August 2012

Get Well, Eddie Van Halen

by Bill Brenner August 31, 2012 Music therapy

Funny thing about life: Just when everything is humming along and all is right with the world, something devastating comes along and kicks your ass back to the stone age. So it seems to be with guitarist Edward Van Halen. Mood music: [spotify:track:3xMZrNrfyKUUqQVtoR13ml] Last winter, Van Halen released its “A Different Kind of Truth” album, easily its best effort since “1984,” in my opinion. The band then embarked on a massively successful tour and seemed…  [Read More]

The Five Colors of the Anxiety Rainbow

by Bill Brenner August 29, 2012 Fear and anxiety

I broke free from fear-based anxiety a long time ago. But I still have episodes of anxiety. We all do, and it’s usually when we have trouble sorting through our emotions. To get a better handle on it, I’ve been trying to label the different kinds of anxiousness based on the colors of a rainbow. I decided to use the first five colors of Newton’s primary color system because if I broke this down by all seven…  [Read More]

Update on Dad

by Bill Brenner August 28, 2012 Family

Thanks to everyone who left prayers for Dad on my Facebook page yesterday, and thanks to my sister-in-law Robin for dropping everything to watch the kids so Erin and I could go to the hospital last night. Mood music: [spotify:track:7gUfl0F0N9YE4XC3FKkfy8] Dad had emergency surgery last night for a malfunctioning heart. In the end, it turned out the heart was pumping fine, but that the blood has nowhere to go. All but one artery is blocked,…  [Read More]

A Bittersweet Birthday

by Bill Brenner August 27, 2012 Family

I felt very loved yesterday as we celebrated my 42nd birthday. Erin and the kids got me a guitar and practice amp, and we had an afternoon of grilling and enjoying the sun with some of my closest friends. My father was there too, but he wasn’t looking well. Mood music: [spotify:track:5TxUedy2CM04QihDdOFnsk] Dad sat on the deck with his eyes mostly closed and kept dropping his water glass. When I was helping him out of…  [Read More]

Empire State Shootings Bring Back Old Fears, Timeless Lessons

by Bill Brenner August 24, 2012 Fear and anxiety

The shooting spree outside the Empire State Building this morning reminds me of the mind-numbing fear I used to carry inside me every day — the feelings of dread that kept me indoors, away from the life I should have been living. It also reminds me of some critical lessons I’ve learned from my experiences. Mood music: [spotify:track:5Sz3tl0ZqkyAg52CSQeVYj] As CNN reported news that Jeffrey Johnson, 58, had opened fire on a former co-worker and police outside…  [Read More]

Older But More Alive

by Bill Brenner August 24, 2012 Gratitude

Sunday is my 42nd birthday, which happens near a bunch of other birthdays in the family and at work. Inevitably, when discussing this, someone admits they’re depressed about being a year older. Mood music: [spotify:track:2qZu6ByfZFFb56CwZRfwTo] I have a different outlook, which is that when you reach another year without having dropped dead, that’s cause to celebrate. When I was sick with the Crohn’s Disease as a kid, I lost a lot of blood and developed several side…  [Read More]

What I Learned On My Summer Vacation

by Bill Brenner August 23, 2012 Family

The headline is a bit misleading. The kids had the summer off, but Erin and I were as busy with work as ever. Still, we did a lot of summery stuff and, with the kids back in school next week, I thought a recap of our experiences and what I learned from them might be useful. Mood music: [spotify:track:4zzvMG8KrsykYtvFEJ99Cl] We escaped to the coast three times for camping, using one of my father-in-law’s campers. We…  [Read More]

Lost in the Overeaters Anonymous Wilderness

by Bill Brenner August 22, 2012 Addiction

I’ve explained how food is my addiction — an uncool addiction at that. I’ve written about how Overeaters Anonymous (OA) was my salvation from that addiction. And I’ve told you I’ve been living the 12 Steps of Recovery. Now it’s time to tell you about my summer of going astray, and how I don’t completely regret it. Mood music: [spotify:track:63kyrMgKo0M0qvrDVtD4yN] I’ve kept my eating clean most of the time, though I’ve gotten sloppy in spots. I’ve…  [Read More]

Time to Make Music Again

by Bill Brenner August 21, 2012 Music therapy

When asked what I want for my birthday, I usually say nothing. I don’t want people spending money on me, and I don’t want to be greedy. But this time, with my 42nd birthday only days away, I asked the family for something specific: an acoustic-electric guitar. Mood music: [spotify:track:3t8Id5r985SAZ9o5EGrUtk] I used to play guitar, though I was never very good at it. When I had a band and was writing music, I sang and…  [Read More]

Oh, The Guilt

by Bill Brenner August 20, 2012 Mental health

I’ve always been driven by guilt. I used to hide it because with guilt comes shame and with shame comes deceit. In more recent years, however, I’ve tried to use it to become a better man. Results are mixed.   My inability to process guilt started at an early age. Growing up Jewish, I’d get Hanukkah gelt (Yiddish for “money”) during the Festival of Lights. Not understanding Yiddish, I thought it was called Hanukkah guilt. “Why…  [Read More]