The Pennies Are Everywhere!

The other day one of my patients was talking about her father, who died in 1981. “He started college in 1929, and we all know what happened that year. So college came to a sudden end for my father. He became incredibly tight with money from then on, to the point of putting locks on the rotary phones and picking up pennies when he saw them on the sidewalk as if he’s just struck gold.”

This patient, whom I’ll call Sarah, was raised Jewish but now follows a non-traditional spiritual path. She has strong spiritual views, but they do not fit any standard faith or religion. But she delighted in telling me how often she sees pennies all over the place, ever since her father died. “The pennies are everywhere,” she said, with an elated giggle, her red curly hair bouncing, belying her 60 years of age. “It didn’t take me long to realize it was my dad sending me those pennies, letting me know he was watching over me from the other dimension.” She sat back with a wide smile of satisfaction on her face.

As some of you who read this newsletter know, I, myself, believe in God. I’m an Episcopalian. But I’m not doctrinaire. I like the prayer that goes, “Lord, please help me always to search for the truth, but spare me the company of those who have found it.”

My version is that God is Love. Where you find love, there you find God. Where there is no love, God is absent. Today’s world is painfully short on love. It seems that love is a really tough sell. Why people reject it beats me. Because there’s nothing better. And without it, we wither.

It’s there for the taking, love is. As Sarah said, the pennies are everywhere. Love is all around, if we will but reach out and give it, reach out and receive it, if we will but come out of hiding. Don’t hold back.

Pat a dog. Smile at the check-out lady. Help the mom with the crying baby. Forgive a friend you know you want to make up with. Think of three things you’re grateful for. Say “Thank you” to two people today and say “I’m sorry” to one. Stop and talk to the panhandler, whether or not you chose to give him money. Go a day without reading or watching news and use that time to give others compliments.

Look for the pennies. You will find them everywhere.

Doing What You Love To Do!

Greetings from Wellfleet, on Cape Cod. It’s a Sunday, the weather is generously beautiful, and I’m here for a week with my wife, Sue, and various relatives and guests to teach the course I’ve been teaching for how many summers now, is it 15?, to finish up the new book about ADHD John and I have been working on for quite a while, and to have fun.

This is as close as I get to what most people think of as a vacation.  The fact is, I don’t take vacations.  Sue goes away with girlfriends with some regularity for weekends or longer periods, and then we have two weeks, one our summer camp in Michigan in July, and one this course on Cape Cod in August, when Sue gets to read on the beach (her passion) and rest up (she works harder than anyone I know).

The reason I don’t take conventional vacations is that, for me, every day I’m doing what I love best.  I love my three jobs.  I see patients.  I write books. And I give seminars and talks.  Each one of those is a passion for me.  You might think I really ought to get away and go fishing.  I have many good friends who fish, and I love their stories about fishing, but the times I’ve tried it, I get bored pretty quickly, plus I have so little talent for it that I just get in the way or bring bad luck.

I do love golf, but that’s only because I play it with my sons, Tucker and Jack.  I love getting out on the course with them whenever I can, which is not very often, due to the schedules the three of us keep.  But when we can, we get out and ruin a good walk, as Mark Twain put it.

I once wrote about this in my newsletter and someone I respect a lot took me to task, telling me I should not model over-working.  I do not mean to do that.  What I mean to model is doing what you love.  I love what I do.  I’ve discovered the three things in life I’m good at, good enough so that people will pay me to do them: see patients, write books, and give talks.  So that’s what I do with my time, most of the time.

Sue loves to travel, and someday, if we can afford it, I’ve promised her we will travel to wherever she’d like to go.  I will bring my laptop so I can work on a book.  That’s the great thing about being a writer; all you need is your laptop and your imagination.  I just have to pray my mind holds up.

My wish for all of you is to do what you love as much as you can.  If people will pay you do what you love, then you’re lucky.  Or if you don’t need money, then you’re very lucky. I still need money, as most of us do.  But I have my three talents that God gave me, which I have worked hard to develop as I’ve grown older.

In December I will turn 70.  Sue and our 3 wonderful kids, the stars in my sky, want to take me away to Aruba, an island I used to love to go to before I even met Sue, and an island I vacationed with—yes I took conventional vacations way back when—Sue on before we got married, to celebrate my 70th. birthday. 

Just their wanting to do it is plenty of present for me.  Believe me, to have reached 70 years—assuming I do get to December 2 intact—with Sue and those 3 kids with me will be, for me, to have reached the tipmost top of Mount Olympus.

So, as I think about it, I suppose what I’ve really been doing all these days when I’ve supposedly been seeing patients, writing books, and giving talks is doing whatever it is a person does to make sure a marriage burns bright as a bonfire for 30 years, and three children, one glorious girl and two fantabulous boys, grow into all that they ever wanted to be, still counting, still growing.

Whatever it is a person does to do that, that’s what I’ve been doing instead of taking vacations or doing whatever else I might have done.  Because that’s what’s mainly been on my mind.   

I can’t end without thanking whoever you thank for all the help I needed and got every day along the way.

A Celebration of Life

Recently my wife, Sue, and I, along with my niece, Molly, and her 11-year-old daughter, Josselyn, who dreams of becoming a star of stage and screen one day, went to see Hugh Jackman at Madison Square Garden. This is part of a five-month world tour in some thirty cities for this 50-year-old phenom who seems to get younger every year.
As we sat and watched his dazzling performance, backed up by a cast of over 150 musicians, technicians, dancers, singers, and stagehands, not to mention his beautiful wife, Deb, seated in the audience, whom he serenaded in the sweetest, most romantic moment you’ll ever see in a live performance, I had to wonder not only at the huge talent of this man—his range, from song to dance to stage to screen to drama to comedy to variety—but to the extraordinary goodness of him as well.
The theme that ran throughout the two hour show was a full-on celebration of life in all its dimensions, in all its variety, in its total and glorious diversity. Out came Keala Settle to sing a searing rendition of the song “This Is Me” which she made famous as the Bearded Lady in “The Greatest Showman.” It includes the lines, “When the sharpest words wanna cut me down, I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out, I am brave, I am bruised, I am who I’m meant to be, this is me.”
How much Hugh Jackman understands and loves all this, loves differences in people, how much he celebrates it in the show he put on that night—and night after night around the world—as well as his wish to bring all people, no matter who, together. He said, “When I was in Minnesota, they taught me a new term, LGBTQA. I said I knew about LGBTQ, but what’s the A? They said it stands for ‘Allies’. I said, Great, because I’m an ally for sure. Now we have a term that includes everybody.” But then he went on to add, But when I got to New York, they told me, “Oh, no, Hugh, the ‘A’ stands for ‘Asexual’. Well, I’m not asexual, but I am an ally for sure!”
Hugh is an ally indeed, an ally of us all, a man who, along with Deb, applies his tremendous talent and resources to unite people, spread understanding and good will, raise spirits, and fill people’s lives with song, laughter, and love.
He’s a friend to our cause as well, the cause of invisible differences. Those lyrics from “This Is Me” could just as easily come out of the mouth of a person who has ADHD or dyslexia as out of the mouth of a woman who has a beard or a man who’s mocked for being short, fat, or funny-looking.
As I sat there in Madison Square Garden, being moved to laughter and tears by the World’s Greatest Showman I thought to myself how wonderful it is that God gives us a Hugh Jackman to offset the guttural voices of hatred and division, of ignorance and bigotry and scorn, that God gives us a Hugh Jackman to inspire us as he tours the world tirelessly raising hope every night, lifting up the people who can’t see the stars.
As I listened to his resounding voice and marveled at the light step of his dance, I knew that this man who was once a little boy in Australia watching Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly on TV, had been plucked up by the spirits that look out for us all and sent on a mission, a special World Tour, in which he was to put to rout the evil-scaled demons and dragons that kill people’s dreams and replace them instead with this shining star, this astonishing Knight in Red Circus who cast a spell upon us all, from little Josselyn sitting next to me, her mouth agape and her eyes as open as her heart, to the entire hurting and waiting world, if it would only listen.

“Recognition Responsive Euphoria,” or RRE

Over the past few years, Dr. William Dobson has helped multitudes of people of all ages who have ADHD by developing the concept of “rejection sensitive dysphoria,” or RSD.  The painful syndrome of feeling acute and profound dejection at even the slightest perceived insult or “dis” is common among those of us who have ADHD.

I’ve observed a sister syndrome of RSD in my 69 years of living with ADHD and my 38 years of treating the condition in children and adults.  This sister syndrome is, in my experience, even more common that RSD.  I call it:

“Recognition Responsive Euphoria,” or RRE
.

Perhaps because people who have untreated ADHD are so accustomed to making mistakes and receiving criticism, they become positively giddy when they receive positive recognition.  The best way to get them charged up and motivated is to praise—legitimately, honestly—some element of a project they’re working on, an outfit they’re wearing, a proposal they’re developing, an idea they’re hatching.

My friend, John Croyle, head of the home for abandoned children in Alabama called Big Oak Ranch, told me years ago that one of the best ways to instill hope in kids who have lost hope is to “be a dream maker, not a dream breaker.”  That’s all about providing recognition for whatever positive action a person might perform.  It helps everyone.  However, for people who have ADHD, it takes us to a whole new level.

The typical day of a person who has ADHD—of any age—if it is not treated is rife with frustration, rejection, and failure.  But it is also true that people with ADHD are remarkably resilient and spunky.  One of the best ways to get them going in a good direction, in spite of all the negativity they have to contend with, is to find something positive to recognize in what they are doing and notice it.  Go for it.  You will quickly see eyes light up, and the person swing into action like a whirling dervish of positive energy.

I’ve written a lot of books.  But I couldn’t have written a single one of them without frequent doses of positive energy—recognition, encouragement, doses of keep on keepin’ on—to keep me going.  Thank God my wife, Sue, seems to have an endless store.

Make sure you find people who have lots encouragement and recognition to give.  They are precious.  Some people are notoriously stingy with it, as if it were a valuable coin not to be parted with.  True, it’s not to be given underserved, for then it loses all its power.  But neither should it be withheld until a person produces achievement worthy of a Nobel Prize.

If you have ADHD, and you find that you are low on motivation, energy, and are not working up to your potential, a reason for that very well may be that you are not getting enough recognition.  Once you find the right person or better a still, the right people to give you that recognition, then you can tap into the tremendous power of Recognition Responsive Euphoria.

If you need it, it does not mean you are weak.  I need it like crazy, and I am not weak.  Most people who achieve in creative fields need it like crazy, and they are not weak.  People with ADHD need it, and we are anything but weak.  People with ADHD are some of the strongest people in the world, emotionally, constitutionally, never-give-up-wise.

So know this about yourself and others with ADHD and plan how to tap into and get or give Recognition Responsive Euphoria!

I’m Such a Simple Man.  I Love My Dog.

Note from Ned

da-DUM, da-DUM, da-DUM

A phrase came to me this morning while I was eating my grape nut cereal with blueberries and milk, not my usual breakfast but one I love nonetheless. “On what can you depend?” It came just like that.  Not in the more colloquial, “What can you depend on?” but the more formal, “On what can you depend?”

I actually like the more formal version, not because I am a stiff grammarian—actually the current doyen of grammar, Benjamin Dreyer, urges us to end sentences with prepositions and forget the proscriptions to the contrary we learned in grammar school—but because of the solidity of the rhythm of the line: on WHAT can YOU de PEND; da-DUM, da-DUM, da-DUM.

Right then I could depend on my grape nuts, blueberries, and milk and the solidity of the line, which I liked so much I said it out loud.  I was sitting by myself—no, not by myself, our dog, Max, was sitting on the floor next to me, and when I said it he looked up at me quizzically, so I said it again.  Max made no sense of it so he went back to looking at whatever he’d been looking at before.

Da-DUM, da-Dum, da-DUM. It’s good to have a dog. it’s GOOD to HAVE a DOG. da-DUM, da-DUM, da-DUM. it’s GOOD to KNOW your SELF. da-DUM, da-DUM, da-DUM. be WARE the IDES of MARCH. da-DUM, da-DUM, da-DUM. stand UP for THOSE you LOVE. da-DUM, da-DUM, da-DUM. be SURE to BRUSH and FLOSS.

I sat with Max doing da-DUM’s for quite a while.  I was reveling in the feeling of solidity they gave me.  It was heartening to know how much brick I could find in such a short time simply by looking for three iambs in a row.

I’m such a simple man.  I love my dog.  I love my grape nuts, especially with blueberries and milk.  I love the morning, especially with Max.  I love that I have three children all in their 20’s who are thriving, thank God, and I love Sue, my wife, of 30 years. I fear the things we all fear, and I fear not knowing when they will come.  Which brings me back to da-DUM, da-DUM, da-DUM.  i HOPE we ALL find PEACE and JOY.  Ah-ha, I added another da-DUM.

The time had come for me to take my dish to the sink, wash up, and say good bye to Max and my reveries.  It was time for me to go to work, to drive out to my office in Sudbury and see the patients who were waiting for me out there.

The drive would give me a chance to get a new window, literally, onto the world, watching the wintry scenes as I drove past them, the snows still clinging to the now brown barked trees, the bare trees, buds barely popping in as yet, muddy patches in some fields where some melting’s come, the blue sky today replacing the heavy gray from yesterday, the sun ever brighter reflecting off the fields still filled with snow, a few horses seeing what they could forage today let out of their stalls into one of the fields, feeling on the precipice of spring with Savings Time just let in to provide us with more daylight or so the idea has it go.

I watch the nature I know so well, having grown up in New England, these rhythms run me now as they ever did then.  I turn on NPR, then switch to sports radio then to the classical station then to the other station that has 60’s songs I like, I channel surf and try to pay attention to the road.

I look forward to seeing the people who are waiting to see me in the office.  I feel grateful that I have a useful purpose to serve.  I think to myself, I hope I do it well today.  i HOPE i DO it WELL to DAY.

 

 

Dr. Hallowell’s Red Beans and Rice Recipe

When I was in medical school at Tulane, down in New Orleans, back in the mid-1970’s, I learned how to make red beans and rice.

You may not think that sounds like much of a much, but it remains the dish more people ask me to remake than any other. Once you’ve had my red beans, you’ve just got to have them again.  My daughter insists that I freeze them and bring them with me to New York whenever I make them in our home outside Boston.  Our friends always ask, “When are you making those red beans again?”  They’ve become a staple at our Super Bowl parties and we always clean the huge pot down to the last bean.

The problem is, I have ADHD, so my “recipe” isn’t the kind of recipe people who follow recipes expect.  When I told my wife I was going to put my recipe for red beans and rice in our newsletter, she laughed.  “How are you going to that, honey?  You don’t have one!”

And that’s the truth.  Just like every talk I give is different from every other, every batch of red beans I make is different from every other.  And probably none of them is as good as what’s simmering on the back burner of some shack out in the Bayou right now.  But I’m getting there, one batch at a time.

There’s some basics you do have to follow though.  That much I can tell you. So you never use canned red beans.  You might as well serve dog food and rice as serve canned red beans and rice.  Pure mush.  So you start with dried kidney beans.  I buy two and a half pounds because I always make a pretty large pot of my red beans, why else bother.  Sometimes I buy three pounds, even three and a half.  Then you need to soak your beans in water overnight.  They will plump right up so make sure you put them in a large pot and leave a good eight to ten inches of water over them for them to plump up into.

When you come down in the morning your beans will be looking out at you over the brim of the pot.  Now you drain them in a large colander and throw away any beans that look ugly.  You don’t need any fancier or more technical word than that.  Just throw out the ugly beans.  And keep all the rest of those plumped up proud little beauties.

Next, pour some olive oil into the bottom of the large pot that you’ve dried thoroughly (cuz oil and water don’t mix, don’t-cha know), and dump in a couple of chopped up onions and a chopped up large green bell pepper or two smaller ones.  After a while, when they become translucent, so you can sort of see through them, the onions and the peppers that is, but not entirely see-through, then throw in about ten or twelve cloves of chopped up garlic.  Now I love my garlic.  You can use less if you want to.  When it’s done you won’t hardly taste it anyway, I mainly put so much in for the aroma while I’m cooking.  Once all of that gets mingled and settled in, then you can dump in all those lovely red beans, and listen to them hit the pot like rain on a tin roof.

Now you hafta add some liquid quick, and you can pick whatever you want, I usually add some of that beef broth that comes in those cardboard quart containers, I put in about three quarts, and more later, but you can use water if you want to cheap out, or you can use a boullion cube, or whatever tickles your fancy, there’s no rule, but you do need some liquid right away.

I usually add a full bunch of flat leaf Italian parsley with the thick part of the stems cut off.  Then I take a three pound chunk of Black Forest ham and cut it into chunks and throw that into the pot, along with about seven or eight Andouille sausages cut up, and a couple of kielbasa cut up, and four or five Chorizo sausages cut up.

Now you add whatever spices you want, but low on salt because the ham will have it.  Bay leaves, oregano, thyme, pepper for sure, red pepper flakes (go light because you can add them at table), and whatever else moves you at the time.

Then simmer for hours.  Gradually the soup will thicken as the beans soften and a kind of gravy will come into being, a beautiful melding to behold and smell.  It is so delicious.  Taste as you go, modifying all along.  This is your creation, make it live.  There is nothing quite like making your very own red beans.

Play with it.  Have fun with it.  Enjoy! I would love it if you sent me your comments and photos. Send to drhallowell@gmail.com.

 

 

Happy New Year 2019!!!

Thank you! Thank you for being a part of my community.  We work hard to bring you useful and entertaining material, but it would all be for naught if you didn’t take the time to read it. So, again, thank you, thank you, thank you.
What’s my message to you for 2019? Would you like me to have a message, or are you tired of messages? Maybe you’d prefer a couple of jokes, or a reliable cure for hiccups (the reason there are so many is that none of them is reliable), or my recipe for red beans and rice, which, honestly, is to die for. I learned it when I was in medical school at Tulane in New Orleans. Mmmmm, makes me hungry just to think about it. Or maybe you’d like another photo of our new puppy, Max, now 75 pounds, only 7 months old.
But no, I am going to send you a message. I can provide all those other options in future newsletters if you’ll write to me and tell me which you want (drhallowell@gmail.com). My message for 2019 is one I am sure you have already guessed. It is terrible that I am so predictable. The sun rises, the sun sets. Taxes are due April 14. You set off fireworks on the Fourth of July. And Ned’s message? Love, love, love.
Okay, so I say connect. Because you can’t love everyone. By the way, if you are one of those people who doesn’t know how to love, I have a guaranteed way for you to learn. This method is foolproof and will work on anyone, any age.  Get a dog. But coming back to love and connection, these are the absolute proven keys to everything that matters most in life. This is a solid fact. Health, longevity, happiness, it all comes back to love and connection (and a dog, or a cat if you must).
What do I mean by a connection? Anything you feel joined to, part of, desirous of, close to, emotionally attached to, moved by, motivated by, inspired by. Anything that gives meaning or joy to your life. A piece of music, a work of art, a football team, a meadow, the restaurant where you met the woman or man you love, the street where you found that 20-dollar bill when you really needed it, the boss who gave you a break when you really needed it, your grandmother, fudge, a funeral when it’s done right, New York at Christmas time, Cape Cod in the summer, oysters on the half shell, red beans and rice made by me, your children, the nap you take after Thanksgiving dinner, the tears you cry on someone’s shoulder, the person whose shoulder you cry on, the person who shows you how to forgive, the person who betrayed you asking for forgiveness, the light at the end of the tunnel, the single red geranium in a clay pot on the kitchen table there to greet me in the cottage I rented all by myself one summer week, heavy rain in the middle of the night when you’re in bed, any child looking up at you with trust, people over 40 who have not become cynical, my wife Sue, Tabasco, the memory of my cousin Lyn who died way too young, the sound of waves crashing onto the shore at Harding’s Beach where Lyn loved to walk, honeysuckles in Chatham, boiled lobster, my best friend Peter, playing squash, delivering babies, a straw hat with a red band, hoopla wherever it happens like at the Puerto Rican restaurant we ate at the other night, the Messiah, Fenway Park, snow before it becomes a problem, polite and humble people, the works of Samuel Johnson, every episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, pasta, feta cheese, taramasalata, church music, Christ Church Cambridge, the memory of our dog, Ziggy, the fact that hope still does spring eternal, the works of Dav Pilkey, the Lincoln Memorial, and that we are all connected, you, and I, and all the rest of us, now and forever.
Happy 2019!
Blessings upon all of you!
Ned

All I Want for Christmas. . .

Was it my two front teeth?

What do you want this time of year?  Do you still have your two front teeth?  I am lucky enough, at the  age of 69, still to have mine.  They stand there like mini enamel tombstones, ready to sparkle my smile or bite into an ear of corn, my reliable chompers that I am grateful to have.

What do I really want for Christmas?  What do you want?  For Chanukah or whichever holiday you celebrate?  I bet what you want is what every adult wants: peace, love, harmony.  Paid bills.  Good health.  Boundless joy everywhere we look.

We have a new dog, since our beloved Ziggy died six months ago.  Our new dog, Max, embodies boundless joy.  He’s a rescue dog, picked up off of a dirt road in Alabama, a puppy, starving, cuts on his paws and ears, emaciated, just about dead, so they told us.  Must have weighed 10 pounds if that.  They fed him and treated his wounds and transported him up to Massachusetts where he went to a foster home for a while to get healthy.  That’s when we met him.

He was about six weeks old then and weighed about 25 pounds.  He had filled out from the emaciated pup on death’s door and had become the beginning of the full-blown personality we know today.

Today? Max, Maximus, Maximillion weighs around 70 pounds, looks for all the world like Scooby Doo, and is all legs and paws and mouth and 100% heart.  He’s a beautiful, big, brown loping dog who bounds into a room like a crashing wave.  If there’s a gate across the doorway, which we put up when he was smaller, now he simply leaps over it.  Once in the room he jumps into whosever lap he sees first and immediately starts to lick that person or to take the person’s arm into his mouth, not to bite, but to massage the arm with his large, white teeth.

His size and smooth brown coat makes me think he might be part Great Dane or Dobermann or maybe a bit of Boxer.  We’re going to send in a dog DNA test to find out for sure.  Who knows what that will bring back!  Maybe a trace of Chihuahua just to mess us up.

This boy is a true beauty.  But he is still just a puppy, growing and quite out of control, despite our attempts with obedience classes and such.  He loves to chew. . .everything.  His favorites are shoes, hats, scarves, pillows, blankets, doormats, boxes, wallets, credit cards, and whatever he can snatch off of the kitchen counter.  We love it, of course, when he will agree to chew one of the many chew toys we’ve bought for him.

But his greatest, most unavoidable quality is indeed his boundless joy.  Max bounds.  Boundlessly.  Everywhere he goes, he bounds.  Tail wagging, big brown eyes looking up ready to engage, paw ready to lift to shake, Max makes his rounds of our four story (including basement) house, until sleeping at night in our son Jack’s room. Jack is his official owner.  Jack picked him out, along with our other son Tucker.  Sue, my wife, cautioned them against a big dog, to no avail, and now, although she calls Max such a bad dog when he chews her favorite shoe, she loves him as much as all of us do.  It is impossible not to love Max, as bad as he can be.

Meet Max

Boundless joy delivered by a being who destroys your favorite shoe, poops in middle of your living room floor, jumps up onto your guest’s lap, and wolfs down your dinner from the very plate you were about to eat it off of.  Isn’t this the secret to finding the best in life?

That’s what I want for Christmas.  Even more than my two front teeth, I want Max.  Max.  Maximus.  And all that Max brings with him.

May your holidays be filled with Maxes of your own.  Thank the Lord for Max and whoever bent over on that dirt road in Alabama to pick up that half dead pup who’s come to bring us joy.

Give Thanks

The time is coming to give thanks.  Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  I’m a holiday-lover, so there’s a lot of competition, but Thanksgiving always ranks near the top for me.

Let me give you a bullet-point list what I’m thankful for.  In no way is this complete.  I’m offering simply to prompt you all to do the same.

  • the freedom to change the station when the Kars for kids ad comes on
  • the slick look of pavement when it rains
  • Christmas season in New York City (I know this is a cliche, but I love it so)
  • the sausage grave my wife makes every Christmas morning
  • my wife, Sue (ok, another cliche, but if you knew her and all the she puts up with…)
  • of course, our 3 kids, now 29, 26, 23
  • our new dog, Max, 3 months old, 80 pounds, a rescue mutt from Alabama; he is systematically destroying our house but we love him to pieces anyway
  • Mozart’s Jupiter symphony
  • Tom Friedman and David Brooks columns in the NY Times (ok, so I am a liberal, I hope that’s all right)
  • That I am turning 69 and coming out with a new book with John Ratey in 2019
  • hot dogs with lots of mustard
  • and sauerkraut
  • taramasalata (it’s a Greek spread…. to die for)
  • the salt air when you cross over onto Cape Cod
  • NAMI
  • button-down collar shirts (I’m a preppy)
  • lying in bed, watching TV with Sue late at night
  • the fact that I can still play squash a little bit
  • all of you who read this newsletter!

…. what are your favorite things?

Dr. Hallowell’s 2018 Distraction S3 Mini 11 Thanksgiving message. 

 

Summer Reflections

I just completed teaching my course about ADHD on Cape Cod at the Cape Cod Institute.  If you’ve never taken the course, you ought to consider it.  It’s a lot of fun.  You get a week in Eastham, or whichever nearby town you choose–more on this later–and after spending 9 – 12:15 learning about ADHD in the morning, you get the afternoon and evening free to play.  People always have a ball. Attendees make friends with each other, and almost everyone leaves feeling glad they came, not just for what they learned, but, more important, for the people they met and the experiences they shared.  

            It’s all produced by the Cape Cod Institute (Cape.org).  They offer 3 courses per week all summer long, each on a different topic in mental health, each given by one or two authorities in a wide range of different fields.  It was started 39 years ago by a marvelous psychiatrist, Dr. Gil Levin, who was at Mt. Sinai Medical School when he opened the Institute.  He has since passed the operation on to his son, Alex, who ran it for the first time this summer.  We had about 55 attendees in the course this year, in which I introduced my new name for ADHD.  I now call it VAST, Variable Attention Stimulation Trait.  Carrie Feibel, who attended last year’s course and is Health Editor at KQED in San Francisco, came up with the name and I love it.

               I urge you to check out the Cape Cod Institute for yourself.  Now, let me commend the rest of Cape Cod to you.  A few memories from the week.  Hatch’s seafood and produce in Wellfleet Center.  We got six lobsters steamed and cracked which fed us and our friends just wonderfully along with the corn from the adjoining farm stand.  LeCount Hollow Beach.  You leave your footwear atop the dune, then walk down to the beach and the surf.  I grew up in Chatham and it makes me shudder to think that now we have to watch for seals and the risk of sharks that might be following them, but we do.  Nonetheless, the beaches on the Cape, especially those that face the ocean, give me doses of majestic beauty like nothing else.  Provincetown, Commercial street, a place where people can be whoever they want to be.  It is so wonderful to walk through that little town and bask in how great, and rare, true freedom really is.  The Wellfleet Drive-In.  Although we didn’t go there to see a movie, and rarely do, it is a landmark, one of the first places I made out when I was a kid, and a wonder that it still stands.  I hope it never closes down.  Arnold’s.  Lobster rolls, fried clams, beer.  Isn’t this summer at its best?  The occasional rainy day, reading inside, deciding what to cook for dinner, we opted for linguine with clam sauce with plenty of crunchy bread for dipping.  Driveways made of broken oyster shells.  The pungent salt air when you get near the beach at just the right tide with the right wind.  Horseshoe crabs.  Blue claw crabs.  Seagulls.  Beachgrass.  Roadside stands selling jellies made of beachplums and honeysuckle.  Standing barefoot on the white lines in parking lots so as not to burn your feet while you wait for an ice cream from a truck.  The many bars where when you sit down and look around you have the passing fantasy that maybe you really should have spent your life as a beach bum.  The many churches, some splendidly white, some in such disrepair you wonder why God doesn’t just send a lightning bolt and end it right there.  The spectacular houses lining the best roads belying the poverty and broken down houses so many of the locals live in while the super houses go empty through the winter.  Hydrangeas and wild roses galore, wildflowers everywhere, each marshy area boasting cat-o-nine-tails standing like fat Churchill cigars, titling in the wind.  To me, it was, and always will be somewhat, home.

            The fact that if you are driving it is so hard to get onto the Cape and so hard to get off makes you wonder why so few people live here year round. Maybe some day.