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the view from here

Re: the view from here

Posted by Dan Gottlieb on May 28, 2014 3:37 pm

I just returned home from the funeral of an 88-year-old man, the father of a dear friend of mine. Marty served in World War II and Korea, believing deeply in his country . He also believed deeply in education and learning and became a teacher for the next 35 years. He also believed deeply in playfulness and did that quite well also.

But was right at the end of his life that he had a very enlightening conversation with his beloved grandson. Shawn considers himself a deeply spiritual person whereas his grandfather was an atheist. And finally after years of discussion and debate, they agreed that at the end, there is a big ball of energy and that ball of energy is love.
And they agreed that ball of love is God.

So this got me thinking about love, God and believing deeply in something.

You see not only did Marty believe deeply in so many things, he lived his life according to his deepest values. How many of us can say that. There is research that suggests that if we live our lives consistent with our core beliefs about what we feel our lives should be about, we are more likely to be happy and more secure . Maybe because Marty did that, he was more comfortable being playful.

I've long believed that the last thing we lose in life is our ability to love. And as theologian and bioethicist Stephen post queries and his newest book: "Is the Ultimate Reality Unlimited Love?", perhaps it is that love, that thing that many have called the primary emotion, that sustains us and the world around us..

Marty's message is pretty simple and universal. Know what your deepest values are and live your life accordingly. And love deeply as many people as you possibly can. And then love more people more deeply tomorrow.

Thank you Marty

Re: the view from here

Posted by Dan Gottlieb on Jun 11, 2014 3:43 pm

Yesterday was my 68th birthday. It's amazing that I have lived this long with this disability that is so devastating to my body. As I practiced my meditation yesterday morning I experienced my breath as though it was my first.
I can't stop thinking about how precious and fragile this life is and how fortunate I am to be given this thing called life.

My daughter Debbie surprised me at dinner Monday evening. A surprise that Joan had arranged in advance. It was a wonderful evening filled with lots of laughs and love. But when she got home and called me the following day she was much more reflective: "hey dad, there's something I wanted to say to you last night but never did…"
After several moments of silence during which I knew she was tearful, she said: "what I didn't say this how grateful I am that you are here having a birthday." We both cried together – tears of gratitude. And when we hung up, I told Joan how grateful I was to have conversations like that with Debbie.

Could we have done that if we didn't live together knowing life was this fragile? Could I love Joan as deeply as I do without knowing how precious these things like love and compassion and laughter and life itself really are?

Quadriplegia carries many gifts and much adversity – just like life itself.

Please take care. Please enjoy.

Re: the view from here

Posted by Dan Gottlieb on Aug 13, 2014 3:44 pm

I just returned from a wonderful vacation in Alaska. I went to Africa last summer so I guess I am covering every country in the world alphabetically. But does this mean I will be going to Afghanistan next summer? I'd rather go to Amsterdam or Albuquerque!

But what struck me about this amazing trip was what I could and couldn't do and how we felt about it.

 I took my first cruise about 20 years ago from New York to Bermuda and I was thrilled that I could get around on the ship and there were people to help me with my food. There were no exciting excursions so everything was perfect.

About 10 years ago I went to the Panama Canal and I was frustrated because there were so many exciting excursions that I could not go on. They were able to arrange individual tours for me, but they were very expensive. Nevertheless, I had a great time.

Then about 6 years ago I went on another cruise and I could hardly go on any excursions. And although I was still happy to be on the beautiful ship with great scenery, I was even more frustrated.

On this cruise, I still could not get on most of the excursions. Nevertheless I was so very happy with the few I could go on and didn't spend much time thinking about what I couldn't do. This cruise was one of the best I've taken. And why? Of course the scenery was gorgeous, but I had been to Alaska before. Sure, part of it was that I was with someone I love. But I think a large part was the phrase "thinking about what I couldn't do".

It reminded me of a conversation I had with my father several years before he died. He would often repeat that he was ready to leave this life even though he was physically healthy and had a pretty good life at the time. Finally I asked him if he was really ready to die. He said that he was on "some days". I asked him about those days and he told me that on the days he wanted to die, all he could do was think about his daughter who had died, his son in a wheelchair and his wife who had recently died: "those days I am ready to die."

Curious, I said "but dad, those things are true every day. So what about the days you aren't ready to die?" Oh that was a simple answer: "those days I'm not thinking about those things, I'm more likely to be thinking about what I'm having for lunch!"

It's all about how we think about it, not how it is.

Re: the view from here

Posted by RonW on Aug 19, 2014 7:22 pm

An Alaskan cruise is on my radar, but it is difficult because my primary caregiver can't help me without help and some of the things we have to do  are hampering progress.

My four Caribbean cruises have allowed me to defy the rules regarding excursions by getting the owners to take me in my spare portable wheelchair or lift me to seats where I could go along.  I rode in a powerboat offshore to Stingray City, rode in a helicopter over Grand Cayman Island, rode on a bamboo raft down a river in Jamaica and spent an afternoon alone in my electric wheelchair, occasionally getting stuck at a national park in Cozumel.

People can view videos of my adventures, including an exciting airboat ride, by visiting my website at and clicking on MyTube.

Re: the view from here

Posted by Dan Gottlieb on Aug 27, 2014 2:07 pm

hi Ron
what wonderful adventures you have had. Please do what you can to see this magnificent  land of Alaska.  The views are breathtaking and can only make one feel so very humble and grateful.  I left feeling how precious  and fragile  this land is.. Needs to be seen and appreciated by all who can

Re: the view from here

Posted by Dan Gottlieb on Oct 8, 2014 4:51 pm

hey everyone,
I must apologize for my absence  these last few weeks as my computer was having difficulties in its relationship with the Reeve foundation website. Boy, I can handle difficult relationships between humans, but dealing with computers is way above my pay grade.

Anyway, we figured it out and I just have to log on from a different  web browser.

Reminds me of what happened about 15 years ago when my radio show was national. Somebody told me that I should announce that we are being podcast. So at the conclusion of my show I said: "great news, we are now being podcast." Then I went on to say "I have no idea what that means, but I think it has something to do with green and water and frogs!"


Re: the view from here

Posted by Dan Gottlieb on Dec 17, 2014 1:45 pm

These days are the darkest of the year. That's why most every religion has celebrations this time of year-we try to bring light into the darkness.

And sometimes events make the days dark. Sudden death of a loved one, trauma or the anniversary of a painful loss. It can be illness of a loved one or a series of stressors, but they make the days dark indeed.

These are my darkest days. December 20 is the 35th anniversary of my accident and for some reason, I want to this year to the house I left that fateful morning, to revisit the drive on the turnpike. Not in any morbid way, but just to reconnect with that young man on that day.

The following week would have been my 45th wedding anniversary. The first 10 years were wonderful and Sandy and I had our 2 beautiful girls all adored each other. 10 years later I broke my neck and things began to unwind. She left the marriage after 10 years and a couple of years later died of anaphylactic shock. Despite everything she and I always loved each other.

My son-in-law became ill as did my girlfriends sister, who has MS.

Dark dark times for me. And I doubt there is anyone reading this that hasn't experienced dark times.

During these times, bumper stickers, slogans and reassurance are of little value. Being reminded of all the good things we have can be annoying. But you already know that. And certainly beating ourselves up for not being able to do what the slogans tell us to do makes things worse. What now?

Sorry, but I don't have any slogans or 3 steps to making yourself feel better.

Here's the truth. When you are in a hurricane, that's not a time to appreciate that the rain nurtures the flowers and it's not a time to think about all the good things in your life. When you are in a hurricane the only thing you can do is hold on until it passes.

There's a reason I called these times dark. Starting December 21, we go into the coldest time of the year where our energy is down and we tend to put on weight. All part of the evolutionary process. But starting on December 22, the days get later and begin moving towards June 21 which is the brightest day of the year.

And this happens regardless of anything we do, say or want. so relax everyone, these times almost always pass. Unfortunately,  when we are experiencing wonderful times, they pass too!

Please take care

Re: the view from here

Posted by Dan Gottlieb on Jun 17, 2015 3:36 pm

Sorry about not being around, but I was traveling to Europe. The trip was wonderful as I saw things I never thought I would see. We landed in Barcelona and that is a city that is probably more wheelchair accessible than most cities in this country. Then we cruised to Italy and Greece. I never thought I would see the David, the Sistine Chapel, the leaning Tower of Pisa or the Amalfi coast.

 I cannot get over how fortunate I am and I just keep saying thank you for all of my good fortune. I still don't know what I have done to deserve all of these gifts.

That's not to say this was an easy trip. There were several ports I could not get off because it was tendered and they can only accommodate manual wheelchairs. I think the airline may have been to the frame of my wheelchair as they were putting it in baggage because I have had back and neck pain since I've been home.

And then there were the cobblestones… What a nightmare for those of us in wheelchairs! Even going over them one brick at a time, I could feel my body being shaken and my blood pressure going up. And I can't even remember how many times all of that jarring put me in dysreflexia. Not fun.

So I figured while I was in Rome I would call the Pope to talk about these cobblestones. After all, he is a compassionate and socially minded guy, so I figured he would be open to the idea of putting black top on top of these damn cobblestones. So I called him in the morning, but he was in a meeting. When he called back, I was in the Sistine Chapel and my ringer was on. And so it went, we just played phone tag all day. Maybe we can chat when he comes to Philadelphia in the spring. Oh boy, I just remembered we have our own cobblestone issues here around Independence Mall. That's embarrassing!

Re: the view from here

Posted by Dan Gottlieb on Jul 15, 2015 3:15 pm

I'm leaving this afternoon for a silent meditation retreat. And to be honest, I am a little nervous this year. Every year the first day or so is difficult because I am unable to run away from my demons. I can't get up and answer emails or ask my nurse to get me a snack or return phone calls. When my anxiety goes up I have to just sit there. By the end of the retreat, I realize that my demons are as old as I am and they are tired also! They still carry the same thoughts and emotions, but when they bare their teeth, I realize they are dentures!!

But this year feels different. I just had my 69th birthday, I gave up driving, I'm cutting back on my professional practice, I am more tired and I'm having more dysreflexia. I'm entering a new stage in my life as we all are every day. And like the rest of us, sitting with our fears or sadness is unpleasant. But once I sit with the truth of my life, somehow I feel more alive. This season is more precious, the leaves seem more vibrant and the love for my family and friends seem to be even richer and more rewarding.

This business of life, sure is a fragile and wonderful thing.

Re: the view from here

Posted by Dan Gottlieb on Jul 29, 2015 3:29 pm

the retreat was wonderful. And difficult-like most of them are. It's 5 days of silence and we are left sitting with our demons. But at the end of 5 days, you get used to those demons and they are not nearly as threatening as they were when we got started. So instead of "running" away from them, like most of us do, when we sit with them for a while they seem to change. by the end of 5 days, I realized my demons were also 69 years old and were a little forgetful! So what's to be scared of?

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