Day 844: Gifts

What gifts are in your life, right now? What are you grateful for, in the present?

I am grateful for the gifts of:

  • another day,
  • meaningful work,
  • freedom from pain and want, in this moment,
  • good weather,
  • nature,
  • my family and friends,
  • animals near and far,
  • attentive and competent medical treaters, where I work and where I live,
  • kindness, wherever and whenever I find it, and
  • blogging!

I have been given the incredible gift of people who regularly read this blog. Those readers might be noticing that I’ve given no photographic gifts to support this post, so far.

That’s because I took very few visual gifts away from my surroundings yesterday.

Why?

Perhaps I was focusing more on appreciating the gifts in every moment, rather than capturing those gifts on my iPhone.

However, I do have two photographic gifts to share with you. I took those gifts away from a therapy group last night, where the group members offered the gifts of

  • vulnerability,
  • courage,
  • hope,
  • personal pain,
  • empathy

… and so much more.

Inspired by them, I offered the gift of a new group activity, where people gave gifts, using the paper and markers in the group room.

I offered the gift of these guidelines:

  1. You can give gifts to anybody in the room, including yourself.
  2. You have the option of turning down any gift.
  3. When you give somebody else a gift, you can also accept that gift for yourself. 

Here’s a gift somebody gave me:

Here’s a gift I gave myself, after somebody gave us the gift of the term “Akashic Record”:


Because I’ve never had the gift of great handwriting, here’s what I inscribed in my personal Book of Life, last night:

Good stuff
More good stuff
It’s all good, even
the not good stuff.

Speaking of good stuff, here are some gifts in my immediate future:

  • another day at work, where I get the gift of witnessing people healing in therapy,
  • a get-away weekend in New Hampshire with Barbara (who has been giving me the gift of her friendship since we were both little kids), and
  • the return home, from a trip to Italy, of my 17-year old son, who is an amazing gift to me.

Here’s my Friday gift of music, from the gifted Elton John:

YouTube gave me that gift of “Your Song.”

Any gifts you’d like to leave below, in a comment?

The gift of gratitude to all those who gave me the gifts to create this post and to you — of course! — for the gifts you bring here, today.

Categories: gratitude, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , | 27 Comments

Day 843: Daily Fantasy

Yesterday, on my way to work, I saw this:


Here are some of my daily fantasies:

  • Kindness is as valued and rewarded as ambition is.
  • People have room  to experience and express tears, fears, disappointments,  AND joys.
  • We learn to focus more on the gifts of the present, letting go of regrets about the past and anxieties about the future.
  • Accomplishments and possibilities get as much attention as problems, mistakes, and limitations.
  • I feel more secure, daily, about all my blogging photos and words staying where I put them.  
  • Asking for support from each other is never seen as “weak.”
  • People get enough of what they need each day, including water, chocolate,  or anything else.
  • Each of the four seasons in New England, USA,  lasts the  full three months (instead of a certain cold and unnamed season getting more air time than the other three).

Here are some daily fantasies I saw yesterday, as I tripped the light fantastic:

            

                  


Another daily fantasy of mine: that you express whatever you choose,  in a comment below.

Here are Tears for Fears describing a daily fantasy for lots of people, live:

Is that true? Does everybody want to rule the world?

Fantastic thanks to all who helped me create this fantasy of a post today and thanks to you — of course! — for being here.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , | 34 Comments

Day 842: Every day a little _____

A little while ago, this sleep machine


crashed to the floor and woke me up.

Every day a little crash.

Every day a little

Every day a little

Every day a little

Every day a little

Every day a little

Every day a little

Every day a little

Every day a little

Every day a little

Every day a little

Every day a little

Every day a little


Every day a little

Every day a little

Every day a little

Every day a little

Every day a little

Every day a little


Every day a little

Every day a little

Every day a little

Every day a little

Every day a little weather

Every day a little

Every day a little

 .

Every day a little music. Many days a little Sondheim.

Every day a little post.

Every day a little comment?

Every day a lot of thanks to Stephen Sondheim, to all the little things in life, and — of course! — to you.

Categories: gratitude, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , | 43 Comments

Day 841: Storytellers

On Saturday, I took this photo:

Every picture tells a story. Does that tell a story to you?

I often tell the story that we are all storytellers, as we communicate and shape our life experiences.

During this  Patriots’ Day weekend, I told stories here on WordPress and elsewhere. I also heard stories told of and by other people, including:

As usual, the storytelling included attempts to make meaning out of very different aspects and behaviors of human beings.

I shall now continue the story of this post by asking this question:

What kind of storyteller are you?

If I tell a story by asking others a question, it’s only fair that I answer that question, too. So, what kind of storyteller am I?

Well, I strive to be a storyteller who is:

  • authentic,
  • thoughtful,
  • inclusive,
  • open-minded,
  • gentle,
  • unblinking,
  • clear,
  • serious,
  • humorous,
  • helpful in some way, and
  • always learning.

I just asked my boyfriend Michael, “What kind of storyteller are you?” and he said

Beats me, baby

so I’ll tell this very particular  story about what kind of storyteller Michael is:

A delicious one.

Here’s some Storytellers music:

I’ll end today’s story by showing you somebody who somehow reminds me of the luck-dragon in The Neverending Story:

 

That’s my story (and our cat Harley).

Storied thanks to all good people and creatures who helped me tell my story today and special thanks to you — of course! — for reading it.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , | 29 Comments

Day 840: Is this America?

Do you have expectations and preconceptions of what America is? Are those assumptions based on personal experience, on what others have told you, or on what you’ve been shown by the media?

Is this America, to ask these questions about America?

Is this America, where a blogger might

  • become a poet and
  • try not to blow it?

Is this America, where

  • there are so many parts that can be so divided,
  • the political system can be so derided,
  • there’s unfairness AND freedom in ways most confusing,
  • without money or privilege, so many are losing,
  • there’s that love/hate dynamic with the rest of the planet,
  • other countries might praise it but so many might pan it?

Is this America, where American guitarist Pat Metheny asks that question, musically?*

Is this America?

                 

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Are any of those photos more or less America, as you see things?

Is this America, where I’m writing this?

I have the day off from work for Patriots’ Day. Does that answer that last question?

American AND world-wide thanks to poets and Pats; trees, geese, and cats; artists and walkers; listeners and gawkers; doorways and flowers; signs by the hours; eaters and feeders; writers and readers (of course, since that’s you!)*


* Not everything rhymes in America, you know.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , | 35 Comments

Day 839: Never worry alone

“Never worry alone” is something my manager likes to say.

I most recently heard him say

Never worry alone

two days ago, during his presentation on “Violence in Health Care,” at the hospital-based Primary Care Practice where we both work.

Earlier this morning, I followed his advice to

Never worry alone

by sending an email to my cardiologists, about some worries filling up space in my head.

As I approach surgery for my very unusual heart on May 4th, I hereby resolve to

Never worry alone

from now on. Does anybody want to join in with that resolution?

Yesterday, I spent some time with my friend, Deb. We never worried alone, as we walked around less-worried Watertown, Massachusetts.

    

That’s Chris, who told us he no longer worries about flat tires or chains, now that he alone has that most excellent bicycle.

There’s Deb. Does she look worried? Whether she is or not, she’s not alone  — I’m right there, taking pictures.

      

    

At some point, I shared with Deb my worry that I had left a bottle of heart medication pills at the Royal Restaurant in Watertown the night before.

No worries! I found those pills when Deb and I returned there for brunch: 

Deb and I shared worries and other things (including soy milk French Toast, a Gruyere and mushroom omelette, and FRIED OREOS) at The Royal.

Does anything about that worry you? It didn’t worry us, and we left The Royal for more walking.      

One thing I didn’t photograph yesterday: imagining my worries attached to a rock I found  and throwing that Worry Rock —  with Deb as my lone witness — into the Charles River. 

      

I wasn’t worried yesterday when I accidentally switched to black and white photography for a few shots.

Deb said I should put my name (or the non-judgmental name of this blog) on my custom-made t-shirts. Should I worry about that?

Should I worry about which “Worry” song to include today?

Never worry alone, when Stevie Wonder is making such beautiful music on YouTube.

I’m not worrying alone now, thanks to my manager, my cardiologists, Deb, Chris and his bicycle, Watertown, the Royal Restaurant, the Charles River, my Worry Rock, Stevie Wonder, soy milk French toast and fried Oreos, kids and pogo sticks, peaceful frogs and people, and — of course! — you.

Categories: friendship, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , | 33 Comments

Day 838: It fills the space

I remember a therapy session at work, yesterday, when we were talking about comparing your problems to other people’s problems.   Somebody quoted how Victor Frankl wrote that any problem will fill the available space, like a gas.

I just looked up the exact quote, from Man’s Search for Meaning, and here it is:

To draw an analogy: a man’s suffering is similar to the behavior of a gas. If a certain quantity of gas is pumped into an empty chamber, it will fill the chamber completely and evenly, no matter how big the chamber. Thus suffering completely fills the human soul and conscious mind, no matter whether the suffering is great or little. Therefore the “size” of human suffering is absolutely relative.

I really appreciated that person filling my office with Victor Frankl’s life-filling thoughts.

I remember, also yesterday, how my ears, mind, heart, and soul were filled with this Stephen Sondheim song, from Evening Primrose:

That song — “I Remember” — is sung by a girl who’s been trapped, from a very young age, inside a department store.

I loved Evening Primrose when I saw it, on television, when I was a kid. What fills my mind now is how I may have related to that girl, since I filled some of my days and nights trapped — not in a department store, but in a Children’s Hospital.

Like that girl, I am filled with appreciation for all those wonderful things that fill the world.

As usual, what filled my ears, eyes, mind, and soul, yesterday — including the beautiful lyrics from “I Remember” — affected how my iPhone was filled with images and  how I fill this post, today:

                  

      

That “Work Zone” sign  is filling that last photo so much, you might miss the first flowering tree I’ve seen in Boston, this spring.

Feel free to fill the space of a comment here with anything that’s filling you, now, about this post.

I shall now fill the space of this post with my gratitude for my patients, for Victor Frankl, for Stephen Sondheim, for Judy Butterfield, for the sky, for the trees, for everything I experienced yesterday,  and for you.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

Day 837: The Bottom Falls Out

At the bottom — I mean the beginning — of this past week, my first patient on Monday talked about how much better she was feeling. Almost immediately, she said

I’m afraid the bottom’s going to fall out, and something bad will happen.

From the bottom to the top of my career as a therapist, I’ve heard similar thoughts from many people, who are trying to move from the bottom of psychological distress to the top of their personal worlds.

People often fear the new, and feeling “too good” can cause fears that

  • the good feelings will end too soon,
  • it will be more painful  to crash down from the height of feeling good ( than to remain with the familiar, more negative feelings), and
  • the person doesn’t “deserve” to feel that good.

Near the bottom of my time as a WordPress blogger (way back in 2013), I wrote some other posts about this topic. Since I’ve bottomed out my ability to link to past posts while I’m writing a new one on my phone, I’ll add links to those posts at the bottom, after I publish this.

So, to go back to the bottom of this story about my patient on Monday, after she expressed the very common fear of feeling too good, I asked several questions, including these:

  1. What if the bottom fell out?
  2. What would that be like?
  3. What might happen next?
  4. What would it be like to be more present where you are, without worrying about the future?
  5. Why don’t human beings worry about the bottom falling out when we’re feeling BAD?

Lest the bottom fall out of the point I’m trying to make here, I asked that bottom question to invite her to consider that feelings shift up and down — moving towards the top and then towards the bottom and so on — over time.  Yet, our thoughts go into the future with worry when we feel “too good” …. but we usually do NOT anticipate feeling better when we are feeling bad.

Those questions I asked that patient (especially the bottom one) seemed to get to the bottom of her fears.  I’m writing that from the bottom of my heart, now, as I remember  how happy she looked at the bottom of that therapy  session.

Here are some top-to-bottom shots I took yesterday from the bottom of Boston, as I was thinking about “The Bottom Falls Out” for today:

  

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To get to the bottom of that last photo from yesterday, the 2015 snow in Boston is FINALLY bottoming out.

Before I get to the bottom of this post, I want to introduce you to Robert …

… who is “the boss” of

… near the hospital where I work. When I started working there — over three years ago, and was having some days when my mood hit bottom — Robert was one of those people whose welcoming smiles and friendly talk helped my moods head back towards the top. I wasn’t surprised, yesterday, when Robert told me he was heading towards his top career choice of becoming a nurse when he realized he’d prefer to go to culinary school, instead.

Here’s the burrito Robert made me yesterday, from top to bottom:

That blue marker is there to mark the size of that burrito. Do you think the bottom fell out of that?

Apparently not.

As we approach the bottom of this WordPress page, do you have any questions, thoughts, or feelings you’d like to share at the bottom of the comments?

What music do you think should fall out, at the bottom here?

Top-to-bottom thanks to Spinal Tap (for “Big Bottom” and so much more), to Robert, to people trying to get to the bottom of their past and their fears in therapy, to my co-workers who get to the bottom with humor and grace, and to you — of course — for letting the bottom fall out with me here, today.


We’ve finally hit bottom! As promised, some previous posts about that bottoming-out Fear of Feeling Too Good are here, here, and here.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , , | 39 Comments

Day 836: On the Road Again

I had a busy day, yesterday, on the road again to:

  • my work, as an individual and group psychotherapist at a hospital near Boston’s Fenway Park,
  • my home, to say goodbye to my son before his 10-day trip to Italy with his high school Latin class,
  • an Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy session, and
  • dinner and a visit to a local cat shelter, with my boyfriend Michael.

In the midst of all those roads yesterday, I saw this:

… which put me on the road, again, to naming today’s post.

In the moment, I am on the road again to

  • peace,
  • healing, and
  • sharing more photos from yesterday.

                 

  



                    

Kitty John Stamos might be wishing he were on the road, again, straight out of that cat shelter.

Are you on the road again to guessing my music selection for today’s post?

Are you on the road, again, to anything else, in your life?

Thanks to all, no matter what road you’re on, again, here and now.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , | 33 Comments

Day 835: Am I in Trouble?

I don’t know about you, but I tend to think that I’m in trouble, even when I’m not.

For example, am I in trouble for including this picture of my son Aaron?

When I saw Aaron put that “Day of Silence #SpeakWithSilence” sticker on his forehead before he left for school yesterday, I asked if I could take his photo, and he agreed. However,  I did NOT ask Aaron if I could put the photo in my blog. So, am I in trouble?

Also, am I in trouble or am I troubled that Aaron is leaving home  for 10 days in Italy, starting today?

Was I in trouble yesterday morning, because of lots of unexpected traffic on my way into work?

  

Whenever there’s traffic, I can easily think I’m in trouble. Also, I am troubled by troubling “shoulds”  like

I should have know better and left home earlier.

Am I in trouble for thinking those thoughts or for taking those photos?

Whenever I write one of these daily posts, there’s a point (like now) where I ask myself

Am I in trouble?

… regarding making this a good enough post, for myself and my readers. Then, I let go of troubling thoughts about my blogging capabilities, as I practice letting go of judgmental and other unhelpful thoughts, everywhere .

Am I in trouble because, after several years of using the iPhone, I’m still not used to the touchscreen  keyboard and I still make a troubling amount of mistakes when writing these posts?

Sometimes, I am troubled just by the possibility of a mistake, even though I tend to catch most of them.

Am I In trouble because I took these pictures on my way to work yesterday?

Does my co-worker Jan look like she’s in trouble, as she’s telling me about some trouble she’s having trying to ship presents for a surprise party in Mexico?

Am I in trouble for taking that photo of Jan or for taking this one of her, later?

I told Jan that photo reminded me of most of the photos I take of my boyfriend Michael.

Am I in trouble for saying that? I think not, since Michael rarely reads this blog.

Am I in trouble for including these other photos I took yesterday, at the hospital where I work?

Am I in trouble for sharing those last two photos of Laura — a very talented therapist I supervise? I know I’m not, because Laura knew I was taking them for this blog. Laura is such a nice, non-troubling person that she told me that I would not be in any trouble with her, no matter what I did with those photos.

Am I in trouble because I took these photos before the baseball game at Fenway Park  yesterday, and I didn’t get permission from anybody in them?

              

        

Were any of those people in trouble, because they were so friggin’ close to the shuttle bus I was in?

Am I in trouble because I’m getting a St. Jude Medical CRT ICD device implanted in less than three weeks, especially since the web page calls it a “Heart Failure ICD”?

Actually, I think there’s a chance that device might get me out of trouble.

Am I in trouble with you, for creating such a long post?

I might be in trouble if I don’t include some music. Here’s a song that helped inspire this post, with the line “I know I’m in trouble again”:

I hope Joni Mitchell isn’t in too much trouble, right now.

What do you think of all the trouble in this post?

You might be in trouble if you don’t leave behind a comment, but I doubt it.

One final question: Am I in trouble because it’s tax day in the USA?

Answer: I’ll live.

Non-troubled and (I hope) untroubling thanks to Aaron, Jan, Michael, Laura, Joni, St. Jude, people who work and play in the Fenway Park area of Boston, all those who stand up bravely for important issues no matter how much trouble that means, and to you — of course! — for taking the trouble to visit here today.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

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