Monthly Archives: June 2013

Day 181: Belly Up

Last week, I met with Megan, who — like me — has a name that gets misspelled and mispronounced a lot. (It’s “Mee-gan” instead of “Megg-an.”)

I’ve known Megan for many years, as a co-worker and a friend. She specializes in holistic health counseling, and I wanted to talk to her about eating and nutrition.

“Holistic” is a great word to describe how she works, because she is interested in the whole picture of the person she’s counseling. We touched on many different aspects of health, related to eating and nourishment.

Not surprisingly, we talked a lot about The Stomach. Or, as Megan often refers to it, The Belly.

Here are some of my immediate associations with the word “stomach.”

  • Many magazines often use the word “stomach” on their covers:

gwyneth-paltrow_june-cover_glamour_2may13_pr_bbbt

  • The term “I can’t stomach that,” which means being unable to tolerate something.
  • The negative feelings and thoughts many people have about their stomachs. (I guess we could say that a lot of people can’t stomach their own stomachs.)

Here are some of my immediate associations with the word “belly”:

  • The term “fire in the belly”, which means

The emotional stamina and vigor, passion, or inner drive to achieve something, to take action, etc.

  • A certain kind of dancing, which definitely looks like fun.

Arabic Belly Dancer 01

Both words refer to the same location in the body, and Megan told me something I didn’t know about that place: it’s the location of the Chakra for personal power.

At the end of our meeting, which was very helpful, Megan and I chose some next steps for me to move forward, including this one:

Be aware of the stomach as a source of personal power. And, love it exactly the way it is.

Delicious.

Thanks to Megan, to all the bellies out there, and to you for reading today.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Day 180: Horror Stories (and others)

It’s the weekend and I’m glad.

I experienced my day at work yesterday as “difficult” and I was having TGIF (Thank God It’s Friday) thoughts. Actually, the thoughts were more like IWTDAWWON (I Wish This Day And Week Were Over NOW) Thoughts.

I don’t like having thoughts like those. I like to do my best to be in the current moment, instead of wishing it away.

So that’s where I was yesterday. Not liking where I was.

As I’ve been writing in my posts here lately, I’ve been having some discouraged thoughts and feelings.

It always helps to list what’s discouraging me. That way, I reduce the power of those thoughts and make them manageable. If “What is Discouraging Me” can fit on a page, it’s smaller than it feels inside my head.

I’m going to focus on my discouragement at work right now. Here’s the list:

What Is Discouraging Me About My Work

  1. I am eager to expand my therapy group program, and there are obstacles to doing so.
  2. I am judging the job that I am doing, and very aware of my mistakes and limits.
  3. I am feeling some disappointment with people I need to support me in the work that I do (because as much as I might like to, I can’t do this alone).
  4. I am not seeing my own power or my ability to do what I think I need to do.

Okay, now that I have gotten those discouraged thoughts out of my head and into this post, I can see things differently.

I can see that this is the my Typical Experience of Discouragement. It’s the story I see and the story that I tell, when I’m feeling down. All the elements are there:

  1. Obstacles,
  2. Disappointment in myself,
  3. Disappointment in others, and
  4. Feeling helpless and powerless.

When I am in that place, I feel horrified by new evidence of my lack of power, my personal mistakes, and disconnects from other people. The more I see those things, the more I want to hide. The more I hide, the more helpless I feel and the less options I see for any solutions.

Here are some things that horrified me at work, yesterday:

Horror Story #1. Bugs Attack!

There was an e-mail about an infestation of saw-toothed beetles in the doctors’ lockers. The e-mail reported that the exterminators had come, all food in the lockers had been thrown away, and people with lockers had to make sure to store any food in Tupperware (since the saw teeth were sharp enough to get through lesser protection). Here’s the perpetrator:

Image

(Google Images gave me many choices for visual examples. I believe I was kind to you and to myself with my choice, above.)

Also, my direct manager (who has been very helpful to me) had to leave early because of an “ant invasion” (her words) at her home.

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(Perhaps I wasn’t quite as kind, in my choice of Google Images for “ant invasion.” However, I could have been crueller, for sure.)

Now, I wasn’t directly affected by those two things. I don’t have a locker at work. And, while some ants have been showing up at my home these days, that situation is well under control.

However, I still felt horrified. I felt bad about food I was storing in my desk. I threw out food that wasn’t protected.

Also, I remembered my second internship when I was in Social Work School, over 15 years ago, at a place where I never felt comfortable or connected enough with the other staff there, and where ants attacked some food I had in my knapsack, swarming all over the office floor. I remember feeling horror and shame about that, being afraid to tell anybody, emptying the offending food, taking the knapsack, and guiltily throwing it away in a trash receptacle far from the office, like I was disposing of a bomb I had evilly constructed.

One moral of the story: Wow. I guess I can be hard on myself sometimes.

Another moral of the story: Bugs are everywhere, and you can especially see them where the food is.

Horror Story #2: Some People Get Mad or Annoyed at Me!

I have to return a lot of phone calls at work.

One of the changes I helped create at the hospital where I work is this: people who have decided they want individual or group therapy now have the direct phone number for a clinician, who can assess their needs with them, explain therapy options, and help connect them with the therapy solution they choose. (The old system was this: the person wanting therapy would be given the general practice number, would reach a scheduler, make an appointment, and usually wait several weeks before talking to somebody.)

I feel very proud about that change. I think it’s better, in all ways.

However, I am one of the clinicians who takes the calls, and I get a lot of calls from people. And I do my best returning those calls. And I manage expectations, with my voicemail message, about when people will hear back from me.

But sometimes, people get annoyed when I don’t act quickly enough.

And I REALLY want to return calls quickly. I want to honor and respond to somebody asking for help. Partly, because I really know what if feels like … to be alone with pain.

So it kills me when I can’t get back to people quickly. And there are many reasons why that can happen, including: I’ve got a big back-log of phone calls, I am meeting with people for individual therapy, I am trying to maintain my group program, I’m doing groups, I am on call for people who are having very urgent problems, and I am trying to take care of myself so I don’t burn out.

(pant, pant, pant)

And people get annoyed with me, some times. Doctors, other staff members, and — rarely — patients. And I get annoyed sometimes, too.

Because most of us are doing too much and/or dealing with too much. Most of us feel overwhelmed.

We are all doing the best we can.

One moral of the story: I get back to people as soon as I can, even if I feel awful about delays.

Another moral of the story: Needs are everywhere, and you can especially see them where people are offering to meet them (like at a hospital).

END of Horror Stories

Before I end this post (which helped me a lot, this morning), I would like to tell you some other things that happened yesterday.

Let’s see … what’s the opposite of the word “horror”? I’m gong to The Thesaurus, people.

Here’s the full entry about “horror”, in the Thesaurus:

Main entry: horror

Part of speech: noun

Definition: fear, revulsion

Synonyms: abhorrence, abomination, alarm, antipathy, apprehension, aversion, awe, chiller, consternation, detestation, disgust, dislike, dismay, dread, fright, hate, hatred, loathing, monstrosity, panic, repugnance, terror, trepidation

Notes: terror is stronger than horror , though it usually lasts for a shorter time

Antonyms: beauty, delight, miracle, pleasure, wonder

So, I encountered some Beauty/Delight/Miracle/Pleasure/Wonder Stories yesterday, too.

Story #1: My dentist text-messaged me and asked if he could put one of my blog posts on his dental practice’s Facebook page. See here for that post, which included my dentist but also other stories of kindness I’d been encountering in Boston.

Story #2: The people at the parking lot where I work told me that — because of the e-mail I had sent their manager about them — they were all getting a good bonus, some real $$! (See this post for how amazing these guys were, and why I wrote the e-mail.)

Many other Beauty/Delight/Miracle/Pleasure/Wonder Stories happened yesterday, too. The two I mentioned were just the blog-related ones.

However, because of the place I was in, those kinds of stories weren’t sticking. The Horror Stories were taking up most of the room in my head.

Here’s my wish for myself, today. I just want to give all the stories equal time. Not deny the horror. When the horror is there — whether it’s internal shame, disconnections from other people, or external destruction — I wish to still notice the other side.

To get back to it, as soon as I can.

Thanks for reading all of this, today.

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Day 179: Wasting Time

In my post yesterday (which took me a LONG time to write, believe it or not), I was struggling with many things, including trying to create a pie chart to illustrate a point.

I’ve never created a pie chart before, so I was having the inevitable struggle of The New. I didn’t know what I was doing, I was trying different things, and I was making mistakes.

I was writing a post that was about frustration and impatience, and I was getting frustrated and impatient with myself and with many different Free On-Line Pie-Making Places.

I couldn’t get what I wanted. And what’s the natural, human response to not getting what you want? Anger, and all the different shades thereof (e.g., annoyance, frustration, irritability, peevishness, etc.)

So, while writing a post about a pet peeve — throughout the day and evening — I was getting peeved. And doing some ranting and railing at The Pie Chart Programs and their limitations (which did not make it to the post).

Finally, I just used the Pie Chart I Disliked The Least, so I could put the post to bed.

And I tossed off this statement:

Not the best pie chart, but I didn’t want to waste any more time on this.

I noted that immediately; I used language about “wasting” time. (Actually, my whole rant, yesterday, was about wasting time: re-listening to voicemail messages where people say their phone numbers too quickly.)

That’s ironic, because when I work with people as a therapist, I sometimes pose this question:

What if there were no such thing as time wasted?

(I tend to ask people questions like that. Here’s another one: “What if the concept of failure did not exist?

Perhaps, when I ask a question like that, I am an annoyer, rather than an annoyee.*)

I will repeat the question, to you: What if there were no such thing as time wasted?

What if, indeed?

What if every moment served some purpose, even if we weren’t aware of it?

Last night, at a group I was facilitating (with a co-facilitator I like very much, who will be leaving the group soon), we were talking about goodbyes, among other things. We were also talking about stress reduction.

One of the members said that she was making a lot of progress reducing stress. She brought in this book:

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and she read a wonderful story from that book which had the title (or the moral) “It’s Not The End of the World.”

But, she said, there was one area that continued to stress her out.

Sitting in traffic.

Something that stresses lots of people out.

My co-facilitator, after the group was over, told me that she’d read somewhere that the #1 predictor of job satisfaction for people was ….

A predictable commute to work.

Not the length of the commute — one that was predictable. In other words, one where one knew what to expect. Where there weren’t fluctuations in traffic delays.

I want to brag about something, right here.

I have made a lot of progress in my life, letting go of stress about traffic.

I remember, about twenty years ago, giving advice about that to my then-business partner, Jonathan, as we were stuck in traffic on the way to pitch our advertising and marketing business to a client. He was talking about how much he hated traffic, and I said, “Why don’t we just pretend that we’re sitting on a couch somewhere, hanging out?” And it helped me, to picture “sitting in traffic” just that way. As another form of sitting around — one that you might choose.

This year, my commute to work does NOT meet the criteria cited by my co-facilitator. That is, the traffic — through some major thoroughfares to and through Boston — does fluctuate, quite a bit, from day to day.

But it doesn’t bother me.

What’s my secret?

  1. I usually leave enough time, in the morning, for most traffic permutations.
  2. If I don’t leave enough time, I have a “Plan B” (parking closer to work, eliminating my much-beloved morning walk).
  3. If I still haven’t left enough time, I can let people know I’m a little late.
  4. If I’m a little late, it’s not the end of the world.

And, last but not least:

5. Sitting in traffic does not feel like a waste of time.

Especial thanks, today — to group members, co-facilitators, and readers like you, who have all spent time with me.

___________________

* a made-up word, meaning “one who is annoyed.”

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

Day 178: Feeling discouraged, what helps, and voicemail messages

On Day 17 of this year, I wrote about feeling “uneasy” when I woke up in the morning. I wondered how I would feel waking up in later months, like May or November.

During this week in June, I have been waking up some mornings feeling discouraged and overwhelmed.

There are things I can do to help relieve that feeling, including:

  1. Make sure I have something to eat (see here).
  2. Identify the challenges I’m dealing with.
  3. Complain, moan, vent or otherwise indulge in being pissed off about some aspect of those challenges.
  4. Identify at least ONE helpful, achievable action, which is within my control.
  5. Let go of judgment about how well I’m doing, dealing with all this.

Now, I could — to make this a more “useful” post — give you examples of each and every one of those things I just listed above. (And, I HAVE done each of those things since waking up early this morning. And, yes, they all helped.)

However, what would be more fun for me right now would be to show you an example of just #3 — that is, the complaining portion of the festivities.

Okay!

Here is one of my pet peeves:

People who, when they leave you a phone message, rush through their phone numbers, without repeating them, so you have to listen to the friggin’ message several times to get it.

Arrrghhhh!!!!

This has been driving me up the wall for years, and it’s been happening A LOT recently.

For the purposes of this rant, I am going to address you like you are one of those people who do that egregious thing — leave numbers too quickly on a phone message.

In therapy, we call this a “role play.” If you never, ever leave your phone number quickly on a message, recognize that I am not really yelling at you. Treat this as a “dramatization.”

Here we go …

HEY! COULD YOU POSSIBLY TAKE ANOTHER FRIGGIN’ SECOND OR TWO AND LEAVE YOUR PHONE NUMBER A LITTLE MORE SLOWLY AND CLEARLY ON MY VOICEMAIL?

HOW ABOUT THIS? COULD YOU AT LEAST SAY YOUR PHONE NUMBER AT THE SAME RATE AS YOU SAID THE REST OF YOUR FRIGGIN’ MESSAGE? INSTEAD OF FRIGGIN’ SPEEDING UP WHEN YOU SAY THE NUMBER?

LOOK, YOU KNOW YOUR OWN NUMBER, AND — YES! — I AM SURE YOU ARE BORED BY IT, BUT I DON’T KNOW IT, OKAY?, I NEED A FRIGGIN’ MOMENT TO CATCH UP! NUMBERS ARE NOT MY NATIVE LANGUAGE, OKAY?

(pant, pant, pant)

I shudder to think how much of my life I have spent, listening and re-listening to phone numbers, trying to get them right, so I can call people back.

piechart3

Not the best pie chart, but I didn’t want to waste any more time on this.

Okay, now I feel better.

Thanks for reading, everybody.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , | 7 Comments

Day 177: What gets me up in the morning

#1: Gratitude that I have another day.

#2: Belief that my work — and my existence, in general — have some value.

#3: Anxiety, because I work at a hospital, which reminds me of scary stuff I experienced as a kid.

#4: Remembering that I will see people I love today.

#5: Habit, because I’ve been waking up, after sleeping, for 60 years.

#6: The alarm, which is always a piece of music I choose and then use for a period of time. This is the one that I’ve been hearing lately:

(That version fades out at the end, but that seems right, because I never listen to the whole thing when I wake up.)

I’m glad all those musicians — and Aaron Copland — got up in the morning, too. (No matter what time they got up, it was morning somewhere.)

And, of course, I’m grateful to you, whatever time it is when you’re reading.

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Day 176: All wet

Last night, I walked around in the rain, with my bf. We had one umbrella, but we still got wet. That was fun, because it’s pretty hot and humid right now, in these parts.

There are going to be thunderstorms for AT LEAST 10 DAYS IN A ROW, if we believe the weather people.

Believing the forecasters (or any kind of fortune-telling, no matter what the data) is a proposition I sometimes find dubious. (I wrote about the meteorological kind of fortune-telling on Groundhog Day. I write and talk about the cognitive distortion of fortune-telling most days of the year.)

Here are a few of my associations with rain and the title of this post, this morning:

#1.  Spotting bunnies — one of my favorite walk-time activities —  is still possible, if not probable, when it’s raining.

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Because of my policy of honesty, I need to confess that I did not spot this bunny last night — nor at any point when it was raining.  However, I did spot it with impressive proximity in both time and space. (That is, very recently and very close to where I’m typing right now.)

#2.  One of my favorite standard/jazz tunes is “Here’s That Rainy Day.”

(This has nothing to do with the topic, but Ella Fitzgerald is my favorite female singer.)

#3.  The meaning of the idiom “all wet” is

all wet Slang

Entirely mistaken.

Which is an example of “All-Or-Nothing” thinking,  another cognitive distortion.

#4.  Jackie Chan pretty much always gets wet at some point in his made-in-Hong Kong movies (movies I love, which I wrote about, here).

First Strike Jackie Chan

The above is a rather extreme example, from the movie “First Strike.”

#5.  Getting wet is actually not dangerous.

Sometimes, I forget that.  It’s only water, people.

Thanks for reading, this morning.  Stay dry, or not … it’s all okay.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Day 175: More kindness from the team

There are certain topics I’ve written about several times during this Year of Living Non-Judgmentally. One of them is the concept of “Who is on my team?” Another one is Human Kindness. The more I look for that this year, the more I see it.

Here’s yet another story that illustrates both of these topics:

As I blogged about here, about two weeks ago my son suddenly began experiencing some shortness of breath and other symptoms. We didn’t know what was going on with him, and the symptoms came and went, but, when morning came, I decided to take him in to the emergency room at the hospital where I work.

As we drove in, he was feeling okay, so we decided that I would park my car in my regular parking lot and we would take the bus shuttle to the emergency room together. There, they found the problem — a collapsed lung! — which required a procedure in the Emergency Room, and then an overnight stay in the hospital.

I wanted to stay overnight with my son in the hospital, so around 7:30 PM I left him in the care of other loving relatives and returned to my parking lot. I told the guys who work there what was going on, and told them I wanted to leave to go home, get some things I needed, come back to the parking lot, and park overnight so I could be with my son.

They all expressed concern about my son and assured me that they would make this happen. I was pretty distracted, but I could still perceive their genuine attentiveness and eagerness to expedite everything in a way that would be easiest for me.

I wasn’t sure how — after I returned there — I was going to get from the parking lot back to the hospital, since I wasn’t sure whether the shuttle buses would still be running then, but I assumed I could figure something out.

When I got back to the parking lot later that night, I asked the guys there about the shuttle buses. They said they had stopped running. As we were discussing other possibilities of me getting back to my son (walking, calling a cab, calling the hospital security people for a ride, etc.), one of them, named Fanon, said, “I’ll drive you.”

I was so grateful for that unexpected and heart-felt response from him and for the precious gift of an earlier return to my son.

On the drive to the hospital, Fanon spoke to me about what mattered in the world: (1) family and (2) love. I was incredibly moved by his words. I’m still moved, as I’m writing this.

A few days later, I brought strawberries and chocolate to the guys at the parking lot. One of the managers was there and was pleased to see a happy customer. He said to me, “Write me an e-mail! I will pass that on to upper management. I want these guys to get a bonus.” I hadn’t spoken to the manager before, but I could tell immediately that we shared a common appreciation for the people who worked for him at that garage.

I did write an e-mail, the next day, most of which I’m including here:

All the guys who work at the garage, without exception, have been helpful, thoughtful, courteous, and friendly, every day I park there. They do their very best to take care of all the parkers, managing some pretty stressful and challenging situations, as we all seem to show up at the same time, needing to park quickly and make it to the shuttle bus.

I could have written you many times during the last year to express what I just did in that first paragraph. I wanted to tell you about something extra, that happened last week.

Last Wednesday, I brought my 15 year old son with me in the morning, parked the car, and took my son to the Emergency Room, since he was complaining of heart palpitations. We didn’t think it was anything serious. However, it turned out he had a collapsed lung. I stayed with him in the Emergency Room all day as the doctors did the necessary procedure to fix the situation. Then, my son was admitted to the hospital for an overnight stay.

In order to stay with my son overnight at the hospital, I had to return to my car, go home, come back, and then get back to the hospital.

Your employees at the garage were incredibly helpful to me, at each step of this ordeal. They assisted me in every way they could to make it easier for me to deal with a very stressful situation and to get back and forth to stay with my son. They showed concern for me and my son in an authentic and helpful way. Their help made a huge difference for me.

I was very touched and grateful that I was able to deal with such dedicated, competent, and thoughtful people. My compliments to them, to you, and to the rest of the company for helping make my experience so positive.

All the best,
Ann Koplow, LICSW

By the end of the day, I got this response, from a general manager in the parking organization, whom I had not encountered before:

Ann,

Thank you so much for taking the time to write this, it absolutely made my day. I sincerely hope your son is doing well and feels much better as well. Having a son of my own I know how scary things can become so quickly. We have a great bunch of guys that work down at the garage and I feel lucky to have them on my team. I will be sharing your compliments with each of them and will also be providing them with a much deserved bonus as well.

Thank You again for taking the time out of your busy day to write, it was very much appreciated and I assure you the attendants will feel the same way.

As I’ve written in this blog before, kindness can make me cry — more than anything else — these days.

I’m grateful for all the times I’ve cried that way, this year.

Before I left work for the weekend last Friday, I took a picture of the guys who were working at the garage that evening. Here they are:

Image

From left to right, that’s Fanon, Mahari, and Selemun.

I look forward to seeing them (and the other members of “my team” at the garage), as I return to work this week.

Thanks to all of them, and thanks to you, for reading today.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , | 18 Comments

Day 174: Surprised by joy

Yesterday, I was in a negative mood, which I blogged about.  After finishing that post, I grabbed some food (my self-prescribed personal medicine) and decided to go for a walk.

When I’m feeling down, anxious, or negative, it’s difficult for me to leave the house, even when I KNOW that’s going to help me. (Whether it’s walking, listening to music, talking to people, or any of my other personal medicines, it’s tough to do any of those things when I’m feeling bad.  I hear similar things from people in my work, along with accompanying shame-based thoughts such as, “What is the matter with me? I know what will help …. why don’t I do those things?”)

There’s a DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) skill called “Opposite to Emotion Action,” which is helpful in overcoming the resistance to doing helpful things.  Another way to remember that skill is this:

Just do it!

Easier said (or written) than done, right?  And it did take me a little while, yesterday morning, to get myself out of the house.  (I’m not sure what I’m afraid of, when I have trouble getting out. Maybe just the possibility of  something bad happening.)

So, feeling a little dread and resistance, but resolved to

 Just do it!

… I hunted for the things I needed for my walk. Finding my sneakers took several minutes and go-rounds through my place (see here for a post about losing things), but, finally, I was ready to go. I  had everything I needed:  (1) my sneakers, (2) my keys, and (3) my combination phone/camera/music-player/Starbucks-charge-card:

iphone

And I went out for my walk.

With every step, with every photo, I felt better. And I was surprised — and not surprised — by all that.

Photo essay time!

How I Spent My Saturday Morning

 by Ann

When it gets into summer, I am not as hyper-aware of the colors outside — compared to how I am when spring arrives after the long winters here.

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But, if I look around, the colors are still there, for the noticing.

Very soon, on my walk, I noticed evidence of Boston’s involvement in the Stanley Cup hockey playoffs:

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Even the trees are fans around here. When I saw this, it reminded me of another tree-related piece of whimsy that pleases me whenever I see it. I thought it was nearby, but wasn’t sure of the exact location. I turned down the next street, and voila!

Image

Finding this so quickly made me ridiculously happy.  Already, I knew i was in a much better mood. I also noted that whoever is using that door, they’re not too focused on neatness or what the neighbors might think about their front yard.  This made me happy, too.

That’s not to say that I don’t appreciate people taking care of their front yards and gardens.  Whenever I see people working with flowers and plants, I recognize that as personal medicine, too.

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I’m just glad I don’t have to take care of a lawn, myself.  That adds to my enjoyment of other people’s hard work.

(At this point, I’m reminded of a quote from Catch-22, by Joseph Heller:

… there were many officers’ clubs that Yossarian had not helped build, but he was proudest of the one on Pianosa … It was truly a splendid structure, and Yossarian throbbed with a mighty sense of accomplishment each time he gazed at it and reflected that none of the work that had gone into it was his.)

Back to the walk. Soon, I was near a surprising body of water.

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I don’t know if this body of water is man-made. I haven’t stumbled upon anything similar in these parts.  But I’m always glad to see bodies of water, expected or not.

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Next, I walked along a kind of “rail trail” —  a path that’s next to an active train track.

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This is a pret-ty thin stretch of nature here, sandwiched between the active train track and suburban development. However, I found a lot there yesterday.

I saw parts that reminded me of piece of art I love very much:

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There was some flora:

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And some fauna:

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That’s a wild turkey. I saw her moments after I had decided to give my phone-camera a rest. What you can’t see in that picture, because they are now in the deep grass, are the little baby turkeys that were following her.

Soon afterwards, two nice people walking by told me they had actually seen DEER on this path.

Another surprise.

End of Photo Essay

Before I end this post, on a beautiful Sunday morning, I just want to note some progress I’ve made from a year ago, around this same time.

Last night and early this morning,  we (and by “we” I mean inhabitants of Earth) were visited by the summer Supermoon.

images

(That’s an image I just grabbed off the internet, posted by CBS news.)

Now, I LOVE seeing the moon so big and beautiful. It’s one of the joys of my life.

Last year at this time, I had resolved to see the Summer Supermoon in all its glory. I needed to see it. I researched it on the web. I went out looking for it, in my car.  And I “failed.”  I couldn’t figure out a way to see it — in its most spectacular form. I drove around and looked for it, with a strategy that just didn’t work.  I saw it, eventually, but by that point it was high enough in the sky that it wasn’t all that spectacular.

And I felt bad. I had thoughts like this, “How could you screw THAT up? How could you look for, and not find, a friggin’ SUPERMOON?  What is the matter with you?”

Yesterday, I knew the Supermoon was coming. And I knew, approximately, when the best viewing times would be, last night and this morning.

But I resolved to take the idea of “success and failure” out of the experience this year.

And this is what I did last night: I went back to that same walk I’d taken that morning, this time  with my son and my bf.  We spent some great time together. I looked for the moon, but letting go of my investment in the outcome. I didn’t NEED to see it.

And we saw it. It wasn’t at the most spectacular moment — it didn’t look anywhere as amazingly huge as it does in the photos on the internet. But it was beautiful.

(Note that there are no pictures at this point in my blog post. I’m doing a non-photo-essay here, because I had decided not to take pictures last night. Instead, I just wanted to be in the moment with people I love.)

This morning, I got up in time for another viewing opportunity, according to what I had understood on the internet. I decided to go out, to see if I might encounter that Supermoon again, at its most spectacular.

Again, I had no investment in the outcome.

And I didn’t see it, this morning.

As a matter of fact, I drove around some of the same places I went last year, when I was feeling shame and thinking thoughts of failure. This year, however, was a totally different experience. I thought, “If I see the moon, I will be surprised by that joy.” And when I wasn’t seeing it, I was taking in the beauty of what I WAS seeing.  (No photos of that, either. I ‘d left my combination phone-camera-etc. at home.)

I guess this Year of Living Non-Judgmentally is making a difference for me.

Thanks to Joseph Heller, Yossarian, Elisa Tenenbaum (the artist of the pastel landscape), the Supermoon, fans, gardeners, walkers, and elves everywhere.  And thanks to you for reading, and for whatever surprises you were able to find here.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Day 173: The negativity switch

My negativity switch got flipped.

It’s difficult for me to see the positive right now.

My fears, disappointments, “failures,”  and — hardest of all —  existential isolation are in the foreground.

Hope — which puts the Joie in Joie de Vivre — is hiding.

It’s a beautiful day outside, but I don’t want to go out there.

I know there are reasons behind that negativity switch: recent stressful events and disappointments over the last week or so.  I’ve definitely been “fire-fighting” a lot. For example, my son got suddenly ill and needed to hospitalized (he’s all better!!), my big presentation got cancelled, and there have been other challenges, too. Maybe I’m having a hangover from all those emotions coursing through my body:  fear, relief, disappointment, anger, love, etc. etc.

Maybe I just need to get outside.

Maybe I just need some water. Or some friggin’ food.

On Mother’s Day last month, there was a point that I was getting cranky and annoyed. My bf and I were starting to squabble about something. My son turned to my bf and said, “She just needs some food. Get her some food.”

While I fancy myself a complicated and intricate organism, formed by a rich, varied, and sometimes painful past,  exquisitely attuned to the internal and external inputs of life on multiple levels …

I knew he was right. I ate something and felt much better.

I think I’ll go get a spinach breakfast wrap at Starbucks.

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Thanks for reading today.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Day 172: Direct communication

What are the words that are difficult to say to somebody else?

Often, it’s when we fear that the other person will have a negative reaction, like disappointment.

Here’s why this issue is on my mind this morning:  Somebody at work had made a difficult decision she needed to tell me about. She was afraid I would be disappointed by what she had to say, so she put off telling me, waiting for the “right time.”

The right time hadn’t come yet.

I asked her about it last night, and found out that way.

That is my least favorite way of finding out something difficult.

So when she answered my question with the disappointing news, I felt stunned. The wind got knocked out of me.  I was direct about THAT, by the way. And she and I talked things through. And it’s all okay.

I’ve been on both sides of this situation: being disappointed and disappointing somebody else. (As you have, too, I assume.)

And, I totally relate to the wish to not disappoint somebody. I’ve also experienced reluctance and procrastination about telling somebody something difficult.

However, I am going to make a strong pitch, right now, for direct communication, the sooner the better.

If we have something difficult to tell somebody, if we fear disappointment as a reaction, let’s try this:

  1. Recognize and let go of beliefs that this will damage or destroy the relationship.
  2. Remember that other people are not as fragile as you fear.
  3. Tell yourself you’ve made a difficult decision, and you’ve done the best you can.
  4. Realize that, whatever happens, you’ll learn something.
  5. Take a deep breath.
  6. Say it.

Let’s see if I can practice this — role model it — right now.

(Internal process of preparation.)

(Deep breath.)

I have nothing more to say this morning.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

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