Wednesday, December 11, 2019

SPIRITUALITY AND PSYCHOLOGY

As a wondering Jew(I have practiced many versions of Judaism), I chose to incorporate into my life, many concepts of orthodox, conservative and reform Judaism that I can personally relate to.By way of example, all male orthodox Jews wear tallis,(prayer shawls)while attending synagogue on Saturday mornings,when the Torah(5 books of Moses),is brought out. A custom I follow ,despite attending a Reform synagogue where this is uncommon.
 Personally, to be a Jew,is to be a responsible,caring human being who trys to help others.For an orthodox Jew, as I understand it, the goal is to make the world a better place,so that G-d will return.For this to be accomplished,it is incumbent on Jews to perform the 613 Mitzvahs(blessings),in the Torah.According to orthodox doctrine, any one mitzvah,can be the one that makes G-d return to earth. 
As a wondering Jew I subscribe to the concept of making the world a better place.(  Tikun Olam) I believe strongly that each of us has a purpose and it is incumbent on all of us to find our calling. For me it is to continue to practice my craft and to help my clients find their purpose in life.
 As a young boy of 10,I asked my agnostic father,"what is a jew?' A jew is someone who does good deeds." Simple but elegant.I read one scholarly argument that the difference between religion and spirituality is the difference between thought and action.In the view of one orthodox Rabbi, a religious person attempts to put G-d in all aspects of his/her life.
One way in which spirituality is defined is by Dr. Stephen Diamond in Evil Deeds,"Spirituality can be best be characterized by psychological growth,creativity,consciousness,and emotional maturation."Essentially spirituality is the process of seeing and understanding life as it is with both it's tragic events as well as it's more joyous experiences.
 My take it does not matter whether you consider yourself religious or spiritual ,as long as that means taking action to help others and make the world a better place.
 By way of background I am presently a reform Jew,  however at other times in my life I have been conservative with a healthy exposure to orthodox Judaism.From this personal perspective as a practicing clinical psychologist, I have concluded that G-d is a psychologist.How else to explain that the laws and customs of Judaism follow sound clinical principles of psychology..
 Let us look at "Shiva",the 7 day ritual of mourning the dead that almost all Jews, both religious and secular follow.After the burial,family and friends gather around  the mourners to offer comfort in their time of grief.This consists of providing food, sharing stories about the deceased,and generally offering emotional support to the bereaved.
 Psychologically  this is sound as it provides a celebration of life. The mourner feels support and is able to put the death of the bereaved into perspective with the life cycle.Essentially the mourner receives the time honoured ritual of support and love of his/her community.
Similarly. Rosha Hashana(The Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur(the day of atonement), are the perfect example of the marriage between psychology and Judaism.In preparing for Yom Kippur.where Jews ask G-d for forgiveness, there are required to do the same of people they have hurt in the past year. Similarly they are asked to forgive those who have hurt them.Psychologically, this process of forgiving, is extremely beneficial to both partners and allows, bitterness,hate and bad feelings to be discharged.This promotes healing  between the parties.
For an observant Jew, the process of preparing for the day of atonement, includes a period of self discovery,that prepares oneself for the cleansing of Yom Kippur. During this process, which typically occurs during the month preceding New Years, a person examines his//her life ,values,relationships, in order to become a better person in the New Year.Thus the goal is to try and become a more holy and compassionate person in the New Year.
 As a clinical psychologist who works with clients who have been traumatized,hurt and rejected, I see the process of psychotherapy as being an attempt to examine their lives and become more human and compassionate human beings. Clearly the process of psychotherapy. and  examining your life before the high holidays  are similar process leading to self grow and self fulfillment.
 Rabbi Hillel, a well known Rabbi, is perhaps most famous for the following quote.
 "If I am not for myself, who is for me?
If I care only for myself,what am I.If not now,when."
 The above quote addresses 2 basic human needs,namely the need to have your own distinctive identity and the need to belong to a community.
 Hillel's quote perfectly describes the balance between taking care of yourself and being there
 for others needs.
 The last part of the quote addresses the issue of living in the presence,a sign of good mental health.
During the latter part of my 48 years of practicing psychology I have intuitively felt that spirituality was an important component of psychotherapy enabling the client to find personal meaning in life.
In my view,there is a parallel process between psychotherapy and religious/spiritual pursuits.
 Simply stated there is more than one way to climb the mountain of self actualization and self growth
LIFE"S LESSON
Follow your own unique. journey of life and path up the mountain. Find your passion ,live it and be open to the experiences and challenges of life.

 I wish all of you a warm,fulfilling and meaningful New Year.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

LIFE"S LESSONS _SECOND EDITION ILLEGITIMI NON CARBORUNDUM



Chapter 1-Bagging It
 Friday Nov.13/2016. one of the luckiest days of my life. I survive a 9 hour colon-rectal operation that saved my life. Unexpectedly I was assigned a senior surgeon who heroically attempted to perform the surgery laparoscopic-ally,despite the scarring of 2 previous surgeries in the same area.I will forever be indebted to her for her highly compassionate and professional care..Now, some 3 years later, I am considered cancer free.
For those of you(most I assume),unfamiliar with the inner workings of colon-rectal surgery,both my colon and rectum were removed to be replaced by an ostomy.. In my case I had a clostomy.A colostomy is a surgically created opening from the colon to the abdominal wall to allow the elimination of feces.In my case it was a permanent one.I am now an official bagger. Despite being told prior to surgery that this is a possibility,it is another matter dealing with it.Simply stated my body had been shocked and traumatized both physically and psychologically.I was left literally holding a bag.
 Suddenly overnight I became a member of a club I knew nothing about.I realized I had a steep learning curve to climb and set about learning .To my surprise, an estimated 1.3 million people   around the world have an ostomy.In North America alone,over 750,000 people live with an ostomy.In Canada,approximately 13,000 new ostomy surgeries are preformed each year. Suddenly I did not feel  alone adapting  to this life altering surgery.
 During the first days of hospitalization, you are extremely weak and your only concern is to diminish the pain.At times,during those first days, I was given  a strong narcotic that caused me to have visual hallucinations.I saw bugs everywhere in my room, Fortunately my training as a psychologist allowed me to recognize I was having hallucinations,I informed the nursing staff who substituted non-narcotic pain medication,which quickly ended my hallucinations. Immediately after surgery I was placed in a room were an elderly man was in the final hours of his life.Friends and family took an opportunity to say good-bye. I requested a transfer to another room, where I would become intimately familiar with my 2 room mates medical issues.Sharing a room is a forced intimacy and bonds are quickly formed. You have a choice,either go with the flow, or be miserable fighting the tension.I chose to go with the flow and developed 2 new friendships.
Despite my usual assertive and confident personality, when faced with a  situation where I am dependent on others, I become very passive and highly respectful  of the medical personnel. Twenty Four hours post surgery, you are expected to stand and walk.At times, it is a lesson in perseverance, a trait I posses to the maximum.
 For the next few days I did well, as liquids and soft food were gradually re-introduced to me. I was cautioned by a very wise senior nurse to go slow as often there are complications with the re-start of the bowel after major surgery.In fact, I was feeling so well, I stopped my pain medication and begin seeing friends and family, including my children and 1 year granddaughter.It was quite a scene walking through the corridors of the hospital,tethered to  my devices,being led by a very curious and active 1 year old.
Despite my promising  progress after 4 days I had a major complication.My bowels,as predicted by the senior nurse, would not restart. The Doctors had no choice but to place a tube through my nose into my stomach to drain it.Unfortunately, for me,  many years ago I suffered a broken nose when playing hockey that resulted in a deviated septum.Unfortunately I did not remember which side was broken.After 2 failed attempts to place the tube  into my right nostril I can tell you with certainty  that the right side was broken.Fortunately the third attempt was successful and I began to feel better immediately.
After 48 hours the tube was removed and on day 7 I was  re-introduced to liquids and soft food.My surgeon was happy with my progress and I was released to a senior home.
 Anticipating my vulnerability and weakened condition I had made arrangements to be transferred directly to a senior resident near my home,which had been highly recommended by a friend who had recuperated there after a recent surgery.
I was placed into a private suite,with it"s own washroom, located on the.medical ward,where residence needed additional care.In my case I was checked every 6 hrs.including taking my vital signs, for the first 48 hours I was there.The staff was exceptionally caring and compassionate including putting on my socks when I was unable to do so.
 The dining room was located 30 feet from my room.The food,prepared by a former chef of a foreign embassy, was outstanding,equivalent to any 5 Starr resort.The food was nutritious,tasty,and fulfilling. If  one did not like the designated meal you were free to substitute something to your liking.At times I was joined for meals by my family,arrangements quickly made to accommodate them.
 Most of my meals I was seated with a retired judge, who turned out to be a delightful companion.
 With time and exceptional care I began to re-gain my strength and mobility such that with the help of the recreation coordinator, we organized a Grey Cup party for the residents.
After 10 days,with the help of the staff, I was read to go home to continue my convalescence.
 .The first person to teach you about the care of your ostomy is a nurse who specializes in this area and is called an endoscopy nurse(ET)Teaching you to care for yourself is initiated 3 days post surgery..Before you leave hospital, you are expected to empty and change the bag attached to your abdomen.The ET nurse assigned to me had a PhD and was highly competent and compassionate..Despite my initial fears and anxiety I soon begin  the task of  learning how to take care of my ostomy. No doubt I was motivated by the desire to have a full and active lifestyle in this new body I had  acquired.
 After discharge, the task of teaching me fell to the community health nurse associated with the Community Care Acess Centre(CCAC).At first, like all timid students I was reluctant to engage,preferring to observe her do the work.Gradually,with supervision,I was able to perform the necessary tasks.One day,home alone , I had a major failure of my ostomy. What to do?
I felt like crying and giving up,but I knew I only had 2 choices.Attempt to get help or try to fix it myself.With considerable trepidation and anxiety I followed my training and was successful in re-attaching my ostomy.It was a day to celebrate! Not unexpectedly,when I told the nurse I was quickly terminated.
 What is daily life with an ostomy?After adapting to the physical appearance of a bag sticking out of your abdomen,distorted body image,and attending to cleaning and changing it on a daily bases,there remains a huge psychological adjustment.
 On a practical basis, one no longer has control of one's bowels.You have to learn new sounds and bodily cues that indicate an event will occur. Understandably,ostomates(people with ostomys),initially become very anxious when leaving the security of their homes.This loss of control is a major adjustment.Gradually with time one learns to trust ones perceptual skills.
Three factors make an adjustment difficult.Firstly the body is adapting to this radical change in the colon and rectum.Secondly,nutritional requirements, eating habits and hydration all must change.Thirdly,stress has a major impact on the system. Forthy,weather and exercise has a huge impact on the system. One must especially be aware of the proper hydration under these circumstances.
After 3 years of living with an ostomy,just when I began to feel comfortable with my ostomy it decides to go into overdrive, as if to tell me it's in charge. When my ostomy acts as if its on steroids I need to restrict my activities Although I have medication to control it, I am very reluctant to take it because of fear of  blockage.When travelling I reduce my intake before flying.
For the most part I cope reasonably well and have an active life style .Psychologically, it is important to see the big picture,that I am truly blessed to be alive and well . I try to enjoy life one day at a time.
During this life changing experience I  have received incredible moral and emotional support from myfamily and friends.You know who you are. I am extreme thankful and grateful for your presence in my life.
People come into your life for a reason.Shortly after I terminated contact with the CCAC nurse I received a telephone call from a representative of the firm I buy my health care supplies.After the usual chit-chat we discussed the specifics of caring for my ostomy. Over the phone and latter by E-mail she coached me in ways to simplify care of my ostomy. Ever time I change my ostomy I think of the good fortune of being contacted by this very caring and compassionate health care provider.
Bagging it means living with the danger of overflow, wind sounds emanating from strange parts of your body and other awkward and embarrassing moments.Recently I was playing bridge with my buddies, when suddenly a crescendo of noise,not unlike the wind blowing,emitted from my stomach.After an awkward silence, I said,"Excuse me".No one said a word and we continued on our game.
To live with a bag is to live with uncertainty,social embarrassment,and other unknown challenges.One needs to think about the bigger picture.I AM ALIVE,Well And Active And For That I FEEL TRULY BLESSED.

LIFE'S LESSON
Count your blessings and be grateful for all the caring and compassionate people in your life.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Living With The Fear Of Cancer Returning

Presently I am a 3 year survivor of stage 2 colon rectal cancer. After 2 surgeries,brief chemotherapy,and 25 sessions of radiation, I am considered by my health providers to be in remission.
As is the right of any cancer survivor, I chose to be monitored in the wellness program run by the Ottawa Cancer Clinic.After a brief orientation I was to met with my nurse practitioner ever 6 months as well as to have a Cat scan ever year.The nurse is part of an oncology team that has 2 oncologist associated with it.
 As part of my biyearly wellness visit ,I am required to take a blood test that indicates inflammation in the blood stream. It is often an early indicator of cancer.However the test is also prone  to false positives.Unfortunately,during my May/2018 visit my blood levels were elevated.
As I have written elsewhere about this highly traumatic period of my life,I will not repeat it here
.Suffice it to say,after a PET scan, and a MRI, the doctors believe the test results are related to an inflammation of  my prostate caused by surgery and/or radiation.
 July 2019,I went for my biyearly wellness check and learned once again that my blood levels are .elevated.My first reaction was total devastation and the belief  that I faced a life threatening situation.
 However,after having time to process this information,and regain my composure,I realize it is far  to early to come to that conclusion. Once again, further tests, will prove definitive.
 How does one cope with this potentially devastating news..As always,I believe strongly in a higher power.If my destiny is short lived,it is my destiny. I truly believe I have not completed my mission on earth.I plan to continue to practice my chosen profession.
 Secondly,I am blessed with a supportive family,friends and partner who have always been there for me.Thirdly I remain positive and hopeful of the best case scenario,ie: this is simply a manifestation of my prostate problems.
 In the meantime,I plan to walk the walk.I tell all  my clients that good mental health means living in the present. I intend to try to live those words.
Have a healthy,safe, and meaningful summer.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Travels With Dr David

Just back from beautiful Vancouver Island where I spent a very enjoyable week with my family at a gorgeous ocean side resort in Parksville,2 hours north of Victoria. Parksville is known for it's temperate winters(10C)and dry warm summer temperatures.An ideal climate to hike,golf and swim.
 Our 2 hour drove north from Victoria,took us through the Coquuihalla highway, a treacherous mountain road connecting the south side of the island with the north.The summit, some 1244 meters high,is challenging in summer but under winter conditions trucks must chain up to be able to climb the mountain.
 During the week I was blessed to be with my family,we stayed in spacious well appointed cottages close to the ocean. The first picture taken during high tide shows the shallowness of the water.
 This was an opportunity for me to spend quality time with my children and grandchildren.We hiked,golf,swim and played tourist  visiting the nearby sanctuary where we saw rescued bears,birds and other wide life.
Meals were a cooperative adventure,with all families participating in the barbecues.Our 4 cottages were close to each other affording me the opportunity to experience living in close physical proximity to my children and grandchildren.I had a chance to observe my grandchildren interact with each other and was pleasantly surprised how well they played together.
 One of the.highlights of the trip was golfing with my 3 sons.Like all good athletes they make the game look easy, hitting the ball a country mile.Unfortunately, my best golf is long a memory, and despite my best efforts, I now play like an old timer. Nevertheless, I did have one brief moment of reclaimed glory when I sank a long chip for a birdie.Another highlight was the picnic to a favourite local river where the grandchildren swam,rafted and sunbathed.
All too soon the week was over and each family dispersed to their respective homes.We caught a ferry to White Rock, where we spent a beautiful July 1 with my brother and sister -in-law, walking the boardwalk and enjoying the festivities on the ocean.It was a welcome change from the chaotic and crowded Ottawa we usually experience..
 A relaxing ,casual dinner, a ride to our hotel and soon we found ourselves flying east to a hot,humid Ottawa we call home
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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Reflections on Father's Day

A  special day to honour our fathers.Young fathers, including my 3 sons,"get it." They intuitively know it is important to be part of their children's lives.Somehow with all the demands placed upon them they find the time to be there.I kwell(take great pride) in my sons,who all have thrived as fathers, each in their own unique way.
Today is also a day for me to pay tribute to my own father,Roy Nozick,who had a tremendous influence on me.The values I learned from my father are values I have tried to integrate and pass on to my children, so they in turn , can pass them on to my grandchildren.
Who was Zaidi Roy and what are those values he taught me?My Dad was a charismatic short, stocky man who commanded attention and respect when he entered a room.A high school drop-out, he had a creative and brilliant mind who was not afraid to think outside the box.As a training psychologist I used him as a subject while attempting to learn how to administer intellectual tests.An experience he truly enjoyed and excelled.at.
 The youngest of 3 sons of Joe and Ann Nozick,he was a product of a conservative businessman and a card carrying communist mother.Although his parents were borne in Canada they became a part of the Jewish immigrant experience in North End Winnipeg.The North End in the 1920s and 1930s was a melting pot where Jews who came from all walks of political life felt free to live their life.
Roy Nozick was a free thinking man who believed one had to put forth one's best efforts whether it be in school, business or sports.A very active businessman he devoted much of his time to helping others whether through personal deeds or working with service clubs.My father loved organizing parties to raise money for social causes. I recall one such party for the March of Dimes where people were fined money for sitting too long or not drinking enough.
 A gifted athlete, he once had a try-out for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, His passion for golf  influenced 3 generations of Nozicks. He would have loved that 2 of his grandsons became professional golfers.
I onced asked my Dad,"What does it mean to be Jewish?' His response, "To be a Jew is to be a good person and to do good deeds." Similarly he once told me," after you accumulate $1 million dollars you have an obligation to give back to society."
So what are the values I have learned from my father that I hope to pass on to future generations of Nozicks. Namely, be yourself and be true to your values, be passionate about what you do,care about your neighbour and community,and find meaning in your life by performing the Jewish mitzvah(blessing) of Tikun Olam(to repair the world.)

Saturday, March 16, 2019

TRAVELS WITH DR DAVID

Hola from the beautiful,sunny Costa Del Sol.Yesterday,we arrived in Torremolino ,2 planes and a local train ride after leaving Albufeira,Portugal..Portugal ,where we spent the previously 2 weeks in Lisbon and the Al grave, was a perfect place to start our month long retreat from the cold ,winter in Ottawa.
After a long overseas flight to London,we quickly run through terminal 1 at Heathrow airport to catch our 2 hour flight to Lisbon. On arrival,we were met by Fredrick, our driver who would prove to be a valuable resource,in helping us negotiate the mazes, that is the old city of Lisbon.
After a  good night sleep, we were ready to explore the sights and sounds of Lisbon.We choose to go on a 5 hour walking tour which proved to be one of the highlights of our trip.We meet our fellow travelers from Toronto,England and Belgium at Rossio square, the main square in Lisbon. Our guide Pedro, an anthropology graduate from the University of Lisbon,was a major source of stories and information,that allowed us to learn the culture and history of Lisbon.
As a Jew I was particularly interested in the history of the Jews in Portugal.Apparently after the 1492 inquisition in Spain, many Jews migrated to Portugal.Unfortunately 2 years latter, when the king married a zealous Catholic woman,The Jews were exposed as pretending to practice Catholicism,and subsequently murdered. We saw a very moving
monument dedicated to the Jews who were slaughtered in 1494.
Other highlights of the city were the palace, the magnificent cathedral and the old city.
After leaving Lisbon,we rented an automatic car and visited Sintra,Obidos and the medieval town of Evora before taking the superhighway to Albufeira which is  the most southern part of Portugal .
Before commenting on the warm ,humanistic nature of the Portuguese people I'd like to comment on driving in Portugal.The  superhighways are simply marvelous, with well marked signage,clean rest spots with quality food.Traffic is sparse because of the tolls,which is a major controversy in Portugal.Driving  through the  narrow streets of the towns is quite a challenge, as is the art of negotiating the nerve racking round abouts..
The people of Portugal are simply marvelous. One example is worth noting. On our first night in Lisbon we were hungry and not sure where to eat. We decided on a pizza.Unfortunately when it arrived, it came with ingredients that were against my strict diet.I offered to pay for another one but the owner refused to take my money and insisted on making me another pizza free of charge.
The Algrave,where we spent a week, boasts of 300 days of sunshine a year,excellent food and pristine beaches set against the cliffs.all at a reasonable price, a fraction of what you would pay in Florida.The people of Portugal are warm, engaging and proud to share  their culture and land with visiting foreigners The country is clean safe and easy to find your way around.Renting a car was inexpensive(120Euros for 9 days)and allowed us to explore out of the way villages and beaches. On one drive we travelled to St. Vincent to see the famous lighthouse guarding the Atlantic Ocean. .
Having visited over 60 countries worldwide Portugal is highly recommended as a destination to counter our cold Canadian winters.
 After leaving Portugal and arriving in Torremolina in the heart of the Costa Del Sol,we quickly settled in  our 4 Starr hotel on Playa del Bajondillo..Mornings we walked the 7 km boardwalk;with the occasional trip up the steep slope to the Plaza Costa del Sol,followed by a leisurely afternoon taking the sun.Three days we booked excursions to Gibraltar,Granada and Malaga.
The Costa del Sol, 300 km of beach between Malaga and Gibraltar,is saturated with resorts and hotels,devoted to foreigners looking for the warmth and sun(330 days) it brings.The Brits,Danes,, Germans and some Canadians are here.A very civilized and tourist friendly atmosphere exists with accommodation and service for all tastes.
I personally found the Costa del Sol too  commercialized as well as some in the tourist service industry rude and arrogant.
Your choice whether to visit Portugal or Spain very much depends if you see yourself as a  tourist or an independent travellor. The choice is yours. Safe travels.




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