Day 2784: The truth

The truth

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The truth is that I continue to go on walks with my husband and my son, wearing masks and maintaining social distancing.

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The truth is that our wonderful kitty Oscar is not going to get any better as he spends his final precious days with us.

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The truth is that there are heroes everywhere.

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The truth is that one of my heroes is my husband Michael, who prepares wonderful meals for us.

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The truth is that I also took these photos yesterday:

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The truth is that reminds me of this 11-year-old video of my son Aaron and our cat Oscar:

The truth is that

  • Oscar is a very chill and accepting cat,
  •  I would like to be more like Oscar, and
  • I am very grateful for all who are reading this, including YOU.

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Categories: life during the pandemic, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Day 2783: Does worry help?

“Does worry help?” is a question I have asked many, many (and don’t worry how many) people, over the years.

What’s your first guess, best guess about the answer?

Don’t worry, I’ll tell you answer. It’s a resounding NO.

Yesterday, people discussed the difference between worry and planning AND the difference between worry and caring.

Despite our confusion about those concepts, it is very possible to plan without worry and to care without worry, although separating those out takes work.

Does it help to worry about Oscar during his last days?

No, but it helps to plan and to care.

Does it help to worry about any of my photos here today?

Does it help to worry about procrastination or instant gratification? Coincidentally, last night my son and my husband were discussing the benefits of procrastination. Aaron said that procrastination involves getting a lot of other things done while you’re procrastinating. Also, procrastination makes you work efficiently, because you’re doing things quickly at the last minute.

Am I worried about my son? No.

Does worry help as I look for a dance number from Top Hat, which Oscar and I watched yesterday?

Does it help to worry about the weather? Not according to Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire.

Does gratitude help? Always.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Day 2782: First guess, best guess

What’s your first guess about why today’s post is titled “First guess, best guess”? Let’s find out if it’s the best guess.

Since the first day I met my best friend/husband Michael, he’s been saying, “First guess, best guess.”

One of my other best friends wrote to me the other day, when I felt insecure about how I had run a board meeting:  “I’m not sure 2nd guessing is helpful.”

Is it your first guess, best guess that both those pieces of advice — “First guess, best guess” and “I’m not sure 2nd guessing is helpful” — mean the same thing?

I love guessing and I don’t stop with my first guess. If I DID stop with my first guess, our ailing and adorable cat Oscar would not be alive today.  Also, Michael’s first guess was that the Social Security office had his correct birthday on file and they did NOT.  My next guess about filing our taxes is that we’ll have to do that by mail, which is not exactly a catastrophe (although my first guess — when the IRS rejected our e-filing this weekend because Michael’s birthday on the form did not match Social Security’s record — was that it WAS a catastrophe).

Catastrophizing is a common cognitive distortion (which we talk about in my Coping and Healing groups) where our first guess is that a catastrophe is imminent, even though it isn’t.

Since catastrophizing is a first guess, not best guess, I’m now guessing that “first guess, best guess” is not always best.

However, my first guess about Michael, when I first met him on okCupid, was that he was a wonderful person I wanted in my life.  I’ve had similar first guess, best guesses about other people, including the other best friend I quoted above.

My best guess about guesses, here and now, is that it’s best to trust our intuition AND also be open to new evidence that comes along.

What’s your first guess, best guess about what’s next in this blog post?

If you guessed photos, your first guess was the best!

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In today’s Daily Bitch Calendar, auto-correct’s first guess was not the best guess.

This is the first song I heard by The Guess Who, which I think is their best:

My first guess was that the title of that song was “She’s Come Undone” but my best guess is that it is “Undun.”

My first guess, best guess is that there will be great comments about today’s post.

First guess, best guess, constant guess is to express gratitude every day.

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

Day 2781: Turning around

In my mind, I’ve been turning around the pros and cons of euthanasia for our ailing and beloved cat, Oscar.  Yesterday morning, Oscar seemed so sick that I scheduled a home euthanasia visit for this afternoon. This morning, I am turning around to cancel that visit, because Oscar took a turn for the better yesterday afternoon.

I notice Oscar has trouble turning around without staggering in the morning. In the afternoons, he is turning around before he settles in my lap. And no matter what he is doing, he is still turning around to eat some delicious chicken whenever we offer it to him.

My son is not turning around in his belief that we should not euthanize Oscar. My husband Michael is turning around what he believes is right, depending on Oscar’s behavior.

I’m used to turning around many perspectives in my mind while making decisions, especially difficult ones like this one. With so much turning around, everybody seems a little dizzy, including Oscar.

Turning around to today’s photos, here’s the inspiration for today’s title:

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When I saw that sign yesterday, I thought there was probably no turning around from today being Oscar’s last day on earth.  However, in my life, I’ve experienced and witnessed so much turning around that nothing seems written in stone.

Last week, I witnessed people in my Coping and Healing groups turning around low self esteem by discussing positive attributes.  If anyone had trouble naming what they liked about themselves, the other group members had no trouble turning around to share what they appreciated about that person.

Every time I try to write my last letter from the President for the Northeastern Society for Group Psychotherapy, I keep turning around to other activities, like watching musicals on TV (including The Music Man, Bye Bye Birdie, and On The Town).

Here’s a thought that’s turning around in my mind: It’s difficult to say goodbye.

No matter where I am, I’m often turning around to take photos like these:

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In On the TownGene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and Jules Munshin are playing sailors showing up and turning around in New York, New York:

There’s a lot of turning around in “You’re Awful” from On the Town, including Frank Sinatra and Betty Garrett  turning around the meanings of words:

What thoughts and feelings are turning around for you, here and now?  Consider turning around and leaving a comment, below.

At the end of each post, I’m turning around to gratitude, so thanks to all who help me turn out this blog every day, including YOU.

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Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Day 2780: Sunshine and hurricane

The sunshine in my life includes family, friends, my work as a group therapist, cats, music, this blog, humor, nature, good memories, the riches of the present moment, persistent hope about the future, and a helpful stance of curiosity.

The hurricane in my life includes the imminent death of our sweet, plucky, and ailing kitty Oscar; losses of good friends;  bureaucracies; corrupt world leaders; social injustice; the coronavirus pandemic; and yet another taxes-related fiasco (the IRS rejecting our e-filed return yesterday because “your spouse’s birthday doesn’t match the IRS records”).

When I was freaking out and focusing on the hurricane yesterday, my spouse (whose birthday SHOULD match the IRS records!!!!) said to me:

“What is it that you tell your patients?  Nothing is actually hurting you now. I think the taxes glitch will be easily resolved.”

My spouse brings so much sunshine into my life, even during the hurricane.

Do you see sunshine and/or hurricane in these images from July 4, 2020?

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Here‘s Dolly Parton’s  “Jolene” covered by Sunshine and the Hurricane:

What are your thoughts and feelings about sunshine and hurricane?

I like to end every post, no matter what the weather,  with the sunshine of my gratitude for everything, including YOU.

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Categories: life during the pandemic, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Day 2779: Staggering

Our 18-year-old cat, Oscar, who has cancer, has been staggering, sometimes, when he walks. Otherwise, his appetite is good and he does not seem to be in pain. He continues to be a staggeringly sweet kitty who wants to be close to his family.

It is staggering to me ….

  • What world leaders will do to hold onto power,
  • The increase of coronavirus cases in the United States,
  • That the U.S. President discourages testing and social distancing despite the recommendations of his own staff,
  • How people can ignore facts and science because of fear, anger, and denial,
  • How pernicious white male rage can be,
  • How some people are valued over others,
  • How kind, perceptive, and thoughtful my 22-year old son is,
  • That my son Aaron thinks that people should have the option of euthanasia and animals should be allowed to die naturally,
  • How long the line and wait was yesterday for Aaron to be tested for COVID-19,
  • How quickly we got the good test results,
  • How beautiful the South Shore of Boston is,
  • How everything my husband Michael cooks is so delicious, and
  • How great it is when the whole family is in the house.

Do you see anything staggering in my photos from yesterday ?

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It is staggering to me that somebody posted a negative comment at the end of this article in the Deseret News starring yours truly.

https://www.deseret.com/platform/amp/indepth/2020/5/31/21264377/coronavirus-anthony-fauci-socks-quarantine-pandemic-covid-19-tees-tshirts-masks-etsy

It is staggering to me that

  • Jennifer Graham, the awesome writer of that article, found me through this blog and
  • the article links to this performance of my original song “Left the House Before I Felt Ready”!

My viewer numbers on YouTube are still less than staggering even after the publication of that story. However, I will keep staggering along in my pursuit of fame and fortune.

In the meantime, I am staggeringly grateful to all who follow me here, including YOU!

Categories: life during the pandemic, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

Day 2778: Troubling Questions

What troubling questions are on your mind, here and now?

My troubling questions include:

  • What do I do about the realities of white supremacy?
  • How do I deal with the realities of the coronavirus?
  • Why is wearing a mask a political issue?
  • What does the American flag even mean these days?
  • How will we know when (and if) to euthanize our cat Oscar, who has cancer?
  • Why am I so worried about making mistakes?
  • Should I go back to being a vegetarian?
  • Why is it so difficult to wait?
  • Why is it so difficult for the human mind to stay in the present moment?
  • Why are people so concerned about their image and how they appear to others?
  • Why is it that when life is more difficult,  people often feel worse about themselves?
  • Why are trauma and abuse so often multi-generational?
  • What do you do when you suspect a friend or colleague is having a mental breakdown?
  • Does power corrupt and does absolute power corrupt absolutely?
  • What is going to happen to nature as the world keeps warming?
  • What kind of world is my 22-year-old son going to live in?
  • Should we try to protect those we love from pain?

Do you see any troubling questions in these recent photos? (And is that a troubling question?)

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If you have any troubling questions about why I have slinkies in my office, see this very early blog post.

Jennifer Eberhardt answers troubling questions about racial bias in this excellent TED talk:

Unquestionably, that is a very important video.

Circling  back to the image that inspired today’s title …

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here is the live studio version of “Cloisonné” from Album Raises New and Troubling Questions by They Might Be Giants:

 

Feel free to raise new and troubling questions or answer any question in a comment, below.

Thanks to all who took the trouble to read this “Troubling Questions” post today, including YOU.

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Categories: life during the pandemic, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Day 2777: Such a sweet ____

Oscar is such a sweet cat …

… that during his last days on earth, all he wants to do is be close to his family.

My husband Michael is such a sweet guy that he is closely watching Oscar and also making delicious meals.

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Living near the ocean is such a sweet respite from worry, fear, and sadness.

 

As discussed in my Coping and Healing group yesterday, throwing a pillow on the floor  …

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…  is such a sweet way to let out anger .

Today’s Daily Bitch Calendar has such a sweet description of feeling like a complete train wreck.

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Here‘s such a sweet rendition by Wynton Marsalis & The Young Stars of Jazz of Duke Ellington‘s “Such Sweet Thunder” (which is such a sweet suite based on the works of William Shakespeare).

That is such a sweet tap dance and such sweet playing!

Asking for feedback is such a sweet way to let people know you care about their thoughts and feelings.

Gratitude is such a sweet way to end any encounter, including a blog post like this one!

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Categories: life during the pandemic, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Day 2776: No longer

I am no longer President of the Northeastern Society for Group Psychotherapy, so I am no longer worrying about acting Presidential (although “acting Presidential” no longer has the same meaning it used to).

Carl Reiner is no longer on this earth.

This sentence, at the end of the Wikepedia entry about Carl Reiner, is no longer than 20 words:

Reiner died at his home on June 29, 2020, aged 98, in the company of his family.

This episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show, which Carl Reiner wrote, produced, and created, is no longer than 25 minutes:

This 2000-Year-Old Man Routine, co-created by the no-longer-with-us Carl Reiner and the-still-with-us-as-of-this-writing Mel Brooks, is no longer than four minutes:

I am no longer able to say that I never saw that before. It’s been no longer than 55 years that I’ve known Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks as comic geniuses.

Mel Brooks, who describes himself on Twitter as “Writer, Director, Actor, Producer and Failed Dairy Farmer” and who no longer can have dinner every night  with his old friend and co-writer Carl Reiner, posted this no-longer-than-280-character tribute yesterday:

Carl was a giant, unmatched in his contributions to entertainment. He created comedy gems like The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Jerk, and Where’s Poppa? I met him in 1950 when he joined Sid Caesar on Your Show of Shows, and we’ve been best friends ever since. I loved him. When we were doing The 2000 Year Old Man together there was no better straight man in the world. So whether he wrote or performed or was just your best friend — nobody could do it better.  He’ll be greatly missed. A tired cliché in times like this, but in Carl Reiner’s case it’s absolutely true. He will be greatly missed.

It took me no longer than a few seconds to find this great photo of Carl Reiner, Annie Reiner, and Mel Brooks that was taken no longer than two days away from Mel Brooks’s 94th birthday and Carl Reiner’s death day:

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I hope it is no longer debatable in this country that black lives matter.

I am no longer worried about other people’s incorrect assumptions or my inadvertent miscommunications, like Mel Brooks’s birthday and Carl Reiner’s death day being the same day (which they aren’t — they are one day apart).

This post is no longer focusing on words as I share my images from yesterday:

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I am no longer expecting comments but I will welcome any you choose to make.

It takes no longer than one word to express heart-felt gratitude.

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Categories: in memoriam, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Day 2775: Closure

Because today is my last day as President of the Northeastern Society for Group Psychotherapy, I am thinking about closure.

As I wrote in another blog post about closure,

Closure is important, in order to move on.

There is no right or wrong way to do closure.

Closure is challenging, because it brings up old closures, which often relate to losses.

I like to use the term “ending the chapter”, when I talk to people about closure. Somebody, in my office, recently said that in their culture, they use the term “putting the period on the end of the sentence.” I like that, too.

Here’s what I’ve written, so far, about closure in my final letter from the President:

As I’ve thought about writing this, my final letter to you as President of NSGP, naturally my mind has gone to thoughts of closure. (Personally, I don’t like the word “termination”, because that sounds SO final.) As I have learned from my trainings at NSGP (and as I often tell people in my “Coping and Healing” drop-in groups) a good-enough sense of closure is critical in transitions — allowing us to appreciate what we’ve shared together and to move ahead better equipped for future challenges.

In my groups, we often discuss the insufficient and disappointing closures with family members, friends, work situations, organizations, and other important aspects of our life, and how this lack of satisfying closure in important transitions can keep us stuck. During these challenging days, when we might be feeling uncomfortably stuck, closure is especially important.

So what helps with closure? Saying what feels left unsaid.

Naming what you got.

Naming what you didn’t get.

Discarding what is not serving you well.

Later today, I will facilitate a “Coping and Healing” group on a telehealth platform (which I sometimes call “The Home Version of Coping and Healing”). At the end of the group, the participants will hear me, as usual, acknowledge the importance of  getting closure in the “wrap up” section of the group. I will introduce wrap-up by explaining, again, what helps with closure. I will invite discarding “what is not serving you well” by showing this to the group:

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That’s the magic waste paper basket, an important part of my Coping and Healing groups. If you throw something away in the magic waste paper basket, it will either go away or  come back less powerful.  Here’s an incomplete list of what people have thrown away in the magic waste paper basket:

  • self-judgment,
  • self-doubt,
  • difficult people,
  • unhealthy behaviors,
  • negative self-talk,
  • worry,
  • cognitive distortions,
  • pain, and
  • paper.

Do you see closure in these other images?

 

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We’re working on getting  humane closure with our 18-year-old cat, Oscar, who has cancer.

Here‘s “Closure” by Hayley Warner

… and “Closure” by Opeth:

I’ll get closer to closure by quoting this comment from YouTube about Opeth’s “Closure”:

Alex Mercer
1 year ago
The abrupt ending pisses me off. I need closure!!

Alex Mercer needs closure. Do you?

Gratitude helps me get closure, every day.

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Categories: life during the pandemic, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

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