Tag Archives: Obsessive Compulsive disorder

The Odd Couple: Friday Fictioneers – 4th September, 2019.

They called themselves the odd couple. Yet, ignoring all the warning signs, Katherine fell madly in love with Pete, a self-confessed slob, while she was Queensland’s Lacquer Queen not a hair out of place.

It wasn’t just that his tie was crooked. None of his books were straight either. Some were tipsy and leaning over ever so slightly, while others were drop dead drunk.

In a jiffy, she’d automatically straightened the books while he was cooking dinner, but didn’t know what to do with his feral pot plant. So, she threw it out. Unbothered, Pete just thought he’d got lucky.

……

100 words

PHOTO PROMPT © Penny Gadd This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff-Fields. Every week we write 100 words to a photo prompt.

Best wishes,

Rowena

The Boss

The Boss was THE Boss. No one dared challenge company policy, which demanded staff only used triangular paperclips, not the usual ones with rounded ends. Despite our degrees, our role wasn’t to question why. Actually, we weren’t there to question anything.

That came much later, when I found a photo of him and his wife in the paper. She’d fled with the kids, charging him with domestic violence. His former secretary, I remembered how her office was chaos, and his was anal.

Sure, opposites attract. Yet, somehow I knew, that using the wrong type of paperclip, must’ve caused their demise.

……..

This has been another contribution to  Friday Fictioneers  hosted by Rochelle Wisoff Fields. Photo prompt Copyright Claire Sheldon.

I would love to hear your comments on the whole opposites attract thing too. Most people I know, marry their opposite and yet it is also fraught with tension. 

xx Rowena

A Doggy New Year!

Today, I read a great letter by Monika from Tails Around the Ranch to her much-love Poodle, Sam. Realising that my dogs could also benefit from a bit of friendly advice, I’ve set the wheels in motion with a New Year’s letter  to Bilbo, our much-loved 9 year old Border Collie.

4th January, 2015

Dear Bilbo,

Happy New Year!

Although I understand there are seven dog years to one human year, I am talking about the new human year. I know you probably didn’t realise that another human year has come and gone. That’s what all those loud explosions and flashes of light were the other night. We were celebrating the beginning of a whole New Year!

Anyway, I know you weren’t particularly looking for a lecture on human society and culture. However, you’re a smart dog and it’s important to get an education. These days, it’s simply not enough to go to Puppy Training School and only learn to sit. You also need to learn about and understand people and what makes us tick.

Anyway, making New Year’s resolutions is an age-old humaman tradition . New Year’s resolutions are a list of things you’d like to change about yourself so you’re a better person. Or, in your case, you become a better dog.

Quite often, this list is put together after days or even weeks of deep and probing soul searching, which is a bit like going on a journey to the centre of your own universe. You explore, as it were, your very own command centre and decide what stays, what goes and what needs a bit of fine-tuning.

In other words, it’s all about exploring all those idiosyncrasies you usually keep well hidden under that thick, woollen coat.

Or, buried in the backyard!

I have it on good authority that there’s some kind of New Year’s Eve Fairy Godmother who flies around the world wiping the slate clean at midnight. So, when we wake up in the morning, we’re brand new.

Makes sense, doesn’t it?!!

A New Year = A New You!

Being unaccustomed as you are to making New Year’s resolutions, I thought I’d better give you a bit of a hand. It’s not that we don’t love you just the way you are but as I said, we could all use a bit of “fine-tuning”.

Bilbo with ball

Bilbo appropriating another dog’s ball.

1) Tennis Balls

Bilbo, as much as I appreciate that chasing your ball might be good exercise and that particularly for an older dog, your ball chasing and catching abilities are worthy of the Canine Olympics, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

This is called addiction.

The trouble with addiction is that when you keep pestering the rest of the family, visitors, friends and even strangers at the beach to continuously throw your ball and then bark persistently while they’re trying to have a conversation, this is the sort of severe addiction which results in total withdrawal. In other words, no ball at all!

It could also result in therapy, hospitalisation or worse.

Please accept when “enough” is enough and retire gracefully.

Remember! Too much persistence can be a health hazard to both you and the humans!

2) Begging

My food is NOT your food.

Yes, I appreciate that I could lose a bit of weight and that perhaps I’d be better off if the food on my plate ended up in your tummy. However, this isn’t your decision to make. Having your head on my lap and staring at me with those huge, irresistible puppy dog eyes, isn’t going to help.

3) Food Theft.

Before Lady arrived on the scene, you used to be such a good dog and never used to steal any food at all. However, just because our new arrival was on Australia’s Most Wanted, you didn’t have to join her. Indeed, you were supposed to train the new dog…not the other way around!

You have since been spotted with paws up on the kitchen bench and have been found guilty of stealing meat pies, cakes and toast. Just because the little people are careless with their food, that does NOT entitle you to take it…even if it does look like you’re helping to clean the house!

4) Barking

You are an excellent watch dog and we really appreciate your efforts at protecting the house from intruders.

However, as evidenced with your tennis ball, again there has been a degree of over-zealousness.

People ARE allowed to walk their dogs and ride past our house without being barked at. Moreover, the posty and delivery people can drop off packages without you lunging at the screen door and barking like a rabid dog. They are bringing us things we’ve ordered and are definitely not stealing anything.

Moreover, the bus driver is not trying to kidnap the children. So, you don’t need to rip the bus to pieces either.

bilbo BW dog food

The trail of dog food Miss left for Bilbo.

5) Lying in the Way

For some strange reason, you insist on lying across walkways and generally getting in the way, making it difficult to walk around the house. You are actually quite a large dog and take up a considerable amount of space. So, you need to keep that in mind when lying down. While ambushing burglars is a wonderful thing, your human parents do not appreciate being tripped up.

By the way, I’ll just add that sticking your paw out from behind the couch isn’t appreciated either. Looks like you’re really determined to trip us over!

6)Standing in the Rain

Bilbo for some reason you seem to stand out in the rain, even though you have a perfectly good kennel to keep you dry. Moreover, despite being wet and incredibly stinky, you still think you should be allowed inside the house and stare daggers at us when we shut you out. Stinky wet doggy smells stay outside!

The Good News

Perhaps, I should have given you a bit of a thank you first and told you what a good dog you’ve been and how much we love you but let’s finish this off on a high note of what you’ve done well in the last twelve months.

Bilbo & Lady

Bilbo & Lady

1) Accepted Lady.

Lady’s arrival was a huge change for you after being an only dog all your life and not really having a lot of interaction with other dogs. Indeed, I’m not really sure you knew how to be a dog before she came, even though you had met the others dogs at the beach before.

Although it took about a month for you and Lady to become friends, you have shown that you can teach an old dog new tricks after all!

2) Can walk on the lead without tugging.

You might not remember back to when you were a younger dog, Bilbo but you were quite a terror on the lead and used to bolt off towards the beach with the poor human flying behind you like a kite. Now that you’re no longer a pup and have matured, you’ve become very well-behaved on the lead and we’ve even received compliments. Well done!

3) Dog Psychologist.

You somehow manage to cheer up everyone in the family and help us feel better, no matter what’s going on. Mind you, sometimes you do get your timing a bit wrong and in the midst of a crisis we hear your tennis ball “bounce, bounce, bounce” on the floor. That can be a little inappropriate and unappreciated but nobody’s perfect.

4) Doesn’t runaway with Lady.

As we know, Lady seems to like wandering off and has runaway a couple of times. We really appreciated how you’ve stayed home and were a good dog and didn’t join her. Good Boy!

Bilbo shadow Palm Beach

Bilbo is now a shadow of his former self pictured here!

5) Lost Weight.

Well done, Bilbo. Somehow, you’ve managed to lose about 14 kilos in the last 12 months. We have no idea how you’ve done it, although you were quite crook with a terrible flea allergy for awhile. I’ll have to come and ask you for some diet advice as I seem to have gained instead.

So, Bilbo, there’s a bit for you to work on and a lot to be proud of as well. All fully achievable!

I’m now off to write to Lady. Still being a bit of a whippersnapper, she might be needing a bit of assistance. We all need somebody to lean on!

Love & Best wishes for the New Year!

Love Mummy!

Newton Family & bilbo

A family photo with Bilbo as a pup Mother’s Day, 2007.

 

Obsessed by My Second-Hand Quest

There’s a very fine line between success and obsessed. Quite often, I miss that line completely and accelerate right over the edge and straight onto the rollercoaster ride from hell. You’d think I’d learn but the lure of the thrill gets me every time. I too weak-willed and simply can’t say “no”!

In what must trigger off some deep, primal hunter-gathering instinct, I haunt opportunity shops like a determined hunter stalking its prey. l swear sometimes I’ve even felt an itch or “the call of the wild” to drop in and my instincts were spot on. There was something with my name written all over it.

“Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity”

“Hippocrates

This obsessive stalking of opportunity shops waxes and wanes like the moon and like a gambler, I really have to stay right away or I’ll succumb. It’s not that we usually don’t need what I’ve bought. Indeed, today I’ve managed to score a heap of quality, striking t-shirts for the kids at $4.00 each. I also found myself a LBD (little black dress) with white polka dots and it fits me like a glove. Thanks to Summer gear being half price, it was an absolute steal.

Divine Inspiration. The Bible just fell open at this page.

Divine Inspiration. The Bible just fell open at this page.

However, a lurking danger with stalking op shops is that passion can shift to obsession and ultimately, dare I mention the word…(drum roll)…ADDICTION!!

Ouch!!! Double ouch!!! That really hurt!!

Although I’ve never heard of a support group called: “Op Shoppers Anonymous”, I probably should be on  the look out. Even though you’ve got to spend money to save money, there does come a point, as I said or had it said to me, when the bad outweighs the good and the whole shebang seriously starts to unravel.

Some of the eclectic fabrics on offer.

Some of the eclectic fabrics on offer.

After all, although it might look quite innocent on the surface, op shopping is very much like gambling. You go in there maybe even just to fill in time while you’re waiting for a script. The next thing you know, you’ve spotted some fabulous antique baby’s jacket imported from Italy and you snap it up because you can, even though your baby is almost a teenager. This trip, I’ve bought a hand-painted Aboriginal vase, a Greek demi-tasse cup and saucer, a gorgeous wooden writer’s box, which probably came from Turkey or Morocco and seems completely unique…at least, that’s when I did a Google search. I even found a foldout driver’s map of Mt Kosciusko National Park dating back to the days of miles, before metric came in. We go skiing there and my daughter is currently doing an assignment for school on it, so it was a great find…especially as the dear old Lady at the Red Cross Shop threw it in. You see, I’m a regular.

Great find for a family of avid skiers! Vintage Map of the Snowy Mountains.

Great find for a family of avid skiers! Vintage Map of the Snowy Mountains.

Humph, “regular” could be another euphemism for “addict” but I’ll overlook that.

I love the randomness of everything I find at the op shop and the eclectic smattering of treasures from all sorts of places, eras and designs. Feeling about 5 years old again, I could sneak my way through all the clothes racks and feel all those different fabric brush against my skin, while a kaleidoscope of colour dazzles my senses. I find the sheer array of fabrics alone intoxicating and so much more interesting than a contemporary boutique with it’s particular, usually very narrow, sense of style. I don’t want some supposed fashionista telling me what I can and can not wear. I’ll wear whatever I @#$% like. It’s my body…my life!!!

Sharon and I introduce Wandering Wally to op shopping. Wally has flown all the way from the UK to raise awareness of myositis, the muscle disease I live with.

Sharon and I introduce Wandering Wally to op shopping. Wally has flown all the way from the UK to raise awareness of myositis, the muscle disease I live with.

However, not only do I go to the op shops for the treasures, I also go in there for a chat and some are better in this regard that others. My absolute fave is the Lifeline Shop at Avalon, Managed by my friend, Sharon. This is one of of your more “boutique” op shops, which specialises in designer labels and exotica from all around the world. Sharon meticulously yet passionately runs the shop like an upmarket boutique with the clothes and the window displays arranged with love and finesse. What with  Weight Watchers telling people to get rid of their fat clothes and the home improvement shows promoting decluttering, it’s a treasure hunter’s dream. As they feel good getting rid of it all, I’m only too happy to assist!!

After all, for some strange reason, it seems like people only want plain, white walls with one measly ornament on the shelf. Personally, I can’t understand it. How absolutely boring!! How could you possibly live in a home that’s as sterile as a hospital all white-washed and lacking in character? As far as I’m concerned, such minimalism also looks like they can’t afford to decorate the place!

After all, what ever happened to a bit of flamboyance and exuberant self-expression?

Of course, nobody has ever accused me of being a minimalist. Occasionally the word “hoarder” gets muttered but I’m really more of a collector. I just need to be careful There’s a fine line between passion, obsession and addiction.

However, there’s just one little weaknesses I haven’t fessed up to yet.

Books!

Op Shop Treasures

Op Shop Treasures

When it comes to books, I have well and truly exceeded the limit. Okay, you mean-spirited, Kindle freaks. I know that I’ve already got far more books than one person could ever read in a life time. However, you can’t always predict what will take your fancy and when they’re so cheap, how could I possibly resist?!!

I don’t quite know what I’m searching for in all these books. The meaning of life? I don’t know. These days, I’m actually not sure that I’ll find the meaning of life in a book.  After all, life is to be lived and not simply read about. You have to get out there! You need to find your own meaning. Write your own book.

Meanwhile, my rationale for managing all my “finds” is that I just need a bigger house.

That said, I am planning a big reorganisation when I get home from holidays.

I  am !! Truly, I am!!

Do you have any obsessions you might want to confess to? I’m all ears and extremely non-judgemental!!

O is or Obsession and Opportunity Shop… my latest installment for the Blogging A-Z April Challenge.

By the way, here’s a good complement to this post as Conversations Around the Tree discusses the difference between “needs” and “wants”. Tree teaches people with intellectual disabilities and even reminded me of a few home truths!! Well worth checking out: https://treerabold.wordpress.com/2015/04/17/n-needs/

xx Rowena

N is for Neuroplasticity: Changing Your Life.

Welcome to N for neuroplasticity on the Blogging A-Z April Challenge. My theme for the challenge is: A Few of My Favourite Things and while neuroplasticity might seem left-field, I really want you to follow me on this journey because the power of neuroplasticity has radically changed my life and understanding how it works, can help you as well. You can read an overview of my journey in my About page here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/about/.

While I can appreciate that neurplasticity might sound intimidating and be a trigger to flick to another blog, it is not as complex or mentally challenging as you might think. Nor is it some wafty, unproven fad. It’s a proven, scientific process, which has been championed by Canadian psychiatrist, Dr Norman Doidge through his two books: The Brain which Changes Itself and The Brain’s way of Healing.

In other words, it’s not a fairy story.

Neuroplasticity is really quite a simple concept when you explain it properly and when you harness its strength, you like me, will experience absolutely miraculous change. Unfortunately, you will still experience those “stubborn mules” which prove stubbornly resistant. However, at least, you know you’ve done your best to try and move them!

From what I’ve learned about neuroplasticity, we shouldn’t just be teaching kids the 3Rs but also how we learn. Some basics on how the brain works such as “use it or lose it” and how “practice perfects”. That our success or failure is based less on innate talent than hard work and that it takes a lot of hours…at least 10,000 to be precise, to even have a chance of making it to the top of our field. That success just doesn’t arrive on a silver platter.

Of course, some people have been blessed with bigger, faster engines but if they leave them in the shed, they’ll soon be overtaken by apparent snail power and left behind.

If you and your kids can get a grasp on how this works, you’ll never look back. You’ll still have ups and downs but you will be more empowered and skilled-up to tackle them more effectively. There’s little doubt you’ll be working harder but I guarantee you that whatever you apply yourself to, will see results. It’s as simple as:

1+1 = 2

It’s not rocket science.

Perhaps, the simplicity of it all is what stops people from having a go. We’d much rather put our faith in a much more complicated, mystical route than sticking to potentially tedious, repetitious practice and hard work…going over and over and over our mistakes until we have overcome them and “got it”.

Diagram showing brain activation while playing the violin.

Diagram showing brain activation while playing the violin.

As a musician, I’ve experienced this first hand. Instead of playing my favourite sections of a piece over and over again, my teacher gets me reworking the rough bits and playing them over and over again. She doesn’t say: “Play it again, Sam”. Being somewhat of a slavedriver, albeit a very nice one, she says: “I want you to play that section 10-20 times a day to get it right”. This sort of detailed practice is quite foreign to me as I just want to get up there and play, especially to an audience but you can’t do that straight away. It might be a year’s worth of practice on that one piece of music to bring it to the level of perfection where it can be performed. That’s a lot of hard work behind the scenes. However, once I have reached that long-awaited moment of victory, it’s like nothing else. A real eureka moment and I’m running down the street naked like Archemedes carrying my violin. Well, not quite but you get my drift!

What is Neuroplasticity?

Neuroplasticity, also known as brain plasticity “refers to changes in neural pathways and synapses due to changes in behaviour, environment, neural processes, thinking, emotions, as well as changes resulting from bodily injury.[1] Neuroplasticity has replaced the formerly-held position that the brain is a physiologically static organ, and explores how – and in which ways – the brain changes throughout life.[1]

In The Brain Which Changes Itself, Norman Doidge M.D. a psychiatrist and researcher set out to investigate neuroplasticity. He writes “that the brain can change itself. It is a plastic, living organ that can actually change its own structure and function, even into old age. Arguably the most important breakthrough in neuroscience since scientists first sketched out the brain’s basic anatomy, this revolutionary discovery, called neuroplasticity, promises to overthrow the centuries-old notion that the brain is fixed and unchanging. The brain is not, as was thought, like a machine, or “hardwired” like a computer. Neuroplasticity not only gives hope to those with mental limitations, or what was thought to be incurable brain damage, but expands our understanding of the healthy brain and the resilience of human nature”. http://www.normandoidge.com/?page_id=1259

This brain plasticity isn’t just something for the laboratory or people experiencing chronic medical conditions or disability. It affects us all and is a more “scientific” explanation for what we have always known: “Use it or lose it!!” Indeed, our brain is constantly remoulding and fine-tuning itself.

To get an idea of how brain plasticity works, picture an old fashioned telephone exchange with all those cables plugged in. Our brain is built of these cables. So for example if we keep getting angry, those anger pathways will keep getting bigger and bigger just like exercising a muscle. Moreover, the bigger these pathways become, the angrier we will become unless we take action.

Conversely, each and every time we appease our anger and breathe deep, count to three whatever it takes, those neuropathways shrink and actually disappear. These are actual, physical changes in the structure of our brains. The brain map is different.

I have experienced these changes myself after undergoing brain surgery to treat hydrocephalus. I have experienced many changes but probably the most surprising is that I can actually play the violin and I now play in an ensemble. That takes some pretty complex brain and physical developments, which I never thought possible. I only took the violin up to help my daughter.

Neuroplasticity and Acceptance.

At the start of 2012 after a serious health scare, I set a personal challenge. I applied neuroplasticity to the serenity prayer:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.”

-Reinhold Niebuhr

You see, since forever, people have been telling me to accept things and quoted that prayer. Yet,  the trouble was that I simply didn’t know what I could change and what I had to accept and that’s what I decided to put to the test. I didn’t really set out with any clear cut goals but I was needing to lose some weight, which is a tough call when you’re taking prednisone AKA the “fat drug”.

It was during this time that I heard about brain plasticity and also the 10,000 hour rule and so what I was starting to appreciate was that I wasn’t set in stone. That all these words I used to describe myself, both the good and the bad, weren’t indeed words tattoed on my forehead which couldn’t be changed. They were more like stepping stones or train stops on a journey. I didn’t have to stay there. I could apply a bit of elbow grease and I could move on. Indeed, I was now in the driver’s seat and with the accelerator pushed to the floor, I was flying.

That was until I drove straight into pneumonia followed by a flare up of my auto-immune disease, which really was attacking my lungs this time and threatening my very existence.

Yes, neuroplasticity couldn’t fix everything.

However, my lungs have also responded to the same kind of repetitive practice and hard work which I’d applied to practicing my violin, except in this case I focused on building up my healthy lung cells instead of focusing on the damage and limitations. My lung volumes have since increased from a recorded low of 43% to 62% and are currently stable. In a sense it was a miracle and also the result of medical intervention but it also takes ongoing hard work.

Speaking of which, it’s time for me to start walking before that all important tide comes in and puts me out of business.

Living in a tidal zone really reinforces the need to carpe diem seize the day because “the tide waits for no (hu)man.”

Xx Rowena

PS When school goes back next week, I’ll be having to reacquaint myself with my violin. It has been rather neglected of late and I don’t want to lose the progress I’ve made!!

Sources

http://www.normandoidge.com/

[1] · Pascual-Leone A., Amedi A., Fregni F., Merabet L. B. (2005). “The plastic human brain cortex”. Annual Review of Neuroscience 28: 377–401. doi:10.1146/annurev.neuro.27.070203.144216.