Dan Knoepfler, MC, LMHC
Individual, group, and family therapy
Thoughts for the Day
Links to the archives of previous months are at the bottom of the page.

PDX Jazz Fest is coming up in about a month.   I can't wait to go.   There are a couple people playing I really like.   One in particular is Stanley Jordan.   He is a gifted musician.   He effortlessly plays guitar and piano at the same time.  However, he is somewhat of an odd duck.  One show he talked about having his best friend join him on stage.   A friend he had known since childhood.  Then he pointed to his piano.  It was strange, and funny and apparently true.

I always say that the first concert I ever attended was Chicago with my junior high school friend Leonard.  But really, at church camp there was a band that played when I was probably 9 or 10.    How funny that the band that played at church camp was called Providence.   They were signed to the Moody Blues' label.    I think they managed to put out two albums and that was it for them.  I found the CD I burned of their first album (converting it from the vinyl).  They were a hybrid of guitars and keyboards with strings (violin and cello).  I like that sound.

Last night we found a full grown stink bug in my office.   It is weird for a few reasons.  First, I have never seen a stink bug in Washington.  Second, it's the middle of winter and it's odd that it isn't dormant or hibernating or whatever bugs do during the winter.    The bug was removed from the office alive.   Given that they are a pest it seems like we should've just killed it.   But it was a male stinkbug, so it isn't like it's going to reproduce.

I am happy that Ken Jennings won the Jeopardy tournament.   The James guy was too arrogant or something.   Not that it really matters in the grand scheme of things.

OK it's almost halfway through the month of January.  Have you stopped writing 2019 for the year yet?   For the most part I have.  However, a couple days ago when writing this I had to correct the date.

Today I ordered the first Harry Potter book which I have never read.  I can't say that I am enthusiastic about reading it.  But it is a cultural phenomenon and has been for years, and I feel sort of ignorant for not knowing at least the basics about it.   I wonder if it will cast a spell on me and will I end up reading the entire series.

I had lunch with my mom today.   It was fun talking about books with her.  My mom is a voracious reader.  I get a lot of my book suggestions from her.   I like getting recommendations for books from friends and family who know me.  For several years my friend JB was my go to person for book recommendations.

My book about The Bible broke down the story of Esau and Jacob.  Esau being the man living in the moment, while Jacob being more strategic and manipulative.  In reading and thinking about Esau and Jacob, neither seems to be someone with many redeeming qualities.   And their parents Isaac and Rebekah aren't exactly coming off well either.  I look forward to reading and understanding the stories of The Bible better.

I have been reading a lot lately.  I think it is because it's winter and less fun to be outside when it is cold and wet.  I am reading a book regarding looking at The Bible as a work of literature.  Although it is interesting, the book was not exactly what I expected it to be.   I was hoping there would be more taken from the The Bible versus it being about basic writing styles and techniques, with a small amount about the actual content of The Bible.  It's interesting, but not what I expected.

Fight or flight?  Sometimes people become overwhelmed in fight or flight and freeze up.  Then they may act in unpredictable and self-destructive ways to get unfrozen.   The key is to keep yourself from getting into fight or flight mode if at all possible.  This is because  once you are there it is harder to make rational choices.  If you end up in fight or flight, try to have a plan ahead of time to manage it so that you aren't scrambling in the moment.   Learn and practice skills that keep you grounded and present.   Then when something overwhelming occurs you are going to increase the chances you will use those skills.

I have minor oral surgery today.   I have this little situation that started spiraling out of control.    I accidentally bit the inside of my cheek a few years ago.   It created a little bit of scar tissue.   As a result it sticks out and I keep biting it inadvertently.    The thing has grown.    Later today my dentist is surgically removing it.    I am looking forward to NOT having it there anymore.   I will enjoy its absence.

The one downside to this time of year for me relates to taxes.   January requires me to generate 1099s for my contractors, as well as paying a quarterly payment to the IRS, and my state B&O tax.  It is also time to gear up regarding preparing my tax return due in April.   This stuff makes me a little grumpy at times.   Although once I know how much I owe, I do feel better.   The known is much more manageable than the unknown for me.

The post holiday lull appears to be settling in.   For me I am happy because things are less hectic.  Everyone isn't running around like a chicken with their head cut off.  It seems like there is this crazy amount of pressure on people to get presents, go places, hang out with people they may or may not like, etc....  However, there are other people that get a little depressed once the holidays are over because they like the hustle and bustle of it all.   If you are like me and enjoy the post-holiday lull, carry on.  If you are a little down, honor it and remember it will pass.    And the upside is that in about 9-10 months you can start singing, "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas" or whatever holiday song you prefer.

Last night I went to Jazz Alley to see a Steely Dan cover band called Nearly Dan.  It seemed appropriate to do that for my birthday.   Normally at Jazz Alley there might be one person who is celebrating their actual birthday.  Including me there were three of us.   That's unusual.   It was fun.  They might even do Steely Dan better than Donald Fagen does at this point.   I was watching a recent Steely Dan show and Donald Fagen seemed to struggle keeping up in singing lyrics to Kid Charlemagne.   The singer last night was 100% on point doing it.  

Today is my birthday.  I spent most of the day in the jail meeting with evaluation clients.   Some days are super easy at the jail and other days it is hectic and difficult.   It had to be the easiest day for getting in and out.   And then the icing on the cake.  Driving from Kent back into Seattle on a Friday afternoon was very easy as well.  The stars were aligned for me on my birthday.   

Today felt like the first day back to work after the holidays.  But not everyone is back into the routine yet.   It was a little slower than usual.   Next week I think we'll all be getting back into our groove.

I upgraded my website program through Go Daddy.  In theory it was a good idea, but I am struggling to get it to work.  Although my current website is OK, this promised to be better in some cool ways.  But it hasn't been.   I ended up canceling the upgrade and sticking with my current format.

Another year coming to and end.  The closing of another chapter.  2019 won't go down as one of my favorite years.  I got sick a lot.  And the strangest was a 4th nerve palsy that had me seeing double for a couple months.   The neurologist said it comes on suddenly, and there really isn't a treatment (other than time) and eventually it will go away.  Which it did.  Furthermore it rarely returns, but can.   It's amazing how one nerve controlling a muscle in the side of your eye can make your life very difficult.  I am hoping that 2020 will be a visionary year for me.  Haha.    I am sure I am not the first to make a pun about eyesight relating to the upcoming year.  Here's to a healthy 2020, because without your health most other things will struggle to fall into place.

Last night I saw the Blind Boys of Alabama at Jazz Alley.   They put on an entertaining show.  It's heavy on gospel music, which is no surprise.   I thought my highlight was going to be People Get Ready, because I love that song.  It is odd to realize that Rod Stewart wrote that song.   But honestly that wasn't my highlight.   They did Amazing Grace to the music of House of the Rising Sun.   That was my favorite of the night.  

I finished the crossword puzzle with relative ease.   And fast forwarded through the Liverpool soccer game.   I have to say I didn't watch the Seahawks.  I am pretty much only a Sounders fan.  And hope someday that the Mariners will make it to the World Series.

I just finished reading "A Gentleman in Moscow".  I really liked it.  I am sure that part of my enjoyment is due to my exposure to Russian language and culture in high school and college.  In high school our teacher Olga Penrose not only taught the language but wanted us to learn about the culture as well.   She had us learn poetry, sing songs and cook food.   She also led trips to the Soviet Union every three years with students.   I went in 1979.  I didn't stay in the Metropol Hotel in Moscow where the book is focused. I stayed at the Russia Hotel (which is now a park).   Both hotels were  by Red Square and the Kremlin.   It's pretty amazing to have been there.  I recommend the book even if you haven't been to Moscow.

The weekend is here.   Kind of strange to call it a weekend after only working a day and a half this week.  Next week will be another low key week because of New Year's.   Then it's back to the regular grind.   

Today was probably one of the most productive days at work in getting paperwork done in a long time.  I need more days like these.

Back to work today.  It's probably better to be at work than shopping the day after Christmas.   Tomorrow is another long day at the jail.   Ugh.

A quiet Christmas day.   Nothing wrong with that.  I marinated some chicken to make Pollo Asado. I love that flavor paired with chicken.    Mmmm.  

Today the elevator at my condo started acting wonky.  I was certain I was going to get stuck, and spend Christmas eve waiting to be extricated from it.   However, there was apparently a power surge while I was in the elevator.   It has a reset process it goes through when this occurs that takes a few minutes.    It got me thinking, would I rather be stuck in the elevator alone, or with someone else?   There are definitely pros and cons to both.   Being alone at least doesn't subject one to another person's anxiety response to being stuck in the elevator.   However, having someone to commiserate with would be nice.   In the end it was over in a matter of two or three minutes, which felt like a lifetime when I was stuck in the elevator.  Especially since I am still somewhat sick.

Today I addressed and sent some holiday cards.   Talk about last minute.   That was about all I could handle doing today.   It felt good to get them in the mail.

I can tell I am off my game because doing the Sunday NYT puzzle was much tougher than it should've been.  I wasn't nearly as sharp as I normally am.   I think the worst of the flu is over.   But I am cautious about saying that.

When I am sick, I also like to listen to music.   After seeing Con Funk Shun recently I put some of their music on my phone.   They are positive and upbeat.   It's very uplifting listening to them.

Why am I focusing on the flu?   Because I have it.  What an unpleasant way to spend the holidays.  What I have to remind myself is to to take it easy this time of year.   Yesterday I slept 13 hours.  It felt really good to sleep that much.  My body needed it.  My favorite thing when sick with a cold or the flu is peppermint tea.   It soothes my throat and feels like it is healing me.  That and chicken soup.   Actually just the broth.  Those are my go-to hot liquids when sick.

The flu is making the rounds currently.   The flu shot isn't some magic cure preventing the flu.  However, it does tend to provide some protection and in the end many people end up with a less intense version of the flu that doesn't last as long as a result of getting the flu shot.  If you are in a high risk group, it is even more important to get vaccinated. 

As much as the holidays can be fun and exciting, they are also quite stressful for many people as well.   Remember to take care of yourself.  You are not obligated to sacrifice your own mental health to keep others happy.  Having said that, sometimes being a good sport and doing things you don't really want to do is the right thing to do.  Be kind to yourself and others during the holidays.  We're all doing our best to get through this thing called life.

I am in need of a haircut.   Overdo in fact.   A colleague is growing his hair out and said we both should.   He will look much better with long hair than I will.  Mine gets too wild from the cowlicks and curliness.   I had a pre-cancerous mole removed from my head, so I didn't want to get a haircut until that spot had totally healed.  Now that it has healed, I have no excuse, unless I do return to my hippie days and grow it out.

Today is a day when I have to go into the jail to interview a man for an evaluation.  I hate that feeling of being in the jail, even though I can press a button and be released when I want to go.   I can't imagine what it feels like to be there for real.  As much as I dislike going in to jails as a visitor it has to be a million times worse as an inmate.   

I like my consultation group.  We met on Friday.   Conversations about thorny issues at work helps us all be better at what we do.  Even if our colleagues don't have "the" answer, many times discussing the issue can spark creativity in thinking about an issue in new ways and help us discover solutions on our own.

The first week back from vacation can be a struggle, dealing with the transition.    I think I did alright.   Transitions are not easy for many people.   

Friday the Thirteenth.  I am not superstitious and so it really doesn't have much significance to me.  But then you could argue why even bother mentioning it if it doesn't mean anything.   Because culturally it has meaning.   

One of my other favorite DBT skills is "effectiveness".   Effectiveness minimizes the importance of who is right and who is wrong, and instead focuses on the objective and how to increase the chances of getting more of what you want.   If you stay focused on "I'm right, they're wrong" you will be less focused and effective in getting what you are hoping for.   If you take blaming and accusations out of the equation, and focus on problem solving it tends to get you more of what you want and less of what you don't.  That doesn't mean you have to agree with or like what is going on, but in my case, getting my food delivered and eating dinner was more important than right and wrong in the end.