First, the Pennypack Creek Cleanup.
We walked the trails with Kyle Wilson, left. You always meet great people at Pennypack.
Kyle is a senior at Abington High School and has been to Pennypack Trust several times this year as part of his senior class project.
He's been accepted at University of Pittsburgh where he'll get a doctorate in pharmacy. He wants to go into research.
Since I've wrin poems about most things, I knew I'd written a poem about Pittsburgh. Click here for "The Wrong Bridge," and scroll down.
Bart had the pleasure of finding a tire, Ada found one of those 'rings' they put around new trees so deer won't eat em, and Scott found a rib bone and leg bone, probly from deer. They're now in one of my garden beds.
We were rewarded by seeing Linda Barrett who scavenged with another group and also by delicious food from Whole Foods.
David Robertson, executive director, took this photo. He also went around taking everyone's picture. Pennypack Ecological Trust has 901 acres preserved in perpetuity. Here's an old photo I have of David.
Then I drove home to get ready for our Afternoon Gig, the late arrival of Norman Cotterell, PhD, of the famous Beck Institute in Bala Cynwyd.
Norman had emailed me that he'd be a little late. "Leave the light on," he wrote. He was picking up his 15-yo son from acting school downtown. You can see why his son would want to be an actor since his dad has a natural flair for it.
Norman, who hails from Los Angeles, did indeed get minor roles before flying to the East Coast to become a psychologist and study with the Lasker-Award-winner AARON TEMKIN BECK, b. 1921, which makes him 91 yrs old.
With depression comes a negative view of ourselves. As Bob so artfully put it, we think we're a piece of shit. Other words to describe a D individual are: unlikeable, a loser, no future, hopeless.
And...we isolate ourselves which has certain benefits. We don't have to face other people who will undoubtedly affirm our negative beliefs in ourselves.
Our motivation goes down, as do our energy and interests.
The world becomes smaller and smaller - a dark prison. The brain is unstimulated. We have a lack of neuronal activity.
The bulk of the brain, he said, is concerned with movement. When depressed, you have the power to move your thumb or hold your arms across your chest (below photo).
To break this miserable cycle: TAKE ACTION. Move. Move your muscles.
There is a purpose to all this, said Norman. The body tells you to conserve energy instead of wasting it for a worthless pursuit. After all, we're nothing but a WPOS (worthless piece of shit). Oooh, I love cursing with impunity on my blog. I've tried to tone it down, though, in my short story "Spanish Arches" - about another Norman - I really got carried away with the F word.
So, by moving and taking action you break the dreadful cycle. How many of you ruminate when you're depressed and lay in bed? Ah, I see a few hands going up in the air.
Before my bipolar d/o went away, I would get D after a manic-psychotic episode. But I always made sure I was up when my kids came home from school. Not easy!
"The beautiful thing about taking action," he said, "is you have more energy!"
In the old days, Norman said, "bed rest" was prescribed as a cure for depression. It only made matters worse.
Depression, said Norman, prints out signs such as "You're a loser" or "You'll never find a job."
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) says to examine and test out these ideas. "What is the evidence that this is true?"
By taking action, you're spitting in the eye of D.
He told an anecdote about Winston Churchill, who suffered bouts of the "black dog." On his father's deathbed, he told Winston that he, Winston, was a failure, he was ashamed of him, and he would never amount to anything.
Winston's finest hour, his father never knew, was in WWII. Churchill's path to success was jumping from failure to failure and then achieving success.
Each time you fail, said Norman, you learn something. Look at Thomas Edison.
The Greek philosopher Plato advised Getting Drunk to combat depression. That only makes things worse, said Norman, plus you may become addicted to drinking.
He also quoted Epictetus, born a slave, who was an influential teacher and philosopher and who, among famous quotes, said: "The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.
Aaron Beck, founder of CBT, is a psychiatrist. He did research to see if Freudian thinking about depression held true, such as "depression is anger turned inward." Beck looked at dreams of depressed patients but didn't find evidence, tho he did discover depression often has something to do with loss.
Aaron Beck, from an article in the Inquirer. See, he's got a microwave like everyone else, except me.
He never could figure out, tho - and no one has - which comes first: the depression or the negative thinking that goes along with it.
Here's part of our audience. My camera often misbehaves so half the pix I took did not come out - sorry Bob and Claire and Gil.
Here's Helen Kirschner, who runs our daytime meetings of New Directions. She said she'd done a lot of work on herself to help her depression. The good thing about having depression, she said, is it gives her compassion and she knows how to help the people in her group with D.
She also asked about the role of medication, since most - but not all of our members - take meds.
As you can see, Norman filled the whiteboard with his words.
When he finished, many of us stayed to ask Qs. Here's a bit about his fascinating personal life:
He defines his spirituality as "Quak-o-lic" - Quaker combined with 12 years of Catholic schooling when he lived in LA. He never wanted to live on the East Coast but enjoys it now. He and his wife live in Elkins Park and have a 15-yo son and an 8-yo daughter.
He told fascinating stories about his family members. His dad lived until he was 91.
He also told a story about 9/11 and PTSD. The people who were able to MOVE - who RAN out of the Twin Towers and moved their muscles did not, for the most part, suffer from PTSD.
The insurance company for New Directions - AON - was located in one of the Towers. They lost 171 employees BUT were leaders and led many people to safety.
Today they're located in DC.
How many good things can you say about insurance companies nowadays?
When you've got a smart guy like Cotterell in the room, pick his brain!
I asked what psychiatrists he would recommend for our Top Doc/Top Therapist List. He mentioned three, all of whom are on our list.
Ken Nelson is among them. My daughter Sarah went to Abington Friends School w/Dr Nelson's daughter Maureen.
Maureen Nelson, a gifted violinist, is the founding member of the Grammy-nominated Enso Quartet. I bought a CD of Ginastera string quartets. I never heard of him either. He was a major composer from Argentina.
We always give our speakers Gifts. For Norman, who I knew was studying jazz piano, I went to Barnes and Noble and bot him the only album in the bin by none other than The Bad Plus. As you know, my son/law Ethan Iverson is the pianist.
I also bought Norman a special commemorative World War II issue of Life magazine. It has great old pictures of the way things used to be, including ads.
While thumbing thru it I noticed there were only two pictures of African-Americans, one a Pullman porter, and the other, I believe a musician.
How about the Tuskegee Airmen, Life magazine? How about the many units of black-only soldiers?
The times they are a'changing, but it certainly takes a long long time.
Norman's father marched with Reverend King. A great family legacy.