Tuesday, July 17, 2018

EGO

This post is based on an e-mail from my niece regarding a post in the DAILY OM by Madison Taylor

DAILY OM: 
The Ego By: Madison Taylor (www.dailyom.com)
The ego is simply a way for us to understand and attend to ourselves, at the same time as we understand and attend to the world around us.
In most spiritual circles, the ego gets a pretty bad rap. The reason for this is that the ego, to some extent, is the principle in our psyches that separates us from one another, while the spirit is the principle that shows us that no such separation exists. Sometimes the ego is depicted as an almost demonic figure that keeps us from realizing our true nature. But at its most basic, the ego is simply a tool that helps us organize the various aspects of our personality so that we can function in the world. In this sense, the ego is simply a way for us to understand and attend to ourselves at the same time as we understand and attend to the world around us. The ego is a tool that we use to navigate the world.

Perhaps the problem is that the ego sometimes gets out of control. This happens when the higher self loses control of the psyche. The psyche then falls under the leadership of the ego, an entity that was never meant to lead. The ego is meant to be definitively in the service of the higher self. When this relationship is functioning, the ego is a useful intermediary representing the whole self but not thinking that it is the whole self. Then, it is almost as if the ego is the self playfully pretending to be the separate entity called "I." Like an actor, the ego plays the roles that the world asks us to play in order to be part of the program. In this way, the ego can be a tool enabling us to be in the world but not of it.

As long as we are in touch with our higher selves, our egos are not a threat. They are simply useful tools in the service of spirit. We keep our egos in check when we continually nurture our awareness of who we really are. Then our egos are free to serve without trying ineffectually to rule. It is healthy to have ego, but like all things in life, ego functions best when it is in balance and harmony with your whole self. 

EMAIL:

This is so NOT how I was taught in school (behaviorist theories) or in real life.  Even my therapist preaches that our biggest problems are not caused by external factors but from our own attitude, selfishness, and self-absorption.  Do you ever feel overwhelmed by it all?  


MY REPLY

I find the whole understanding of EGO and its purpose/function confusing. 

I believe EGO, based on your comments, is the way we deal with those “external factors” which affect “our own attitude, selfishness, and self-absorption which in fact we ARE controlling.

The EGO is what defines the “self” or “I” which is based on what others think of us, how they respond to us, and what they tell us. This is not necessarily the truth but our interpretation of the truth? Does this make sense?

When our "truths" are challenged, the EGO fights to hold on to them. Change is hard and the EGO is a way to protect us from having to change?

Buddhism talks about “emptiness” which is in effect who we are BEFORE we make all these judgments (thus spirit?) based on probably false data from society, parents, relatives, educators, religious figures, friends, etc. 

I have talked before about the need for triage, as adults, to sort out those things we were told and came to believe as children (when we were powerless or even realized that we potentially had the power to disagree and form our own opinions.) 

The triage consists of looking at the various believes of self and keeping, tossing, or needing to do more thinking about those aspects. Most adults do not do this or even realize that they can. They carry all this baggage and just accept it as TRUTH when in fact it is not.

The key to being a mature, actualized adult (at peace with themselves) depends on this ability to triage

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Emptiness

opens in a new window

This one is interesting, here is my interpretation. Buddhist thinking says everything is “empty.” We assign values based on our experiences, studies, perceptions, what important people in our life tell us (especially as children when we have little or no “power!") 

Part of moving towards enlightenment is the ability to accept (and see) the emptiness in all things, rethink our perceptions, be careful with judgements, and then come to conclusions. 

For example, we have decided that recreational drug use is bad. We are told that drug use is bad (if not sinful!) There are laws against recreational use of drugs and an inordinate number of people are in jail for minor drug abuse. 

But over the last what, ten or twenty years,  thinking has turned to the benefits of medical use of Marijuana. 

And currently, recreational use of the drug is accepted in several states with more states removing the illegal status and releasing people from jail. 

Closely monitored dispensaries are opening and laws reflecting appropriate use of drugs are being made, like no driving or operating heavy machinery while under the influence of drugs, etc. 

So drug use is actually empty. It is what we, society, and the times we live do when we attach the value judgments!



Thursday, July 5, 2018

Rock, Paper, Scissors

Shared by a psychiatrist friend. Something to think about.



Anger, fear and sadness play scissors paper rock with each other.

In the absence of resentment, the sharpness of anger cuts through the blanket of fear; the blanket of fear comforts and soothes the rock of sadness; the rock of sadness hones the sharpness of anger.

With resentment, anger becomes rage, fear becomes immobilizing, sadness becomes despair.

But in the absence of resentment, anger becomes courage, fear becomes respect, and sadness becomes grief.

-adapted from Ernie Kurtz, The Spirituality of Imperfection

-shared by Steve Farmilant

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Happy Birthday Gregory

July 4 is my Gregory's birthday. He was born in 1948. He passed on October 4, 2015. He would have been 70 years old today. Great love means great grief. One never stops grieving the loss, one just uses the love to grow larger than the grief and learns how to carry the love and grief along with himself. On special days, like holidays and birthdays and death days, one shrinks back to the size one was when the grief struck. But only for a short time, then one begins to grow larger again and more easily carries the love and grief hand in hand, heart in heart, the memory of memories.

Monday, July 2, 2018

I Had a Night MAIRE Last Night

Gregory's brother Mark and sister-in-law Diane had a black cat. A huge, affectionate black cat. Gregory helped name it: "Night Maire." Everyone loved the name and the play on words. Yes, Nightmaire, Nightmare.

Last night before I fell asleep, I asked Gregory (if he could) to visit me in my dreams. And he was able to meet my request. But I didn't deal with it well. So next time I will specify: "In calm and peace, please."

The first part of his visit included snuggling in bed "spoons style" his arm draped over my back. Waking suddenly, it scared the crap out of me experiencing someone in bed (besides the cats and with another person (Gregory) after almost three years.) I woke with a start and that disconnected the connection.

Based on that first visit, Gregory attempted another. The dream became convoluted and circular, my not being able to tell dream from reality.

I wanted to call out to Gregory and was so sad fearing that I could no longer do so, that I called out to Gregory in the other room telling him, "Please come here, I am frightened and I need to talk to you."

Then I realized that I could no longer physically talk to him so I became frightened and called out to him again, which woke me up.

Now awake, he didn't answer so I called out again. Then I realized that my fear was founded and I could never again call out to him and get a physical response.

So I cried and ached and missed him until my throat hurt and it was difficult to breathe.

Slowly I realized that Gregory was only trying to fulfill my request but I handled it poorly. So next time, "In calm and in peace," I hope to do better!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

The American Dream Has Turned Into a Nightmare

I am not an expert in this area ... but in case you do not know the story behind MS-13, read / watch this. It certainly a scary situation but an easy one on which to inappropriately latch arguments and instill fear against immigration in general Those people on the border to Mexico are seeking assylum by entering the U.S., for the most part, are not part of MS-13.
The article from BBC says that Trump is blaming Obama but Obama's administration is NOT to blame. At this point no one in particular is to blame, not even Trump, except he is using the situation to fan fear and to manipulate his agenda and that of his cronies and followers.
Also, for the sake of argument, MS-13 is what happens when people have no where else to turn, no place to grow their families, poor health, little food, horrible living conditions, etc. Watch the short video attached to this article. Imagine yourself and the people you love having to live under those conditions. Revolutions come when people have nothing to lose!
There is no excuse for MS-13's violence and criminal disregard but I think that in reallity this is what happens when people are so alienated and at risk that there is no hope. They are fighting for their lives in the only ways they know how, and they have created new standards on how they relate to their own, to society, to life. 
In a parallel universe and in many of the same ways, Trump's supporters are also feeling so alienated and at risk they they see little or no hope. For them the "American Dream" has turned into a nightmare. They are for the most part still operating within societal norms and standards of behavior and decency (but lower and lower) and their discontent is also growing.
Without trying at least to understand MS-13's viewpoint (while not condoning their attrocities) they and similar renegade organizations will continue to grow. People like Trump and his cronies will continue to use them as a fear factor. We will see not only the continued breakdown in our civilization as we know it but we will also witness the move towards more of a military state which will the continued diluting of everyone's human rights as an excuse to contain the breakdown and violence in societal norms.
I have not even begun to broach the idea that the U.S. is not alone, the world has become a nighmare of a place to live for so many people in so many countries.
I do not have any solutions to offer but do know that we need to somehow come to grips with the fact we are all in this together: from black to white to red to yellow, from Jew to Christian to Muslim, from the richest to the poorest, from the educated to the ignorant, from the best behaved to the worst behaved, from the governed to the government.
In some ways we cannot blame the current atmosphere of life in the U.S. and the world on Trump, it has been a long time sneeking up on us, as well as blatently shouting but going unnoticed and unheard. We can and should deplore Trump and his cronies and supporters for using this frightening, devistating situation to manipulate their own discontent, power and wealth.
We must begin to support each other in ways that respect individual differences, build us up without dehumanizing, listen to each other so as to better understand who we are, support our needs not manipulate them. Making "America Great Again" is a reality, it is just that Trump and his people are using that sound bite to their own purpose and in effect, whether you want to admit it or not, making America less and less.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Originally an E-Mail to My Wonderful Friend Barbara D

Live is good. Continuing to “organize” the condo bit by bit. A little compulsive but “control those things you can control!” Found some doors and drawers on Craig’s list for cabinets in my closet which are no longer made. Had a road trip to pick them up in West Bend, Wisconsin. Went with Ken, one of Gregory’s companions with whom I continue to friend and feel family towards. He finished his MA in Psychology and now had a therapist job in Chicago. We get together for dinner, movies, and other adventures every two to four weeks. His father died recently and I think my mentorship has served both the kid and me as well.

Am making a presentation to the 34th Annual Alzheimer’s Disease Association International at the end of July. They are out of UK, first started 34 years ago actually here in Chicago. Their annual meetings travel the world and they are back here. I submitted a proposal and was accepted to be one of their break out session presenters on “Living Well with Alzheimer’s.”

I will also get the chance to visit in person with new friends I have made on Facebook with Dementia/ Alzheimer’s interests. They will be coming here from Austrailia, New Zealand, England, Canada, and Nigeria. I’ll be staying at the Marriott Marquis, an elegant hotel attached to McCormick Place where the conference is being held. Instead of driving back and forth each day, I’ll be on site for the four days of the conference.

Will have an article in Teepa Snow’s PATIENT ALZHEIMER’S CARE free online journal which has a subscribership of 20,000 readers. I’ll post about it. Should appear around July 17. Will be interesting to see what kind of responses/reactions I’ll get. Teepa Snow, love that name, is a world wide caregiver consultant who not only is GREAT and one of the most compassionate people I know, but has build a large organization supporting caregivers around the world. The article will also have a link to my books of poetry and the documentary.

I produced a “one man show” called "ALZHEIMER’S: A Lost Story" for a local LGBTQ theater in town. Sold 30 tickets (first time I was the star of the show not a presenter.) It was well received by an engaged audience. 30 minute presentation followed by the documentary followed by Q&A followed by wine and cheese fellowship in the lobby.

Am planning a presentation in Evanston at the Evanston Art Center in their new home on Central Street with documentary and comments on “The making of a documentary” and “The importance of art for people with Dementia/Alzheimer’s followed by a panel discussion by people in the art field. Since the center is sponsoring it, they want a bent towards the arts and I can do that. During the Q&A issues of living well with Alzheimer’s are bound to come up. 

Finally after our annual July 4 immediate world party, a visit from my favorite niece, and a visit from a very good friend who moved recently to Portland,  I will be in NYC to see the 35th Year  Reunion Concert of “Pump Boys and Dinettes.” Gregory’s favorite college room mate who was one of the writers and performers in the musical when it had a successful run on Broaday. His son was instrumental in creating the documenary.

Since I’ll be in NYC I am going to see the revival of “Boys in the Band,” and “Dear Evan Hanson” and “The Band Visits” and the two part play “Harry Potter and the Cursed Stone.” The presentation for 34th ADI is a few days after I return from NYC.

Finally, a variation of the “Getting Older” essay I shared with you will be in the Chicago Area Gay newspaper Windy City Times as my fourth guest column.

Yes I am doing well and am keeping busy. How did I ever have time to work?

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Turning Points in Dementia / Alzheimer's Care



The issue of understanding, dealing with, and providing care for people diagnosed with Dementia/ Alzheimer's, as well as all those included in the Caregiving Partnership/ Team, is a very complex one. 

I have tried to brainstorm some of the issues with which we must grapple. 
  1. Understanding the cause of the Dementia
  2. Understanding the nature of the Dementia
  3. Understanding the expressions of the Dementia
  4. Understanding the trajectory and progress of Dementia
  5. Understanding the difference between old age changes and Dementia
  6. Understanding how to support of the person with the Dementia
  7. Understanding how to support the person with the Dementia at the various stages of the disease
  8. Understanding how to support the person with Dementia while understanding that slowly they are not able to care for themselves
  9. Understanding how to support the person with Dementia while understanding that their skills may come and go, return at the same or lesser ability level, and eventually disappear totally
  10. Understanding how to support the person with Dementia while continuing to acknowledge and respect them as a person
  11. Understanding how to support the person with Dementia while continuing to respect their rights as a human being
  12. Understanding how to support the caregiver in the Dementia team/ partnership as well as the person diagnosed.
  13. Understanding how to support the family of the person with Dementia.
  1. Realizing the importance of relationships in general 
  2. Realizing the importance of respect in relationships
  3. Realizing the importance of communication in relationships
  4. Realizing that in many ways living a good life with Dementia is the same as LIVING A GOOD LIFE
  5. Realizing the importance of partnerships in caring relationships
  6. Realizing relationships depend on the nature of the person, their experiences, their personalities
  7. Realizing that changes over time will require changes in relationships in general.
  8. Realizing that changes over time will require changes in approach to supporting the person with dementia
  9. Realizing that the person is still the person and not the disease
  10. Realizing there is no easy, one good way, "silver bullet" way to deal with Dementia
  11. Realizing that the very nature of having to make decisios for the person with Dementia is in essescence a violation of their human rights and must be done very carefully with love and respect
  12. Realizing what the person with the diagnosis of Dementia is experiencing
  13. Realizing what the person supporting the person with the diagnosis is experiencing
  14. Realizing what the family supporting the person with the diagnosis is experiencing
  1. Focusing on how to help medical professionals be better able to support people diagnosed with Dementia as well as their caregivers and families.
  2. Focusing less on the medicalization of Dementia
  3. Focusing on transition in home, family, relationships
  4. Focusing on redefining of home, family, relationships
  5. Focusing on supporting Dementia cognitive and physical losses as a physical/ mental disability
  6. Focusing on the person, not the disease as much as possible
  7. Focusing on human rights and respect for the person who slowly is no longer able to make decisons for themselves
  8. Focusing on living a full, meaningful life that will change as the Dementia changes
  9. Focusing on alternative skills, activities, experiences that will change as the Dementia changes
  10. Focusing on mobilizing community support for caregiver teams
  11. Focusing on keeping a balance between meeting the needs of the person diagnosed with Dementia and not assuming the person cannot meet their own needs
  12. Focusing on keeping a balance between meeting the needs of the person diagnosed with Dementia, not assuming that they cannot meet their own needs, but stepping in before the person becomes too frustrated.
  13. Focuing on keeping a balance between meeting the needs of the person diagnosed with  Dementia, not assuming that they cannot meet their own needs, but stepping in before the person becomes too frustrated, and realizing that this may change often if not day to day or hour to hour. 
  1. Research on finding a cure for Dementia
  2. Research on best practices for supporting those diagnosed with Dementia
  3. Research on best practices for supporting all those involved in caring partnerships
  4. Research on living well with Dementia
  5. Research on best practices for facilities working with those diagnosed with Dementia
  6. Research on design of facilities for those needing protected care
  1. Sound Bite: "How to keep life relevant? Useful? Meaningful? Personal?"
  2. Sound Bite: "Individualize not institutionalize"
  3. Sound Bite: "Individualize not medicalize"
  4. Sound Bite: "Live until you die"
  5. Sound Bite: "The diagnosis does not have to be a death sentence."
  6. Sound Bite: "There is quailty life after diagnosis"
  7. Sound Bite: "As in life, so with Dementia, just a little more complicated."
  8. Sound Bite: "Not segregated into caring communities but rather communities that know how to care"
  9. Sound Bite: "Living a good live with Dementia is living a good life period"
  10. Sound Bite: "We are all born with a death sentence!"



I haven't written here on the current state of affairs of children being removed from their families at the Mexican border by the U.S. Department of Immigration under executive order of President T-Rump (who has recently tried to "put out the fire" he himself has created!

I am sure you have heard enough about it! But I would like to make this HOMAGE to these children and their families.

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN by Kurt Bestor out of frustration over the horrendous civil war and ethnic cleansing taking place in the former country of Yugoslavia.


PRAYER OF THE CHILDREN
By: Kurt Bestor
Can you hear the prayer of the children
On bended knee, in the shadow of an unknown room?
Empty eyes, with no more tears to cry
Turning heavenward, toward the light
Crying, "Jesus, help me
To see the morning light of one more day;
But if I should die before I wake
I pray my soul to take."
Can you feel the heart of the children
Aching for home, for something of their very own?
Reaching hands, with nothing to hold on to
But hope for a better day, a better day
Crying, "Jesus, help me
To feel the love again in my own land;
But if unknown roads lead away from home
Give me loving arms, away from harm."
Can you hear the voice of the children
Softly pleading for silence in a shattered world?
Angry guns preach a gospel full of hate
Blood of the innocent on their hands
Crying, "Jesus, help me
To feel the sun again upon my face;
For when darkness clears I know you're near
Bringing peace again."


Friday, June 15, 2018

Grateful for My Condo


Building First Engineer in unit to change faucet cartridge on master bathroom tub. 

During beginning of work, water turn off behind faucet breaks. Steaming hot water pouring out. While engineer is holding towels over escaping water, Second Engineer arrives to close backup turnoff in wall in closet.

Since this hasn't been done in the ten years since the building opened, not able to close turn off valve in wall. Quick call to House-Keeping Department gets water to tier shut down. (I am on 5, tier shut down valve is on 6.) 


Meanwhile 3-4 inches of water fill bathroom, leaks across into my entry hall, escapes down walls into apartment below and condo hallway below. 

All water now off and clean up begins.

Housekeeping Department brings water vaccum to drain my bathroom. Management Office Staff arrives to assess problem. Management checks floor below. Minor damage in condo hallway, also my water leaking over into unit below's shower so no problem there. 

No other water damage. Meanwhile two from Housekeeping Department cleaning up minor water fall damage on three.

Another Housekeeping Departtment Staff member arrives at my unit with two industrial fans. First Engineer removes baseboard under sink and on toilet wall. Drills holes, begins fans for process of drying inside wall.

Second Engineer checkes back periodically to see if his help is needed. First Engineer fixes broken water turn off in tub, replaces cartridge, Second Engineer gets unit wall turn off working after ten years idle. Both Engineers supervise opening tier turn off on six on, opening shut off in tub, turns on tub. All working, no more leaks. All done with people communicating from various points on their cell phones.

Bathroom now has dry floor. Fans running until tomorow. Happily ever after.

Good luck is that my own housekeeper was here and she helped me with cleaning up towels used to hold back flood, water tracked into my entrance hall and bedroom, replaced soaked kitty litter, cleaned kitty litter mats, wiped down shelf and stool next to toilet, got rid of soaking kleenex and toilet paper, wiped down walls in bathroom from spashing and stem, and all items are on balcony drying.

As an aside, the two cats were hiding out on the chairs on the bak side of my desk in the living room. They were having no part of the "sturm and dram."

In this hour, a tighly coordinated team of seven people (including me and my housekeeper helping out where we could) solved the problem, cleaned up the mess, and avoided any major damage! Whew!!! I am grateful to all!!!


Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Continued Growth in Understanding Dementia / Alzheimer's and Supporting Those Who Live With It

My comments to Kate after watching her presentation on Dementia in Singapore. 

Kate,

Just finished watching your Singapore presentation. Magnificent!

Not to ride on your coat tails but in so many ways I feel that we are telling the same story, you from the point of view of one diagnosed with dementia and me from the point of view of loving the person who received the diagnosis. In some ways might I be so bold as to say WE ARE THE YING AND YANG OF DEMENTIA CARE? KINDRED SPIRITS?

In your presentation you talked about so many of the ways that I was able to intuitively support Gregory. 

In some ways I believe that your “attitude” towards the necessary “care giver” better called “care partner” have changed. Also, you have begun to refer to some of the serious changes that occur towards later stage Dementia and allude to how “care” at those later stages can change so dramatically and often times, become necessary even at the risk of loss of autonomy for the person diagnosed.

Since each person is a unique individual; anything we think, say, or propose about supporting those with the diagnosis and those loving those with the diagnosis is almost like a “shot in the dark.”

"A shot in the dark" especially since the day to day expression of the disease can change so dramatically and sometimes so quickly: Sometimes here, sometimes diminished, sometimes returned as of old, sometimes returned but somewhat weaker, eventually gone forever.

Sometimes the interactions are so convoluted that the care partner not only is at a loss to interpret what is going on but also how to interact with and deal with the experience. 

Sometimes the slow "loss" of the person you love so much is life changing and at times disabling to the care giver when no one and nothing can really "help" except maybe faith that things will be better in the morning. 

Sometimes the day to day, minute to minute energy that the care partner must give to supporting and monitoring the person with Dementia is exhausting and affects the carer's health, making the giving even more difficult.

There is NO one right answer and most often people are looking for that ONE “silver bullet, correct” answer. There is the obvious list of how to go about the care partnering (love, respect, understanding, compassion,etc) but no details donot automatically fill in. 

One of my new quotes might be "As in life, as in Dementia … just a little more complicated.” In some ways the Dementia is not the problem, living a good life no matter what shows up is the problem!

The trajectory and progression of Dementia complicates matters more, leaving us feeling so helpless. Since it is a disease that affects the brain; logic, understanding, thinking, processing, cognition, etc --  it complicates things even more -- let alone the effects of the physical, physiological,  and emotional for everyone involved.

The work of changing the world's attitude towards Dementia and how we support those with Dementia is in some ways just beginning and feels almost impossible.

Going from seeing the person and not just the disease, going from care communities to community caring, providing support and techniques to care giving partners, seeing the disease as a diability and providing support to live as well as possible, providing emotional support to all parties affected, educating medical practitioners, etc will get better and will take time ... we just want it now!

Kate, I so look forward to spending some time with you in Chicago. I have so much to learn from you and still have so many questions or maybe just a good hug and sitting together quietly over a glass of wine will be enough! Be well,

Michael

P.S.

Most of what I was able to do for Gregory came directly from my love for him, our respect for each other, the humanity in both of us. People often said I did such an amazing job of being his care partner and my reply is always, “How could I have done any differently? 

For me, what I did is also touched on by the Buddhist principals of The Four Nobel Truths and the Eightfold Path. Spirituality of any type helps us cope. Faith in something helps as well. For Gregory it was not his Catholism and for me not my Judiasm but for both of us Buddhism did provide some peace of mind!

    THE BUDDHA'S FOUR TRUTHS:

  • The truth of suffering (Dukkha)
  • The truth of the origin of suffering (Samudāya)
  • The truth of the cessation of suffering (Nirodha)
  • The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering (Magga)

THE BUDDHA'S EIGHTFOLD PATH:

1. The Right View
By right view, Buddha means seeing things in the right perspective. Seeing things as they really are, without any false illusions or pretenses. He wanted his followers to see and to understand the transient nature of worldly ideas and possessions and to understand that they can attain salvation only if they practiced the right karma.

2. The Right Thought

Buddha says that we are what we are because of what we think. What goes on inside our minds (our thought process) determines our course of action. It is, therefore, necessary to follow the path of Right thought or Right Intention. To have the Right Intention or the Right Thought, a person should be aware of his purpose or role in life and is studying the teachings of Buddha.

3. The Right Speech

Buddha asks his followers to speak truth, to avoid slander and malicious gossip and to refrain from abusive language. Harsh words that can cause distress or offend others should also be avoided while also staying clear of mindless idle chatter which lacks any depth.

4. The Right Action

Behaving peacefully and harmoniously; Right action, according to Buddha, lies in adherence to the following guidelines:
- Staying in harmony with fellow human beings
- Behaving peacefully
- Not stealing
- Not killing anyone
- Avoiding overindulgence in sensual pleasure
- Abstaining from sexual misconduct
- Not indulging in fraudulent practices, deceitfulness and robbery

5. The Right Livelihood

By laying down this guideline, Buddha advises his followers to earn their bread and butter righteously, without resorting to illegal and nefarious activities. He does not expect his followers to exploit other human beings or animals or to trade in weapons or intoxicants.

6. The Right Effort

Buddha believed that human nature imposes undue restrictions on the mind at times, causing a person to harbor ill thoughts. So we have to train our mind to think in the right direction if we wish to become better human beings. Once we gain control over our thoughts and replace the unpleasant ones with positive ones, we shall be moving in the right direction.

7. The Right Mindfulness

The Right Mindfulness, together with the Right Concentration, forms the basis of Buddhist meditation. By proposing this, Buddha suggests his followers to focus mentally on their emotions, mental faculties, and capabilities while staying away from worldly desires and other distractions.
It refers to the ability of the mind to see things as they are without being led astray by greed, avarice, anger and ignorance.

8. The Right Concentration

This eighth principle laid down by Buddha is fundamental for proper meditation. Zazen (or, Zen meditation) is the way used in Zen to reach the right concentration or "state of mind". Needless to add, this is the most vital of all the aspects stated in the Noble Eightfold path since, without proper meditation, an individual cannot move on to a higher level of well-being.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Coincidental or Mystical


Amazing coincidences! Pictured are Gregory and me with Gregory's best friend from college John Schimmel. The Schimmel family became best friends to Gregory and me over the years and we organized John and Maureen's wedding at the Redfield House in the Grove in Glenview, Illinois. 
John is father to Gabe Schimmel who is responsible for bringing ALZHEIMER'S: A Love Story to Chapman University and 90 worldwide film festivals and 35+ awards including two from the American Pavilion at the Cannes Film Festival. 
John was writer and actor in Pump Boys and Dinettes, a musical that was on Broadway in 1982/83. Gregory and I were in the audience for several of the NYC performances. 
A revival concert of Pump Boys is being performed at Feinstein's 54 Below in NYC on July 22 and I will be in the audience. Today is the day I bought my tickets and this photograph shows up on Facebook. Meant to be? Etherial? Mystical? Magical?
More Information about Pump Boys and DinettesPump Boys And Dinettes, a band as well as a show, ran for 577 performances on Broadway in 1982-83 while earning a Tony nomination for Best Musical. The original cast—Debra Monk, Cass Morgan, Jim Wann, John Foley, John Schimmel, and the late Mark Hardwick—were downtown New Yorkers with Southern musical roots who created “a singular mixture of country-pop concert and musical theatre… [the show] doesn’t merely celebrate the value of friendship and life’s simple pleasures, it embodies them” (Stephen Holden, The New York Times).
Now, for the first time since their Broadway run, the creators of this pioneering work for actor-musicians will be onstage together to play and sing their score and tell their stories. Bob Stillman will join on piano, and yes—there will be a Pump Boys raffle! It’s been 37 years – now join the original Pump Boys & Dinettes for an unforgettable reunion concert!

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Memorial Day Thoughts

MEMORIAL DAY THOUGHTS: My heart aches when ever I think of or see photographs of the country of Syria, the people, the children, the dead.I am not an expert on military ventures, but who wins in any country when there is little left of that country during and after a conflict? a war?

And this is not only going on in Syria, in some ways the battle is going on in the cities of the United States but in different form. My heart aches when ever I think of or see photographs of the victims in my own country due to gun violence, police brutality, and more.


I support those who are in the military and our police forces but I do not support many of their actions, reactions, and outcomes! 


What must we do, besides turning away, to treat each other (on all sides) with respect, compassion, and love? 


What must we do to get our government to make responsible, compassionate decisions here and abroad? 


MEMORIAL DAY:

SYRIA:

POLICE BRUTALITY:

GUN VIOLENCE:

DISCRIMINATION OF ALL KINDS:

WOMEN'S RIGHTS, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE:

WHAT DID I MISS:





Saturday, May 26, 2018

The Grief Continues ... but Differently

Came across this today, a post which was written approximately one year ago, almost two years after Gregory died. It merits re-posting with an addendum.

Knowing Gregory is dead takes many forms. Not necessarily in order of importance:

Reading an earlier post and seeing his name associated with  "Today my love died."

Reading his obituary when it appeared in the Tribune, the Sun Times, and the Windy City TImes (Gay newspaper.)

Seeing the death certificate.

Filling out and signing all the paperwork for his cremation.

Canceling various accounts in his name.

Picturing him in his bed in his room at Lieberman and knowing that the life had left his body.

Dreaming about him, waking up, and remembering that he is dead.

Admiring the plaque on the memorial wall outside the Synagogue Room at Lieberman.

Looking at his portrait on the shelf next to his remains and flashing back to arriving at his room at Lieberman on the day he died.

Hearing someone tell of his death as well as me telling someone of his death.

Rewatching the documentary: ALZHEIMER'S: A Love Story.

Talking about our journey with Alzheimer's at various presentations I have made and getting to the part where after being in a coma for three days, he gave me one last kiss before he died.

Knowing that he was going to die but getting the call from Manny.

Having been on the Alzheimer's path for so long, and changing myself as Gregory changed, I knew intellectually but refused to know emotionally that he would ever really die.

Celebrating without him, the various holidays like Valentine's Day (the most difficult it turns out,) Christmas, Halloween, Birthdays, Anniversaries.

With great love comes great grief, they go hand in hand. But it does get easier and I have done a good job learning to live without Gregory's physicality but still having him be a large part of my every day life!


ADDENDUM:

It has gotten easier, as they said it would but not in any way they or I could have predicted and not in any specified time frame. One never gets over or through grief, one just learns how to live with it, to let it in full force when necessary, to avoid it at all costs when necessary, and mostly to continue to do the best job you can living without being able to share life with the person you loved and continue to love even after their death.

Last night I pictured him in his bed at Lieberman when I went to visit him for the last time and when I returned the next day to see him lying there dead. I cried again which I haven't done for a while. Then I comforted myself by telling him, "Gregory I am glad that you are dead. You have no more problems or difficulties and I have been able to reclaim and get on with my life. I miss you so, but that is OK and I conetinue to love you more than ever."

When continuing my editing of GYROSCOPE: An Alzheimer's Love Story, the working title of my memoirs, I end up re-living the day to day joys and sorrows, gifts and struggles of Gregory's and my journey with Alzheimer's. Some entries are difficult to read, some reinforce the good work we both did in living well with the disease. Some make me laugh, some make me cry.

Preparing for and presenting the documentary to a group brings the journey back to the surface and that causes a deeper level of grief than those times when the only time I really think of Gregory is when I wish him a "Goodnight, I love you." Two extremes and every degree inbetween is part of the continuing grief with which one learns to live.

Another way to look at never getting over or through grief is that it remains the same, you grow and expand so the grief seems smaller and further away. When an important reminder like a holiday or birthday occur, you regress and contract so the grief seems the same as it was in the beginning. And then you are able to grow and expand again.

Realizing that he is with me now more than he was during the 12 year journey with Alzheimer's  is interesting to me. It is as if I am carrying him close not only in my heart but in everything I do, everything I say, everything I witness. He is part of every decision whether major like planning a vacation or minor like deciding what to have for dinner.

The most difficult part of Gregory's dying was the loss the the physicality of our relationship. Even when he was at his worse with dementia, there was a physicality to our day to day interactions: visiting, holding hands, watching "South Pacific," sharing a meal, offering a drink, walking to the park, telling him of my day.

I have been able to create a new physicality. I talk to him often, outloud! I sit by his "shrine or alter," on the bookcase next to his side of the bed, I sound the "singing bowl," I look at his photograph and we have a conversation. I keep a candle electrically burning next to his photograph kind of like an "eternal light." I buy him flowers and dark chocolates to put in his alter, the chocolates I eat later.

By telling Gregory and my love story, showing the documentary ALZHEIMER'S: A Love Story, and fielding Q&A afterwards I keep Gregory alive in my heart and am able to introduce him to new friends. When people can identify with our story and find solice or at least realize they are not alone, Gregory shares in the glory. By telling our story, Gregory and I are are promoting understanding of dementia and Alzheimer's, understanding and respect for same sex couple relationships, and giving others a glimpse of what love can do even in the most difficult of situations. 

As I am writing this I look forward to:

1) An essay to be published in Teepa Snow's Positive Approach to Care's Online Dementia Journal  (ODJ.) It is a free monthly e-newsletter designed for families and professional care partners who are looking to grow their awareness and knowledge in order to provide better care for people living with dementia. There are over 2,000 stubscriber to the journal. 

2) Makeing a presentation to the "Alzheimer's Disease International 33rd World Wide Conference which will take place in Chicago this year. While at the conference, I am looking forward to spending time in person which friends made on facebook from Austrailia, Nigeria, New Zeland, England, and Canada.

3) Doing a presentation at the Evanston Art Center showing the documentar,  talking about film making, and being part of a panel discussion on the importance of art for those diagnosed with Dementia / Alzheimer's. Gregory's art work will be on display at the center as well.

4) Having an essay published in an anthology for caregivers of those with dementia / Alzheimer's. 

5) Having a fourth guest column in Chicago's gay newspaper, "Windy City Times," dealing with aging gracefully!

6) Continued work on my memoirs. 

7) Continued work on "Alzheimer's: The Musical, writing the book and then finding out how to go about the details of creating a musical. 

8) Continued work on "Alzheimer's: The Opera, selecting which of my poems to use for the 12 arias that will make up the opera and then finding out how to go about the details of creating an opera. 

9) Approaching Chicago's gay community center, Center on Halsted, about making a presentation on Dementia/ Alzheimer's.

As I am writing this, so far during 2018, I have previously been able to:

1) Make a presentation using the documetnary to the Pritzker School of Medicine Students. 

2) Do a "one man show" at a local Chicago gay theater "Pride Film and Plays." Approximatly 30 ticket paying patrons were in attendance for the 90 minute experience which again including a brief slide show of Gregory and I arm in arm from when we first met until shortly before he died, a 30 minute presentaiton on how we were able to "Live Well with Alzheimer's," followed by a question / answer session and finished with fellowship over wine and cheese in the lobby. 

3) Help plan and attended the third annual More Than Ever Education Fund Luncheon at the Orington Hilton Hotel in Evanston. Approximatly 150 people attended and we raised over $50,000  to support La Casa Norte's Youth in College Program. The fund was founded in memory of Gregory and helps the primier not-for-profit provide scholarships (and housing) to youth confronting homelessness who otherwise would not be able to get an education with prospects for their brighter future. Over the three years the fund has been in place, we have raised close to $150,000!

So addendum and all, you can see that life does go on after the death of a loved one and in some ways helps those grieving gain a better perspective on the importance of living to the fullest extent during each moment, taking some time to ABSOLUTELY DO NOTHING, and then getting back to doing good works while one still can!
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