Monthly Archives: June 2014

Amnesia, Alzheimer’s, or the FB Fairy?

Who are these friends of mine?

I don’t know their names. I don’t recognize their faces. Their hometowns don’t correspond with anywhere I have ever lived. They didn’t graduate with me from any of my alma maters or marry anyone I remember, go to my church, eat at my favorite restaurants, or teach at any of the schools where I spent a great deal of my life. I must have Alzheimer’s!

Do you have friends like these, too? Please tell me you do. Please say I’m not losing it. They just showed up on my Facebook and I am certain I didn’t request friendships or confirm friendships with these total strangers. Or if I did and have forgotten it, OH MY! What else could it be but some form of early onset dementia.

Okay, early onset might be pushing it. Maybe on-time onset would be more accurate. I know I’m getting old, but still, surely I would recognize these friends. I hope they are not family. I still know my husband, my daughter, my son, my daughter-in-law, my grandson, my sister-in-law, and my nieces and nephews. These folks could be cousins, I suppose. I have cousins I haven’t even met. Those Edwards cousins that moved off to Texas and married and had kids—I’ve never even met their wives, let alone their kids. They could be these people, maybe, but why didn’t they declare themselves as long-lost cousins in their FB profiles so I wouldn’t think I am on such a quick downward spiral into the abyss? Inconsiderate, that’s for sure!

But wait! Did FB do this to me? Throw me into a panic about my mental capacity? I do my crossword puzzles every day or at least some form of mental exercise. I can sometimes figure out cryptograms and I get several of the Syl”la-Crost’tics in my PennyPress Variety Puzzles and Games workbook. I admit I have given up on any of the circular Flower Power puzzles that read backwards and forwards and upside down. That is just too much flipping around! And okay, full disclosure here, I also leave all the logic problems to my son, the philosophy major, in case he wants a little fun when he is visiting.

So I don’t know if it is me, or if it is a trick of FB, or not. I certainly don’t want to accuse FB of anything devious and I sure don’t want to be kicked out of FB forever because I love seeing other people’s puppies and children, going on their vacations, being inspired by their thoughts, and most of all laughing at their (personal or internet-discovered) jokes! So I hope the FB police aren’t reading this post. But I also hope that the FB Fairy just came in while I was sleeping and friended a bunch of new people to entertain me if I ever get bored! You know, like the Tooth Fairy. Maybe that’s it.

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13.9 degrees Celsius–Happy or Sad?

Old, cold people are happier. That is what research says. Well, not exactly like that. This research (http://blog.bufferapp.com/10-scientifically-proven-ways-to-make-yourself-happier) says that as you get older, you find ways to be happier. And it further states that people are at their maximum happiness at 13.9 degrees Celsius. Not knowing what Fahrenheit temperature that is, I thought, okay, maybe so. I know if I’m too hot or too cold, I’m grumpy, so the opposite must be true. But just in case, I looked it up.

I love how you can just Google anything and Google will find a website that will do the math for you, don’t you? There is a conversion table for any measurement you want—inches to centimeters or centimeters to inches, feet to yards, teaspoons to tablespoons, I could go on forever. So I went to Google and I asked for Celsius to Fahrenheit and sure enough, all I had to do was plug in the 13.9 and presto, there was my answer—57.02!

Now, I don’t know about you, but I am cold at 57.02 F. I am cold at 58.02, 59.02. 60.02……all the way til about 70.02 and then I start to get comfortable, and yes, happy. That lasts until about 74.02 when I start to get a little warm here in Georgia, maybe it’s the humidity, but whatever, by 75.02 I am thinking about whether it is time to turn on the AC.

That means either enough old people where they did this study like it cold or my internal thermometer is on the fritz. Perhaps they did the study in Chicago. I was there once on Spring Break to see my daughter. It had apparently been warm enough for daffodils to bloom a few days before, but the day I arrived it was way below 13.9 C or 57.02 F either. (Chicago is kind of foreign territory to me so I’m not sure how they measure their heat or lack thereof.) Anyway, it was snowing when I got out of the taxi and not just the flurry kind, it was piling up on the sidewalks and freezing the daffodils. Days later, it got to about 50 F (10 C) and people were out in their shorts running up and down those same sidewalks and lunching alfresco!

So no offense to the researchers who wrote this study and certainly no offense to those brave old Chicagoans who love the cold, but I am not sure 13.9 C is my kind of old lady happiness. I think another study needs to be done farther south.

 

In the Now

Live in the moment, they say. Who is they, anyway, I have been wondering so I went in search of the they that are trying to help us all exist with less stress and more Zen. (http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200810/the-art-now-six-steps-living-in-the-moment) And that is how I discovered Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Now how can I trust a man who added the name Zinn to his own name Kabat, I thought. So I searched some more. Because if this is just a hook to trick me into believing I should buy yet another self-help book like that book that should have been called Hey Sucker Who Wants a Shortcut To Getting Skinny Without Diet or Exercise, I am not buying it. I did buy HSWWASTGSWDOE because if someone can do that I’ll sure pay the price of a hardback…plus shipping! But HSWWASTGSWDOE didn’t do a thing to make me thin, probably the opposite because I followed its advice and didn’t weigh for a while…a really, really bad idea.

But back to Zen Kabat-Zinn. He has written many books and been on many TV shows and has a Ph. D and is the real thing. He’s a professor at the University of Massachusetts and the founder of their Stress Management Clinic. Here is a really interesting radio interview he did on public radio (http://www.onbeing.org/program/opening-our-lives/138). I listened to the entire 51 minutes and I really enjoyed what he said. But he never said how come he added Zinn to his name. Being the suspicious, distrusting woman I am, I continued to look for evidence. I tried staying in the moment like he recommended on the radio, but my mind kept going back to his name. It was very distracting.

I learned he was born Jewish but was raised scientist/artist. I learned his upbringing forced him to try to find the commonalities between his father’s beliefs (the scientist) and his mother’s (the artist). That is what brought him to Zen back in his days as a student at MIT (http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2012/kabat-zinn-addresses-mit-medical-clinicians). So the Buddhists were the ones who really set him on his quest for mindfulness.

Now those Buddhist monks weren’t out to trick me into buying a self-help book and I really have been thinking about how to enjoy my retirement to the fullest and so I read and listened and learned. I learned to be still (theoretically, anyway) and pay attention to my senses, all of which are pretty good, except for my sense of smell. My nose has long been a source of worry for me because it mostly just holds up my glasses, but on occasion it has stepped up to the plate and smelled things like freshly cut oranges or cinnamon. (You see a problem and the need I had for HSWWASTGSWDOE, right?) I also learned to feel my emotions, good or bad, for that is a moment of acceptance. And I learned to breathe –to be aware of how that act alone loosens knots in my shoulders and tension in my stomach.

I was on the way, thanks to the monks and Kabat-Zinn to a more present, mindful retirement. But still his name nagged at me. Finally I found it hidden halfway down an article about his books, hidden in a parenthesis as though it was an afterthought, hidden as though no one but doubtful Marie had ever wondered or suspected or questioned his sincerity. There is was: (www.publishersweekly.com/pw/print/20041206/27421-mindful-writing.html?subject=http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/print/20041206/27421-mindful-writing.html ) the reason he added Zinn to Kabat. He married a Zinn. That was her last name. He married Myla Zinn and this enlightened man, a man of the modern era, took his wife’s last name, too. It wasn’t a ploy. It wasn’t a trick. It was an act of love and commitment.

Now that’s a man I can trust!

And why all this interests so late in life (67 and counting) in living in the moment, you ask?

ImageWell, at 67 it is what I remember best.