Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

We’ve transformed the world from a place of scarcity to a place of overwhelming abundance: Drugs, food, news, gambling, shopping, gaming, texting, sexting, Facebooking, Instagramming, YouTubing, tweeting … the increased numbers, variety, and potency of highly rewarding stimuli today is staggering. The smartphone is the modern-day hypodermic needle, delivering digital dopamine 24/7 for a wired generation. If you haven’t met your drug of choice yet, it’s coming soon to a website near you. Scientists rely on dopamine as a kind of universal currency for measuring the addictive potential of any experience. The more dopamine in the brain’s reward pathway, the more addictive the experience. In addition to the discovery of dopamine, one of the most remarkable neuroscientific findings in the past century is that the brain processes pleasure and pain in the same place. Further, pleasure and pain work like opposite sides of a balance. We’ve all experienced that moment of craving a second piece of chocolate, or wanting a good book, movie, or video game to last forever. That moment of wanting is the brain’s pleasure balance tipped to the side of pain.

Anna LembkeDopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence (Dutton, August 24, 2021)

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

I urge you to find a way to immerse yourself fully in the life that you’ve been given. To stop running from whatever you’re trying to escape, and instead to stop, and turn, and face whatever it is. Then I dare you to walk toward it. In this way, the world may reveal itself to you as something magical and awe-inspiring that does not require escape. Instead, the world may become something worth paying attention to. The rewards of finding and maintaining balance are neither immediate nor permanent. They require patience and maintenance. We must be willing to move forward despite being uncertain of what lies ahead. We must have faith that actions today that seem to have no impact in the present moment are in fact accumulating in a positive direction, which will be revealed to us only at some unknown time in the future. Healthy practices happen day by day. My patient Maria said to me, “Recovery is like that scene in Harry Potter when Dumbledore walks down a darkened alley lighting lampposts along the way. Only when he gets to the end of the alley and stops to look back does he see the whole alley illuminated, the light of his progress.”

Anna LembkeDopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence (Dutton, August 24, 2021)

Walking. On Day 1.

60° F. Cove Island Park.  Morning walk. 452 consecutive days. Like in a row.

But before we roll on to today, let’s talk about yesterday.

Yesterday was Day 1: Refined sugar elimination.

And you might ask, why? Why change now? It’s all been workin’ right? 4-5 hours sleep on average. Walking around groaning, in a fog, a sort of seeing — hearing Quasimodo.

Susan shares a story in “Eating Well” magazine. Sciatica inflammation ‘may’ be due to my diet. Refined sugars. Processed foods. White bread. Pastas. May be contributors.

Day before —  a sugar rampage. 2 Klondike bars. 4 packages of Welch’s Fruit snacks. 1 almond chocolate bar, downed in 2 sittings because even I need to pace myself. 2 diet Lemon Snapples. Peanut butter on white bread, layered with 1/2″ of sour cherry preserves. 2 giant bagels, with cream cheese, and orange marmalade. I’m going to stop here. But, it does go on.

And I can feel what you are thinking right now —  “Have you no shame DK?” And I would say, either this: “Dance with the one that brun you here” or I would fire back: “Don’t you think the things people are most ashamed of are things they can’t help?” (C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces)

So, after another sleepless night, we’re going Cold Turkey. No baby steps here. ‘Definition of insanity…doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results..‘ Quote source: Not Einstein as many believe but Narcotics Anonymous. N-a-r-c-o-t-i-c-s.

Breakfast: Wheat Toast. Buttered. Scrambled eggs. Handful of nuts. Handful of cherries. Two glasses of water.  Pancake mix in pantry. Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Nuggets in cupboard. Giant chocolate chip cookies on the island in the Kitchen. Man walking, tiptoeing around landmines. 

I glare at Susan — “Eating Well? Is it any wonder I have all these fr*akin’ problems!?” I stop there, because after 35 years you know what’s coming: “you wanna do the grocery shopping?”

For Lunch: Ham & Cheese Omelette. Handful of almonds. Handful of raisins. Bowl of cut watermelon. One glass of water.  Klondike mini ice cream sandwiches in freezer. Peanut Butter and Mixed Berry Jelly in pantry. Frito Lay Barbecue potato chips in cupboard above the fridge. I smile. Restrain. I’m so much bigger than all this. I am. Really, I am.

[Read more…]

Oh, I need it! Oh, I need your help!

VOLUME UP! (I SO LOVE THIS!)


Thank you Sue W.

Morning Walk. See, But Can’t Sit.

It started on Friday with my virtual Aussie friend commenting on my T.G.I.F. post: “So, are you sitting there yet.” And like Pavlov’s dog, I take the bait and reply: “Sitting? There? Anywhere? No.”  But, the punch lands and it hangs all day yesterday, and into the wee hours of this morning when I reply: “It’s 2:10 am here. Lifeline required.” She gives me another shot, this time about gadget addiction.  What is it about me that encourages these blows?

I step away from her truths (therapy) and go back and re-read her last post titled “Accept…then Act” @ Living in This Moment —  “change comes from making space in stillness to see my situation from a higher perspective…” Like WTH is that, and where does one start? I totally have the “Act Act Act” part down, or perhaps better stated” Do Do Do Do.”

I read several chapters in Susan Burton’s new book “Empty: A Memoir” and stop at “…A deeper understanding, a new tenderness.” I close the book, crawl out of bed and get ready for my morning walk.

4:30 am. I’m out the door. [Read more…]

Running. With Crystal Light.

sugar

Whether you snort white powder, or you shovel crystals down your gullet, the consequences are…

June-ish, 2016.  It was the last leg of the morning commute, on I-287. The heart starts to race, this followed by a pinch, with its roots pushing outward like the tail of a lightning strike.

Doctor’s diagnosis: High Cholesterol. Root cause? Diet, with any 3 or 4 of following occurring on any given day:

  • Yogurt. Fruit on the Bottom. Jacked up with two heaping tablespoons of Smucker’s Strawberry Jam.
  • Fruit.  Sliced bananas. Floating in Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup. Sliced strawberries, same. Blueberries, melon, raspberries, same.
  • Hotcakes. With Canadian Maple Syrup, and a dollop of Raspberry jam.
  • Drinks. Orange Gatorade. Florida Orange Juice from the carton. Artificially sweetened Lipton’s Green Tea, 2 bottles at a time.  Diet Coke(s). Cranberry Juice, swigged from a 1 gallon jug.  And oh let’s not forget, Welch’s Grape Juice, one could bathe in it.
  • Ice Cream. Pint of creamy Chocolate Haggen Daz in a single sitting.  Breyer’s Vanilla Ice Cream, topped with chopped nuts, chocolate sauce and several shots of Reddi Wip Cream.
  • Coffee. Spiked with 2.0 (yes, two) packets of Nutrasweet or its brethren.
  • Hot Tea. Golden Bee Honey from a squeeze bottle swirls to and coats the bottom.
  • Snacks. Semi-sweet chocolate chips (in pantry for cooking) by the handful. Entenmann’s glazed donuts. Mini Snicker Bars by the handfuls.
  • Sandwich. PBJ, mostly with J, oozing on all sides of enriched and wholesome white bread.
  • Cereal. Including Raisin Bran, supplemented with a handful of California golden raisins and hopped up with a heaping teaspoon of white sugar crystals sweetening the 2%.

And the pre-bed-time sedative…which warrants its own paragraph, not a mere bullet. Grape Jelly trembles as it waits for the tablespoon to dig deep and scar its surface. Jelly coats the teeth and slides smoothly down the throat. A trace lingers on the lips. The body settles in, calm now, with its fix. Bed time. [Read more…]

2:38 am: A little closer to the edge

gif-screens-technology-sleep-insomnia

1:14 a.m.

The digital fluorescent clock leaves its reflection on the night stand. What a pretty color! What is wrong with you?

Turn pillow. Adjust. Hot. I skootch Zeke over.  I get up. Cup hands, slurp water. Then to Toilet.

Switch on iPhone. And then there was Light.  I flip through emails. Blog posts. Morning papers.

1:43 a.m.

Close eyes.

Replay Message on answering machine from a week ago: “Tests good, But”…and a long pause. But, What? “Cholesterol a problem.” Cholesterol a problem. WTH is that? [Read more…]

If I like something, I like it a lot. (Simpatico)

color-hands-portrait-paint

My friend Denise tells me somebody told her, “Shopping is despair,” but my daughter Jennifer says, “Shopping is hope.” Hope gets out of hand. One turquoise ring from eBay is not enough. I must have five. A single secondhand Coach bag is not satisfying – I bid on seven. As I have implied, one is not a concept I understand. When I smoked I smoked three packs a day, when I drank, well, let’s not get into that. If your psyche is a balloon animal and you squeeze to eliminate the cigarettes and whiskey, the crazy has to go somewhere. A friend’s mother ate nothing but clams for six months. Morning, noon, and night, nothing but clams for six months.  “I don’t know what it is – I can’t seem to get enough of them,” she told her son. He shakes his head, but i understand. I eat nothing but broccoli for a month, then yogurt for six days, then (for one glorious week) lamb chops. One day I roasted a chicken and had seven chicken sandwiches before nightfall. If I like something, I like it a lot. Just one doesn’t cut it. I don’t know what it is I can’t get enough of. At least I don’t have shopping bags full of duck sauce.

~ Abigail Thomas, Thinking About Memoir


Photo Source: weheartit

David Carr: Try harder. Create something with your own dirty little hands.

david-carr

David Carr died last week. He overcame drug addiction, survived cancer and struggled with alcoholism. He was a best selling author, a top media columnist at The New York Times and a member of the faculty at Boston University’s communications school.  He was a “mentor to young reports and a blunt critic of those who didn’t measure up.” Here’s a excerpt from today’s paper:

NY Times: David Carr’s Last Word on Journalism, Aimed at Students:

David was interested in people, not their résumés. He didn’t care where someone went to college or who their parents were. So instead of giving his students a standard biographical blurb…David told them this, under the heading “Not need to know, but nice to know”:

“Your professor is a terrible singer and a decent dancer. He is a movie crier but stone-faced in real life. He never laughs even when he is actually amused. He hates suck-ups, people who treat waitresses and cab drivers poorly and anybody who thinks diversity is just an academic conceit. He is a big sucker for the hard worker and is rarely dazzled by brilliance. He has little patience for people who pretend to ask questions when all they really want to do is make a speech…Your professor is fair, fundamentally friendly, a little odd, but not very mysterious. If you want to know where you stand, just ask.”

He encouraged teamwork. “While writing, shooting, and editing are often solitary activities, great work emerges in the spaces between people,” David wrote, adding, “Evaluations will be based not just on your efforts, but on your ability to bring excellence out of the people around you…”

Mikaela Lefrak, 26, was his teaching assistant his first semester. “He didn’t want us to sound like everyone else,” she wrote in an email. “He wanted us to sound better. Extended metaphors should be indulged and encouraged — the stranger, the better. And clichés were poison. ‘Try harder,’ he told me constantly. ‘Create something with your own dirty little hands…’ ”

David warned there would be a heavy reading list. “I’m not sliming you with a bunch of textbooks, so please know I am dead serious about these readings,” he wrote. “Skip or skim at your peril.”

I encourage you to read the entire article. You can find it here:  David Carr’s Last Word on Journalism, Aimed at Students.

His best selling book, “The Night of the Gun,” is a memoir of addiction and recovery. I highly recommend it.  Maria Popova at Brain Pickings shared some excellent excerpts from the book in her post: Addiction to Truth.

And here are links to some of my favorite quotes by Carr:

Carr lived in New Jersey with Jill Rooney Carr and their three children. He was 58. As Scott Peck would say, he took the road less traveled and many of us are better for it.

RIP.


Credits: Photograph of David Carr in 2008 –  NY Times

 

(Truth) The junkie’s temporary relief at the fleeting fix

lab-rat

For most of my adult life, I have read, like E. I. Lonoff in Roth’s The Ghost Writer, primarily at night: a hundred or so pages every evening once Rae and the kids have gone to bed. These days, after spending hours on the computer, I pick up a book and read a paragraph; then my mind wanders and I check my e-mail, drift onto the Internet, pace the house before returning to the page. Or I want to do these things but don’t, force myself to remain still, to follow what I’m reading until I give myself over to the flow. What I’m struggling with is the encroachment of the buzz, the sense that there is something out there that merits my attention, when in fact it’s mostly just a series of disconnected riffs, quick takes and fragments, that add up to the anxiety of the age. How did this happen? Perhaps it’s easier to pinpoint when. Certainly, it began after the fall of 2006, when I first got high-speed Internet, which I had previously resisted because I understood my tendency to lose myself in the instant gratifications of the information stream. […] It all felt so immensely freighted that to look back now is to recall little more than the frantic blur of stimulation, the lab rat’s manipulated jolt at pressing the proper button, the junkie’s temporary relief at the fleeting fix.

~ David L. Ulin. The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time.


Related David L. Ulin Post: We immerse, slow down. Photo credit: dailymail.co.uk

%d bloggers like this: