Monthly Archives: September 2013

Day 273: The Show About Everything

I told some people I love, yesterday, when we were in the middle of the home stretch of a “Breaking Bad” marathon, that my punchline about the show was this:

While

download

was The Show About Nothing,

“Breaking Bad” was the The Show About Everything.

Here’s one random thought, this Monday morning,  about The Show About Everything:

People are hungry for great stories, about interesting people who change.

.

Here are just  a few of the themes I noticed, over the weekend, in The Show About Everything:

Secrets/Revelations

Lying/Telling the truth

Trauma/Healing

Everything we do affects others, in ways we often cannot predict.

There is bad and good in all of us.

.

The moment that is lingering for me, right now, after watching every episode, except for one*?

Walt, finally, saying something like this:

What I did, I did for myself.  I liked it. I was good at it.

.

After the show was over, I said, to anybody who might have been listening at that point, “See?  Do what you love. Do what you’re good at.”

I assumed that I didn’t need to add something like this, “Of course, you need to make better choices than Walt did.”

I’m sure they know that, by now.

Okay!  I’ve got to go to work. (Not to cook, but to listen to stories.)

Thanks to those who do what they love, to people who have both good and bad in them, and to everybody making choices today. And many thanks to you, for being here.

___________________________________________

* I skipped watching “Rabid Dog,” on the advice of practically everybody.

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Day 272: Commitments

As I’ve been blogging about this week, I decided to take on a marathon task recently:  watching many, many episodes of the TV show “Breaking Bad,” over the course of very, very few days.

I set some limits, regarding this task:

  1. I would not reduce the amount of sleep I usually get, during that time.
  2. I would not cancel appointments or other commitments I had agreed to previously.

And I have kept to these limits.

I have noticed some benefits (or pros) to this marathon, including the benefit of distraction.  That is, I have NOT worried about:

  1. A presentation I’m giving next week.
  2. The imminent advent of colder weather.

And, in the past, I have worried about the above, over similarly-timed weekends.

I have noticed some negatives (or cons) to this marathon, including missing the following:

  1. Spending more time talking to real human beings.
  2. Spending more time outside, in some beautiful weather.

Another negative/con I’ve noticed:

At times, watching “Breaking Bad” has seemed like something I HAD to do, not something I CHOSE to do. And that certainly makes a difference in mood, don’t you think?  But I knew I had “an out.” That is,  I knew I could stop at any time.  And that helped.

From the perspective of this morning of the Last Day of Breaking Bad, I’m realizing this:

I think it’s impossible — with the limitations of time and space — to complete the marathon.

So here are some possible solutions:

I may  skip some episodes and, perhaps, read synopses on-line.  In some circles, that might be considered cheating. BUT, as far as I know, that kind of cheating is NOT against the law.  (And I believe I am NOT rationalizing here, unlike some other characters I’ve been seeing a lot lately:

Image.)

Or, I may drop out of the marathon.  In some circles, that might be considered weakness or failure.

But, here’s a question I like to pose sometimes:

What if the concept of failure did not exist?

And why not pose the other question (even though this is a first, for me)?

What if the concept of weakness did not exist?

Wouldn’t that be great?

Okay, people. I need to bid adieu to the rest of the world, for now, as I spend more time with those characters above.

I’m sure I’ll learn something.

Thanks to all those who set goals, recognize limits, solve problems, let go of unhelpful things, and keep on going (including you, me, and some other characters, too).  And thanks for reading today, too.

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Day 271: Room For Error

I am in the middle of watching a lot of “Breaking Bad” episodes, in an attempt to catch up. I would like to watch the final episode on Sunday with people I love.

I’m probably not going to make it, but I’m going to do my best.

I’m going to make decisions, recognizing there are trade-offs at each point.

I want to take care of myself first.

My priorities may shift, throughout this process.

I am currently watching the Fly episode.

Image

Walter White just said,

There is no room for error, not with these people.

Thank goodness I’m not dealing with people like that, these days.

Thanks to creative people, imperfectionists everywhere, and to you, for reading today.

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Day 270: Help with hangovers

Yesterday, at work, I felt  …

Cloudy.

Not myself.

Distracted.

I was thinking thoughts like these:

I’m having trouble being here today.

I wish I could go home.

Why am I feeling this way, after having such a great day yesterday?

I wonder if I’m getting sick?

Have I taken on too much?

What can I identify, right now, that might have contributed to those feelings and thoughts?

  1. Some people, whom I have really enjoyed working with, are leaving.
  2. I’ve been watching many hours of “Breaking Bad,” in a row.
  3. Because of changes in the weather, I  am often too hot or too cold (thanks a lot, Goldilocks).
  4. Because of operating system changes to my iPhone AND to my computer at work, lots of things look quite different.
  5. Perhaps lots of things are looking quite different, because of other things on this list.

What helped with these feeling and thoughts, yesterday?

Listening to other people’s wisdom about what helps them, including the following:

It helps to do a cost-benefit analysis.

Yesterday, somebody named this antidote as particularly helpful to them:

Cost-Benefit Analysis.  List the pros and cons of a negative thought (like “I always screw up”) or a behavior pattern (like isolating when you’re depressed). A simple version of this is to ask yourself, “Does this [thought or action] help me?

It helps to let people know that you appreciate them.

This is especially helpful during these times:

  1. When people are leaving.
  2. When people are still there.

It helps to make a list of Pros and Cons, especially when you are facing a difficult decision.

I just went to my Go-To Application (Google), for some back-up on Pros and Cons.

Here’s what I found, thanks to The Oatmeal:

Image

Which leads me to this:

It helps to laugh.

This is especially helpful during these times:

  1. When you’re alone.
  2. When you’re with other people.

That concludes our blog post for today, ladies and gentlemen.

Thanks to The Oatmeal, to wise and funny entities of all kinds, and to you, for reading today.

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Day 269: Why yesterday was a good day.

Last week, I wrote about bad days and good days (including how our internal experience can greatly affect how we judge those).

Yesterday, by any criteria, was a good day.

Here are some of the reasons why this was true:

Reason # 1.

Something I had been hoping for and working towards, at work, came true.

Specifically: I will be able to reach out, more directly, to people who might benefit from the therapy groups I offer.

While I can’t foretell the future, I believe this will have many good effects on the groups.

Reason #2.

Something I had been hoping for and working towards, here in the blogosphere, came true.

Specifically: A particular country came up in my readership statistics.

While my readership for this blog this year has been expanding in amazing and gratifying ways, one country has been conspicuously absent.

Image

Iceland.

I hear a lot of great things about Iceland, from people who have visited that country.

And I would like to visit Iceland, some day.

As I would like to visit many, many other countries.

And this might sound like bragging, but many, many other countries have shown up in my WordPress readership statistics, during this Year of Living Non-Judgmentally.

But not Iceland.  And I’ve been noticing that, for months.

And as I’ve written about before (like here and here), we can tend to notice what’s missing, and give that more importance than what we already have.

So while I’ve enjoyed looking at my growing readership statistics,  sometimes I would wonder, Where’s Iceland?

And I don’t mean to slight the other countries, who have been showing up, day after day.  I have welcomed each new country, with joy and appreciation.

But, as time has gone on, Iceland’s absence has loomed larger.

Sometimes, this thought would pop up:

Is Iceland too cool for me?

And I would dismiss that thought as silly (not to mention an example of several types of cognitive distortions).

Nevertheless, I continued to notice. And I’ve even remarked on The Absence of Iceland, to others.

So, I was particularly thrilled, yesterday, when Iceland finally showed up — on the very same day as Good News #1, above!

Reason #3.

I had a breakthrough therapy session, yesterday.

Specifically: I asked some questions, that I had never asked before.

I was brave.

Reason #4.

I felt so good — and brave — last night, that I decided to bite the bullet and finally commit to watching a TV Show that people I love have been talking about, for quite a while.

And, people have been talking about this show much more, lately, because the show is about to end, this Sunday.

Image

I watched many episodes of that show, last night.

My hope is to catch up, so I can join some people I love on Sunday, as they watch the final episode.

If I make that goal, great!   If I don’t, c’est la vie.

Either way, I’m going to fortune-tell here, and predict that Sunday is going to be another good day.

I’ll let you know, next week.

Thanks to Iceland, the rest of the world, and to you — of course — for reading today.

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Day 268: What’s $ got to do with it?

My friend Carol asked me, the other day, if the topic of money ever comes up, in the various groups I facilitate.

She pointed out how money (in this culture, at least) can be the most taboo and secret topic, of all. And she quoted a saying, about that, which I can’t quite remember.

When I just Googled “Money taboo topic,” these were the top links that came up for me, this morning:

Why is it so hard to talk about money? – Money – TODAY.com

Once Taboo Topic, Money, Now Critical Therapy Issue 

Is Money Still a Taboo Topic for Couples? | Wall St. Cheat Sheet

It’s Time To Break the Money Taboo by Shira Boss – Beliefnet.com

Dare You Discuss This Taboo Topic? – Netscape What’s New

I will tell you this: I made LOTS of mistakes when I was creating the above paragraph of links.

Maybe that shows that I’m anxious.

Maybe I’m anxious, because:

  1. I need something to eat (see this post, for more about that).
  2. I’m concerned I might be late to work (see this post, for more about that).
  3. My notebook computer is getting low on power (see this post, for more about that).
  4. The topic of money makes me nervous (see this post — and the one I’m currently writing — for more about that).

Actually, the topic of money has been coming up, a lot, in individual therapy sessions at work. A lot.

But not so much — or at least, not so clearly — in groups.

I wonder why that is?

I’m sure I could speculate about that, if I had more time (or a little less anxiety) this morning.

But I don’t.

Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to post a photo, of something I have in my office:

Image

Over the years, a lot of people have told me they like that clock.

I do too.

Thanks to Carol, to  Joie de Vivre*, and to all of you for reading today, no matter where you are (about this topic, or elsewhere).

__________________________________________

* The store where I bought this clock, many years ago.

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Day 267: Other people’s experience

One of the first “complex” thoughts I can remember having, when I was small, was wondering about other people’s experience.

What would it be like to be her? Or him? Or that person, over there?

If I could magically be transported into another person’s experience, what would the differences be ?  Would it be startlingly different?  Similar?

And I realized, back then, I’ll never know, for sure.

But I’m still curious.

And I’m conscious of that inescapable limitation — of never really knowing another person’s experience — and how it naturally colors everything I perceive.

I’m grateful that I get to witness, every day, people doing the best they can — despite those limitations — to understand somebody else well enough, in order to connect in some way.

Each day, I witness that urge to connect with other people, with other creatures, with some experience of beauty, and with attempts to make meaning.

I experience that here, in the blogosphere, and there, in the non-blogosphere.

Connections.

They help, I think.

Whether it’s connecting because of a beloved local sports figure:

Image

Or, connecting because of a shared moment of whimsy:

Image

It helps.

I have no idea who placed that bird on that plant outside my office, but I’m so glad that person is out there (having his or her own experience).

Thanks to Carl Yastrzemski, to fans of all kinds, and to you, for experiencing this post today.

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Day 266: Thoughts about Mondays

People express a lot of things about Mondays.

My guess, right now, is that there have been more songs written with “Monday” in the title, than any other weekday.

Monday song titles include:

“Monday” — Wilco

“Monday, Monday” — The Mamas & The Papas

“Monday, Monday, Monday” — Tegan and Sara

“Sunday, Monday, Tuesday” — Jessica Jones

Sunday Monday Or Always” — Bing Crosby

“Manic Monday” — The Bangles

“I Don’t Like Mondays” — Boomtown Rats

“Rainy Days And Mondays” — The Carpenters

“Permanent Monday” — Jordin Sparks

“Blue Monday” — New Order

“Blue Monday” — Fats Domino

“Goodbye Blue Monday” — City Boy

“Fell In Love On Monday” — Fats Domino

“Monday Morning” — Fleetwood Mac

“Except For Monday” — Lori Morgan

“Come Monday” by Jimmy Buffet

“Stormy Monday Blues” — The Allman Bros.

“New Moon On Monday” — Duran Duran

“It Might As Well Stay Monday From Now On” — Cher

“Monday Morning Rock” — Marshall Crenshaw

“Monday Without You” — Carole King

“Goodbye Blue Monday” — City Boy

“Monday’s Rain” — The Bee Gees

Actually, while I was researching that list, this morning (which is by no means complete), I found out that my guess, above, was completely wrong.

There are WAY more songs about Saturday and Sunday than there are about Monday.

I guess songs can be expressions of many different emotions, right?

My way-off guess, I believe, is a reflection of something I’ve often noted:

When we are in a particular state of mind, we automatically filter out memories and thoughts that aren’t related to that state.

I’m going to wrap up this blog post, because Mondays are different for me, lately. There’s a new intern I get to supervise and work with, so I have to get in earlier on Mondays.

My guess, right now, about that change, is that Mondays (and other days) are going to be better.

I’m a pretty good guesser, usually. (See this post for some possible evidence about that.)

But before I conclude a post (as regular readers may have noticed), I do like to include some kind of image, if possible.

When I first woke up this morning, I considered just posting a photo  I took yesterday, walking by a toy store.  My plan, at that point, was to ask people to guess about something.

Here’s the photo:

Image

Here’s my question: What kind of animal is that, behind those sunglasses?

Because at first, when I walked by that toy store, I found it difficult to recognize.

Thanks, on this Monday, to guessers and learners everywhere, and to you, for reading today.

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Day 265: Fear, math, and DEROSNEC

If I’m avoiding or fearing something, it’s often because of a memory I have.

Lately, I’ve been realizing that I can avoid or fear something that has happened very few times before. Or even, just once.

For example, almost every time I write a blog post, I fear that I’m going to  have the wrong numbered day in the title. For example,  I might write Day 266 today, instead of Day 265.

Why do I fear that? Because I did that once, people.

When I made that mistake, it was actually pretty easy to correct.

But when that happened the first time, I felt the Dreaded Thud of Shame.

So even though I’ve  made that mistake only once,  I usually feel some dread and fear about that, before I press the “Publish Post” button.

Now, there IS something to be said for being careful, because of past mistakes.

But, at this point in this blog post, I would like to calculate the time I’ve spent, so far this year, feeling fear about that easily-rectified-and-not-so-terrible mistake happening again,

In other words ….

Math Alert!!

How much time have I spent on fear about this particular mistake, this year?

I think I first made that mistake somewhere around Day 25. (My memory is that it happened within the first month of this Year of Living Non-Judgmentally.)

Before that day, I didn’t have dread about repeating the mistake, because I hadn’t made it yet. And, I haven’t had the fear yet today, because it happens right before I press the “Publish Post” button.

So, according to my calculations, I’ve had that particular fear/dread response on (approximately)…

264 – 25 = 239 days.

Now, I’m going to adjust that number down. Why?  Because there have been some days where the fear/dread has been negligible — either because I have enough confidence that I can easily rectify the mistake and/or I recognize that the mistake, even if not corrected, would Not Be A Big Deal.

I think those days of negligible fear have happened, say …..10% of the time.

10% of 239 is about 24.  So ….

239 – 24 = 215.

Therefore,  I’ve had a measurable amount of fear/dread — about repeating that particular mistake — for 215 days.

( I just checked the math, so far, with a calculator. It’s all good.)

Now, let’s calculate how much time I’ve spent, this year, having that particular fear/dread response.

To figure that out, I would need to know how long  the fear/dread typically lasts, before I push the “Publish Post”button.

The length of time is pretty  short  (although it CAN feel intense, at times). Hold on, let me figure out an estimate of that, by consulting a time-keeping device.

(For those of you who care, I’m doing all the fact-checking in this blog post with the calculator and stopwatch on my iPhone, with its brand new Operating System IOS 7!!

redesign_ios7_big )

Where was I, before that unpaid, unsolicited testimonial?

Oh, yes. According to my calculations, the fear/dread — about making this particular mistake — lasts about 10 seconds.

So the amount of time I’ve spent feeling that particular piece of fear/dread, so far this year is (approximately)

215 x 10 seconds = 2,150 seconds.

You know, I never really grasp time in seconds, so let’s convert that to minutes.

2,150/60 = 35.83333333 minutes.

So let’s say that the final answer is

36 minutes.

In other words, I’ve spent 36 minutes, so far this year, on dread and fear about a mistake that I’ve made once, that’s easily fixed, if it does recur.

36 minutes may not seem like a lot, but when you add in all the other times I’ve been spending, feeling dread/fear about mistakes that are easily fixed, THAT’S PRETTY SCARY.

(Now, I’m trying to decide whether to use scary movie music (which I first alluded to on Day 45: Mistakes, where art thou sting?) or another SCARY sound-bite . Heck, let’s go with something simple:

which I used, although in a more disguised way, on Day 256: Worst Nightmares.)

Anyway, where was I,  before the shameless promotions of my previous blog posts?

Oh, yes.  I hope I’ve proved, today, beyond a reasonable doubt,  the following:

I’ve been spending way too much time feeling fear and dread about repeating past mistakes, that — even if I did make — could most likely be rectified without too much trouble.

Now, believe it or not, this post, so far, focusing on dread and fear,  is just an INTRODUCTION to a story I wanted to tell you today.

The Story I Wanted to Tell Today

by Ann

This happened in high school, when I was a senior. I was either 16 or 17 years old.

I was the assistant editor of the school newspaper and the editor of the newspaper graciously allowed me, for one edition, to be in charge of the newspaper.

I can’t remember how often the newspaper came out.  It may have been weekly, twice a month, or monthly. I’m guessing it was weekly.

Now, this was the 1960’s, and people were questioning conventions. And so was I.  So I decided to make the paper really different, for that one edition.

These are some of the decisions I remember.

I didn’t include much about school sports, in that edition.

I think I also included a piece of fiction written by somebody who felt like an outsider, specifically regarding athletic competition.

I remember these particular facts, because one of the football players sought me out, after this edition was published, and told me that he disliked it. I remember him telling me that he found that issue demoralizing. He thought it showed a lack of support for the high school teams.

I remember listening to him and acknowledging his experience, but not feeling too bad about that, since it was only one week out of many, and I knew that the newspaper would return immediately to giving the athletes in my high school a lot of recognition.

So that’s not the part of the story that looms large for me, in terms of a Dreaded Thud of Shame.

This is the part the story that does:

Another regular feature of the newspaper was called

Image *

(I found this image here.)

That’s “censored,” backwards.

DEROSNEC was the “gossip column” for our school newspaper.  And it focused on the usual things that gossip columns, across time, have focused on:  Who likes whom. Who’s getting into trouble.

This was pretty mild stuff, I have to say, in retrospect.

I always liked reading DEROSNEC, because it gave me more of a picture of what was going on with the people in my high school.   (And I wasn’t dating or getting into trouble, so it was particularly interesting to me.)

And I thought that the writing was fun. The tone seemed snarky, but not really mean.

And it was written by two people I really liked, who were sisters.

The norm for DEROSNEC was that it was written by “anonymous.” But for my edition of the newspaper, I decided to give these sisters, who I liked so much, some credit.

So I included their first names.  Like so:

DEROSNEC

by Susan and Sarah

And, as I heard from the football player after my edition of the school newspaper was published, I also heard from Susan and Sarah.

And this I remember, very well.

I remember the looks on Susan and Sarah’s faces as they told me how upset they were with me. They said, “Don’t you realize there’s a reason why that column is anonymous?? Now everybody we wrote about is going to be mad at us.”

And I felt AWFUL.

You know what? I still feel awful about that, sometimes.

As a matter of fact, I’ve been avoiding, for several weeks, writing this blog post.

Because I sometimes ask myself some of the same questions I did, back then, in high school:

What was the matter with you?

Why didn’t you ask them, first, if that would be okay with them?

Why did you make assumptions, based on your own experience and feelings?  Yes, YOU like to get credit for what you create, but that doesn’t mean that everybody has the same reactions!

How could you be so naive?

Those are the judgmental, critical thoughts that come up for me.

The feelings that come up are these:

Shame.  Sadness that I hurt people I really liked. And fear about being so wrong, when I had gone with “my gut.”

And that was a mistake that I COULD NOT take back.  The newspapers were out there, in the hands of every person in my high school.

Now, in retrospect,  maybe that wasn’t so awful.  Maybe Susan and Sarah’s worst fears didn’t come true.  Maybe they weren’t shunned by everybody they mentioned in that edition of DEROSNEC.

But at this point, I don’t know.

Earlier this year, I contacted both Susan and Sarah by voicemail, when I was helping to plan a  high school reunion.  And I wondered if I would hear back from them.

And I did, from both of them, also by voicemail. And they both expressed regrets for not being able to attend. And they both sounded friendly.

So I haven’t had a chance to check with them, yet, to see what their memories are, of that story.  I plan to, when/if I see them at a future reunion.

And I really hope I see them. Like I said, I liked them both, so much.

When I see them, I’ll probably tell them my experience. I’ll  probably say, “I’m sorry.” (which I’m sure I said, back then.)

And maybe I’ll let it go, finally.

What else do I want to say, before I end this post?

I’ve been wanting to write this story, this year, to reduce its power. I suspect this story is one of the reasons for my  Dread of Anger (which I wrote about, recently).

And, come to think of it, it makes sense that I have a fear of publishing things, doesn’t it?

Phew!

Thanks to freesound.org (for most of the sound effects today), to DEROSNEC (for the use of that image), to  Susan, to  Sarah, to other people from my high school, and to you — for reading this post (math, confessions, and all).


* This image belongs to derosnec.com, which I found when I googled “derosnec.”  If you look at the comments, below, you will see that I made some mistakes about this. I believe at this point, that I have fixed those mistakes. I am now officially letting go of any guilt about those mistakes, also.  Thanks to Derosnec for patience and understanding.

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Day 264: An Inadvertent Tweet

Yesterday evening, I found out that I had inadvertently tweeted a tweet.

This was the tweet:

T

I don’t know how that happened.  (I have some theories.)

When I saw it, I knew how quickly that “T” had gone out into the universe.

And there was no taking it back.

How did I know it was out there? Because people responded to that tweet.

The first response was from Teresa (who appears in this blog post).

Teresa replied,

yes?

I appreciated that response, because it was quick and effective.

My friend, Janet (who appears in this post), replied,

Were you trying to dot your Is and cross your Ts? Because, half success.

I appreciated that response, because it was both clever and kind.

My 15-year-old son’s response to my inadvertent tweet?  He favorited it, and re-tweeted it.

I appreciated that response, too.

What were MY responses to that tweet?

Here were my feelings, when I first saw it:

  1. I felt perplexed.  (“Where did that come from?”)
  2. I felt embarrassed.  (“That’s a mistake.”)
  3. I felt worried. (” What will people think?”)
  4. I felt safe.  (“People will understand.”)
  5. I felt happy. (“This is fun!”)

The really good news is that I went through Feelings 1 – 3 very quickly …

… and settled on Feelings 4 and 5.

(Somebody, at work, asked me yesterday, “Will I ever stop having these anxious thoughts?”

I said, “I’m not sure.  But maybe you’ll be able to let go of them so fast, you barely notice them.”

We both agreed that would be great.)

As I’ve been composing this post, today, I have been trying out different ways to express the concept of speed. And, as you have seen (and heard), I settled upon a sound bite.

In an earlier blog post this year, I  was also looking for a way to express the concept of speed.

Apparently, that’s something I sometimes want to communicate, clearly.

Speed.

Speed is not the same thing as rushing, though.

Something else I yearn to communicate clearly is this:

You have all the time you need.

I hope this is not confusing.

What else did I want to tell you, this fine morning?

Well, I told you about my feeling responses to that inadvertent, fast-as-a-spaceship tweet.

I didn’t tell you about my action — the next “right” thing, that I chose to do.

For many hours, I let that “T” hang out there.

And that was okay.

I realized it might confuse people.

But that was okay.

This morning, I thought of a way to “conclude” that inadvertent tweet, for a sense of closure. To add something to it, so it “made sense.”

I wasn’t sure I wanted to do that, though. There are things to be said for putting something mysterious out there, that makes no immediate sense.

For example, if you do that, people can put their own interpretations on it.

Various tools of therapy are like that:

Image

And so is abstract art:

Image

Yes, there is something to be said for ambiguous things.

But, I have to admit, I like closure sometimes. Especially if I’ve started something (even inadvertently).

Also, I don’t like confusing people. I can be partial to clarity, myself.

Plus, I rarely pass up a chance to be clever, or to refer to something I like.

So, this morning, I sent out another tweet.

…TFN

Was that the perfect next step?

Nah.

Could I have been more clever?

I’m sure.

Might that still confuse some people?

Definitely.

What was I thinking about?

This guy, for one thing:

Image

Hey, look!  Tigger‘s tweeting, too!

Ta Ta For Now, dear readers. (And thanks to all.)

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