Wednesday, March 31, 2010

OUR PERSONAL HOLOCAUSTS

The words Remember and Never Again do not only apply to the Holocaust created by the insanity of Nazi Germany and the Hitler regime. They also apply to our personal trials and tribulations.

People have an uncanny knack for undermining themselves in a Heinz variety of ways. For people who are supposedly inclined toward Hedonism--the seeking of pleasure and avoidance of pain--we can often go the other way. Sometimes, the very pleasures we seek cause the pains from which we suffer.

For those for whom these words apply it is critically important that we learn from our mistakes rather than repeat them. Personal growth is all about making new choices that sustain our pride bank and avoid adding to our shame and blame accounts.

Not all of our parts are fully grown, rational and self-protective. We can and do harm ourselves with the same ruthlessness as an enemy soldier. Let us use the words, Remember and Never Again to remind us to err on the side of caution, avoid the seductiveness of denial and hubris and learn from our past, so our futures can be much more comfortable and secure.

Bye For Now,

Bill

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE JEWISH

I have previously said that I think I am a pretty good writer until I come across a masterful one. Then I am in awe while realizing my limitations. I will keep practicing.

That is the case having just finished reading Sarah's Key, by Tatiana de Rosnay. I was 6 months and 2 days old on July 16, 1942. In all these years later, I don't recall having heard of Vel' d'Hiv -- the day the Jews of Paris and their children were sent to slaughter by Parisian police and other citizens.

This book is a gripping, painful, insightful,emotional commemorative that you will be hard pressed to put down. It may cause you to temporarily hate the beautiful city, until you realize that Europe was infected with the insanity and barbarism of Nazism. It will also make you appreciate those non Jews who tried, often in vain, to help those who were made to wear the yellow stars. As the title of this blog suggest, anyone can be spell bound by this book as it alternates between then and now.

Tonight is the second night of Passover. Zakhor. Al Tichkah. Remember. Never Forget.Never again!

More on this tomorrow.

Bye For Now,

Bill

Monday, March 29, 2010

DRAWING FROM HISTORIAL OPTIMISM

Tonight is the first night of Passover. For those who celebrate I hope you have a happy holiday.

Passover celebrates the Jewish people's escape from Egypt after being held as slaves. They then spent forty years wandering the desert toward the promised land. Surely, they needed to feel positive and optimistic to make both the escape and that long journey. Clearly, they had to sustain hope against all odds. Certainly, their spiritual beliefs kept them going as did their leaders.

What can we learn from that time? There is much in the traditional Passover prayer book that has always seemed hard to understand to me. Even the four questions seem to miss the important issues. What I think we can learn is that Jews have always struggled against oppressive forces. Despite that, they have maintained a positive spirit that enabled them to survive--even through the Holocaust.

Jew and non Jew alike can learn from this simple model of overcoming challenges, maintaining hope and persevering against all odds. As people we all struggle. Our response needs to be that we never,never, never give up. We also never forget so that it never happens again--individually, religiously or culturally. More on this tomorrow.

Bye For Now,

Bill

Friday, March 26, 2010

ON CONTAINING CESS AND BUILDING DAM GRAMS

No I don't really believe there is a cess pool and a dam in the back of our heads.(see yesterday's blog).I think the billions of wires that connect our brains work very much like a computer (or a computer works very much like a brain) so that much of our past is stored in all that circuitry. We may not remember it, but it is there and has an influence on an unconscious level. Identifying that level was Freud's most significant contribution to our understanding of the human mind.

I do believe that our minds work that way and that our present can be strongly affected by our past. This alone, explains why highly visible people do highly dumb things that cause them serious embarrassments. It also explains why pretty invisible people do those dumb things too, defying the hedonistic creed of seeking pleasure and avoiding pain.There is too much unavoidable pain in our world today,which makes it even sillier to bring it on ourselves!

All of this explains why people seek help, rehab, counseling, etc. after the proverbial cat has leaped out of the bag rather than before. If you have a cat in your bag that can hurt you and those you care about call for help NOW! Don't wait till the panic attacks,suicidal depression,infidelity,DUI,etc happens. Work on cleansing cess and strengthening dam grams before it bites you in the not so proverbial ass!

Bye For Now,

Bill

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I GIVE A DAM!

When I was going through my own mental misery in the early 70's I sought information to help explain why I was struggling with such horrible anxieties and panic. This was the dark ages of understanding our minds and what caused them not to work so well.

So, I devised a simple model to help me explain my confusion. I then shared it with the people I was helping so they could better and more clearly understand themselves. The title of this blog is actually a title of a chapter in "Getting Back Up From an Emotional Down," a book I am happy to send you as a gift. Just send me your snail mail address via email at williampenzerphd@yahoo.com.

Simply stated, I posited a storage center at the back of our brain that I called a Cess Pool. This stored all of the negative, hurtful, self-deflating experiences we encountered and the associated emotions. If this was all we had in our heads, we would all live in a hospital where you couldn't distinguish between the doctors and the patients. Fortunately, there is also a storage center where the positive and pride building experiences and associated emotions are stored. This I called the Dam. As long as the dam is solid and can contain the cess we feel and function fine. When the cess overruns the dam we experience, anxiety, depression and many other painful emotional syndromes.

The moral of the story is that we need to do our best to fill our pride banks that in turn fill our dams and limit that which we knowingly put into our shame and blame account,that only adds to our pools.

Take a personal inventory. How solid is your dam? How filled is your pool? How are you helping to keep it that way? If your dam comes up short and/or your pool comes up flooded it may just be time to modify some aspects of your behavior and/or call a lifeguard,aka a mental health counselor, psychologist, social worker,or psychiatrist.We give a dam while simultaneously cleansing the pool (see yesterday's blog)

Unfortunately, most people wait till the flood gates are submerged and their pool is raging past their dam like the ocean in a serious storm. Wait till the eleventh hour if you must,but try to come in before two minutes to twelve!

More on this tomorrow.

Bye For Now,

Bill

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

MIND CLEANSING

I was thinking about the work my colleagues and I do and wondered if it was a form of brainwashing. One could argue that in trying to convince people to give up their hurtful habits,negative energy,fears and worries and maladaptive perceptions that we as therapists, counselors, life coaches, etc were, in fact, engaging in some type of mind altering techniques.

However, upon reflection I don't think it is like that at all. For one, I don't think we are trying to convince people of anything. As cognitive/behavioral mental health workers we are trying to desensitize how people see and react to their experiences. We are trying to bring in a more realistic perspective to override the distortions to which all minds are prone.

As more dynamic mental health workers we are also trying to help people understand the links between their past and their present so that the future is not as muddied and muddled. In that role we are neutralizing historical cess so it doesn't make so much of a mess.

Seems like it is more about mind cleansing than brain washing. More on this tomorrow.

Bye For Now,

Bill

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

WET STRESS

Last week it rained all day and I realized that is a stressful experience. You have to wear a jacket, carry an umbrella, park closer than usual, deal with wet shoes,walk carefully, etc.

Then I realized we are so spoiled here in Florida that we expect sunshine routinely. In fact, we feel entitled to it and bitch and moan when it is cold, rainy or even cloudy.

Into each life some rain must fall! But, let it not be on a day we have to get to work or do things.

The good news here is that the sun will shine again soon.

Let us appreciate the wonderful weather and tolerate the off days better.

Bye For Now,

Bill

Monday, March 22, 2010

TECHNOLOGIC MIRACLES--Skype Hype

Today I spoke with my daughter and son-in-law over the computer via skype. No phone or headphone required. It is quite an experience that many don't know about!

We could see each other via video cam. It was all free spirited and it was all free.

Gratitude is appreciating what we have and what we have is amazing -- especially for this Bronx kid -- who marvels every day at the access to info and more on the internet.

Enjoy it all. We can only wonder what will be available in the next decade. For sure, it will be even more amazing.

Bye For Now,

Bill

Friday, March 19, 2010

A MEATY TOPIC

Yesterday's blog talked about unanticipated changes that can occur spontaneously. Here is an example.

I went to West Africa in 1982 to learn about alternative healing/medicine. It was a fascinating adventure. When I came back home I had completely lost my taste for meat. It wasn't as if vegan was a hot topic on the trip and there were no animal issues in that part of Africa. We were on the coast so fish were plentiful and delicious, but I never knew why my ability to eat meat was reduced to an occasional hot dog or piece of bacon or salami. Steaks, chops, ribs and the like were literally off the table.

That went on for 27 years. Then this summer I began tasting meat and found it enjoyable. I don't eat much for health reasons, but it is nice to have that potential back in my repertoire. I tasted my son's prime rib and wife's veal chop just tonight. Both were better than the scallops I chose to eat.

The point is not about eating meat. It is about a persons ability to modify habits back and forth and back again. It is about planned and spontaneous changes that can occur. It is about our structured efforts to change (i.e, therapy, taking a class, reading a book, etc.) and about those that occur unexpectedly. It is about allowing our lives to be in progress by keeping an open mind and about our personal potentials to keep moving toward becoming a more complete adult. It is all about the dignity of human growth at just about any age!

Bye For Now,

Bill

Thursday, March 18, 2010

LIVES IN PROGRESS

I used the title phrase in a recent email to a friend. It made me think about the fact that our lives are truly a work in progress, like an artist's painting or a writer's unfinished book or symphony. We are unfinished -- at least until we are done!

The beauty of that idea lies in our potential to continue to learn, modify, strengthen and grow. The key word in that sentence is potential. Many, perhaps too many, get stuck in a hamster-like wheel. They go round and around and never fully explore the world around them, the unknown windows of opportunity or their personal potentials.

I encourage you not to be a completed person, but to continue to strive toward becoming more complete. There is a series of articles I wrote called, "Becoming A More Complete Adult" at williampenzer.com.

See yourself as a person in progress. Know and believe that the most amazing changes can occur without your ever planning for them or knowing exactly why they occurred. More on that tomorrow.

Bye For Now,

Bill

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

DO YOUR HANDS REACH?

I am pretty sure they do. Consistent with yesterday's blog it is also appropriate to pat yourself on the back every day. Doesn't matter your age, but the older you are the more pats you get!

It is likely that you haven't done everything the way you would have liked.It is likely you have made some minor and a few major fumbles on the football field of your life. Hopefully, you have learned from your mistakes rather than repeating them.

But, you still deserve some pats for that which you did well and for that which you continue to do well. You also deserve some pats for trying independent of the outcome. In addition, pat yourself for times you worked hard, even if you no longer work. And if you raised a child or three give yourself double pats for every one you raised and quadruple pats for any you are still raising.

The point is we need to pat ourselves on the back for all our efforts and accomplishments --past, present and future. It is nice when others do that too, but doing it for ourselves is a form of taking care of you. That, my friends, is a very important and often neglected piece of the self-equation. Try it, you may just like it!

See my article, "Taking Better Care of You" at williampenzer.com


Bye For Now,

Bill

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

THE TIME TO REAP IS BEFORE YOU WEEP!

One reaches a certain stage in life when it becomes time to prioritize enjoyment,relaxation and pleasure over duties, obligations and responsibilities. This is not to suggest being selfish, but does suggest being self and couple first. This is not to suggest being lazy,but balancing between the demands of life and the rewards of life.

Ultimately, the clock runs out on all of us. We never quite know what's coming around the corner. Seizing the moment is never more important than when one moves into one's 60's and beyond. These rewards need not be major. They can be as simple as a walk on the beach or reading a good novel or listening to some fine music of your choosing.

Enjoy life while you can still walk and talk. Appreciate every moment as precious and feel a full measure of gratitude for each and every day, however you chose to spend it.

For me, I find that I have things I want to do and things I have to do. The latter can easily override the former. I am working to balance them out in a fair and reasonable fashion. It takes effort and focus. I am trying. I hope you are too! I am proud to say, I'm not a robot, anymore. That is the title of an article I am working on. That is one of many things I want to do.

Take better care of yourself. If not now when? If not you, who?

Bye For Now,

Bill

Monday, March 15, 2010

TECHNOLOGIC MIRACLES--Skype Hype

Today I spoke with my daughter and son-in-law over the computer via skype. No phone or headphone required. It is quite an experience that many don't know about!

We could see each other via video cam. It was all free spirited and it was all free.

Gratitude is appreciating what we have and what we have is amazing -- especially for this Bronx kid -- who marvels every day at the access to info and more on the internet.

Enjoy it all. We can only wonder what will be available in the next decade. For sure, it will be even more amazing.

Bye For Now,

Bill

CANCELLED MY FLIGHT TO FRANCE!

On 3/2/10 Sara P appeared on Jay L's show. It seemed a fitting bond given their mutual miseries of late.

She debued as a comedienne. She was funny and I laughed out loud. Then I breathed a sigh of relief. Can you begin to imagine what the politicos would do with that on a "paid for by citizens supporting any democrat"? Can you imagine the Sat Night Live ratings soaring as Tina F did a take off as Sara P doing a take off on Tina F? I think with that performance the tea party switched to vodka.

I now think the plan is clear. She has decided to try to influence the system while enjoying the rewards of her celebrity. The only thing she will run for is sustaining her image. Perhaps she will replace Ellen on Idol or something like that.

She will not ever be President of the United States. Someday she may roast him or her. I can live with that. I will even laugh at that...all the way to the polls.

Bye for Now,
Bill

Friday, March 12, 2010

ARE YOU THE MOST YOU CAN BE?

There will never be another now. I will make the most of today. There will never be another time. I will make the most of myself.
Robert Schuller

Based on Dr. Shuller's quote, the question remains whether you are making the most of you? I venture to guess that most of us are not. If that is true for you, ask yourself what else might you could be doing now that would enhance your own self. How might you, based on last weeks blog, be taking better care of your soul?

The answer need not be complex. It might be as simple as committing to read this blog every day. Or reading some other inspiring passage. Or, it might be in hugging someone you love more often. It could be to commit to something healthy for yourself like eating less and exercising more.

Making the most of our self need not be monumental. It does need to be meaningful for YOU! Think about what you could do today and tomorrow that would feel good for you and fill what I call your pride bank. Just thinking about it is prideful. Doing it is even more so. Nothing feels better than feeling proud of your SELF.

Bye For Now,

Bill

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I SELL HOPE!!

In my book, Getting Back Up From An Emotional Down," I used the title phrase. I did not mean it in a crude sense, but in the sense that one of the many jobs of a psychotherapist or counselor is to offer a hopeful future to a less than hopeful person. In fact, now that I think about it that was my motivation for starting this blog at a time we faced a severe economic depression.

It is much easier to do this today as a therapist than it was in past times. We know so much more. We have so many tools in our kit. Modern psychiatric meds have contributed greatly to a more rapid recovery. No one having the symptoms I had in the 70's would have had to endure a five year, three time a week analysis. Today, we could name that tune in three to nine months of once weekly visits.

Often, I can guarantee relief and resolution if the person stays with the regimen and keeps coming to counseling. Now that is what I call hope. I only wish someone was able to offer that to me back in those dark days of despair and depression. None-the-less, I am here to tell the tale which suggests to me that even without hope, persistence pays. As the sign in my office reads,NEVER,NEVER,NEVER GIVE UP!!!

Here's hoping you feel hopeful today and everyday.

Happy to send you a copy of the Getting Back Up... book as a gift.

Bye For Now,

Bill

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I HOPE YOU HAVE HOPE!

There is no medicine like hope,no incentive so great,and no tonic so powerful as expectations of something tomorrow.
Orison Marden

Year ago I discovered the importance and power of hope. It was when I was going through my emotional down of anxiety, panic and phobia, well before those words were common. Struggling and suffering day after day made it difficult to hold onto hope. It was, at best, a grease covered rope.

What made it worse was that we knew so little about emotional pain in the 70's. It was the dark ages. After all, hope is based on information that feeds tomorrow's expectations. Without it and with my analyst saying, "We must continue to analyze", I felt like I was drifting further and further out to sea on a slowly deflating raft.

Five years later, when I was released from the prison and torment of my mind I realized I had somehow managed to hold onto a ray of hope throughout this pain filled ordeal.I hadn't drowned after all.

In today's world filled with information, and understanding it is so much easier to offer hope to those who need it. More on this tomorrow.

Bye For Now,

Bill

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

WHY I FEEL SORRY FOR CELEBRITIES

Yesterday, the teller in the bank asked if I was going incognito as I was wearing sun glasses. I responded by saying, "Yup, the paparazzi are following me everywhere I go."

This led me to think about how difficult it must be to be a celebrity. Yes, I understand the fame and fortune appeal, but think about having to prethink every public move you make. Think about needing a body guard. Think about the limits it imposes on your freedom and mobility. Think about the negative publicity potentials, as one of the rich and famous seems to stumble into negative news everyday. Think also about the lack of privacy for the celeb, his/her partner, kids, etc.

All of a sudden it doesn't seem so glamorous to be a celebrity. It seems like work and pressure which is perhaps why so many end up in rehab for drugs and alcohol.

I think I will remain among the masses, but I will keep my shades on just in case!

Bye For Now,

Bill

Monday, March 8, 2010

FEELING GRATEFUL

There isn't a day that goes by that I don't feel grateful for something or other. As I have previously said those kinds of feelings are milk for the mind.

Last week I said to my wife, "I feel grateful for having hair at my age." Today, I feel grateful for having a little extra time this morning to write this blog.

Gratitude is not always about major, life altering things. Most of the time it is about acknowledging and appreciating the little things in life that make ours feel better. Too often we forget to do that. Some of us seem to dwell mostly on the bad stuff.

I hope today you will find something to feel grateful about.

Bye For Now,

Bill

Friday, March 5, 2010

IN LIGHT OF THE DALAI LAMA'S VISIT

He came to South Florida last week. Most were impressed with his serenity and peacefulness. He emits healing energies by his very presence.

We can learn to be that way too. Here is a simple formula:

gratitude for what we have
comfort within our own skin despite our deficiencies
practicing some form of relaxation regularly
adopting a moderate and balanced position
avoiding all things evil
loving ourselves and those near and dear
practicing kindness when it is earned.

Easier said than done,but eminently doable. His eminence does it just that way. We can too!

Bye For Now,

bill

Thursday, March 4, 2010

HAPPINESS

Have a variety of interests that relax the mind and lessen tension on the nervous system. People with many interests live, not only longest, but happiest.

George Allen

This seems to relate to the blog last week about happier people having healthier hearts.

Bye For Now,

bill

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

PROFESSIONALISM MY WAY

I can honestly say that i never woke up and thought, S---t, I have to go to work today.

Helping people is not work for me. My thoughts have always been,"I am going to have a pleasant day helping others do their life a little better than they have been doing.It has never been framed as a task, chore or burden.I have never viewed it solely as a source of income. I always wanted to fill my pride bank and my piggy bank.

In my younger days I would see 8-10 people, one after another. I never tired. My work was consistent from the first appointment to the last. I left my office feeling pleased and proud that I was able to do my very best to help others do their very best.

These days I tire more easily. I don't see nearly as many people. But I still leave my office feeling proud. I hope the same is true for you.

Bye For Now,

bill

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

ON BEING A PROFESSIONAL

Being a professional is doing the things you love to do on the days when you don't feel like doing them.
Julius Erving

A professional is one who does his best work when he feels the least like working.
Frank Lloyd Wright

The happy and fulfilled professional loves what s/he does so they never feel it is work and therefore never not feel like doing their job.
Bill Penzer

Monday, March 1, 2010

XMAS ANYTIME!

Christmas music makes me happy. That is a powerful statement for a Jewish guy.

When I shuffle my IPOD while walking in the park I hear an occasional Xmas tune. I enjoy it very much.

Where is it written that we can only listen to Xmas music in December?

Hate to sound like a cliche, but we need to think outside the proverbial box when it comes to happy. What improves your mood? Figure it out and do it whenever you like.

However, if what makes you happy is GLOP (see previous blogs) then that's not what I am talking about. I am talking about natural, organic and green happy. I am talking about what is healthy and balanced happy. I am talking about what puts a smile on your face and a bounce in your stride without serious potential negative consequences. I'm talking about Xmas music and the like. Jingle Bells and so on.

Bye For Now,

bill