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Monday, September 8, 2014

Motivational Mondays: Inspiration from Joan Rivers Dreams

*Photo Credit
Thought for the Day: I didn't want to write about Joan Rivers. So many newscasters and specials have followed her sudden death last week. Being a clinical psychologist and writer has it's own unique professional hazards. To be a therapist, one must not only be aware of one's own feelings but also have the ability to empathize with others emotions. It helps therapists to relate to their clients' woes. When I go to movies, a funny scene can have me laughing out loud. In sad movies, I cry prolifically. Last week, when Joan Rivers lost consciousness during what was supposed to be a routine medical procedure, I found myself, like many people around the world, checking online, hoping that she would recover. Even as the news seemed to be less and less hopeful, what psychologists call denial kept me thinking that somehow, the comedienne who joked about death and everything else would somehow live on. All the research on laughter says that it can add at least 10 years to your life expectancy. I imagined Joan Rivers laughing on like George Burns to at least 100 years of age. However, I was wrong. As the tributes and the requests to keep laughing kept streaming on TV and the internet, my unconscious mind sent me a message no psychologist can ignore.

The unconscious works in mysterious ways. I was saddened by the news of Joan River's death and laughed when her jokes were replayed on TV. I was not a huge fan of her humor, but appreciated her talent. I did not know much about her life and learned new things from all the coverage. I went on in my life feeling fine until Friday, when I found myself in a funk.

Here's what I noticed and am sharing in hopes that it will help others...

My mood shifted on Friday when I tried to make a video clip for a redesign of my website. I attempted to make a "selfie" video, which is not easy to do. I combed my hair as best I could. Then, I applied make up, which I avoid on a day to day basis, since my eyes are extremely sensitive to even the most hypoallergenic concoctions. I chose where to sit. Somehow, I balanced the camera at the right height and hit record. After about three attempts, I quit and decided to prepare a slide show instead.

I am not a vain person or overly obsessed with my appearance. I strongly believe that beauty comes from within, but I simply was not happy with how I looked on film. Surely, going to a hairdresser and a professional makeup artist would have helped. However, when I thought about my mood swing, I realized the experience was a reminder of the passage of time. How much time we have is an unknown for us all, even Joan Rivers. Although I have a sense of humor, I am not very funny. When it comes to aging and death, I don't crack jokes, I become sad and philosophical. I've learned both personally and professionally as a psychologist to write or talk about these and other difficult feelings. When I do, the feelings dissipate. Then, I can continue the pursuit of my dreams and aspirations, with a few more grey hairs and additional wisdom to impart to others.

Two other bits of information about Joan River's life stuck in my head. I had not known that Joan was thrown out of the house when she told her mother she planned to be an actress! If she had chosen to be a doctor or a lawyer, her decision would have been met with open arms, but her dream of making people laugh was not welcomed. She stuck to her dream and broke into a male dominated field through sheer perseverance and stubborn determination. If you are considering following a dream that your family may not understand or accept, read about her life and be inspired to go ahead with your plans.

The second thing which stood out for me, was her steadfast decision to never retire and keep doing what she loved until her body gave out. From what I have heard, I doubt that she would have changed a thing. She performed the night before she went for surgery. The best way to stay vibrant and connected is to keep following your passion.

*Joan Rivers 2010 - David ShankboneCC BY 20

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