.  I no longer write these letters as there is little evidence I am aware therapy animals work any better at assuaging anxiety than holding a stuffed animal. The use of ‘therapy animals”  is quite abused. I tell folks for every person I’ve written a letter to take Fido on board a plane I have another patient being treated for PTSD from being cooped up in a plane with said animal towards which they have allergies or flashback memories of trauma.

*For thems interested, the six I remember:

Are you a Viking? no

Aren’t you always cold? no

Aren’t you all related? no

Do you know Bjork? no

Do you believe in elves? no

Do you have igloos? no

#1 – I woke this morning for the first time in four years wanting to hear the news. Everyday for the past four years I have waken dreading what may happen. The dreadful apprehension was not unlike those someone has who is living with a violent person whose actions you cannot predict. Those feelings were gone this morning. It felt good. I think of the Ferryman in the Russian folktale “The Luck Child”, who was trapped in his job, only to learn how to be released from his sorrow:

“For the first time in years, hope fires the Ferry-man. A smile is forming in his mind, a tiny smile growing, getting ready to be born”.

#2 – There are shenanigans afoot in the blogger world that I am not always able to leave comments for thems using Blogger.com.  Perhaps the website is in cahoots with my laptop. I hope I can figure this as I hate dropping by without leaving a comment lest folks think I am not reading their prose.

#3 – Would anyone would like some Jello-salad?. The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections over-estimated the attendance at last night’s ball at Heorot Johnsons, resulting in leftovers. Heaps in fact. Act quickly as cottage cheese and Salmon mold isn’t likely to keep. Also, there are a few Tupperware containers without masking tape labels. 

#4 – Alas, Babylon! I won’t be having any free lemons this year. The lemon tree that overhangs the public sidewalk was severely pruned back last autumn and there is no sign of any fruit. Uncle Albertsons has lots of lemons but they are not as juicy as thems that fall off the local trees. I was worried I wouldn’t get any grapefruit as these are brought to the Mesa office and I haven’t been there since March. I thought to travel there to get some, when lo! a neighbor down the street set out by the curb eight bags of grapefruit, all for the taking. I took two bolsas, each filled with a dozen medium-sized yellow gems. I am a happy man. I must look up to see which way these lovelies effect my blood pressure meds. I am either going to stroke-out or drop from hypotension, depending which way the wind blows on the grapefruit/Rx interactions. Either way it’s worth it.

#5 – Speaking of five, I recently found on YouTube “The five Chinese brothers”. This story was a favorite in my youth; I was thrilled to hear it again. I remembered every picture. Oh the horror; oh the pain! It is so stereotypical it makes me squirm. It is along the line of ‘what on earth were we thinking?”  I wonder how many other childhood story books of mine are now considered rude and racist? How times have changed – and I think for the better. The story remains a good one, so perhaps someone can redraw it with less discomfort.

 

Oh the horror! I just posted an entry replete with photographs and then when I went to edit it the contents disappeared like one a Samantha Steven’s relations. Now I am too peeved to try to recreate it right now. Perhaps later.

This morning feels like Christmas for me, but the sort when you wake up excited about getting that pony or cha-cha heels (black ones) but you are not certain if it is actually going to happen.

For four years I’ve been dealing with folks with depression and anxiety who resemble women trapped in a domestic violence relationship with a brute. I am curious to see if my patients will feel the same relief PTSD-types feel when the perpetrator is finally removed.  Better people than I have written about the vile actions of the past four years so I won’t say any more. It is hoped the nation isn’t so degenerate it is beyond repair. Let us hope so.

In the future if I ever refer to that loser wannabe- dictator, I will use the sobriquet “Florida Man”.

Speaking of healing, I finally started exercising. Other than dog-walks I’ve done nothing for a year and I am quite out of shape. I started yesterday with a quick walk around the block and did some pushups and then some abdominal actions using a small wheel.  It isn’t much but it is a start. I hope to do something daily and hopefully by summer I will feel less of a ticking time-bomb for a coronary.

Someone works for the city of Phoenix, so he qualifies for the vaccine, lucky fellow. He gets his first shot in a few weeks. Arizona seems to have made a mess of things. The elderly/snowbirds have been clamoring for shots, and their howls resemble an orchestra of scorched cats. I sense it will be many months before my turn arises.

I will be working nonstop today so I will miss the swearing in but I am looking forward to the headlines “President Biden”. Wednesday – or Wotan’s day as The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections calls it, is the busiest day of the week. I am amazed how many Scandinavians speak English and so well. TBDHSR does a fair job in their enunciation (thems with most of their teeth do the best) but they can’t seem to get the names of modern days of the week right.  The tongue-tied dears declared today a holiday.  Heorot Hall is bedecked with party trimmings and fresh heads of road kill for what they are calling ‘The inauguration ball”.  If your invitation got lost in the carrier raven post, don’t feel bad. After reading my latest entries The Munificent Board composed a smorgasbord Jello-molds, pasta salads of suspicious substances, rats on toast, and rotten oranges. I have to be more careful what I write here.

 

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