March 2024

Winter’s Solitude

Littleton, NH, lies on Route 302, near the Vermont State line. The blue-collar town is divided by the Ammonoosuc River, which flows from Mount Washington, some 20 miles away. In the spring, the river becomes a home to whitewater canoes and kayakers, as there are frequent rapids from Twin Mountain to Littleton. 

Seth Holcomb came to Littleton as a young physician fresh out of his Beth Israel Hospital residency in Boston, MA. He was a rising star with a bright future in research and academic medicine but chose another route. He was drawn to rural areas, which provided exciting recreation and a place to raise a family. His wife, Mary Ellen, shared his vision, and the two set off for Littleton, unsure what they would find.

For fifty years, Seth practiced medicine, and Mary Ellen worked alongside him as his office nurse. A talented man with a friendly demeanor, it was no surprise that Seth became a popular doctor in a town with few healthcare professionals. Did he make a fortune? No, he didn’t, but he loved his lifestyle. He enjoyed hiking, skiing in the White Mountains, and spending time with his children, Joshua and Kathy.

He remembered the day well. He had finished talking on the phone with his daughter, a chemistry graduate student at Duke. It was snowing lightly out, and the river had partially iced over. It was bitter cold outdoors, with the thermometer reading 8 degrees, when he walked to the kitchen to have coffee with his wife, Mary Ellen. 

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Retirement: An Underrated Challenge

Retirement is perhaps one of the most underrated of life’s passages!  For those lucky enough to reach that stage in life, it’s filled with surprises, some good and some not so good, most of which we are unprepared for.  Suppose you are leaving a very busy, successful, and beloved career. In that case, the passage needs preparation and planning…. making an inventory of who you’ve been and what has brought you the most joy will help you figure out who the person you will now become.  But how do we do that? 

It would have benefited me to have attended some seminars on transitioning from being “somebody” to suddenly becoming ” nobody.”  As a person whose identity and satisfaction were very tied up with my professional career, this change was enormous.  I had no real hobbies or pastimes, and most of my relationships (apart from those of my husband and children) were connected to my work life.  To say I felt somewhat empty would be an understatement!  And I hardly knew where to begin to build a new me, a life that would be rewarding and fun. 

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Walking Down

walking down
from the mountain’s top;
falling waters
over rocks,
where the moss grows
and birds stop to drink,
in the fading light of day;
let the angels sing,
a song of the forest,
a song of the stream,
a song of the hills,
a song of another day to come.

Anger: To Suppress or Not to Suppress

In Aging Well, George Valliant’s fascinating book in which he summarized the findings from the longitudinal studies of three diverse groups, he listed suppression as one of the adaptive defenses of people who made successful adjustments in their senior years. Suppression means experiencing an emotion but deciding not to express it, whereas repression is the unconscious inhibition of a feeling. 

Is this all true? I thought the Esalen people told us to let it all out. Holding feelings in left you with headaches and ulcers and made you dull. Being authentic and speaking from the heart was the message years ago from the gurus on the Pacific Coast.

So, what is the answer to this controversy? Is it the message of the Harvard Professor with his aristocratic bearing or that of people in the ’60s who advocated self-expression and emotional freedom?

Both are correct. Valliant found that adaptive people knew when to hold emotion and express it. Think about your own experience. Most of us have had numerous occasions when we were frustrated and angry. Someone cuts us off while driving, makes an uncalled-for sarcastic remark, or mistreats us. To express anger feels good but may have negative consequences. Road rage can escalate into a physical altercation while exploding at a boss can hasten a trip to the unemployment office. The adaptive person modulates emotion and picks his spots. The degree of emotion expressed depends on the context with an understanding of the path ahead. Emotion is regulated, not denied. It is not repressed but put on a back burner. The adaptive person knows when to express feelings and when to inhibit them.

Aging Parents: A Personal Journey

Bringing your aging parents in to live with you is not an easy decision and not a choice for everyone, but let’s face it…. after 80+ years of age, some seniors need oversight. Fortunately, my husband and I had a loving relationship with my parents, and we got along well. It made sense for us to create an ADL-compliant suite for them in the home that we were building. They were happy to join our household. This living transition did take some getting used to for all of us. At the time, my husband worked more than full-time in the medical field. I worked four days a week as the Independent Living Senior Residence Director. Given my educational background in Speech Pathology and Audiology and several years of experience working with aging seniors, I was the best fit to assume the role of overseeing the care of my parents. 

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Chicken Cutlets

Here is a delicious dish that is easy to prepare. Buy a package of thin chicken cutlets. Pound them with a wooden mallet to get them as thin as possible.

Mix two eggs in a shallow dish or pan. Mix a half cup of parmesan cheese with a cup of seasoned breadcrumbs in another pan. You can add a little salt, pepper, and seasoned salt if you wish.

Dip the cutlets in the eggs and then in the breadcrumb mixture.

Heat a frying pan with extra virgin olive oil. When the oil is near boiling, add the cutlets. Watch them carefully, as they will cook quickly.

Your guests are in for a treat!

A Song Writer at Heart

“Hey, Greg Allman, I am over here!” 
“Yo, Bro, good to see you.”

Piedmont Park in Atlanta was filled with rock bands when this conversation occurred between Clark Clipson and Greg Allman many years ago. The future psychologist spent his Sundays playing in the band lineup with many groups, some of which became famous.

Clark Clipson doesn’t have long hair anymore, and he doesn’t tour the Southeast with his band as he did on weekends as a teenager playing at bars and fraternity houses. One might characterize Dr. Clipson as a man who has embraced change and transformation throughout his life.

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Buonasera New York Pizzeria

Pizza lovers are passionate people. Cars, clothing brands, teams, not so much: but pizza is another story. People from New York think Chicago pizza is inferior and vice versa. I guess I am no different, and recently I discovered a shop that makes excellent pizza. Buonasera on Carmel Valley Road in Del Mar makes delicious, thin-crust pizza. The salads are also tasty. The restaurant has outdoor seating overlooking a lagoon, but much of its business is takeout. Ordering online is easy, and the staff is efficient and on the ball. 

Stopping the Bad Guys

Bad guys want time, darkness, and quiet to do their work. Let’s not give it to them. Here are some suggestions to stop them. 

1.  Lock your side gates.  If the bad guys can’t get into your backyard, they will have a harder time accessing your house. Brackets, which take a lock, are easy to install.

2.  Motion detector lights are a good deterrent. The crooks hate light.
3.  When an alarm sounds, watch them run.
4.  Get some cameras. No bad guy wants to be a film star.
5.  If possible, keep your cars in your garage. Then lock them. Don’t leave valuables in your cars, whether in or out of your garage. 
6. Locking mailboxes are a good idea. It is easy to rob someone’s mail.
7.  Have some lights on timers when you go away. 
8.  Make sure your neighbors know your comings and goings. Look out for each other. Know who belongs in the neighborhood and who doesn’t. Be aware!
9.  A “Beware of dog” sign makes them wonder.