Have you ever noticed that the things that are supposed to make us more productive, more savvy and ahead of the curve also have some drawbacks that we can’t detect right away? We’re so busy picking up new skills and integrating them into our lives and we don’t see the old skills that are definitely not outdated, slipping away.
I’ve been noticing this big time for the past year or so, but it all hit close to home when we had some house guests recently for a long weekend who have never read my blog and don’t even know that I do one – so I can easily write about it.
This couple is family whom we haven’t seen in several years. They wanted to come visit us in our new home in Vermont, and why not? It’s fall and it’s gorgeous. Now, this couple is older than we are, so this is not a generational thing where younger folks just don’t know how to interact anymore.
So what did they do? Both of them had their heads buried in their cell phones the entire weekend. Texting, answering emails, making phone calls, googling, tweeting, and getting all sorts of alert messages mainly about news stories. At breakfast, lunch and dinner. Riding in the car. Walking around. Nothing was more fascinating than what was happening on their phones.
These are not kids. They are older than Bob and me and yet they were doing things I’ve mainly attributed to younger people who grew up with technology. And, don’t get me wrong – I LOVE technology and social media and being able to stay in touch, but I also value spending time with people and having real conversations.
After two days of this, Bob asked them to leave their cell phones at home when we went out to dinner one evening. Since they aren’t doctors on call and didn’t need to stay in touch with a babysitter or have any other emergency situation, was that too much to ask? Apparently so. That’s when I realized this behavior can be like an addiction.
Staying totally hooked into technology adds to our sickness of multitasking – something I, and many others, once considered a real asset. It’s something I’m convinced added to me missing out on so many things just because I was trying to stay connected to so many things. I know that might not make sense but I know some of you will get it.
What I am feeling is that we are losing our ability to have conversations and have empathy with others. A quick email or an even quicker text message that can often sound cryptic cuts away at relationships. How do you maintain a relationship if the only way you communicate is by texting and don’t hear the tone of the conversation or see the expression on a face?
Sherry Turkle, a professor in the program in Science, Technology and Society at M.I.T. and the author of Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age, stated in a recent op-ed – Stop Googling. Let’s Talk – in the New York Times (09/27/15):
“Every technology asks us to confront human values. This is a good thing, because it causes us to reaffirm what they are. If we are now ready to make face-to-face conversation a priority, it is easier to see what the next steps should be…
One start toward reclaiming conversation is to reclaim solitude. Some of the most crucial conversations you will ever have will be with yourself. Slow down sufficiently to make this possible. And make a practice of doing one thing at a time. Think of unitasking as the next big thing. In every domain of life, it will increase performance and decrease stress.
But doing one thing at a time is hard, because it means asserting ourselves over what technology makes easy and what feels productive in the short term. Multitasking comes with its own high, but when we chase after this feeling, we pursue an illusion. Conversation is a human way to practice unitasking.”
I encourage you to read Sherry Turkle’s entire op-ed, Stop Googling. Let’s Talk.
And, in the meantime, I’m working more on practicing the art of conversation and connection and relationship building – not that I will ever lose my email and social media connections because they are wonderful and help me stay connected when distance is a factor. But, when possible and as often as I can, I am loving the extra special value of these face-to-face connections with people I love to be with or want to get to know better and the depth that these interactions bring. It’s something that a cryptic text message will never be able to match.
And what about our recent guests who may see this posting? I’m not counting on that happening to be perfectly honest, but what a great conversation starter it could be. Right?
What about you? How do you manage technology and how do you, if you do, keep connections alive?
For as much as 10% of the nation — and as many as 20% of women of childbearing age — October is the ideal time to seek help for the painful disorder that is often left undiagnosed and untreated.
October is Raynaud’s Awareness Month, proclaimed by the Raynaud’s Association just as chillier temperatures take hold. Raynaud’s disease (aka Raynaud’s phenomenon or syndrome) is a disorder of the small blood vessels of the extremities, reducing blood flow. When exposed to cold, the blood vessels go into spasms, causing pain, numbness, throbbing and tingling. Sometimes emotional distress triggers the response.
Besides the pain, most of us with Raynaud’s (Ray-NODES) also notice that their fingers and/or toes change colors, often turning blue or white or even red. It first happened to me over 35 years ago, when I was commuting to my job in New York City, standing in the cold waiting for a train. Although I was dressed for the winter, I felt excruciating pain in both my fingers and toes. Once I got on the train and took off my gloves, I saw that some of my fingers were a bluish color. It took about twenty minutes on the warm train until the pain abated.
The problem persisted, even occurring indoors in my office or in cold sections of the supermarket or when holding a cold drink. First I chalked it off as merely “poor circulation” until I read an article about Raynaud’s by a medical writer in The New York Times. I learned that Raynaud’s could be a sign of an underlying serious disease such as scleroderma or lupus. That’s when I went to my doctor.
He doused my hands in ice, confirming I had Raynaud’s, then referred me to a rheumatologist. There I had a simple blood test called an antinuclear antibody (ANA) test to determine whether I had another rheumatic disorder. The test was positive, but further tests were inconclusive. He said, “We’ll keep on eye on it,” then sent me off with the suggestion, “You may want to move to Florida.”
I was twenty-five years old, ensconced in my career as a public relations executive in New York. Moving south wasn’t in my plan.
I sought solutions for coping with the cold, poring through catalogs, ski shops and camping gear stores for gloves, socks and other gear. This was in the late 1970s, before computers and the Internet were in widespread use, so my resources were limited. I found battery-operated gloves and socks, with massive D batteries housed in bright orange-colored enclosures. I wore earmuffs under hooded coats (my ears were cold too). My friend told me I looked like the Michelin Man.
Seeking unobtrusive fixes, I found a butane-operated hand warmer that I could put under my gloves. When I tried to light it, the flame shot up and singed my hair. I used portable heaters in the office and turned up the heat at home. I slept in flannel pajamas while my husband couldn’t peel off enough clothes to get comfortable. People in my office and in social settings didn’t understand why I was wearing heavy sweaters and gloves indoors.
Ten years after my Raynaud’s diagnosis, soon after the birth of my second child, I was diagnosed with systemic sclerosis: scleroderma. This chronic, painful, often disfiguring and life-threatening disease affects the blood vessels (as does Raynaud’s), muscles, joints, lungs, GI tract, kidneys and joints. Symptoms vary from patient to patient, but virtually everyone with the systemic form of scleroderma has Raynaud’s — and it’s usually the first sign. (Most people with Raynaud’s, however, have “primary” Raynaud’s, i.e., with no underlying medical disorder.)
Scleroderma hit me with a wallop. I had to close up shop at my small public relations firm because of the intense pain and crushing fatigue. Few people had heard of scleroderma, but I was determined to educate myself and others. With my background and skills in publicity, I offered my help with local and national scleroderma charities, eventually becoming a board member of the Scleroderma Foundation. There I wrote articles, placed patients and physicians on radio and TV shows, and began the first Internet message board (on AOL) and live chatroom devoted to the disease.
During this work, I met Lynn Wunderman, who had just launched the Raynaud’s Association, the only national 501c3 charity devoted exclusively to Raynaud’s awareness. Her mission was, and is, enormous: spreading the word that 15-30 million people in the United States have Raynaud’s, risking long-term damage to their blood vessels if left untreated. Even more stunning is the fact that 80% of them are unaware they have it. There’s no formal test to diagnose it and no FDA-approved drugs to specifically treat it.
Always a publicist at heart, I joined the board of the Raynaud’s Association to help tackle the job. The RA has developed a host of tools to help “Frosties” cope with their disorder: a website (www.raynauds.org), video, blog, Twitter feed, Facebook page, comprehensive guide (www.raynaudsguide.org), warm product reviews, a “what is Raynaud’s” information card and other materials.
Reaching the general public is indeed a monumental task, requiring huge resources to break through the social and conventional media. Those with the symptoms need to recognize that they have a bona fide medical condition, and to seek treatment. Pharmaceutical companies must recognize the huge market for drugs to target Raynaud’s — and to embark on clinical trials that will lead to FDA approval. This is no cure for Raynaud’s as yet, but there are drugs that lessen the severity of the attacks. Calcium channel blockers such as Procardia and Norvasc are commonly used. Erectile dysfunction drugs such as Viagra and Cialis also help many people, but they’re “off label” and expensive; and insurance companies often won’t cover them.
Viral videos can be very effective, as the ALS Foundation discovered (how apt the ice bucket challenge would have been for Raynaud’s!). Every charitable group, I’m certain, has tried to duplicate its success. Awareness, treatments and a cure have to come from the support of Frosties themselves. Donations to the all-volunteer Raynaud’s Association are crucial, but support comes in myriad ways (click on http://www.raynauds.org/donate-now/ or text SHIVERS to 88588 to make a donation).
If your doctor tells you to “move to Florida,” as mine did, let him or her know that it’s not a cure-all. I actually DID move to Florida eventually. The winter is a blessing here. But then there’s all that air conditioning…
Ronni Shulman, Vice Chair, Raynaud’s Association
Learn about the disorder that affects an estimated 5-10% of the population at www.raynauds.org
No matter how old I get, I still marvel at the seasons of spring with its new growth, and fall, with its letting go and preparing for the quietness of winter.
Almost overnight, fall appeared. The air became more crisp; a clear, blue sky seems even bluer; the position of the sun changes and the rays that stream through our windows are different; darkness comes earlier; and best of all, the trees show off and splash color all over the place.
As I look out my office window or take a walk, I see the earliest leaves turning yellow and gold. I even see an explosion of red and orange now, which will become even more amazing in coming days. And, just like the thousands of leaf peepers that make a stop in our town during this time, I just want to park myself somewhere and enjoy the view. It’s nature’s last big, colorful hoorah before a long, cold and no doubt, snowy winter – a gift to keep our hearts warm until spring shows up.
After very warm summer days and cultivating the new flower garden, everything is starting to change. That “transition” thing is a continuous process. The tropical flowers come off the front porch and make way for mums and pumpkins. The dead leaves and spent flower heads are cleaned up in the garden and the beds get ready for a blanket of mulch to help keep everything warm during the winter. When I think about how cold it was last winter, I wonder if it’s possible for everything to come back in full force – but, that’s another transition. They’ll be back and even more glorious.
I find myself getting excited with this time of year and not only because of the incredible display of beauty, but because it’s time to focus on the letting go and thinking about how I want to use this winding down time. I know that I’ll spend every moment I can outside taking it all in. I’ll be gathering a collection of books to keep me company this winter when it feels like staying home in front of the fireplace will be the most wonderful thing in the world. And, I’m making a list of the “me” things I want to work during the winter months.
Lena Stevens, an internationally known shamanic practitioner and teacher from Santa Fe and cofounder of The Power Path Seminars and the School of Shamanism, says this about the Fall Equinox (September 23rd):
“We are in the middle of this window of opportunity for change and expansion and resetting the way we perceive what is possible and how we are supported. Use this powerful time to hone your faith and trust in something that is important to you. Share the joy and wonder and ask for help if you need it.
Decide that this is a magical time and that you are moving into a time frame where anything can happen and whatever happens will support you in ways you cannot imagine. Then go with your faith and trust that it will be so.
If you want to honor the time with a ritual, we always recommend honoring the harvest and doing something around gratitude.”
So, I’m taking it all in – relishing the beauty of fall and honoring this time of transition as I focus on all that has changed over the past year and what the future may bring; getting even more in touch with what I want to see in my life and trusting that it is here for me now; and, knowing I am fully supported. It feels encouraging and exciting and has me looking forward to the introspective time of winter.
What does fall represent for you? What does it stir up within? And, how can you use this powerful time to make way for change and expansion?
Five provocative questions answered by an inspiring and fabulous woman – a woman with something to say.
Meet Judith Dreyer
Judith Dreyer, MS, BSN, RN has an MS in Nutrition Science and her BS in Nursing. For thirteen years, she has taught at Western CT State University in Danbury, CT, focusing on holistic health, including western based herbalism. She is certified as a Holistic Stress Management Instructor with Paramount Institute. She has taught Nutrition Science at college level. She is the author of At the Garden’s Gate, her journey in growing a sustainable backyard meadow, following a Medicine Wheel of truths while working with nature.
As a Master Gardener, Judith gives talks on wild edible and medicinal plants, landscape sustainability, and creating meadows throughout the East coast. She is also available for topics in the holistic health field.
People would be surprised to know that: I used to sing and while out of practice today, I write ideas for songs. I always enjoyed the balladeers like Woodie Guthrie, Harry Chapin, Don McClean and others. A dream of mine is to write a song worthy of a record. When on the road, I sing to my favorites and that makes the miles meaningful.
The WTL 5:
What’s the conversation that changed your life?
At 25 years old I was told I had severe endometriosis. Women with this disease have a harder time conceiving. I wanted to be married and have a family. I was devastated that my chances were less than normal. At the same time I saw women get parts of their bodies cut up, literally pieces of ovaries cut off because of cysts, pelvic infections, etc.
I embarked on a holistic healing journey, one I followed instinctively making changes to diet, rest, exercise and spiritual. Back then it was simply following one idea after another and a belief I would be well and avoid surgery. Five years later, I was married and gave birth to my first child. Today I can articulate the process, share the experiences and create a bridge for those who want to be healthy from a holistic perspective.
What are you most conscious of today?
People confuse healing with curing. Family and friends want to see people cured, free of pain and suffering, and rejoin families healthy again. I understand. Healing requires inner work, deep commitment to listening to self and the deeper guidance we receive, and it’s not easy. And death can be the outer result of inner work. We are afraid of death – yet with birth comes death in some form.
What part of you have you yet to give voice to?
I am a dreamer. I feel I have another bridge to build about dream sharing that makes it real in everyday life. My dreams, whether nighttime or intuitive, guide me and yours guide you too. But it’s a different language, one western society does not encourage. And I have more stories to write. I love a good story. Can I write one? We’ll see.
What’s the conversation women need to be having collectively?
Celebrate each other more. Form a community of genuine caring, allowing each of us to be in our process while supporting the whole. It’s time for the reality shows of such negative behaviors to stop. I want my grandchildren to be strong within themselves, to understand life is challenging, to develop the inner skills to cope, and to know we need each other. Oh and dance, sing, play and laugh along the way.
What needs to be said bigger, louder, stronger?
Strength comes from following an inner path. Knowing self helps us respond to the world instead of react to it. There is a time and a need to go into the silence so we can be stronger in the outer world. Today everyone is talking but who’s listening? The earth is polluted and we are polluted with dis-eases from a tainted food system, lack of awareness of our connection to the earth, and lack of inner knowledge. So we struggle. We give over to some outer ideal that has always been an illusion. It’s time to feel again the love that is here, the guidance readily given to each of us and to act, be the “do” er in this world.
The good news: we are making a difference!
Thank you, Judith, for sharing your powerful voice
with WomanTalk Live
It’s taken me many decades to figure this out and over a year of being in Vermont living a new life to begin to take it all in. Oh my, how old habits die hard and how difficult it can be to cultivate new ones.
It’s all about giving ourselves permission, being able to try new things, asking ourselves what may be of interest, and what else we’re willing to let into our lives? Oh, and of course, just what are we are willing to let go of?
When we think about trying new things, besides the risk of just doing something new, we often begin to tell ourselves why we don’t have time to add one more thing to our busy schedules. So, there could be this fabulous thing that we would love to try and we don’t do it because… suppose we like it and then what? We might have to let something else go to make room for the new?
And, is that so bad? Well, what I am learning is that, heck no, it can actually be FABULOUS. Taking on something new and letting go of something stale that doesn’t pack a punch anymore can rev your engines, put more bounce in your step, get you excited so you want to do more of it, create opportunities to meet new people, and add some interest to your conversations. New interests can stimulate you in a way that you didn’t think possible and can encourage you to try even more new things and experiences.
Here’s how it’s working for me… I’m beginning to have some time free up because our house is just about done. No more shopping, no more picking out stuff and fabrics. Just a few pieces of art and we’ll know them when we see them, so it’s not a hunt to get it done thing.
The yard and garden has been time consuming, but I LOVE it and know I’ll never be “finished” with the landscaping. But this is one of those passions I have that really feeds my soul, so it gets to stay on the list of things I want in my life.
What I found was not as exciting anymore was the time I spent going to the gym and running on machines and pumping iron with CNN blaring over the TV. Sure, it might be doing something for my body, but I hated it. Instead of working off stress, I dreaded going and in my opinion, that is not a good fitness program if you can’t stand to do it.
So, I did an exercise reinvention and I am getting plenty of movement and action. I feel good and feel as if I’ve given myself an incredible gift. Instead of machines at the gym, I am now doing:
A twenty-minute yoga routine first thing every morning
A ten to fifteen-minute interval routine every other morning after yoga
A weekly QiGong class that I am loving for opening up my joints
10,000-20,000 steps each day – which may include walks around town and up lots of hills or hiking the mountain trails, or even gardening work, but 10,000 steps is the minimum goal
Biking, weather permitting, at least once a week
And, in winter weather, I’ll add cross-country skiing and snowshoeing
I am loving it and feel totally rejuvenated. These routines are becoming such a habit that if, for some reason, I miss doing them, I can’t wait to start up again.
So, massaging that fitness routine has made a difference for me attitude-wise and I know that by mixing things up, all sorts of parts are getting worked out well.
The other interest that I have given myself permission to try is exploring my creativity – something I had put on the back burner for way too many years. I took a pottery class last spring and enjoyed it – especially because of the people in the class. Now, I’m taking an eight-week class with an amazing woman who is having us travel all over the area to study artwork by local artists – mainly sculptures, and meeting many of the artists in person.
Over the past year, I find myself surrounded by new friends who are all creative – painters, potters, jewelry makers, sculptors, photographers, authors, Pulitzer Prize winning journalists, stonemasons, and chefs. Talk about changing the conversation! Totally different from the past and a real encouragement for me to try more, do more and possibly discover some hidden talent I never knew about.
Whether or not that happens is not the point. The point is being willing to make shifts that accommodate and cultivate new parts of myself, let go of staleness, and shake things up a bit.
It’s about seizing the day. I still have a lot to learn, but “just doing it” is becoming a lot easier for me. Seizing the day seems a lot more inviting.
I’m convinced that if I had figured this out many years ago, a lot of worry and sadness would have faded away. If I had just realized that even allowing myself a couple of hours a week to explore me and develop new interests could have opened up a new way of living. But, no regrets. I know better now.
What about you? What are you allowing or not allowing yourself to do? Are you making time to feed your soul in a way that expands your life? Willing to share how that works for you?
“Each day comes bearing its gifts. Untie the ribbons.”
– Ruth Ann Schabacker