Monday, May 22, 2023

Cochlear Implant- beginning journey

 I thought I was going to write in my journal tonight and I realized I filled it up last week and don’t have another. So I am writing here. I just experienced Cochlear Implant surgery. I have had challenged hearing for more than thirty five years. I think my hearing loss started at a Sly and the Family Stone rock concert when I was seventeen. I got pushed up against a giant speaker and have had really loud ringing in my ears ever since. I started to lose my hearing in my mid thirties. I got hearing aids in my forties rejected them and then tried again successfully twenty years ago in my fifties. My hearing loss has progressed a great deal in the last year. It is now considered a profound level of hearing loss in both ears. Hearing aids are really helpful and my hearing aid technicians are a combination of mad scientist and angel. I am grateful.

I have learned to read lips very skillfully and now I rely on lip reading for about 90 percent of my hearing. I am a psychotherapist. My job is perfect for me because I am in a small room with one or two other people staring at their mouths and listening intently. I am extremely blessed that I have gotten to do the work that I love in the midst of my disability. I think my hearing loss has helped me to be more compassionate toward others challenges. As my outer hearing has deteriorated, my inner hearing has developed more and more. I am able to access my intuition through inner listening and have many wise guides. My clients are very patient if I need them to repeat themselves. Holding other people in love through my work for forty years has been one of the greatest gifts of my lifetime.

My other greatest gift is my daughter. She has had to navigate my hearing loss all of her life. I know it has been challenging for her.  She came out from Chicago to be with me for my surgery. I am so lucky to have this talented loving creative evolved being to share my journey with.

In the last year I have begun to seriously contemplate Cochlear implant surgery. The clarity of my being able to understand speech has gotten steadily worse in the last year.  I was struggling in all areas of my life and was mostly unable to understand conversations unless I could read the persons lips. I had withdrawn from almost all socializing and felt more and more isolated. I am very active and my hearing challenges created a great deal of exhaustion. My close people were understanding and I knew communicating with me was getting more difficult for all of them.

I am so grateful, in a way, that my hearing loss was bad enough that I qualified to be a candidate for a Cochlear implant. In the year before the surgery I interviewed four mentors about their experiences living with the device. Their stories were all different. Each one encouraged me to move forward based on their own positive experiences. After each conversation I felt less and less afraid. I was doing counseling myself as a client and did a lot of work experiencing and releasing my fears. The more I felt my fear the more space there was within me for excitement.

My surgery was three days ago. I so appreciate that my sister and my daughter were with me. The nurses and the doctors were so helpful. My surgeon was skillful, direct and kind. I was very afraid and closed my eyes and breathed deeply to prepare myself for the surgery. The operation implanting the Cochlear implant into my head took two hours. After coming out of anesthesia I was the most drugged dizzy and nauseous I’ve ever felt. I got to go home and sleep it off for four hours. 

As the days have gone by I am moving very slowly, taking lots of meds, and experimenting with how much or little I can do to keep the nausea, dizziness and pain at bay. I can’t lift anything over ten pounds or bend over for several weeks. After the wound heals in two weeks my Cochlear implant will be activated and I will learn to hear in a whole new way. 

I will write again after the Cochlear Implant activation. Right now I have one hearing aid and lip reading. I am managing well. I feel strong and confident and trust that I will be OK whatever happens. Going through this procedure has taught me a lot about my own capabilities. Going through with surgery has helped me to trust myself and my vibrantly healthy body and how resilient I am. A great deal of self doubt has melted away because now I am on the other side of the operation I was so afraid of for so long. 

Thank you for listening.

Sunday, February 12, 2023

To fix or not to fix

Good evening. I have been thinking about brain science of late. I’d like to share an idea I have about Neuropsychology. To do this I will explain a phenomenon in neuroanatomy. 

If you can imagine or visualize or hold your right hand with the thumb and fingers spread out wide. The thumb represents the amygdala. It is the part of the brain that helps us to survive. It is an ancient part that has protected us from being eaten by saber-toothed tigers. The amygdala creates a reaction of fight, flight or freeze when danger is perceived. The prefrontal cortex is the reasoning brain in charge of higher functions.

If you imagine or visualize or hold your right hand up in a fist now with your thumb tucked under your fingers. This hand position depicts that the prefrontal cortex or reasoning brain  keeps the amygdala contained until it is needed. When a sufficiently stressful situation arises that is perceived as dangerous, the prefrontal cortex moves off of the amygdala. Move or imagine  your fingers flipping up off of your thumb leaving the amygdala in charge. You can think of this as flipping your lid. Your reasoning brain is no longer in charge and a more primitive part of our brain the amygdala, supports us in fighting, running or flight, or freezing or playing dead.

Much has been written about this response. To me it has been very useful in understanding what happens when we are traumatized. Strong feelings elicit strong responses. The following is an idea I have about discerning what to do with strong feelings that arise in us in a situation that isn’t dangerous to our survival now.

 I have noticed when either myself or others experience strong feelings we want to fix them. We are so uncomfortable with strong feelings and unfamiliar with dealing with them that we knee jerk to fix them rather than allow them to be there. There is a sense of urgency to make the feelings go away as quickly as possible. We imagine it is helpful to ourselves or others to talk ourselves or them out of the feelings, invalidate them or minimize them. What if we could learn to wait and sit with the feelings we have in ourselves or when we are with others experiencing strong feelings? What if we could breath and notice our reaction and be with what is? What if this mindfulness could support us in reengaging the prefrontal cortex or reasoning brain. According to what I have read it takes seven seconds to reengage the prefrontal cortex when the amygdala has been activated. That is three deep breaths. What if mindfulness could support us in seeing if perceived danger is really dangerous in the present moment?

 I am proposing an experiment to notice when we want to fight or run away or freeze in a stressful situation that isn’t dangerous to take three deep breathes. Instead of fixing our discomfort with the feeling we actually feel them and notice and wait. See if the act of showing up for yourself with your discomfort instead of fixing allows the feeling to dissipate or lessen. What if fixing feelings is an obstacle to experiencing and releasing them? What if mindfulness, or awareness and acceptance, of strong feelings could support us in having clearer thinking?  What if this could lead to healthier relationships with ourselves and others? What if the ability to sit with strong feelings would enable us to develop more self compassion and more compassion for each other?  What do you think? 

Tuesday, November 29, 2022


 While on a five day meditation retreat I had an experience that was deeply moving for me. It feels daunting to communicate clearly what happened and I want to share it with you. At the retreat my intention was to slow down and focus more on being than doing. I was having medium success. I was challenged by how busy my mind was and my familiar tendency to move fast and do a lot.

On the grounds of the retreat center where the retreat was held was a labyrinth. A labyrinth is an intricate series of circles made of stones that you walk through to the end of. You start on the outside and the path progresses in a winding path toward the center innermost circle where in this labyrinth was an altar. The purpose of walking a labyrinth is for contemplation. Focusing on the path ahead and continuing to walk through  the circles of stones can clear the mind of thought. This labyrinth was outside in a beautiful forest. I felt connected to the trees and the sky and the rocks and the earth beneath my feet as I walked. I danced to a rhythm inside myself as I walked. When I got to the center I saw that many people who had come before me had added rocks and different parts of trees to the altar. 

I picked up a large yellow leaf I was drawn to about a foot away and placed it on the altar. As I stood there the wind blew my leaf off of the altar and turned it upside down. On the underside of the leaf someone else had written Being with a black sharpie pen. To me it felt like the universe was giving me the experience that being was as important as doing. I got the chills thinking that someone else had written this message for themselves and then it got passed on to me. It felt like a transmission from the forest through another person. Standing there I felt connected to all there is. I was part of the interconnection of the roots of the trees and the earth and the sky and all the people who had been there before me. In that moment everything seemed to come together and I laughed out loud at the lovely synchronicity that had brought the message of Being to me. 

My delight continued and I smiled  broadly and chuckled to myself as I began to walk out of the labyrinth in my dance like style from the inner circle where the altar was. I even skipped for a bit. I made my way through the intricate pathway in ever widening circles of stones  to the outside of the labyrinth where the entrance and exit were.

I felt supported in my quest to open to Being and somehow I knew that I wasn’t doing it wrong to have my busy mind and be exactly who I was doing this retreat how I was doing it. Being has a wide embrace and all of who I am could be included. 

I am grateful. Thank you for listening.  Is there anything you would like to include about yourself in the wide embrace of Being that has been challenging for you to include?

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Pickleball as an FGO

 Pickleball is my new passion. I have never played a team sport or seen myself as an athlete. I was in High School before Title 9 mandated equal opportunity sports for girls. Our sports options were cheerleaders or Pom Pom girls,  neither of which I had any interest in. My family all skied and I grew up from age 11 skiing every weekend. I chose my first college because they had skiing for PE.  I skied for fifty years and stopped after I broke my leg. Lately my exercise activities have been  running, biking and hiking. I usually run and bike alone and hike either alone or with one other friend. Learning and teaching yoga have been foundational in my life. Playing a team sport was not even on my radar.

The idea of trying pickleball came to me because I heard that many seniors really enjoyed it. A close friend had started playing and loved it. I thought, Why not? I’ll check it out. 

Being a beginner at anything is so challenging. Being an awful beginner is even more challenging. Some people seemed to catch on much easier than me. I always felt like the worst one. Most people I played with through local meetups and rec centers were kind and some were helpful. One place I played at, I learned that many of the people played at one of the women’s private pickleball court. I screwed up my courage and asked if they were open to taking new people. The owner of the court said, “Maybe when you are better.” I was crushed. I almost quit and somehow I kept going. I knew by then that it was so valuable to me to stick with pickleball because I really enjoyed it and it gave me an amazing opportunity to work with my inner critic. I understand now that some people who have been playing for a while don’t want to be slowed down by a beginner. I try to be patient and generous with people who are just learning and it is a stretch sometimes.

I have a very harsh inner critic and pickleball has allowed me to watch it operate in its full glory. I soon learned that saying “You Suck” to myself wasn’t at all helpful and spiraled me into playing worse. The more I was mean to myself, the worse I played. Then as I kept playing and became aware of how berating myself affected my game, I started saying, “ Don’t do that to yourself or You don’t need to do that to yourself” about the criticism. That was basically criticizing myself for criticizing myself. That didn’t work either. 

Accepting myself as I am has been a lifelong challenge in almost all areas of my life. Pickleball is an arena to practice my skills at the game and  to practice my self-compassion. I started saying “I love you” to myself after all the shots I wasn’t pleased with, as an exercise in self-compassion. Now, when I say that to myself I mostly believe it. 

I now play two or three times a week. It’s very satisfying to me to notice that practicing really does lead to progress. I’ve also progressed with how I treat myself during the games.

It’s easier to be kind to myself.  I notice the kinder I can be, the more I enjoy myself and the better I play. I now try to remember to say I love you after all of my shots even the ones I feel good about. I have varying results with my games. I can still fall into being frustrated and impatient and feeling badly about myself for how I am playing. I am a slow learner and I guess I still have to be reminded over and over how uncomfortable criticizing myself is and how badly it affects my game. I think the concept of self-acceptance and compassion has been spilling over from pickleball and my meditation practice into more of my life.

What if I’m actually not a loser? What if it was courageous of me to start playing pickleball as a rank beginner and keep practicing and getting better? I am still sometimes the worst one playing. At least I think so. Sometimes I can tell I am getting better. Sometimes I get feedback from others about a good shot or a good serve. I am surprised and pleased.

Although I am very competitive, it has been important to me to acknowledge both my teammate and the opposing teammates for good shots. I think my positively acknowledging the other team has modeled it for others. I think I have been able to influence the energy to be more collaborative and more positive. I try to remember that pickle ball is fun. That’s mostly why I love it. It’s fun to play hard and have a satisfying game. What if any game could be a satisfying game if I let it? 

Today I also practiced focusing on three things I feel good about how I played after a day of not playing as well as I would have liked. That seemed like a good practice. Yesterday I was on cloud nine because I thought I played great. I’d like to learn to embrace the ebb and flow and recognize that it would be possible to move beyond good bad right wrong. What if being present with what is, is even available in pickle ball? And in life. I’m going to begin next game to recognize when I am being present with my body and the other players and the flow of the game and acknowledge myself for that. Who knows what heights that will lead me to with my game?

One of my friends who plays pickleball has said it is her intention to celebrate every shot as a learning opportunity. A worthwhile goal, in my opinion. What if this could be true of life? That we are moving through life to acknowledge the opportunity to learn and grow. All of it is an opportunity to learn and grow. Even learning to work with a harsh inner critic is an opportunity to learn and grow. One of my clients calls challenges that life presents FGOs. It stands for F##king growth opportunity. That makes me smile whenever I think of it. I salute pickleball as my newest FGO. I look forward to continue to grow in my skill in the game and in my sweetness to myself. 

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Navigating a relationship crossroad

My partner and I are at a crossroads in our relationship. We’ve been together for almost a year. We are very different people and want some of the same things. The crossroad we are navigating is “Can we accept who the other is without trying to change them? Can we each be ourselves without pretending or abdicating ourselves or hiding out in what’s comfortable and honor our relationship at the same time? What would a relationship based on true acceptance of ourselves and each other look like? Could we enjoy ourselves together more and find more common ground? 

I have had little experience with real acceptance in a romantic relationship before. When I have been in a relationship with a man, I have spent a lot of time in judgement, preoccupied and distracted, even if I only have voiced some of what I am judging the other person about. Ultimately, I am judging myself for doing it wrong by choosing the wrong person again. In the past, my preoccupation with judgement has lead to resentment and being critical on my part, and withdrawal on my partners part. I have hidden a great deal of what I want and need from myself and the other person and been afraid to give voice to my needs.

My current partner and I have been more honest and more accepting than I have experienced before. We each bring up what we need to clear with each other regularly and both experience feeling closer out of clearing conflict. We are both skilled at deep listening and being genuinely curious about the other’s take. We also practice eye gazing when we first get together, to connect on a deeper level without words. In a few minutes the energy can shift and we can move toward more awareness that we are connected on a deeper level that feels safe and easefull. In this energy we are both aware that we are all one. All of this is precious to me.

I have always wanted to experience a long term committed relationship and that dream has alluded me. My longest relationship was for ten years with my daughter’s father over thirty years ago. I have many women friends who are in several decades long relationships, some for forty or fifty years. Other people have seemed to master the art of accepting another person for who they are. The ones who have learned to chose each other in the midst of it all, are the ones with seemingly happy marriages. The ones who continue focusing on what’s wrong seem terribly unhappy.

What does acceptance look like? Can I be curious about acceptance enough to hang in there and see what happens? Can he? There is enough good in our relationship to make it worthwhile for both of us to continue to grow and learn together. There are also some very real challenges we face with how differently we each live our lives and what is important to each of us. Can we allow ourselves to enjoy each other more and find more common ground? Can we find a balance with what we each enjoy doing alone and with others and spending more time together? Is seeing each other twice a week and living in two separate houses working? It is now. What if all there is is now? 

What if in this moment I have enough of what I want?  I could continue to ask to be present and explore with curiosity what is available when both of us are choosing each other. I appreciate that we are both willing to embrace each other and our questions.

I’d like to continue to show up for myself and what I am feeling in my body. I’d like to continue to notice my judgements of myself and of him. I’d like to give intentional airtime to focusing on what is good between us. I’d like to be aware that I have decades of experience being accepting of my close friends and clients. Maybe, I’ll trust myself in knowing I am in the process of applying my wisdom about acceptance with friends and clients, where it is easy for me, to a romantic relationship.

It is true that each of us will celebrate the other whatever the outcome of this passage is. I treasure that. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2022


 Tonight I hung out, ate popcorn and watched a movie. I really enjoyed the movie and being with myself. Sometimes it is challenging for me to spend time doing things that seem frivolous or with out purpose.

This year I have the intention to open to pleasure. Pleasure kind of scares me. I feel so out of control.

As long as I am practicing  all of my disciplines and being the queen of self care my life feels manageable.

I think for some people, who tend more toward inactivity, more discipline is a worthy intention. For me I notice sometimes that doing all of my disciplines every day can get kind of compulsive and even tyrannical. I miss out on the sweetness of life.  My new discipline is to be more spontaneous.

This week several activities I usually do haven’t worked out. I have had more time to do whatever I want and to even see what that is. What if playing solitaire isn’t a moral crime?

Tomorrow morning the yoga class I usually attend got changed to virtual because of Covid. This class doesn’t really work for me to do virtually with my hearing challenges. I have a lot of options. I don’t work until 1:00. Usually I would plan out the morning tonight. Instead my plan is to wake up and see what I feel like doing. What if I want to sleep in instead of doing yoga and meditation? What if I want to eat when I’m hungry and not let my intermittent fasting window decide when I eat? What if enjoying myself is my new frontier? 

It’s not like there is no pleasure in my life. Rather it is not what I have focused on. I have focused on growing and learning and I have grown and learned a lot. I think it is time now to begin to shift my focus to include exploring what feels good to me rather than what is missing in myself and in my life.

I feel excited. What if I let go of my usual all or nothing MO and began to explore what feels good in the midst of practicing my disciplines? What if what changed was the idea that I need to keep active and always doing something to be OK? What if embracing slowing down would give me a chance to better accept myself and my life as it is and to be curious. 

Ah, curiosity. What if I could be more often curious and less often  judgemental? What if curiosity would open my heart? What if I could even be curious about being judgemental? What if Self-Compassion involved asking ,what’s this like for me? instead of Why? 

There are a lot of sad and scary things happening in the world right now. The climate emergency is looming, Our political system seems to be stagnated with partisan politics. Hateful things are happening every day. Covid 19 is rapidly spreading right now. All of this is true and its easy to meet it all with despair and  numbness.

Somehow focusing on pleasure seems even more important right now, in the midst of these very challenging times. If I am aware of when I am enjoying myself I have more access to being present with what I am doing. Being more present allows me to think more clearly and have better access to all of my feelings. Better access to all of my feelings and clearer thinking allows me to feel more alive. Feeling more alive allows me to let go of going through the motions and doing things to get them over with so I can  move on to the next thing. I want to practice savoring moments more.

My adventure is deeper awareness and taking the time to notice what  feels good and what doesn’t and giving myself the option to chose differently or continue.

Right now, I am done writing. Thank you for listening. What role does pleasure play in your life?

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Two Rivers

 Tonight in a class a woman shared about a dream she had with two rivers. One was turbulent with rushing water and pieces of debris being dragged along with the current. The water was unsettled and muddy.

The other river was calm and clear and flowed along serenely. The person sharing was in a situation with an unknown outcome. She decided to pause and consider that the two different rivers represented a choice. Her choice wasn’t about which course of action to follow in her decision. Her choice was about which river to choose about her reaction to the decision making process. Would she choose to be in turmoil or serenity about the outcome of her dilemma? She chose to be accepting of  whatever the outcome was, knowing she would be OK either way. The calm river to her was the river of letting go of anxiety about the outcome of her situation- trusting that whatever happened would be what happened.

I got to use the pausing and two rivers concept right after the class. In a new relationship I was feeling neglected. I paused and considered two rivers: The turbulent one was taking the other person’s busyness personally and withdrawing.  I knew the other person being temporarily unavailable had nothing to do with me. In the past that hasn’t stopped me from making up a story that I am being abandoned and reacting with anger, either by accusing or withdrawing. When I paused I could see both rivers. The calm river flowed by. It represented trusting my knowing rather than my story. What if I chose the calm river this time? I knew I could be compassionate with myself about my discomfort. I could show up for myself and  reassure myself about feeling hurt. I could comfort myself about feeling sad instead of getting mad and believing my old story. I could then be supportive of the other person completing their current stressful report and offer encouragement to keep going because they were almost done. 

I chose the calm river. What a good feeling to deeply know that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Pausing before the two rivers was a powerful way to chose anew.

My favorite quote, which I’ve mentioned before,  is by Victor Frankl.

 Freedom is the pause between stimulus and response. 

Reacting with anger or withdrawing in response to imagined abandonment is a patterned response with a lot of history for me. Pausing at the stimulus, which is whatever another is doing that triggers me into my habitual response, allows me to sooth myself and show up for myself about what I am feeling. I can comfort the little girl inside me who felt abandoned by my emotionally unavailable Dad, and let her experience her hurt and anger. I can let her know that she didn’t do anything wrong. I can reassure her that her father was acting distracted and withdrawn because that’s what he did with his own pain. It had nothing to do with her. I could even go back in time to advocate for her with my Dad and let him know that withdrawing emotionally was an unacceptable way to treat a little girl. I could let him know I was taking her home with me where she could be loved in the way she deserved to be. Then I could hold her and let her cry. In this way I could create the shift to begin to heal the past in the present. It’s also important to acknowledge ourselves for choosing the calm river and doing things differently when we do. 

Consider pausing and thinking about those two rivers when you are faced with a dilemma or find yourself poised to react in a habitual way. I think it will even be helpful to me after I’ve reacted in a habitual way and chose the turbulent river, to consider what the calm river might have been. Hopefully I can be accepting of what is and forgiving with myself about reacting habitually. Acceptance and forgiveness allows me to be kinder to myself. Kindness and compassion can help create the spaciousness needed to chose a healthier option in the future. Pausing at the banks of  those two rivers can be an  opportunity to create change that comes from acceptance. That kind of change feels healthy and sustainable to me.

Thank you for listening.