Archives for category: Not Cancer-the other part of my life

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Based on the responses to my post, Elizabeth the Spy, I learned that a lot of you out there also like to engage in harmless spy games. For example, Helen likes to guess what people are like based on the contents of their grocery carts (“trolleys” in her country). Mogatos and her husband like to guess at life stories while they are people watching at the beach.

This morning, I took some pictures of homes around my neighborhood. Let’s play a game. Based on the photo, do you have any clues as to the personalities or life circumstances of the inhabitants? Let’s keep it light hearted, though and avoid criticizing.

I’ll start off with the first one.

20130428_104057

Okay, this house is owned by a very fun couple. We meet through mutual friends. They keep saying to me, “Elizabeth, you need to come to our house and help us with our garden. It’s a weed patch.” I visit and make some suggestions, none of which are taken because they are too busy with work. We become great friends anyway because they are such good company.

See? That was easy. And don’t feel like you have to insert yourself into the story. I did so in this case because I think it’s such a funny idea to put a sign in the yard to mark “dandelions” that it made me want to meet the people who live in the house.

Okay, here are some photos for you to try:

A. House in the city with three car garage.

A. House in the city with three car garage.

 

House B

House B

 

House C

House C

 

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House E

House E

 

House F. Help me figure out this house. I have been working on it for years! What doesn't show in the picture is the rest of their collection of old collectible vehicles, the boat, or the horse trailer.

House F. Help me figure out this house. I have been working on it for years! What doesn’t show in the picture is the rest of their collection of vintage vehicles, the boat, or the horse trailer.

 

 

 

 

One of the things I’ve noticed since doing regular mindfulness practice is that the plants I encounter on my walks are pulled into the foreground rather being just sort of around, like visual white noise. (Hey, if sound can have a color, sights can have a sound.)

The maple trees have leafed out in the past couple of weeks. One of them stuns me every time I see it, if I really, really look at it.

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First off, look at the overall shape. It’s so round! And although they don’t show well in the picture, there are airy spaces throughout the foliage that lighten the look of the tree and provide beautiful visual texture. And the color! Look at the contrast between the dark red and lighter red. Now look at the trunk. It has three divisions to it and they are beautifully shaped, like an up-ended tripod. Unfortunately, you can’t hear or see the rustling of the leaves. There was a light breeze when I took the picture.

This tree didn’t announce it’s splendor loudly like showy flowers do. (And I have nothing against showy flowers.) In the past, I may have just thought, “Nice tree” and kept walking. Certainly that not the end of the world, but I did enjoy the experience so much more when I took half a minute and most of my senses to “see” the tree better. I imagine that there are people, far more advanced in mindfulness meditation who could have been with that tree for a much much longer time. (And I tell you I am not yet ready to go on one of those mindfulness retreats where people go long periods of time without talking.)

If you would like to try a mindfulness exercise this week, here’s a common one. (Meaning, I did not invent it.) Go outside. You can sit or walk. Spend a few minutes noticing with all of your senses, look around, smell the air, listen to the sounds, and feel the way the ground feels beneath your feet and the air feels on your face. If you are lucky, you can also notice the way the sun feels on your face. When you are done, notice the way you feel and what you are thinking.

I am a beginner at mindfulness practices. But even as a beginner, the meditation and other mindful experiences have brought a great deal to my daily life. A street tree was revealed to be an extraordinarily beautiful living thing.

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As you may know, I have been tracking my daily walks since 12/2/12. Earlier this week, I passed the 400 mile mark (644 K). Today, I did a 6 mile (9.7 K) walk I have been wanting to be able to work toward for a long time but thought the earliest I’d be ready for it would be next fall. The walk is from our house to Lincoln Park, which is on the Puget Sounds and faces the beautiful Olympic Mountains, which is the lesser known of the two mountain ranges in our state. The walk is not just longer than my usual walk but it is quite hilly. John took us an indirect, switchback route so that it wasn’t an unrelenting climb.

The park and the walk were beautiful. We saw a seal pup on a wooden float off in the distance. In the 13 years we’ve visited the park this was a first time sighting for us. John and I really enjoyed this time together.

Puget Sound, Olympic Peninsula, and Olympic Mountains. (I know I keep promising to use a good camera for my nature shots instead of my phone...)

Puget Sound, Olympic Peninsula, and Olympic Mountains. (I know I keep promising to use a good camera for my nature shots instead of my phone…)

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ResearchGate is like a Facebook for researchers. We post our research articles and get stats on how many views they get. I signed up for it at the electronic invitation of one of my former colleagues at the University of Washington. It’s my last gasp at being a researcher, really. Well, that’s an overstatement. I am still asked to be a peer reviewer for journal submissions. I am asked frequently by a quite prestigious journal. I would be pleased but I am mostly asked to review articles that are not really suited to the journal. (That’s not code word for “bad articles”, by the way. Each journal has a niche and some submitted articles do not fit that niche. They tend to be lower priority articles and perhaps even ones an editor might ask someone who has not been an active researcher since 2007 to review. Be reassured, however, that I don’t agree to be a reviewer unless I think I can do a good job.)

Another feature of ResearchGate are periodic suggestions of articles based on one’s interests. Today’s suggestion arrived in an email. “Elizabeth, we’ve hand-picked some suggestions for you.” The suggestion was “Altitude acclimatization improves submaximal cognitive performance in mice, and improves an imbalance in the cholinergic system.”

First, I am very happy for these mice. If memory serves, one of the functions of the cholinergic system is to support memory functioning. Mine has been a bit on the fuzzy side throughout the stress of cancer treatment. Not to mention the fact that altitude sickness is no fun. (What are they doing with those mice, anyway? Having them scamper through the Alps decked out in lederhosen?) Finally, while it is true that psychology is quite broad and there are psychologists who probably do work in this area. However, here are a couple of examples of my publications:

Skinner, M. L, MacKenzie, E. P., Haggerty, K. P., Hill, K. G., & Roberson, K. C. (2011). Observed parenting behavior with teens: Measurement invariance and predictive validity across race. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 17, 252-260.
Haggerty, K.P., Skinner, M.L., MacKenzie, E.P., Harachi, T.W., & Catalano, R.F. (2007). A randomized trial of Parents Who Care: Effects on key outcomes at 24-month follow-up. Prevention Science, 8, 249-260.

MacKenzie, E. P. Improving treatment outcome for Oppositional Defiant Disorder in young children (2007). Journal of Early and Intensive Behavioral Intervention.

Haggerty, K.P., MacKenzie, E.P., Skinner, M.L., Harachi, T., & Catalano, R. (2006). Participation in Parents Who Care: Preventing youth substance abuse. Journal of Primary Prevention, 27, 47-65.

Hmm. I wonder what they will suggest next?

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I can’t figure out what to wear to my daughter’s concert! What will I do?

Also, I’ve given myself a series of hot flashes from trying on so many dresses!

And with all of these hot flashes, how will I do my hair tonight? I was planning to straighten it with a flat iron it for the first time in months. (Remember, I’ve been avoiding being around hot things.) And I ran out of my curly hair styling product. I’m not driving yet and it doesn’t quite seem justified to ask my husband to interrupt his deck building project to go get it when the only one who would notice a difference is me.

I think I will take a little nap. In the mean time, let’s have a little vote on the dresses. Here are pictures of the contenders.

Dress A-my go-go boots dress that was involved in wax-removal-gate(From 6pm.com)

Dress A-my go-go boots dress that was involved in wax-removal-gate
(From 6pm.com)

Dress B. This one was involved in "Gee honey, that dress makes your stomach-look big-gate." I think it's cute and "he who should not be named" made that remark before surgery. (From 6pm.com)

Dress B. This one was involved in “Gee honey, that dress makes your stomach-look big-gate.” I think it’s cute and “he who should not be named” made that remark before surgery. (From 6pm.com)

Dress C has inspired no controversy.

Dress C has inspired no controversy. (Used dress purchased from Ebay)

Dress D was a big hit at another recent soiree.

Dress D was a big hit at another recent soiree. (Another re-used dress acquired from Ebay)

Dress E has also inspired no controversy probably because it arrived in the mail today and "you know who" has not seen it.

Dress E has also inspired no controversy probably because it arrived in the mail today and “you know who” has not seen it. (From Ebay.com)

Dress F: This was the dress I was wearing when I was super pumped (literally) about having cleavage again, not noticing that I had so much as to indicate a medical problem! The version of the dress that I have is in blues and greens.

Dress F: This was the dress I was wearing when I was super pumped (literally) about having cleavage again, not noticing that I had so much as to indicate a medical problem! The version of the dress that I have is in blues and greens. (From Sierratradingpost.com)

This post is from 7/21/12. 

I know a lot of people say that clowns are scary. I have never found clowns to be scary, generally speaking but I do have a bad experience with a Seafair clown. I was 14 years old and had just completed the 8th grade. I can’t remember which of the Seafair parades I was attending but it was my first Seafair parade. Unfortunately, this parade marked another first for me, my first kiss, given to me by a Seafair clown. He planted a wet one right on my lips when I least expected it. Imagine being a 14 year-old girl and getting your first kiss from a middle-aged Seafair clown. Yuck!

Fast forward thirty-one years a year or two later, to the summer of 2011. I was attending the Chinatown Parade, my first Seafair-clown attending event since my unfortunate teen-aged experience. I was approached by one of the clowns and my dad wanted to take our picture together. Honestly, my stomach lunged a little from anxiety. But he looked trust-worthy and I gave it a go. He was a gentlemanly clown and we took a nice, healing photo together.

I am hoping for some healing tomorrow, too. I am looking forward to just being a mom at a parade, cheering on her kid.

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