Wednesday, May 31, 2006

6 AM

I just finished staying awake through the night with one of my Home Instead clients. His condition worsened as his catheter failed due to bloodclots, and we had to transport him to the emergency room.

At the ER, I walked in on a corpse, watched the reinsertion of a bloody catheter, was exposed to methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and basically kept his wife company.

Now it's time for a little sleep so that I can pick A Man up this afternoon. Then I'll visit the homeless shelter and afterwards attempt to get back on a normal sleeping schedule.

'Night, 'night.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

I'm Not so Good on the Phone

I could never make a living working a 900 number. I run out of things to say.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Labor Day/Memorial Day

Am I the only one, or do you mix up the Labor Day holiday with the Memorial Day holiday? I have to remind myself, "May begins with 'M' and 'M' is for 'Memorial.'"

I was without internet access during the past week while I house sat for some friends; sorry to be out of touch. I have been continuing my consideration of the work aspect of my life. (A Labor Day thing to do, I suppose.) I ruled out the overseas bit and am concentrating on local work. The motivational speaker thing turned out to be mainly car sales motivation...not my thing. Still selling CDs and downsizing my life.

Speaking of which, I dreamt the other night that Itzhak Perlman was at my home. Before the dream spun deliriously out of control (don't ask), I was trying to find my CD of one of his recordings so that he could sign it. Frustrated by not finding it, I was complaining about having probably sold it. Doug was there and confronted me with the question of whether I was really interested in simplifying, or whether I was just getting rid of things to get money and because I thought it was a cool thing to do. I awoke mulling over the question.

My meditations and reflections have increased. Observing my life foci (i.e. busyness, quietness, accumulation, demeanor, etc.) is fun work. Mindfulness. Awareness. Etc. I am more and more convinced that our physical and emotional experience of life are predominantly products of our own minds, and that we shape our minds by exercises formed by our spiritual faith.

Monday, May 22, 2006

When I Look Inside

I am feeling a little quiet and melancholic today. No particular reason. Perhaps because it's Monday? or, b/c I'm not working full-time as a clinical hypnotherapist? or, that I'm not living in a cool mountain cabin? or, that I'm living alone? or, that I'm considering jobs that don't fully interest me? Who knows.

I'll just sit with it for awhile.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

I celebrated the end of my fast with a mystery shop at a casino. Because I was ending 10 days of no food, I was able to eat very little when evaluating the food areas of the casino. This was difficult because the buffet was an extravaganza of Asian seafood, one of my favorites! I did sample some crab legs and shrimp and it was delicious! I'd like to go back sometime.

The end of my fast was uneventful. It had turned into a mere physical experience with no deep reflection. I realize that I need a quieter work schedule for that to be possible. Self-awareness actually seemed to come as I ended the fast. I am more aware that I use food to stifle emotions, to put an endpoint on a day, to occupy time, etc. I am equally more aware that I can live off much less food, so long as I get proper liquid into my body. Have you ever heard of "breatharians"? I don't think I'll try that.

Some of my reflection also centered on sustainable income. Currently, all of my varied part-time positions do not add up to enough monthly income. The stress is palpable and I'm tired of feeling so scattered. I'm thinking about two possible ways to build my hypnotherapy practice, which is in dire need of continued networking and advertising.

One solution is to take a year off and teach English as a second language overseas. This has the advantage of a concentrated decrease in bills (rent, car, etc.) while simultaneously bringing in substantial income. The disadvantage is a year's sabbatical from the business and practice.

The second is to take a full-time job here in ABQ, seeing occasional clients after hours. This has the advantage of continuing to practice my work and to meet potential clients. The disadvantage is that it could be a much longer and slower distraction from being able to re-enter the hypnotherapy field with designated financing.

In considering the latter, I may apply as a driver for the Sunport International Airport transportation service. That would involve mindless driving people to and from their cars. It would not be a mental distraction from hypnotherapy and has the added benefit of potential tips.

A second option in staying here is to get work with a motivational speaker group. That could actually complement my hypnotherapy work, although it would possible involve a lot of travel away from ABQ. It could pay much more.

That's about it for now. I did get a haircut.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Day of the Colon

Friday I took my friend to the hospital for her first colonoscopy. Afterwards, I went A Man's home and his daughter-in-law was sleeping off the colonoscopy she had just had done. I also began ending my fast Friday, so I was thinking a lot about colons.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

First Signs

I think my body just noticed today that I am fasting. I almost passed out while standing at the photocopier at the shelter. Now, later and at home, my stomach is gurgling like Old Faithful about to erupt.

I must've had a lot of stored-up body fat to burn for it to have taken this long for the physical side effects to kick in. Now to push beyond the mechanics of fasting to more (hopefully) personal insight.

Day Nine

Still going. Making a few mistakes here and there due to slower mind function. It feels a bit like I'm in a bubble, sometimes, observing myself doing things. And my speech is a little funny, like when you stay up really late and your focus is not quite as crisp. It is also allowing me to notice how much of what I say is hollow, anyway.

I have a mystery shop at a casino this evening. It is fairly involved and I've recruited a friend to go with me so he can taste the food that I'm supposed to appraise. I'll get paid $25 and reimbursed $50.

Right now, I'm headed off to pick up A Man, after which I will spend 3 hours at the shelter.

Thanks, Jonathan and Matthias, for your comments. I had begun to think that this blog has no readers. Even if it didn't, I'd still use it as a good journaling exercise.

Google Ads: keep clicking! I've made about $80 to date thanks to you just looking at the ads. Cool.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Day Eight

Update on A Man
    A Man was reading my name badge yesterday. He asked, "Do they call you Dennis? Or Dennis Dennis?" Hey, inquiring minds want to know.

    I told him that when I was a kid, my mother called me, "Dennis! Dennis!" when she wanted to get my attention, but that most people just call me "Dennis."
Surprisingly, I felt fine and had normal energy when finally going to bed last night. It had been a 27-hour work period with only 2 1/2 hours of sleep. Of course, one half hour was a powerful hypno-nap.

With food and sleep deprivation, surely I will start having visions. Of course, they'll probably be about huge, vegetarian pizzas and very large pillows!

I hung a few more prayer flags outside my house. It's a cool reminder of the purpose of my fast (i.e. spiritual introspection) and a nice build up to my 40th birthday as they slowly build in number. They look very festive. I'm hoping to add all kinds of prayer flags like the ones at Northern Sun. They have Tibetan, world religions and world and rainbow peace flags. I can't seem to find Christian ones like my godson sent me, that started my interest in hanging prayer flags.

Besides the prayer flags on my wish list, I've added a gym membership, one to the botanical garden and the 18-bottle Haier wine celler they sell at Costco. Oh, yeah, and a haircut.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Day Seven

A case study in "You See What You Want to See":
    Susanna, my landlady, found out that I was fasting after asking why I had turned down two offers by her to fix me a meal. At church yesterday she said that my eyes look tired and that my face is pale. Immediately, we were approached by a friend who does not know I'm fasting and had not heard Susanna's observation.

    "Your eyes are so sparkling today," he said. "During the service I could just see your face radiating!"
    During days of using enemas, don't fart. You may get more than you bargain for.
For support
    I've thought about enlisting the help of Alpha. I'm not sure how to put him on a liquid diet, though.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Day Six

  • Don't know.

  • Appetite:
  • Low to moderate, but everything cooked still smells fantastic. Meat smells especially good. This is interesting to me because I've been a vegetarian since 1991 (I do eat dairy and fish). I had a cup of green tea at 10:30. I'm drinking some pomegranate juice and tomato juice right now. I'll have some water and carrot juice around 9 tonight before going to work.

  • Energy:
  • Also low to moderate. It is difficult to get up after sleeping; I awake feeling really, really tired. Once I take an enema, I feel better and my energy is restored.

  • Emotion:
  • Subdued. For some reason, the music of Nick Drake is soothing to me.

  • Thoughts:
  • The fast has so far been primarily physical in focus, trying to outwit my busy schedule on a reduced caloric intake. Today i was glad to go to church and refocus on the deeper purpose.

    I notice that I am able to more quickly pay attention to things below the surface when I encounter people. It's like I don't have enough energy to spend on extra interaction, so, conserving the energy that I do have, I choose to give it to things with a little more meaning. It's not unlike when one is depressed and doesn't really care what people think. Things are a little more raw and clear, only this time in a positive way. My mind can't stay focused for too long and I want to give that focus to things that matter to me.

    I am frustrated with overdue bills. I miss being able to say "Yes" to invitations to do things (notice how many things you do with friends cost money...gas, entrance fee, restaurant, taking food to a dinner, etc.), or to buy something that I find appealing in a store. Right now it is warming in Albuquerque. It was in the 90s two days ago and in the upper 80s since. The downtown is alive and the sights, sounds smells bring back fond memories of active evenings in Boston. Except right now, I can't join in the activities; my time is consumed by the need to find more work to pay bills.

    The frenetic work pace also makes me long for no debt so that my simple living actually allows me to live a simple and quiet life. Currently, the need for work means no carefree activities and, more importantly, no time for increased spiritual activities like increased meditation time, attending spiritual lectures, reading, reflecting and the like.

    I wonder how this will resolve itself, how I will pay the bills, how I will find balance. I feel patience. I also feel a knowing within myself that the current work pathway must change.

    I read in the Autobiography of a Yogi that "In that perfect and unshakable state of consciousness, a yogi finds no difficulty in performing all of his worldly duties." It is the same in all faith traditions. Christ calls me to a renunciation of the world while being fully in the world. It is this delicate razor's edge that I know I must travel. For the moment, that balance within me is askew, favoring worldly commitments in the form of monetary demands.

    To meet those demands, I worked yesterday at Costco from 10-3 and at the homeless shelter from 5-9. Tonight I must stay awake from 10 PM - 6 AM in a health care facility with a patient there. Then from 10-11:30 AM, I have a hypnotherapy client. The A Man is from 3-6 and the shelter again from 6-9. It's a kind of a 24-hour stint of work....

    I'm learning that the "clinical" part of my clinical hypnotherapy certification is learning to sleep during the brief on-and-off moments like a person who is really in the health profession. ☺
  • Saturday, May 13, 2006

    Day Five

    It's funny how easily I forget that I am fasting. Today someone offered me popcorn which I accepted before remembering that I am not eating. Then tonight, I was invited for dinner tomorrow evening. I declined because of work obligations, not because I'm fasting---I had forgotten that.

    You'd think that it would seem like a big deal to not be eating. Today I was very tired. But it didn't immediately register that it might be because of the fast. Instead, I had to think a couple of minutes to figure out why I was tired. "Hmmm...I got enough sleep last night. I haven't been that busy today. Oh, yeah. I haven't eaten since Monday. That must be it."

    I did notice how good food smelled today. Even the hot dogs that they were selling at Costco smelled good.

    My friend Doug said that David Blaine, the street magician turned illusionist who recently stayed submerged in the water sphere in NYC for days, topped off his stint by holding his breath for 7 minutes. (He was going for 9 minutes, but passed out.)

    Doug asked me how I planned to finish my fast. I think I'll go to that steakhouse in Texas and eat a 72 oz. steak in under one hour. They give it to you for free if you can do it.

    Friday, May 12, 2006

    Day Four

  • Don't know; haven't weighed myself since I started.

  • Appetite:
  • Hungry right now, but not more than I normally am before a meal.

  • Energy:
  • Strong. But then a big dip in the evening while at an art reception. I don't think that I took in enough fluids today.

  • Emotion:
  • Some small up and downs. Mostly due to the thoughts mentioned below.

  • Thoughts:
  • Last night was another time for contrast. I arrived home after work at the shelter and was ready to meditate a little and go to bed. Get an early night in without having to get up too early. Then my friend called and wanted me to meet him at "Gulp," a local pub, to hear a live band. I decided to do that since I haven't done something like that for a long time. I joined him and did have one martini (two olives) and a beer. Then we proceeded to stay up late again. He had to get up at 5:15 to go to work, so it was an early morning. Then he decided to take the day off, so we stayed in bed until about 8:30. Stopped by my landlord's house and she loaned him one of her cars. He is still heading in the direction of the felt freedom of the bars, partying and hanging out bohemian style. I am inclined towards that nature myself, so it is an interesting balance to spend some time with him while also maintaining this spiritual fast and pursuing what that means. I am feeling good about it--it feels as though I am gaining some capacity for moderation and a real experience of living out my faith within the context of a very real world. I also feel a little off center as I try to absorb daily life even as I go deeper within myself. I have yet to do deep meditation about it all. I trust that I will not get swept away into either extreme. And all the while, pressures of work, financial burdens and general responsibilities such as calling and emailing people to whom I have commitments is present, too, and I am finding that is difficult.
  • Thursday, May 11, 2006

    Day Three

    (or, “I’d Like to Buy a Bowel”)

    Word of the day: PERISTALSIS.

    20 Wynote blog points if you already know what it means. And let’s hope you do better than you did on “Australian Ballot.”

    Peristalsis is the involuntary constriction and relaxation of the muscles of the intestine or other canal, creating wavelike motions that move the contents of the canal forward. In other words, for our concern, it is the colon’s natural ability to respond to pressure and then excrete.

    Or for you dancers from the 70s and early 80s, it’s like doing the worm.

    Peristalsis is of great help in cleansing the body, if not for picking up a date. Come to think of it, doing the worm never really helped in that area either. But I digress.

    Have you noticed the reports on the rise of “irritable bowel syndrome”? This is due, in part at least, to poor diets resulting in encrusted colons and bowels. In fact, diverticulitis—i.e. when the colon has small pockets of crusted and packed material—is one of the most common complaints of people over 50 years old, especially among women.

    Since I haven’t eaten any solids since Monday (and then only a few raw vegetables and fruits), there is no natural pressure in my colon to commence peristalsis. What to do? Enema to the rescue!

    That’s right, the age-old wacky tradition of filling one’s butt up with water so that the pressure causes a bowel movement. During fasting, it can be a real relief. It even cleans out old crusty corners where who knows what is lurking.

    As Jack Nicholson says in the Batman movie, “This town needs an enema!”

    (I can’t wait to see the google ads that pop up after their Web spiders crawl through this post! And it’s funny to me that I am writing this today, on Thursday, which work-wise is a repeat of last Thursday’s “Urinetown.”)

    Wednesday, May 10, 2006

    Day Two

    I snatched a couple hours of sleep last evening between caring for A Man and doing my overnight stay awake care in a healthcare facility. That job was from 10 PM - 6 AM. I drank tomato juice and some tea during the night.

    Came home around 6:30 AM and slept until 1:30 PM. Awoke slightly disoriented, mostly due to the shift in my sleep time and less due to the fast.

  • don't know; I don't have a scale at home.
  • Appetite:
  • stomach is growling, but not feeling any real hunger. Did notice how good the breakfast smells were at the health care facility this morning.
  • Energy:
  • not sleepy, but tired.
  • Emotions:
  • flatline to mildly nervous.
  • Thoughts:
  • Bought $42 worth of good juice and tea yesterday. I am concerned that I may not be able to afford these kind of nutrient-rich drinks throughout the fast and will need to switch to more water. I am curious how the contrasts from yesterday will work out.

  • I am off to care for A Man and then to work on my shelter caseload. I will meet with 9 of my 27 guys to help them work on exiting homelessness.

    Random notes:
    We had strong winds last evening: 36 mph sustained winds with gusts up to 60 mph! The hummingbirds have started drinking from my feeders.

    Day One

    Yesterday was the first day of my fast; it proved to be quite interesting.

    I drank only juice and water and felt fine. Sometime around 5 PM, my stomach began to feel very hot, like I had just swallowed some hot tea (I hadn’t). It lasted for five minutes and then growled. It felt good, like a morning yawn.

    My energy level was fine throughout the day and I didn’t feel too hungry. What was more fascinating to me was the confluence of the beginning of this fast with some unusual turn of events. Perhaps they aren’t unusual, but rather I simply notice things more or sense them more deeply when fasting. At any rate…

    The Contrasts:
    • I planned to get plenty of rest before starting the fast. I received a call Monday night from a friend who is getting divorced and asked to come over to talk. It had been a year since we had hung out and at least five months since we had last spoken, so it was surprising but cool to be together. We stayed up very late talking in bed.

    • I planned to drink only water the day before. My friend and I shared two bottles of wine Monday night--not exactly the liquid intended for fasting!

    • I planned to use the fast to focus inward, to explore the life of the spirit. My friend is headed in exactly the opposite direction, enjoying his newly found freedom of being single again and wanting us to get more involved in the community of arts.

    • I planned to soak up my quiet singleness and the silence of home. My friend may need a place to stay for the next couple of weeks.

    • I planned to monitor carefully my activities carefully to get enough rest as possible to sustain the energy for fasting. I got a call to add a Monday night “stay awake” overnight health care assignment.
    I took the assignment. My friend is welcome to stay. I am continuing the fast. I am accepting the contrasts as part of the challenge of this particular fast.

    Monday, May 08, 2006

    Preparation Day

    I'm preparing my body to begin fasting tomorrow by eating only raw vegetables and fruits today.

    Weight: 163 pounds
    Appetite: moderately hungry. Kind of concerned that I don't have a full stock of fruits and vegetables
    Energy: moderate to high
    Emotions: pretty calm
    Thoughts: I'm actually eager to begin fasting. It feels good to have selected a focused task that makes me active in my own aging process.

    Yesterday, I went to Popejoy Hall at UNM and watched some Tibetan Monks perform sacred dances and prayers. They had also created a spectacularly intricate sand mandala which they poured into the Rio Grande at the conclusion of their visit. I purchased some prayer flags and hung them outside my house where they now flutter along with my Catholic prayer flags. It would really be cool to have about 40 of these flying from my home by the time my birthday arrives.

    Birthday Wish List

    I have been thinking about the fasting and want to be intentional about my desires during this time. We usually get what we expect, so I don't want to be found not expecting anything. Here is what I am desiring now:
    • increased spiritual focus, growth and awareness;
    • enough fruits and vegetables to sustain a healthy fast (my fast this time is a juice fast)
    • increase in hypnotherapy clientele (so I can quit my other distracting jobs)
    • money to pay my bills ($1,200 for current outstanding bills, more to pay off loans)
    • incense to burn
    • increased health and physical fitness
    • a stronger centeredness of peace
    • 40 prayer flags
    • to de-accumulate (is that a real word? My friend, Kristin, would say "Simplify")
    • more time for meditation

    Sunday, May 07, 2006

    WARNING: This Post Rambles

    So as all of my friends turn 40, they are coming up with interesting things to do. Lori, a friend from high school, is going to skydive. I heard that Brian, also from high school, is training for a triatholon. Andy, a friend from college, went skiing in Colorado. So did Ken. Ken's trip ended in a gall bladder removal. I don't think I'm interested in celebrating my 40th that way.

    I want to hangglide this year. I'd like to take lessons and get my own kite. This will probably take second seat to:
    • paying off last year's taxes: $1,100
    • montly home and office rent: $700
    • insurances and credit bills (priceless)
    At least I can dream about it.

    I have been reading my all-time favorite book, The Glass Bead Game, for the third time. It's about 600 pages long, so I won't summarize it here. I recommend that you click on the link in the righthand column and order it.

    The book focuses a lot on mediation and reflective living. At the same time, I am reading Autobiography of a Yogi, which Odette loaned to me. As you might guess, it has a lot to do with meditation and a spiritual focus of life, too.

    Before I began reading these two books (I warned you that this post would ramble), a friend of mine tried to commit suicide. I went to visit with him, do some hypnosis and to listen. He talked a lot about how his personal meditation time has dwindled due to life's demands (a new baby, new home, etc.). He attributed much of his depression to this current void in his life.

    So the other evening, I was reading my books. I was reflecting on my own history of meditative practices, my times in the monasteries, turning 40, the meaning of life....

    Suddenly I realized that Tuesday (May 9th) will be 40 days before my 40th birthday. Perfect. Time for inner preparation. You know: the 40 days of rain; Jesus in the desert for 40 days; 40 days of Lent; etc., etc.

    Why not undertake a 40-day fast before my 40th birthday? Yeah, I'd still like to go hanggliding. But the fast seems exactly right for a much-needed focus of my current desire for more spiritual growth. Who knows? Maybe it will yield some epiphany.

    I used to fast with regularity. I haven't done so for many years now, so a full, 40-day fast isn't likely. Maybe it'll be just a few days or a couple of weeks. I am planning a complete juice fast for as long as I can maintain one. The intention is less one of strict rules (although fasting is fairly strict), and more of intentional inner focus and growth.

    Because I am out of practice, there is some necessary preparation or else it can have some ill side effects. I hope to use this blog over the next period of time to document some of the experience.

    Friday, May 05, 2006

    Coming Tomorrow...

    How I plan to prepare for my 40th birthday.

    (Hint: it has to do with a combination of the two books listed under "What I'm Reading", the title of the first album listed under "What I'm Listening To" and the title of the fifth post under this one.)


    Took on another home care client on Thursday: a 52-year-old alcoholic who bathes once a week, whether or not he needs it. Vomit, alcohol and stale urine filled his dark, hot-with-windows-closed apartment.

    From there on to take care of A Man, who is clean, but of course smells like a 94-year-old man smells when he's farting around.

    From there on to the homeless shelter. Sweat and alcoholic breath.

    By 9 PM, I thought I would keel over if I smelled one more breath of alcohol or room of stale urine.

    The life of a hypnotherapist! I think I need a session to change my olfactory perception.

    The Emperor Has No Clothes

    This is worth clicking and waiting for the download.

    Or, you can read the transcript.

    Wednesday, May 03, 2006

    "Focus, Focus, Focus"

    My 6-year-old client is using a wonderful imaginary forest of birds to tap into her subconscious mind. There is a talking purple bird that gives her advice...and the advice is always right on target. She has also adapted a self-induction using a pendulum and the phrase "Focus. Focus. Focus." to help diminish the effects of her Attention Deficit Disorder.

    Those words are also the intention that I have for my own work.

    The countless jobs seem necessary to pay bills, but I am eagerly awaiting the day when I have enough clients or savings to focus solely on hypnotherapy.

    We just got wireless connection at my office, so perhaps I can post with more frequency again.

    For those curious...
    about the recent post posing the question about what is an Australian Ballot, click here for the answer.