Day 794: Sitting

I am sitting here, in my kitchen, typing on my iPhone, not sure what to include in this post about “Sitting” this morning. 

Where you’re sitting, you could be thinking I’m sitting with little to say about “Sitting.” To unseat that misconception, here’s a sitting list I’m sitting with, right now:

  • On my way to work yesterday, here’s what I saw while I was sitting in my car:





  •  When I got to work, I was sitting with people who are trying to improve their lives through group and individual psychotherapy. 



  • Later, while I was sitting waiting to talk to somebody about financial matters, I saw these:



  • To more clearly show you the size of those chairs, one of these could have been sitting in that photo, rather than just sitting in my backpack:



  • Last night, I saw this right before I left home without my cats:



  • Then, after I was sitting with amazement about GETTING A PARKING SPACE ON THE STREET IN DOWNTOWN BOSTON,  I saw these sitting around the theater district:

















  • Soon, I was sitting (and not sitting) in the mezzanine  of Boston’s Wilbur Theater with my beloved ex-sister-in-law, Deborah, as Los Lobos unseated everybody with an amazing guitar-wailing, roots-shaking, foot-stomping, grab-you-where-you’re-sitting performance. 





As you can see, we weren’t sitting very close. But that sat okay, with me and Deborah.

Another thing about sitting: I’ve been sitting for what seems like months now, waiting for cardiologists to get back to me with recommendations about the very unusual heart sitting in my chest. That reminds me of Jimmy Cliff singing “Sitting Here in Limbo.”

(If Jimmy Cliff’s live performance of that song is sitting in limbo as you read this post, it’s also sitting in YouTube.) 

Limbo is not so bad if other people are sitting there with you (and making good music, too). 

This post will NOT be sitting well with me unless I include a Los Lobos song I heard last night (also sitting at YouTube, right now):

Many thanks to Deborah, to Los Lobos, to Jimmy Cliff, to people who cope and heal sitting in groups and on their own, to sitting cats and bunny pens, to chairs of all sizes, to all the wonderful people I saw sitting and standing yesterday (including Mary, who reads this blog, at the concert last night), and — of course! — to you, for sitting through this whole post, here and now.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

Day 793: Replacements

We all experience loss in our lives. For those we’ve lost, there are no real replacements. 

I need to replace the focus of this post, now, and tell you it’s the anniversary of the death of my father, who passed away in 1997.

While nobody could ever replace my father, I did re-place my father’s name — Aaron — on the birth certificate of my son, who was born a year after my father left this world.  

Yes, my father and his only grandson never met. I sometimes wish I could replace that reality with a different outcome. 

This might be a pale replacement for actually meeting his grandfather, but my son hears great stories about my father all the time, no matter where we go. Just last week in California, my friend and college roommate, Marcia, shared memories of my dad with me and his 17-year-old namesake. 

By writing  about my two irreplaceable  Aaron’s, I’ve replaced my original intent for this post, which was to show you these:



I ordered those pens online a few weeks ago, before I left for California. While none of them can replace this pen I’ve probably lost: 



… they can each make me smile, too. 

What other replacements can I place here, now?



Somebody is trying to replace our real experience of winter in Boston with an advertising campaign. 



This tissue box in one of my group therapy rooms is empty. I’ll be bringing in a replacement box, today. 



In a therapy group yesterday, we tried to replace self-blame with acceptance and love. 

Finally,







I am waiting for some warmer weather to replace some of this friggin’ snow. 

What might you place here for a replacement song? I’m ending with The Replacements performing “When It Began.”

If you can’t see that Replacement video, please re-place your cursor over to YouTube, where I found it. 

 Is there anything you’d like to replace, in this post or elsewhere?

Thanks to all those irreplaceables in my life, including my father, my son, and you, my wonderful readers. 

Categories: in memoriam, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , | 22 Comments

Day 792: Out of Practice

As I continue to practice creating blog posts on my phone, I’d like to tell you that I returned to work yesterday at a primary care practice within a major Boston teaching hospital, after practicing vacationing in California for two weeks. 

When I take a break from work (or anything else), I can quickly feel like I’m “out of practice.” That is, I believe I’ve forgotten important  skills and procedures. It feels like I have to relearn all over again, in order to be good enough. 

In reality, I don’t forget what I’ve learned that quickly.  Indeed, once I gather the courage to try things again, the old knowledge reappears — just like riding a bicycle. 

Yesterday, I discovered I was not out of practice, even though I had been out of the primary care practice for two long weeks. 

For example, I was not out of practice taking photos when my car was stuck in traffic:





I was not out of practice walking through the snow and the cold, either (or feeling a little blue about it):





I was not out of practice noticing colorful things that distracted me, momentarily, from all that snow:



On my return plane ride from California last Friday — when I was feeling out of practice with New England winters — I discovered I was not out of practice loving movies, either. During that flight, I practiced watching Whiplash, about a young musician who practices, practices, practices jazz  drums,  and gets out of practice with everything else in life, including  connection with others and, at times, self-preservation.

As I watched the filmmakers practice effective and often innovative story-telling, I resolved not to get out of practice with my own self-care and life priorities.  

I shall now practice posting here the great jazz tune “Caravan” (practiced  by countless big band jazz players everywhere),  as performed by the practiced musicians from Whiplash. 


I seem to be out of practice posting links to YouTube the way I’d like within a phone-practiced post, even though  I’ve successfully practiced that on WordPress the last few days. 

Perhaps this is an opportunity for you to practice finding that clip on YouTube, if necessary.  

Before I practice ending yet another daily WordPress post, I shall practice asking a practiced and practical question: what does practice and/or “out of practice” mean to you?

Practically, you could practice answering that kind of question in a comment, below (if you need that kind of practice). 

Many thanks to the practiced doctors, nurses, social workers, other staff, and  patients  at the primary  care practice where I work; to people in the Boston area who practice dealing with difficult weather; to all the talented people who helped create the wonderfully practiced Whiplash; and to you — of course! — for helping me practice blogging, every day. 

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , | 31 Comments

Day 791: Less

Yesterday, when I created a blog post with my iPhone, it took less time. I also put  less effort into adding links to other posts and references like Wikipedia (because I have less  knowledge of how to do that from my phone). 

While I want each post to be no less than helpful for me and my readers, I would be less than honest if I did not confess that I enjoyed doing less here yesterday. 

I’ve been thinking more about doing less, in general, since returning less than three days ago from my one-day-less-than-two-week vacation in a part of the USA that had way less snow and cold than my hometown of Boston. 

Using less words about that: Less is more for me, right now.   

Yes, I believe I will get more out of life with less

  • worry,
  • perfectionism,
  • stress,
  • stuff and clutter,
  • self-doubt,
  • over-achieving,
  • focus on everybody else’s needs,
  • anxiety about taxes,
  • anxiety about everything else,
  • assumptions,
  • rushing,
  • regrets,
  • comparisons,
  • feeling “less than,”
  • catastrophizing,
  • all-or-nothing thinking,
  • mind reading,
  • fortune telling
  • Jumping to conclusions,
  • fear,
  • projections onto others,
  • shoulds,
  • denial,
  • self-criticism,
  • avoidance, 
  • rigidity,
  • close-mindedness, 
  • judgmental thinking, and
  • automatic, unhelpful habits. 

As I mentioned in my introduction to this less-than-perfect post, I am having less success using links when creating blog posts with my phone. Otherwise, I would have taken up less space in that list,  by linking to my handout on cognitive distortions. 

However, i am less than upset about how this post is turning out, despite my having less experience and proficiency in phone blogging. Sometimes, less experience has its own benefits and advantages.

Before I write more, what would you like less of, in your life?

It’s time for less words and more pictures! Here are less than a dozen photos I took yesterday, as I was focusing more on less:



Harley is interested in less than five new cat toys. 



Oscar is less interested than Harley. 



There is less access to that newspaper kiosk than there was two months ago. 



I find all this snow less than Irresistible. That’s why I also took this next photo, less than a minute after the one above:





While I’d like to see a lot less snow around here, my boyfriend Michael says there is considerably less now than there was two weeks ago (after my son Aaron and I escaped out of Boston, avoiding yet another big blizzard by less than two hours).



One of those signs says less than the other. 



Valentine’s Day stuff couldn’t cost much less, could it?



Truth is beauty and beauty is truth (said the poet Keats, with less words). Truthfully though,  WHEN will there be the friggin’ beauty of less snow and cold? 



This hydrant could do with less cone protection. Do you agree, more or less?

Here’s a “less” song for you all:

Would I be less than polite if I suggest you leave less than three  and more than zero comments, below?

Thanks to Elvis (for “A Little Less Conversation,” which I found on YouTube in less time than expected), to Harley, to  Oscar, to Aaron, to Michael, and to all those doing more or less what works for them. And, more thanks to you, for being neither more nor less than yourself, here and now. 

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , | 38 Comments

Day 790: New dawn, new day

I like that every new dawn and new day is a chance to start anew. 

During recent dawns and days, though, I’ve realized I  want to hold on to some things from day to day. 

When I wake up to each new day, I want to remember and be in touch with:

  • my basic self-worth (which does not change from day to day),
  • my connections with others (which are also  real and true),
  •  my knowledge and wisdom (which I’ve earned with the experiences of all my dawns and days), 
  • my personal power to affect others and create change, and
  • hope and possibility. 

Darkness, night, and unconsciousness do NOT compromise or obliterate those things, in any way. 

Self-worth, connections, knowledge, wisdom, personal power, possibility, and hope all survive each night, even if they seem inaccessible or hidden. 

Remembering these words — every new dawn and day — will help me, I know. 

This new day, I am creating this post on my phone, because my laptop is out of power. When my laptop wakes up from its cordless slumber, it too will still have the worth, connections, knowledge, power, and possibilities it had before I left its cord behind in California. 

I am now going to post recent photos in a new way. I assume they also retain the worth they had when I took them over the last few days:









That was so easy!  See, people? My laptop losing its power cord created a new and better photo-posting day, for me. 

Let’s see how linking to a song goes in this new dawn, now.

Thanks to Nina Simone, to new dawns and days, to my iPhone, to my laptop, to undaunted courage, to Jackie Chan, to Saturday Night Live, to the movie “Whiplash,” to airplanes that take me places new and old, to Spring,  to those who do their best venturing out into each new dawn, and to you — of course! — for making this blog part of your new day.  

Categories: blogging, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , | 28 Comments

Day 789: Too much stuff

When I woke up this morning, on my first day back in Boston after a two-week adventure in California, I KNEW I had left something behind there.

I don’t mean that I left my heart in San Francisco, although I love that area of the country so much, I am instituting a 1.5 year plan to move there, after my son graduates high school and leaves for college.

No, when I woke up, I thought

I left the power cord for my laptop at my friend Lawry’s house.

And I could visualize and play back the exact moment when I needed to remember to pack it, but didn’t .

So, while I’m writing this, I have 20% of my laptop battery left, so I need to act fast and efficiently to get this post out to you today, people.

Ooops!  It’s 19%, now.

So, I can’t put too much stuff in this post. But I will say these things:

  1. We have too much stuff to keep track of, so it’s inevitable that we’re going to forget and leave things behind, sometimes, and
  2.  I’ve had too much stuff on my mind lately, and I really appreciated the time away in California as a way to breathe, relax, learn, connect with people, and get back in touch with my priorities.

Ooops!  17% battery power and the indicator on my laptop had TURNED RED!

I have too much stuff I wanted to show you visually today, too. But I’m just going to show you this, which I saw from the “airtrain” I took yesterday from the rental car place to San Francisco Airport:

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That’s a good sign, isn’t it?

My battery is at 13% (my laptop battery, NOT my pacemaker battery, thank goodness), so I’m going to publish this sucker for you all. Next step?  Finally, making it to the Apple Store, where I have other business to take care of.

And since one of my priorities and relearned goals from this trip is to ask for help, could somebody post an appropriate song in the comments?

12% … so I just want to thank each and every one of you, for visiting here today.

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

Day 788: Turning bad into good

Yesterday, it was a relief for me to:

  1. attend my third and last day of a group psychotherapy conference in San Francisco,
  2. listen to one of my heroes — group therapy expert Irvin Yalom – give a down-to-earth, soulful, and moving talk,
  3. participate in a “medicinal drumming” workshop, given by Sal Núñez from City College of San Francisco,
  4. go to a very interesting  panel discussion about “Group Psychotherapy Practice of the Future,”
  5. hear from one the  esteemed panelists afterwards — much to my surprise and delight — that she considers the therapy groups I’ve developed and facilitate  at a Boston hospital a “Practice of the Future” (and that she would have described my groups in her talk yesterday  if she’d had more time),
  6. get a free, stress-relieving 10-minute massage at the conference,
  7. see and talk to other group therapists I feel I’ve connected to in  authentic and important ways,
  8. use this incredibly cool app to easily drop off the car I drove to the conference  and then miraculously get it back when I was ready to leave San Francisco at 9:30 PM, and
  9.  discover and read this amazing blog post by esteemed and admired WordPress blogger Randall Collis.

Here’s the comment I left there, in response to Randall’s gorgeous words and images:

Randall, this story and your images are so beautiful and important to me, right now. Your post is the only thing that has cut through my negative thoughts and feelings about returning home tomorrow to Boston after my two weeks in sunny, warm California. Now I actually feel strong and hopeful about what lies ahead for me. Thank you for your spirit, creativity, and talent; you make our world better with your gifts.

Here’s the last sentence of Randall’s response to me:

Thank you very much Ann, nothing like a little creativity to turn bad into good.

I have to admit that I was feeling bad two night’s ago, about

  • returning to the cold, dark, and snow of my home town of Boston, Massachusetts and
  • health uncertainties and possibly scary recommendations from doctors about my heart, which I will surely face soon after my flight home today.

However, as Randall wrote, a little creativity can turn bad into good.

Here’s just a little photographic evidence of  bad-into-good creativity, from yesterday:

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Because of all the things I learned (or re-learned) yesterday, I hereby resolve to turn bad (New England weather, fears about my health, etc.) into good  (self-care,  in-the-moment acceptance and joy) by:

  • seeking out the sounds, sights, and places that sustain me (like the ocean, which — despite how cold and gray and snowy New England may be — is NEVER silenced),
  • asking for help, when I need it, from the people around me,
  • looking into a drumming class,
  • continuing to help myself and others let go of  old unhelpful messages and images from the past, and
  • facing my immediate future with hope, resiliency, and clear vision.

I hope I turned this morning’s post into something good (enough). Gotta go catch a plane back to Boston!

Before I go, here’s some good musical creativity for you (found here on YouTube):

Thanks to Irvin Yalom, Sal Núñez, all my esteemed colleagues at the group psychotherapy conference, Randall Collis, the massage guy, the local dudes who took care of my car yesterday, the Beach Boys,  everybody everywhere who has ever turned bad into good with a little creativity, and — of course! — special thanks to you, for turning things better for me today, with your visit here.

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

Day 787: Relief

I’ve had two intense days, so far, at my group psychotherapy conference in San Francisco. It’s been quite a relief to share thoughts, feelings, and authentic connections with so many kind, wise, and experienced people. And — as is true, for me, with any intense experience — it’s also been a relief when each day’s been over.

This morning, I’m going back into San Francisco for my third and final day at the conference. I’ll be seeing one of my group therapy heroes — Irvin Yalom — speak. Then, I’ll go to a workshop and a panel discussion.  I’ll be driving in to the city by myself, so it will be a relief once I get there.

Speaking of relief, here’s some visual relief I saw on my travels, yesterday:

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Because relief can be so important (especially during times of stress), I’m going to repeat the first image in this post, which I saw on the beautiful ferry ride from Oakland to San Francisco early yesterday morning:

IMG_6062

Ahhhh!  What a relief!

Since I’m flying back to cold and icy Boston tomorrow, it’s important for me to be aware of those things that provide relief for me.  Here’s a quick “relief” list, off the top of my relieved head:

  • people I love,
  • people who love me,
  • cats (who I experience as loving creatures),
  • beautiful scenery,
  • the moon and the stars,
  • speaking my mind,
  • balancing my needs with other people’s needs,
  • writing blog posts,
  • doing work I love and believe in,
  • taking care of my basic needs, including having enough water, nourishing food, and sleep,
  • accepting all the different parts of me,
  • accepting the beautiful differences in other people,
  • a good cry, sometimes,
  • having all my feelings,
  • recognizing my fears about the future, letting them go, and then refocusing on the present moment,
  • recognizing any regrets about the past, letting those go, and then refocusing on the present moment,
  • staying in touch with my self-worth (which does not change, no matter what is going on, inside of me and outside of me),
  • forgiving inevitable human mistakes (from myself and others),
  • letting go of any need to be perfect or to be immediately good at anything new,
  • connections with other people,
  • down time for myself to be alone, and
  • music.

What music might provide relief here, today?

This is the first “Relief” song that popped into my head:

… but that’s an old Alka Seltzer commercial (on YouTube here) and I don’t how much of a relief it is.

Since most of my photos today are from a ferry, it’s a relief for me to find “Ferry Cross the Mersey” as performed by my favorite musician, Pat Metheny (here on YouTube):

For those of you who like music with lyrics, here’s the original by Gerry and Pacemakers (found here on YouTube):

What gives you relief? I’d be relieved to hear from you, in any way.

Thanks to Irvin Yalom, to my friend Lawry (pictured above), to Pat Metheny, to Pacemakers of all kinds, to people attending the group psychotherapy conference in San Francisco, to ferries everywhere, to all those who can be kind as best they can, and to you — of course! — for getting whatever relief there is today.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , | 38 Comments

Day 786: High Anxiety

I’m having a little high anxiety writing this post this morning, because I don’t want to be late for the second day of my group psychotherapy conference.

I don’t know about you, but I can have very high anxiety about being late, especially for something like a therapy group, where being on time is

  • expected,
  • important, and
  • affects many other people.

Am I alone in this high anxiety about being late? What can trigger high (or other levels of) anxiety in you?

The San Francisco Hotel I need to reach on time, this morning,  also caused high anxiety for Mel Brooks in High Anxiety, as you can see in the trailer for that movie (found here on YouTube):

Here are some photos I took yesterday, at that “High Anxiety” Hotel:

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I had some High Anxiety at The High Anxiety Hotel yesterday, because:

  1. I’m afraid of heights,
  2. I revealed some vulnerable and sensitive information about myself in a therapy group of people I had just met, and
  3. I talked about my recently higher anxiety about my very unusual heart, including the likelihood of heart surgery in the near future.

My anxiety might have been high at times yesterday (especially when the changing light in the group room made it temporarily difficult for me to see the faces of the other people), but it was also bearable, because

  1. the other people in my therapy group also revealed vulnerable, sensitive, and important things about themselves,
  2. people offered helpful feedback about each others’ anxieties (and other things),
  3. I learned a lot about my anxiety, including how to trust others more fully, and
  4. I met up, during the lunch break, with a former student of mine, who works next door to the High Anxiety Hotel:

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That’s Chris, who previously appeared in this blog post from last year and whose friendly, smiling presence is good for reducing anxiety.  I told Chris — as I’m telling everybody else around here — that I am sick of my High Anxiety about the high snows and low temperatures in my home town of Boston during the winters.  My proposed cure for that high anxiety?  Moving, within the next couple of years, to the home town of the High Anxiety Hotel — San Francisco.

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I captured that on-high shot of San Francisco last night, after the conference, from the building next door to the High Anxiety Hotel.  I had very low anxiety when I snapped that because

  • coincidences don’t scare me, and Chris and my long-time friend Lawry coincidentally work in that same building,
  • I had dramatically lowered my high anxiety by talking about it in the therapy group,
  • beautiful and warm locations are natural anxiety reducers for me, and
  • I’m pretty good at helping people (including myself) move from high anxiety to low anxiety.

What about you?  Is your anxiety high, medium, low, or non-existent? What tends to make your low anxiety high and your high anxiety lower?

Do I have any anxiety about what music to choose for this post? Well, I’m letting go of any anxiety I might have about repeating music I’ve posted before (see here), so I’ll share this with you again:

The theme music from High Anxiety — written and sung by the incomparable, anxiety-reducing Mel Brooks — is here on YouTube.

Okay!  I’ve got to go face a day of low, medium, and/or high anxiety, along with many other people.

Thanks to the Hyatt Regency San Francisco, to all those attending the group psychotherapy conference there, to Mel Brooks, to Chris, to Lawry, and to you (of course!), whether you’re feeling high, low, or in between today.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , | 47 Comments

Day 785: Smiles

Yesterday, I spilled to my college roommate/dear friend Marcia that I probably would be writing a short blog post this morning. She said, with a beautiful smile, “I like your short posts.  Those tell me you’re going out into the world with a lot to do that day.”

I hope this short blog post makes Marcia and my other readers smile, even just a little.  I’m smiling now, because

  1. I’m going to a group psychotherapy conference today,
  2.  group therapy is my livelihood and my passion,
  3. I’m still in sunny, beautiful, and warm California, and
  4. I’m traveling to and from the conference location accompanied by my long-time friend, Lawry.

Friendship, adventure, familiarity, sunshine, warmth, hope, safety, and a sense of purpose all make me smile.

Speaking of smiles, here are some I’ve seen since I started this trip to California:

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That last beautiful smile belongs to my friend Amy, who lives in the San Francisco area and whom I haven’t seen for many years. We shared some smiles (and some tears, too) when we spent time together, yesterday.

I don’t know what kinds of faces I’ll have and see at the group psychotherapy conference today. I’m assuming there will smiles, frowns, and many other expressions as people go through a range of experiences and emotions. I’m looking forward to it all.

I’d like to leave you with a musical smile, but I know I’ve used the song “Smile” in this blog post, before.

How about this?

R.E.M. and The Muppets are smiling, frowning, sobbing, and having lots of feelings here on YouTube.

Smiles and thanks to Marcia, Lawry, Amy, the Mona Lisa, R.E.M., the Muppets, all the other smiling faces who helped me create this post today, and to you — of course! — for bringing a smile (or any face) here today.

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

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