Entries Tagged as "Physical Health"

An Accident and its Aftermath

I got the email late in the afternoon from Barbara, a woman in my condo building.  She was hit by a car while she was in the crosswalk going to her yoga class, hit so hard that her shoes flew off.  She was badly injured (broken pelvis and knees, bruises, scrapes, etc., but no concussion!).

Her message was straight forward describing the event and what she knew then of her injuries.  I asked permission to let others in our building know and said I’d check with her later to figure out what she needed.

Barbara is an ENFJ, always making life better for others.  It was her time to let others make life better for her.  And that was hard for her!

ENFJs are sociable souls who usually know many people.  Lots of friends were at the ready to help her.  But she was in a great deal of pain and really didn’t feel like talking to people much. She carefully monitored her visitor list – that was hard on her and hard on us!

After a week in the hospital, she was anxious to get home.  But given that she couldn’t walk, she needed a daily shot to prevent blood clotting. 

As an ESTJ, I love to organize things.  I quickly got the names of all medically trained residents of our building and sent out an email asking if they could help. Most of the physicians, by the way, admitted they learned how to give shots into oranges in med school, but developed a different skill set in their actual practices.  But I found a nurse and a physician ready to help out.

I saw this process as simply a matter of organization.  Barbara didn’t want to give herself shots and described my finding people to do this for her as “lifting the dreaded self-inoculation and worry that allowed me to focus on rehabilitation and lower the level of physical pain and discomfort.” NFs are typically able to focus on the broad picture and tune into their emotions.  This ST was simply focused on getting the job done! 

Friends stepped in to help with shopping, meal preparation, and rearranging furniture so that it could work with a wheelchair.  Barb with her NF view of metaphors saw this as circling around her and cheering her on. 

Barbara religiously did her rehabilitation, including physical therapy; one resident who had had a knee replacement told her exactly which halls in our building were best to walk in!  There was quite a pooling of knowledge and tips!  And Barbara is recovering well. She was good at setting a schedule and sticking with it. She walked a month before the doctors thought she would. 

Once she had her physical recovery underway she said she could then visualize “what ‘recovery’ looks and feels like,” and next it was time for “an inner examination of the trauma and its experience on me and on the people that matter.”

We were all inspired by Barbara’s gratitude to enjoy each day and be grateful to be alive.  Stopping to enjoy the little things – a flower, a view, a sunset – meant even more.

And Barbara decided this was a good time for soul searching as well – what else was there for her to do, to enjoy, to experience in life?  She explained that “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste” and she wasn’t about to let that happen. 

She used her ENFJ type to its fullest both for herself and those who know her.  She taught, she communicated, she grew, and so did we!


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I am at the age where many of us are struggling with caring for our parents, either from long distance or from up close and personal.  Recently the mother of one of my long-time friends (of 50+ years) suffered a health crisis.  Other friends have chimed in offering long distance support. 

Here’s one of the emails she got (with names removed) from our friend Elizabeth, an ESFJ. Elizabeth, who has a Master’s degree in audiology, was her parents’ primary caregiver for 18 years.  I have Elizabeth’s permission to print it.

“...thanks for keeping us in the loop...I'm glad your mom is home and I can only imagine how hard that was for your dad and your mom to be apart that long [first time in 67 years]. I guess it is a testimony to something...no matter how cranky our parents can get with each other (and mine certainly did get that way at times) they are anchors for each other.

I'm sure your mom is facing a lot. I know there were plenty of times I didn't understand my mother's lack of enthusiasm or even interest in doing things that might have made her life "better" ...I think at some point I finally got a glimpse that she had lost so much of her life as SHE wanted it that "improvements" weren't her focus.

I would sometimes have to tell her that if she didn't have the strength to help get out of her wheel chair that I would no longer be able to care for her at home...it was true and sometimes motivating to her.

In the end, I had to accept the fact that Mama wasn't really working to get better or to make it easier for me. She was on her own path and not one that I always loved even though I always loved her.

I remember clearly the day I called my brother in California in tears and told him I couldn't do it any longer...Mama had spit out her daily pills....I was so frustrated at what I saw as her non-compliance. The truth was that she was done and I just wasn't programmed to get that message because of my own plan for her.

I think it is hard for us in our good health and relative youth to imagine what life might look like from their perspectives...I think Mama was so depressed with all she couldn't do that she didn't see the glimmer of what might be possible. It is a hard place for them and hard for us caregivers.

I totally get the frustration and the difficult part you and [your sisters] are sharing. I literally spent the first five years of my caregiving being mad...mad at my sister for not helping and mad that I couldn't reshape my parents into the people I needed them to be.

I didn't like the realities of the caregiving....I fought how hard it was. It wasn't until year 6 that I regrouped and figured out that caregiving was what I was doing and once I really embraced that it was easier....and even though it seems like it will go on forever, it won't….”

I am blessed with these friends who live their empathy, who are willing to readjust their thinking, and who provide love to those around them.



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Watching Feeling in Action

To the uninitiated (in type), I suppose this title is a bit risqué.  I am not talking about being a voyeur, but about the wonderful display of the Feeling Function. 

Let me begin with a slight digression. I recently started downhill skiing again – I was never very good at it, but my beau is and loves it, so using my Feeling function to create harmony I go skiing in the Colorado Rockies once a year.  We typically stay in an apartment with another couple, Kathy and Dave.

Each morning, I watched Kathy go off to the slopes with her backpack.  I asked why she did so and what was in it.

She gave a one word answer…”Raymond!”  And then told me the story.  One day several years ago, Kathy was going up the chair lift with a friend.  Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted a young man lying on the snow at the side of a steep mogul run. (Moguls are mounds of hard compacted snow that take much skill to maneuver around.)   Kathy is a nurse and she is a Feeling type.  She and her friend skied down to the young man as quickly as they could. 

He was wearing only cotton sweat pants and a sweatshirt with no gloves or hat.  He was unresponsive, clearly suffering from hypothermia.  Kathy sent her friend to get the ski patrol there are quickly as possible. 

Kathy said to him, “Hi, my name is Kathy and I’m a nurse.  What’s your name?”

He mumbled, “Raymond.” 

Kathy said, “Raymond, you need to do exactly as I say.   I’m going to lie down in the snow with my jacket open.  You are to lie on top of me and put your hands between my legs.  You are suffering from hypothermia and I need to get you warmed up quickly.” 

Raymond did as he was told.  Kathy kept up a conversation with him including, “You may tell your friends whatever you wish about this.” 

Think about it…how many young men are invited into such a position with an older woman and encouraged to talk about it!! 

Just then, Kathy’s husband, Dave, was riding up the ski lift with a friend.  The friend looked over and said, “Isn’t that Kathy lying on her back with a young man on top of her?”  They skied over. 

The ski patrol was slow in coming but eventually they arrived.  They took the young man down the hill, reading him the “riot act” telling him they always had extra clothing to loan out and that he could have died.

As a thank you, ski patrol gave Kathy certificates for complimentary hot chocolate drinks for her entire party at the local ski chalet. 

At the end of the day, Kathy and her party walked in to have their drinks.  When they did so, they received a standing ovation from other skiers who had seen the drama.

Then some of the women from the honoring party came over, and said, “Our husbands want to know where you’re skiing tomorrow.  They think their hands will be really cold!” Kathy just laughed.  But now she carries a small warming blanket in her backpack to help the future Raymonds.  

Kathy used her Feeling function (and her nursing skills) to make Raymond comfortable and she is continually invited to tell that story, forming a bond with others who join the skiing group each year.  Her story draws us together.  What a wonderful use of Feeling!!


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The Super Sensing Diet

“What did you do over the weekend?” I asked my daughter. “Well, let’s see,” she said. “Friday, Rich and I had dinner at an Indian restaurant called Rasika. We had fried spinach appetizers, black cod with green curry, garlic naans and truffle naans, duck with anise sauce, fish curry, black toffee date pudding, cocktails and wine.
“Saturday, I went with friends to a restaurant called Medium Rare, which specializes in an amazing sliced steak with a wine cream sauce, and hand cut frittes on the side. We had a bottle of wine, and ice cream sundaes for dessert.

“Sunday morning, we had a three hour brunch at a place called Zengo’s. We had small plates of sushi, a steamed bun filled with scrambled eggs and bacon, sesame tofu with bok choy, little corn cakes with pulled braised meat on top called arepas, Nutella waffles, lobster grits, mimosas, sake sangrias and Bloody Marys.”

“Good grief!” I said. “Why aren’t you as big as a house?”

Believe it or not, this is a typical weekend for my daughter. She lives in Washington D.C., which is becoming one of the top cities in the country for food, and eats out at least once a week in a highly rated restaurant. I am stunned at the amount of food that she and her crowd consume in a weekend, and amazed that they’re all still slender.

“No seriously,” I said. “How do you do you eat so much food without gaining weight. You have to tell me your secret. You’re not bulimic or anything like that, are you?”

“It surprises me too,” she said, “but I don’t gain weight when I eat out. I only gain weight when I’m sitting at home with a box of crackers. I think it’s because when I eat out, I don’t eat that much food. I eat a lot of different kinds of food, but it’s all small servings, and I’m paying so much attention to the food that I don’t eat a lot.”

“What do you mean, you’re paying attention?” I asked.

“Well, first I’m looking at the presentation on the plate. When I taste it, I’m trying to figure out what the ingredients are, and if they go together well. I’m asking myself if it’s cooked right, if the textures are right, and if the side dishes and wine complement it.”

"That’s really different from me,” I said. “When I eat out, I only have two thoughts: ‘This is good’, and ‘I want more.”’

I’m an INFJ and my daughter is an ISFJ. When I’m paying attention, it’s usually to something abstract, like words or ideas. When she’s paying attention, it’s usually to something concrete, and her favorite concrete pleasure is food.

I don’t pay much attention to food. I have eating habits so I don’t have to think much about it. When I’m eating, I’m almost always doing something else, like reading, watching TV or having conversations.

The holidays are big problem though, because if you’re not paying attention, you’ll gain weight, which like most people, I do every year. When my daughter told me that she doesn’t gain weight eating high calorie food simply because she pays attention to it, I began to wonder if that might work for me.

I did my first experiment at Thanksgiving when I was handed an apple cider and champagne cocktail. Instead of letting it rush through my mouth, I held it there for a few seconds and allowed my taste buds to “take a picture” of it. I tried to describe it in words, as if I were a food critic. I identified the wonderful freshness of the apple flavor, and the sharpness that the champagne added to it. I could tell that the hostess had added a little cinnamon and orange peel. Since I’m intuitive, I asked myself what it reminded me of, and remembered a day when we went to a friend’s farm and put apples through a press. I remembered the big bucket of gushy peels left over after the juice was squeezed out.

I tried to do this all through the meal (although it’s difficult when you’re in company because you’re also paying attention to the conversation). I noticed that in turkey stuffing, the ingredients stand out in interesting textures and flavors, while in mashed potatoes, the ingredients blend into one creamy whole.

Two things happened because of my new attention to food. First, I ate less. When you’re savoring every bite, you don’t want to eat as much, and you’re more aware of when you’ve had enough. It’s the first Thanksgiving when I didn’t go back for seconds.

Second, I enjoyed it more. I never had so much pleasure with a meal as I did with this year’s Thanksgiving. And because I spent so much time on the flavors and textures, I can recall them better, and relive the pleasure in memory.

If you’re a sensing type, you’re probably doing this without even being aware of it. If you’re intuitive, you’re probably not doing this without being aware of it. Give yourself a real present this Christmas. Let your senses revel in the sights, smells, textures and tastes of the wonderful food all around you. You’ll eat less and enjoy it more it more if you “super sense it.”


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The Anarchy Zone

No, I am not making a political statement.  I’m talking about a movement in children’s playgrounds to encourage unstructured play.

Take a bunch of hay bales, some old tires, some planks, and maybe a climbing tree with an adult playworker…and what do you have: the Anarchy Zone.

Or create a huge mud puddle, add some tires and planks, buckets, tools and an adult playworker and voila…the Anarchy Zone. 

Now, who seems to have the most trouble adapting to these playgrounds?  Well, it’s the parents! (Ha, I bet you were thinking I was going to suggest a particular type or two!!)  Those playgrounds just do not look neat and clean and pretty.  And after playing with them, the children do not look neat and clean either. 

Why are Anarchy Zones catching on? 

Here are several reasons:

  • Kids who play outside in nature are more likely to enjoy nature as adults, and nature has a positive effect on mental health. 
  • Kids who play on these unstructured playgrounds are less likely to get injured than those who play on the more structured ones. 
  • Kids who take risks when they are young are less likely to indulge in risky behaviors (like drugs) later on.  (As an aside, a friend’s granddaughter in Norway is just “graduating” from her preschool to elementary school at the age of six.  To mark this passage, her school presents her with a jack knife.  She is trusted with this potentially risky instrument and is immensely proud of it; of course, she has been taught how to use it properly.)

Now if we look at this through the lens of type, what we are doing is encouraging the development of both Sensing and Intuition.

Sensing will help kids identify what is exactly there.  What are they playing with?  Are the materials soft, hard, movable, pileable?  They have to pay attention to reality to make things work.

Intuition will help kids figure out different ways to play with the objects.  Will they make forts, mountains, caves, or mud pies?  They have to look for possibilities.  And there’s no one right way to play. 
We’re asking children to develop their Intuitive-Perceiving (NP) side to explore – they’ll stay open to possibilities and switch things around constantly if they wish. 

They’re also utilizing their Sensing-Judging (SJ) side to learn exactly how things work, and they can test these things in order to keep themselves safe. 

In these scenarios we have faith in our children and believe they can be in the Anarchy Zone and still thrive.  With all the apparent chaos in our world, adults may at times feel a strong sense of impending anarchy.  We need to access SJ and NP strengths throughout our lives. Why not get started in childhood?


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