Posted in Mental Health, Psychology, Self Help

Runnin’ The Gauntlet

Welcome to my Heart 2 Heart Series featuring existential reflections of the narratives of my heart stories and those of my children and how these stories impact me, my wife, family & friends. Glad you have joined me on this introspective journey.

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One week and counting. Things are really starting to get real

Biggest concern I have these days is, “Will the surgery be postponed?”

Imagination is one of the most powerful cognitive processes we humans leverage to helps us make sense of the world and make plans to manage the “Bullshit of Life.” I’m an incredibly imaginative guy. So, you can imagine how many different scenarios I’ve played out in my head as to why I will not have surgery on January 31st.

When I experience “Temptationitis”, my imagination running away with me, life becomes a rollercoaster. Thinking of all of the reasons that the surgery WILL NOT HAPPEN on the 31st creates a cascading waterfall of thoughts that collect in a giant turbulent whirlpool of emotions. The whirlpool is surrounded by palm tress to add some visualization for relaxation.

I’m combating my escalating levels of anxiety by keeping myself busy, focusing on wrapping things up with a few of my clients, putting my consulting projects on hold, while getting other projects to a point where I and let go of them for a while. I am as well as watching mindless TV and reading.

Like a NASCAR driver five (5) laps from winning their first race who suddenly feels a loose wheel or senses that the engine is about to blow, I am damn near paranoid that something will get in the way of me having surgery on the 31st.

As far as the surgery goes, I have the easiest part, I will be asleep through most of it. Once I get on the other side of the surgery and recovery starts, I’m back in control. Or so I think. Post surgery, my recovery and my return to an active and adventure-filled life is all in front of me and within my reach. That’s where I want to get. The other side of the surgery. But I have to have the surgery first.

Getting to the surgical date of January 31st, getting to the hospital, getting prepped, and being wheeled in for the big event, well that’s my gauntlet. Occupying myself with activities, intentionally and deliberately planned activities, will help me get through this gauntlet so that I can enter that operating room mentally, physically, spiritually prepared. 

Posted in Mental Health, Psychology, Self Help

Shutdown Coming

Welcome to my Heart 2 Heart Series featuring existential reflections of the narratives of my heart stories and those of my children and how these stories impact me, my wife, family & friends. Glad you have joined me on this introspective journey.

Follow the Blog for Updated Posts to This Series

When I taught graduate level students to two major universities, I pontificated on how being a counselor is like being an entrepreneur. My license to practice counseling is a license to be a business owner.

Business ownership is an “E-Ticket” ride to adventure. Being your own boss is great. Plenty of autonomy and freedom for the taking. Setting your own schedule. Inconsistent pay and royalty checks are like walking a tightrope. Not getting paid when you are not working or providing care (i,e, sick and vacation time) can be a bit unnerving for some of us.

As I prepare for my surgery, hospitalization and recovery, I am winding down my counseling and consulting business for a period of five to six weeks. Not to mention the weeks preceding and following my surgery and recovery will be different in terms of volume of meetings, energy needed and income generation. My anxiety over not having any and/or low income while ensuring that my clients can “span the gap in care” are two very real concerns that have my full attention.

I have been working with my clients for the past several weeks and will continue up to the start of my medical leave on Saturday, January 28, 2023, to ensure that they are prepared for this interruption to their care. My focus is to ensure that my health and recovery do not unnecessarily impact my client’s care and experience; and that disruption is at a minimum.

Secondary to my client’s care is my own financial security and long term health of my counseling and consulting business. Winding then shutting the business down for a period of two months is a definitely scary and not for the faint of heart. Loss of income, purpose and productivity can be tough on everyone of us. These losses create anxiety and even depression on top of the anxiety and depression associated with health crises. Planning and preparation have and will continue to help. A solid partnership, love and unity have and will continue to help. Faith has and will continue to help.

On the up side, my medical leave will give me time to retool and improve my counseling and consulting skills and approaches. I will emerge from the leave a better and more qualified counselor and business owner.

Posted in Mental Health, Psychology, Self Help

Death or Divorce

Welcome to my Heart 2 Heart Series featuring existential reflections of the narratives of my heart stories and those of my children and how these stories impact me, my wife, family & friends. Glad you have joined me on this introspective journey.

Follow the Blog for Updated Posts to This Series.

Me in Seattle Eating Awesome Sushi

So, the other day a colleague of my wife’s, who is moderately aware of my heart related saga, “checked in” on my wife who was working with the lights off (her work space has windows) wrapped in a blanket of silence.

“Nancy? Are you OK?” quietly asked her colleague as she peaked in and moved like a sloth into the bowels of the room as if she were avoiding something.

“Yes. why?” my wife replied a touch confused yet also focused on her own work.

“Well, I didn’t see you wearing your wedding ring” (dramatic pause, somber music starts and slowly grows) and thought, we were thinking…”

My wife interrupted her quickly, “We are all ok. Just didn’t have the time to put my rings on.”

Her colleague, along with a gaggle of other colleagues, wondered if Nancy and I were getting a divorce during the time-frame when I was in the hospital due to my heart issues last month. She was not wearing rings and she was taking time off from work, a rarity for my wife whose work ethic is even stronger than mine due to higher levels of anxiety related to being fired for not having 100% attendance – like getting a letter grade reduction while in high school.

Initially I laughed. Shook my head and though, “people.” Then, as it lingered, I pondered would I rather they be concerned that I have died or if we are getting a divorce.

Dead I get. Heart surgery and hospitalization for heart issues sets a foundation for THAT narrative.

Why divorced? What’s the basis for THAT narrative? Not wearing rings. My wife has a ring for almost every finger thanks to her mother. My wife’s mother died suddenly due to a heart attack and my wife wears her rings in honor of her mother. Hmmmm. Another heart saga connecting to this tale.

Funny how the optics can fuel narratives of people who are not even listed in the opening credits of the movie of your life. They are in the back end credits. When everyone is leaving the theater or switched streaming services. Minor characters who can at times impact the major plot line.

I finally got a chance to use this line in real life, yes, I am a movie line quoter, from one of my faviorite 90s movies.

Love those movies from the 90s.

Death or divorce. No thanks to either. How about life and love and sailing into the sunset.

That’s the narrative I am writing and planning on producing.

Posted in Mental Health, Psychology, Self Help

Dealing with Drama

I love action-adventure movies. Love them. 

There’s just something about the slow-growing and building drama, the testosterone, the revenge, the good triumphing over evil, the hero or the heroine or both overcoming adversity and rising above it all, elements of a good action-adventure film that just do it for me. Everyone of us drawing breath, as we walk on this rock, and live our lives can relate to an action adventure movie.

Many of us actually live out action adventure movies in our day to day life.

Shit happens.  

I know I have and continue to live out a real-life action-adventure movie!

The problem I have?

As much as I enjoy the drama and the intensity of an action-adventure film, even the drama and the intensity of the action adventures I have in my own life, is that I don’t enjoy the way in which I deal with the drama that comes with the intensity of my action-adventure life. 

Unlike an action-adventure heroine or hero of a film, even though I try my best, I can’t always exactly, down to the letter, script out and storyboard how I’m going to respond to adversity or challenge.

One of the things we love about action-adventure films is that the hero or the heroine always are triumphant. Initially, no. Initially they get their ass kicked by some kind of adversity, challenge, or some other asshole ruining it for everyone. Our hero or heroine spends time in their fortress of solitude or Batcave or wherever it is that they plan, reflect, discern, and emerge ready to go. Our hero or heroine finds the villain, who is usually hiding out, because that’s what villains and jerks and bullies do. They hide out. And eventually our hero or heroine overcomes adversity. All perfectly scripted. All planned out. Completely different from the action-adventures of our lives. 

It’s at these times, I stumble.

I make mistakes.

I haven’t planned or discerned properly in my fortress of solitude or Batcave.

I come out and challenge the villain and cathartically puke my emotional intensity all over the world, making a greater mess than prior to me entering my fortress of solitude or Batcave to ponder and reflect. It is when I am cathartic, howling at the moon, shaking my fist at the sky, being overly dramatic, acting like a Primo Uomo, I sometimes say and do the stupidest shit. Hurting others. Making myself look like a complete and utter buffoon. And then upon reflection I’m depressed, down, angry with myself, resentful leading to a spiraling downward cognitive and emotional processing that can lead to dysfunctional behaviors that simply kicked my ass. 

This is a natural state for us heroes and heroines living out real life action-adventures. We make mistakes. We can be cognitively and emotionally compromised and overwhelmed. We turn to improvisational catharsis which feels good in the moment yet in hindsight is not as healthy or effective as we initially thought. The key here, like any good hero or heroine in an action-adventure film is to never give up, get up and live to fight another day.