I am currently reading a book by Caroline Knapp “Drinking: A Love Story,” in which she details her struggles with alcoholism and the story of her recovery. I highly recommend the book! So many people are living with chronic addictive illnesses either in the active stages or in recovery from it. As a therapist I find myself discussing addictions of different stripes with my clients almost daily. I have read more books about the topic than I can count and am always seeking out more information and training on the matter. A recurring theme related to addiction is the description of people using a substance (or sometimes a behavior such as gambling or binge eating) to cope with a feeling. Addictive illness is an intensely complicated topic, so the accounts of the feelings and situations that drive people to drink or use are individual and diverse. Continue reading
“If you don’t want to get old you have to die young.” This aphorism caught my attention immediately when I read it many years ago and I have since then often remembered it and sometimes quoted it when the moment seemed right. Having lost quite a few friends to illnesses and accidents when we were all still young, I felt that complaining about the aging process was indeed a luxury only people who survived life long enough to enter this process were afforded. I am now at the strange place in life where I’m neither young nor old and my friends range in ages from the very young to octogenarians. Another aphorism pops into my mind more often now, i.e. “In every old person is a young one utterly surprised.” Continue reading
In my work as a therapist and clinical social worker I come across the concept of hope frequently. For the last years I worked at an agency in San Francisco serving people who were often homeless, very poor, addictively ill, and who had been confronted with existential obstacles for a long time–sometimes all of their lives. Many of them experienced traumatizing events. From the outside it would seem that hope is not easy to come by when your life path has been one of struggles and disappointments. When I began my work at this agency, I was told that one of my tasks was to give people hope. Continue reading
I am immensely fortunate and grateful to have a number of very dear friends. Some live close by and some are far away on other continents. One of them, my spouse, I see every day, and others I have not seen in years. I was taking a walk not too long ago and started thinking of a friend I had not spoken to in a few weeks and made a mental note to call her later that day. During this thought process I realized how close I felt to her and how her friendship, warmth, and support have settled in me, become part of me, something I can feel and have access to independent of actual contact. Just thinking of this friend made me feel accepted and appreciated. Continue reading
Following up on my vitality post I wanted to share this photo of some perky pansies I took not too long ago. I grew up with harsh winters and am still amazed at the San Francisco winters and the life force of nature which just pops through here unbridled.
I often think about vitality. It is an irresistible force and people who derive their energy directly from their love and acceptance of life are magnetic to me. All of us are kept alive by vitality, it is the pure energy that set in motion our first heartbeat as well as the first neuron sparking in our brain. It is the energy we feel when we wake up in the morning and that we use to get out of bed and face the day whether our body aches or our soul is crying from sadness. Continue reading