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Year- End Update (or Scuba Living)

January 1, 2014

This is a quick hello. A way to come up for air. How long have I been under?

First off, I miss you terribly. Miss talking to you, and sometimes hearing back from you. This blog has also been a way for me to take stock of myself and take a deeper cut from wherever I stood right then. A way to mark the moment, imbuing it with an extra layer of meaning, as if what I do, think and feel matters. Otherwise, the days wash by and all I get is wet.

I don’t know what to say about the past year. For me, parts have been not quite what I expected or hoped for. One of those How-to-make-God-laugh years (you know, by telling Him your plans?).

What was good was that I began two very worthwhile creative projects that feel like culminations of lifelong passions. One is a film documentary on men {working title: Brooklyn Men}. On this, I found a collaborator, a terrific young man (any guy under 40 is young to me) who volunteered to handle the tech end. We got seven interviews completed, with all sorts of different men, young and old; tame and wild (actually none of the former).

The second project is the book I quit this blog to focus on. One that reveals parts of me – a whole spectrum of experience – I’ve kept hidden from the world for too long. And I’ve interviewed some extraordinary people for it. Now on my second draft, I feel like I’m doing something brave and adventurous.

But then life intervened around summertime. First off, my practice started to demand more of my attention. Who knew, back when I started practicing 25 years ago, that one would need to continuously revise and reinvent one’s internet marketing strategy to keep people coming through the door? And the way such a successful online strategy actually works, changed from the time you began reading this post. So I’m trying to keep up. 

Also, my tech guy entered a personal rough patch, and this resulted in me redirecting more of my energy to the book. I’ve started about half a dozen books in my life, and have completed none of them. This time I’m committed to do so.

But hey, kids, that’s not all!

As the weather grew colder, I came down with the bronchitis I often get. Damn! Three weeks of coughing, shortness of breath, antibiotics. But then, some weeks later, it returned, only with worse symptoms: headaches along with a persistent fatigue. More antibiotics. Slowly the symptoms lifted…except for the fatigue. And then some more terrible headaches.

WTF?!

I’d feel better, work a normal day, but then my body would balk.  The past several weeks I’ve slept 8-10 hours a night.

And then there was this strange and painful swelling around my knee.

One day last week, Shelley and I were talking about these symptoms and suddenly it hit me: I went north three times during the fall. Twice upstate, and once to…northern Connecticut.

Holy shit.

So I went for a blood test and in a few days I’ll know if I have Lyme disease. I almost hope I do, because then this will all make some sense, and I can get treatment. Because if I don’t, I donno what the hell is going on.

Actually I happen to feel better the past couple of days, as if maybe whatever it is, is lifting. (Though people warn me that Lyme can “hide” a while. Alas, no rest for the catastrophizing.)

But there’s a lesson in this. My body and mind have been at odds, with my mind insisting on cutting time to the bone, barely a moment each day to brush my teeth and shower, kiss Shelley goodbye, run to the train, work on the train,  see clients/do errands/work on the book/work on the website/exercise/meet with my men’s team/eat with Shelley and debrief our days/see my shrink/prepare for the next day/gulp down 3 meals/then get almost enough sleep if I have the time. Saturday? Errands. Sunday? Do everything I didn’t get done during the week.

But my body has a mind of its own. It’s saying – yo! What you think I am, 40? I NEED MORE DOWN TIME. And if you won’t give it to me, I’ll steal it and down you’ll go!

And so it has.

And that’s why I’ve felt with this fatigue like I’ve been scuba diving through the past month: Breathing and walking in a slow motion dream-like state under water.  I found myself thinking, So this is what it feels like to grow old, eh? An encroaching, insidious decline of vitality, a reduction in mobility and narrowing of view, as if the circumference of my days is growing smaller. Often recently, I’ve come home, collapsed and plopped like a lox on the couch, and watched too much television and felt like a person only less so.

It scares me to think that this may have been a dress rehearsal for future decrepitude, a preview of how windows (of energy, mobility, opportunity) may inexorably be closing as my time goes on. And this forces me to think how to make the best of the time remaining, and how to focus my reduced beam of energy like a laser to cut through the day’s fat and do only what’s essential. 

These are skills I may need when I’m 74 or 84 and beyond. Life may grow smaller, simpler.

Hey I know this isn’t what you expected or signed up for when you started reading this post, is it? Now you know how I feel about 2013.

But actually I’m not as downcast as I sound. I’ve got far too many blessings for that!

Meantime, Shelley has really hit her stride as a retired person, knitting me a gorgeous matching wool scarf and hat just in time for winter.

This past year we chose to enjoy a staycation, booking a small hotel in midtown right next to where my grandmother lived when I was a child. One day I’ll tell you how Shelley and I spent that time, and what we discovered about the city.

Thanks again for listening. I’ll be back again another time.  

Happy New Year!

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. roy alexander permalink
    January 1, 2014 1:00 pm

    Charley, thank you for this amazing piece. It’s been too long since your last one. Don’t take this as a request to write more often; I get how busy you are. I won’t make any comments about the meat of your article. But, I will reread it many times and know you better with each reading. I’ll also share it with Irma who will be more viscerally and emotionally connected to it since she (for the better) is so much more connected to her emotions than I. What a treat it is for me to know you! Roy

  2. January 1, 2014 4:21 pm

    Hi Charley, I enjoyed reading your thoughts and experiences again. I want to recommend you to drink lots of water, of the right kind, which is Kangen water (see info here: http://www.kangen1usa.com). This water is antioxidant, so it fights inflammation, strengthens the immune system and prevents oxidative damage which causes aging and disease. It is alkaline, which means it is rich in oxygen, and gives you more energy. It is also more absorbable than ordinary water, so you don’t get bloated when you drink it. Water is what cleanses and detoxifies your body, and if you don’t drink enough of it, there is no way you can be healthy!

    Most people don’t drink enough water, and actually drink dehydrating beverages, such as coffee, beer, wine, sodas, energy and diet drinks. Therefore most people are in a state of chronic dehydration and as one ages, usually the cumulative effects are worse. Shelly is a retired nurse, right? I have plenty of scientific info on this water which has been used in Japanese hospitals for over 35 years. You can get some free at the company’s office in Astoria. If you want details, please let me know. This water helped my husband lose 18 lbs, in two months, get rid of heartburn and improve his memory significantly. Both of us have increased energy, deeper sleep and more resistance to sickness.

    Please look into this, it isn’t a sales pitch. I know we think aging is inevitable and when you feel unwell, you think, well this is it, here it comes. Yes you are getting older, but if you take care of yourself right, you can live a vital life for many years to come. You have a right to be healthier than others your age, too!

    All the best for 2014,
    Hana Dolgin
    917 509 3256

    • Dan W permalink
      January 1, 2014 6:04 pm

      I have to say, as someone who has gone through the whole Lyme scare ordeal and has tried just about everything, including Kangen water, I have to speak up here. I tried the Kangen water, and it worked for a couple days, and then stopped working, so I’m pretty sure it was a placebo effect. Kangen water makes sense in theory, but it just didn’t work for me. Also, it’s an MLM (multi-level marketing) …scheme? I guess it works for some people, but I believe that if one is to be healthy, they ought to cure the disease, not be dependent on a machine to make your water for the rest of your life.

      But hey, I don’t want to stop you if you really want to try it out. Maybe it’ll work.

      • January 6, 2014 10:21 pm

        Hello Dan,

        I wrote a reply to you before which i don’t know if you received. I would be glad to talk to you about Kangen water and your experience with it. What you wrote “I believe that if one is to be healthy, they ought to cure the disease, not be dependent on a machine to make your water for the rest of your life” seems to show you don’t understand that adequate healthy hydration is part of getting your immune system to run better and your body to function better, in general. It is part of curing imbalances.

        My number is 917 509 3256.

        I hope to hear from you,
        Hana Dolgin

  3. murray sadoffsky permalink
    January 1, 2014 5:58 pm

    It is a pleasure to hear from you again. I’m glad you wrote this contemplative piece. Your words slowed me down. It is so good to look back and evaluate just what we have done, what we may have missed in our rush from here to there.
    I hope you will continue to share your thoughts with US. It gives me pause. not a bad gift.
    Thanks. Murray

  4. Gretchen Langner permalink
    January 2, 2014 3:22 pm

    Dear Charley, It’s Gretchen from the old days at GAP! This is the first time I’ve had the honor of reading your blog. I really enjoyed doing so. I felt compelled to say that I hope your symptoms of fatigue are gone very shortly and blood test negative etc..but if not feel free anytime to contact me-glangner1@aol.com. You may have seen one of my letters to GAP but I became ill with Chronic Fatigue which might be Lyme. I know a lot about both Chronic Fatigue and Lyme from a lot of research. Maybe I can be of help if you end up needing it. I will pray you don’t have that! Much love, Gretchen

  5. January 2, 2014 11:47 pm

    Charley, I’m sorry to hear you’ve been feeling ill. I hope you get an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment and feel better soon. But I don’t know if illness or aging fully explains your fatigue. I know you love life so much you don’t want to miss anything, but it sounds to me like you’re just pushing yourself too hard and trying to do too much. I myself have always had to pace myself much more slowly than you, even when I was much younger.

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