Friday, January 27, 2012

Change your brain, change your life

The title of this post is a title of a book I just finished by Daniel G. Amen, M.D.  It was a fascinating look at the behavioral sabotage we go through and how that may be linked to various parts of the brain.  I needed to put my notes somewhere so I can refer to them later, and this was as good a place as any!

Limbic System therapy

1. Take responsibility for keeping the relationship strong. Don't be a person who blames his or her partner or friends for the relationship problems. Take responsibility for the relationship and look for what you can do to improve it. You'll feel empowered, and the relationship is likely to improve almost immediately.

2. Never take the relationship for granted. In order for relationships to be special, they need constant nurturing. Relationships suffer when they get put low on the priority list of time and attention. Focusing on what you want in a relationship is essential to making it happen.

3. Protect your relationship. A surefire way to doom a relationship is to discount, belittle, or degrade the other person. Protect your relationships by building up the other person.

4. Assume the best. Whenever there is a question of motivation or intention, assume the best about the other person. This will help his or her behavior to actually be more positive.

5. Keep the relationship fresh. When relationships become stale or boring, they become vulnerable to erosion. Stay away from "the same old thing" by looking for new and different ways to add life to your relationships.

6. Notice the good. It's very easy to notice what you do not like about a relationship. That's almost our nature. It takes real effort to notice what you like. When you spend more time noticing the positive aspects of the relationship, you're more likely to see an increase in positive behavior.

7. Communicate clearly. Take time to really listen and understand what other people say to you. Don't react to what you think people mean; ask them what they mean and then formulate a response.

8. Maintain and protect trust. So many relationships fall apart after there has been a major violation of trust. Often hurts in the present remind us of major traumas in the past and we blow them way out of proportion. Once a violation of trust has occurred, try to understand why it happened.

9. Deal with difficult issues. Whenever you give in to another person to avoid a fith, you give away a little of your power. If you do this over time you give away a lot of power and begin to resent the relationship. Avoiding conflict in the short run often has devastating long term effects. In a firm but kind way, stick up for what you think is right. It will help keep the relationship balanced.

10. Make time for each other. In our busy lives, time is often the first thing to suffer in our important relationships. Relationships require real time in order to function.

Basal Ganglia therapy

1. Don't give in to the anger of others just because it makes you uncomfortable.

2. Don't allow the opinions of others to control how you feel about yourself. Your opinion, within reason, needs to be the one that counts.

3. Say what you mean and stick up for what you believe is right.

4. Maintain self-control.

5. Be kind, if possible, but above all be firm in your stance.

One Page Miracle

Take one sheet of paper and clearly write out your major goals using the following main headings: Relationships, Work, Money and Myself. Under Relationships, write the subheadings: spouse, children, extended family and friends. Under Work, write current and future work goals, and include a section on how you want to get along with your employer. Under Money, write your current and future financial goals. Under Myself, write out body, mind, spirit and interests.

Next to each subheading, clearly write out what's important to you in that area --> write what you WANT, not what you don't want. Be positive and write in the first person. Keep a copy with you for several days so you can work on it over time. After you finish the initial draft, place this OPM where you can see it daily. Your life will become more conscious and you will spend your energy on goals that are important to you.

Cingulate Ganglia therapy

When you are bothered by repetitive negative thoughts, memorize and repeat the Serenity Prayer (attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr).

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time, enjoying one memont at a time; accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it, trusting that you will make all things right if I surrender to your will; so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with you in the next.

Friday, November 18, 2011


I caught up on a bunch of Oprah's LifeClass episodes I had saved on the DVR.

This quote from Iyanla Vanzant was definitely worth pausing to write it down.
You can accept or reject the way you are treated by other people.  But until you heal the wounds of your past, you will continue to bleed.  You can bandage the bleeding with food, with alcohol, with drugs, with work, with cigarettes, with sex, but eventually, it will all ooze through and stain your life.  You must find the strength to open the wounds, stick your hands inside, pull out the core of the pain that is holding you in your past, the memories, and make peace with them.
Wow, powerful.

Friday, September 23, 2011

All I can do

I guess this is one of those posts I just want to write down so I don't forget.  A stream of consciousness post because that's all I can muster right now.

Never mind my insane head cold.  I stopped taking the pseudo-fed 3 days ago because I seriously couldn't function while on it.

When my friend, J's husband passed away suddenly, at 40, I knew that her world, hell, all of our worlds were going to be completely different afterward.  I knew that she would be lonely, that she would be angry, that she would get depressed, that grieving would come at her in crazy and unexpected ways.

I expected that she would be pissed off at me at various times, because she was grieving, because I was not, because my husband was still alive.  Despite the ups and downs that every marriage goes through, I knew full well she'd give anything to continue those ups and downs for another minute, instead of just reminiscing.  I really expected all of it.

But it's still hard.  It's hard to know that the hurt she feels is something I can't take from her.  It's something that wallops her and nobody can shield her from those waves.

So I know that when I've hurt her feelings, or when she thinks I have hurt her feelings, it's not really about me, and it's not really that I've done anything wrong, it's just that she's raw and grieving and it's painful.  The only way to not expose her to any perceived hurt from me is to distance myself from her life.  I love her too much to do that.

But it totally sucks in the meantime.  To know that she's pissed, at me, for no reason, and that any other person can look at the situation and know that she's drowning but can't accept any help, that is painful for us all.  Because we all love her.  And we all want to help her.  But if she closes herself off, and can't let herself be fallible or vulnerable, or open to the love and support that we all wish to share with her, then we have to let her be for now.

I wish it were different.  For J.  For me.  For the rest of us who can only stand by and wish we could do something MORE for her, for us.  I wish it weren't so painful for all of us to bear the brunt of this grief. 

I am glad that we, as her group of friends, can recognize that it isn't a fault of our own.  For most of my life, I am willing to bet that I would've seen this as something I was responsible for, something that I would have to fix.

I only wish that I could.  For now, I can continually offer my vibes from afar.  Until that forgiveness is given, that's the best I can do.

Friday, September 16, 2011

It's Not Easy

Let's be honest. Ethics is not for wimps.

It's not easy being a good person.

It's not easy to be honest when it might be costly, to play fair when others cheat, or to keep inconvenient promises.

It's not easy to stand up for our beliefs and still respect differing viewpoints.

It's not easy to control powerful impulses, to be accountable for our attitudes and actions, to tackle unpleasant tasks, or to sacrifice the now for later.

It's not easy to bear criticism and learn from it without getting angry, to take advice, or to admit error.

It's not easy to feel genuine remorse and apologize sincerely, or to accept apologies graciously and truly forgive.

It's not easy to stop feeling like a victim, to resist cynicism, or to make the best of every situation.

It's not easy to be consistently kind, to think of others first, to judge generously, or to give the benefit of the doubt.

It's not easy to be grateful or to give without concern for reward or gratitude.

It's not easy to fail and still keep trying, to learn from failure, to risk failing again, to start over, to lose with grace, or to be glad of another's success.

It's not easy to look at ourselves honestly and be accountable, to avoid excuses and rationalizations, or to resist temptations.

No, being a person of character isn't easy. That's why it's such a lofty goal and an admirable achievement.

 - Michael Josephson

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Happiness is . . .

The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the WorldThe Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Probably one of the least happiest books about happiness I've read. The descriptions of the places the author visits are terrific. However, the author is a self-described grump, and it shows. There is a layer of film over even the most happy places the author visits, even the most delighted people. I found the entire book to be a little depressing, as though the motive for writing wasn't really achieved. There is happiness to be found everywhere, and sure, it can be measured, but why? Basically I was confounded with the entire premise, that certain places would be happier than others. I mean, there are homeless people in Hawaii who are probably just as pissed off as some of the people in Qatar or Bhutan (whichever was "happy" in the book). Just not a terrific read, frankly.

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Loss of love and sight

The Blind Contessa's New MachineThe Blind Contessa's New Machine by Carey Wallace

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A beautifully descriptive first novel from a young author. A love story about the loss of sight and how to make up for that in imagination. This book is elegant and lovely, although the ending broke my heart in its abrupt apathy. The "machine" doesn't make its appearance until three-quarters through the book, and really, doesn't have much to do with the story. The love between Carolina and her scientist is what draws the reader gently through the Italian countryside in this story. Great read, disappointing ending.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011


The Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very interesting book about a black woman who, in 1951, unknowingly donated some of her cancer cell tissue which provided limitless groundbreaking for science and technology ever since. Henrietta Lacks was a poor woman from slavery ancestry who provided for her husband and children as best she could until she got sick and went to Johns Hopkins for treatment. While there, she received radiation therapy to cure the cancer which eventually took her life. Her cells were taken for research and found to multiply unlike any cells ever seen to that point in history. Her cells do not die. To date, there are enough cells from Henrietta to circle the Earth three times. This fascinating story tells about the ethics concerning tissue donation when the donor is not aware of the donation nor of the ramifications of donating, as well as the multi-billion dollar industry surrounding the use of donated tissue. It is a sad tale because the Lacks family was cheated out of their share of the profits made from the use of Henrietta's cells, in fact they can't even afford health insurance for their family. The argument for and against informed consent is dissected, does consent help or hinder scientific research? Really great read and lots of questions to answer about tissue research.

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