Monthly Archives: November 2013

Day 334: Dread vs. Reality

Last night, I went for a walk with my boyfriend, Michael.

Michael and I talk a lot while we walk around and look at our surroundings.

To me, this is proof that

  1. We both are quite coordinated.
  2. We both have interesting things to say.

Here’s something we talked about last night:

How dread of something is worse than the reality.

We both had plenty of examples to support that thesis.

Last night, one proof of that theory was this:

It was friggin’ cold outside.

And if you have read many of my blog posts, you know how I feel about THAT. My posts show that I have been dreading the advent of the cold since ….. hmmmmm …… SEPTEMBER?

That’s right. And now that it’s almost December (tomorrow is December 1), that means that I have been dreading the cold for three months.

A quarter of the year.   That’s a full season, right there.

I’ve been having a season of dread — the season of MY discontent.*

Now, the cold is here, and I am experiencing RELIEF.

Why?  A lot of my dread is based on false assumptions.

During my season of dread, I was assuming that once the weather turned cold:

  • I would stay indoors all the time,
  • I wouldn’t go on walks, and
  • I wouldn’t see beauty around me.

Not true.

I was amazed to remember and realize, last night, that I still go on walks during the winter, probably as much as I do any other time of the year.

I had forgotten about that, during my season of dread.

I had forgotten about that, even though:

  1. have a very good memory** and
  2. I have lived through many cold winters.

However, during my season of dread, I still forgot these important facts.

I believe this proves that dread is NOT good for the memory.  I hope I remember better, next year (whatever I name that year).

As usual, I want to end this post with some images. However, I didn’t take any photos last night. (I guess the conversation was too interesting.) (Or, I’m not THAT coordinated.) Therefore, I will turn to Google, for some images of the kind of beauty we saw last night (and which I expect to see more of, soon):

Image****

Image*****

And while we didn’t see anything quite as amazing as this:

Image******

… I think that captures my feelings, right now.

Thanks to William Shakespeare, those who dread, those who wonder, and — of course!  — those who read this blog.

____________________

* This is a reference to Shakespeare’s Richard III, He, apparently, had opinions about the seasons, too.

** I know this is bragging, but Lumosity tells me that I am in the 99.9th percentile in memory, not only compared to my age group, but to EVERY OTHER FRIGGIN’ AGE GROUP.***

*** Yes, I checked.

**** I found this image here.

***** I found this image here.

****** I found this image here.

Categories: humor, inspiration, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , | 48 Comments

Day 333: Leaving room

Much to my surprise, I haven’t used this title for a post before.

Why am I surprised?  Because “leaving room” is something very important to me.

I think it’s important to leave room for:

  • People’s thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
  • The possibility of change.
  • The messiness of life.
  • Our wishes to control all of the above (even when we can’t).

I think it’s important to leave room for all of it.*

In this post, I’m trying to leave room for my experience and for yours, too.

Question: I wonder how I am doing?

Answer: I think I’m doing well enough, so far.

Before I end, I would like to include an image.  Or perhaps a sound bite.

It’s wonderful to engage different senses, isn’t it?

Checking my iPhone for photos that might fit the bill ….

Aha!

On our way to a family get-together yesterday, we saw these, crossing the road (to get to the other side):

Image

Can you see what those are? Maybe not. Especially since my introduction to the photo was misleading.**

If you couldn’t tell, here’s a closer shot:

Image

Yes, indeed.

It was wonderful to make room for turkeys, especially on Thanksgiving Day in the USA, 2013.

Thanks for making room for all of it, today.

_________________________________

* Including many things that didn’t make the list today.

** In case you don’t know the joke, here it is:

Question: Why did the chicken cross the road?

Answer: To get to the other side.

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

Day 332: A Once in a Lifetime Day

The title of this post refers to Thanksgivukkah* —  which is both Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah.

In case you haven’t heard, both of these holidays occurring on the same day is verrry unusual.

Just now, I did a Google Image search on “Thanksgivukkah” and found lots and lots of treasures.

And, did you guess?  I’m going to share some of those with you, now, along with some of my thoughts.  And as I like to tell people, “We’re all human, so our thoughts can go lots of different places.”

Image*

There we go!  It’s the title of my post AND the date.  I like starting out with “just the facts.”

Image**

Isn’t that cute?  Here are some other thoughts I have about that photo:

  • That baby looks very happy.
  • Am I the only one who is thinking “Boy, this sure points out that this baby is going to die!”
  • What’s the expression on that turkey’s face?
  • Does he know his tail is on fire?

Image***

My thoughts:

  • Wow!  Does this mean this once-in-a-lifetime holiday has made it to the cover of The New Yorker?
  • Wait. No, it doesn’t.
  • I guess this proves that I should start reading the New Yorker again, so I don’t make mistakes like that.
  • Does that turkey know his tail is on fire?

Image****

Speaking of my mistakes, this t-shirt illustrates a mistake I made about Thanksgivikkuh (in addition to misspelling it)  yesterday. I assumed that Thanksgivvikuh occurs once every 70,0000 years. Nope!  It occurred 125 years ago, the last time —  in 1888. The 70,000 year-gap applies to the NEXT time it comes around.

Some thoughts:

  • I wonder how they celebrated it in 1888?
  • I’m pretty sure it didn’t involve t-shirts.
  • Or the New Yorker.
  • The guy wearing that t-shirt is expressing an interesting hope about his future.
  • I wonder when Thanksgivvikuh will fall next?  81,181?  160,099? Or a different year entirely?
  • Whenever it is, will that guy be seeing me then, too?
  • The Jewish Calendar makes no friggin’ sense.

Hmmmmm.  Since that last photo involved some math, this post is taking longer than I expected.

Maybe I should wrap this up.  I want to celebrate my only chance at this once-in-a-lifetime event.

But there are soooo many images, out there.

How about this? I’ll show you some more, and you can supply your own thoughts:

Image*****

Image******

Image*******

Image********

Image**********

o-THANKSGIVUKKAH-MANICURE-570***********

images (12)***********

I especially like that last image, because now I know I’m not alone in my spelling mistakes.

In my image search, I also ran across some videos, and I want to to include one. It’s difficult to choose, but here it is, from my home town (and thanksgivukkahboston.com):

Before I end this post, just one more thing.

My title — A Once in a Lifetime Day — doesn’t just apply to today.

It applies to all our days.

I give many thanks today, for my family, for my friends, for my home, and for all my readers.

___________________________

* I found this image here, for which I give thanks.

** I found this image here, for which I give thanks.

*** I found this image here, for which I give thanks.

**** I found this image here, for which I give thanks.

***** I found this image here, for which I give thanks.

****** I found this image here, for which I give thanks.

******* I found this image here, for which I give thanks.

******** I found this image here, for which I give thanks.

********* I found this image here, for which I give thanks.

********** I found this image here, for which I give thanks.

*********** I found this image here, for which I give …. you know.

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

Day 331: Preparation

Yesterday, I bravely (if I do say so myself) volunteered to give another presentation about my therapy groups.

Unexpectedly, the presentation will be a week from today.

I’m glad it’s only a week away.  Less time to prepare, less pressure for me.

Now, I have to prepare for the presentation.  

Except I really don’t have to prepare.  It’s a topic I know enough about, for sure.

I know more than my audience knows.*

As a matter of fact, I know a lot more than that.   How could I not?  I do the groups four times, every week.  Also, they are my passion.

I’m sure I will have enough to say about them.

So really, what do I need to prepare?

Nothing. I just need to show up, with a prop or two.

In the past, there’s another way I have prepared for presentations. I’ve worried about them. I’ve imagined a negative outcome. In other words,  I’ve had cognitive distortions about:

  • What could go wrong.
  • People thinking I suck.

Hmmm. That about covers it.

I think I can forego that aspect of the preparation, this time.

What data do I have to support letting go of worry — doing it differently — this time?

I have good data for that. That is, every other time I’ve done a presentation this year about the same topic, it has gone very well.

Actually, I’ve rocked.**

So there’s no reason to expect that I will do anything except rock, this time.

I mean, I’m sure that my critical voice could come up with lots of arguments for why THIS TIME will be different. For example ….

This is a different audience. You haven’t done a presentation for several months.  The past is not necessarily a predictor of the future. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.

This is what I would like to say to my critical voice this morning:

Image

Just to make sure my critical voice hears that, here’s a hundred more (viewer discretion advised):

I think that should hold my critical voice, for the week until my presentation.

So here’s a prescription —  an antidote — for myself, this morning:

Rx:  For one week, administer “Shut Ups”, PRN***.

Before I end this post, I want to write about preparing for one more thing:

Thanksgivukkah.

I just looked for a definition of “Thanksgivukkah” on-line, and this is what I found, from livescience.com.

It’s a once in more than 70,000-year event: The first day of Hanukkah this year coincides with Thanksgiving.

As I wrote in an e-mail to my cousin Lani, a while ago:

I’m not sure what we are doing for Thanksgivukkuh.  Trying not to feel the pressure of 70,000 years.

That concludes today’s blog post, my dear readers.

Thanks to my family,  The Moderate Voice and mewlists.com (for the “Shut Ups!”), to preparers and thanks-givers everywhere, and to you — of course! — for reading today.

___________________________________

* Years ago, my sister told me that helpful definition of a good-enough teacher.

** I’ve already linked to this same post about bragging, but what the hell.

** Pro Re Nata (Latin), meaning “take whenever needed.”

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

Day 330: What I am doing differently

Yesterday’s post was about “Doing Things Differently.”

I figured I would make today’s post more specific, about particular things I’m doing differently.

They all share this in common:

I’m judging less. Which is nice, especially considering the friggin’ title of this blog.

Here’s an (off-topic)* thought: If I keep blogging next year (which I probably will), I will perhaps change the title of the blog to this:

The Year of Living Less Judgmentally

Why?

  1. That is a more accurate title, since I — a human being — do not really expect to attain that Heaven of Non-Judgment, and
  2. There’s no annoying**  hyphen in the title.

Anyway, where was I?

Oh, yes, ways I am judging less, these days:

I am judging myself less, for my fear and anxiety about the on-coming cold.

Rather than saying to myself, “What is the matter with you?  Why are you so anxious about THAT?” I am telling myself, “That makes sense.”

How does it make sense?

Perhaps my cold-related anxiety relates to my spending a lot of time as a kid in the hospital, where the temperature was really cold  in certain rooms, and where I didn’t have any control over that.

And/or, my cold-related anxiety relates to any human being’s primal fear of freezing to death.

It feels good to judge myself less, for these things.

I am judging myself less for lots of other things that are commonly judged, but which I cannot control.  

That is, I am judging myself less for:

  1. Growing older.
  2. Having more physical ailments, as I do #1, above.
  3. Forgetting things every once in a while, as I do #1, above.
  4. Becoming less conventionally good-looking, as I do #1, above.

It feels good to judge myself less, for these things.

Okay!  Time for an image, to close this post.

Hold on while I check my iPhone for a relevant (enough) photo.

My expectation, right now, is that I might not find a good enough iPhone photo, this morning.

Why is that my expectation?

Because it’s been so friggin’ cold around here, that I’m taking fewer photos.***

No need to fear, though.

Here’s a photo I took yesterday,  of the boots I was wearing at work:

IMG_2278

Notice anything?

Maybe not. The angle I used for that photo sucks****, because it doesn’t highlight the surprise.

Here’s a photo, I just took, that DOES highlight that:

photo (69)

I wore two different boots to work yesterday.

Which is particularly funny, since this was one of the images in yesterday’s blog post:

images (11)

I chose to point out this mistake to some people at work yesterday.

I chose the right people. How do I know? Here were the responses:

“I’ve done that!”

“Nobody will notice, and if they do, who cares?”

“That’s adorable!”

And, I am happy to report that I did not judge myself for leaving the house with mis-matched boots.

Or more accurately, I judged myself less.

And it felt great!

Thanks to everybody who has ever worn two different types of footwear to work (or anywhere else), judgers of all kinds, and to you — of course! — for reading today.

____________________________

* One thing I say to people in individual and group therapy, who express concern about going off-topic, “There is no such thing as off-topic.”

** I use the word annoying because (1)  I’m human and  (2) looking for hyphens (or any punctuation marks) these days IS more annoying, because they are in different places on different devices.

*** Pardon me for being selfish, but these days, when I’m outside, I would prefer to keep my friggin’ hands in my friggin’ pockets , rather than take photos for my readers.

**** Sometimes it’s fun to be judgmental.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Day 329: Doing it differently

When I woke up this morning, this is what I found:

  • It’s cold, outside.
  • It’s dark, outside.
  • The heat, inside, isn’t working the way I would expect.

This is the way I have reacted to that same scenario, many times before:

With fear. With a sense of powerlessness. Feeling alone.

This is what I’m telling myself, this morning:

It’s okay.  It’s warm enough inside. If there is a problem, you and other people will figure it out and fix it.

And I believed it, almost immediately.

That seemed different.

In this post, I want to include one more example of “doing it differently.”

On Friday, I observed the 50th anniversary of (1) President John F. Kennedy’s assassination and (2) my first heart surgery and cardiac pacemaker implantation, at age 10.

That day, I received an e-mail from a very dear, long-time friend. Here’s an excerpt from that e-mail:

You are on my mind today, and I wanted to tell you about a dream I had a few nights ago. It was the day of your surgery, fifty years ago, and you were a kid again, and I was a kid too, right there with you. We were waiting together in the hospital for Ann, who seemed to be your twin sister, to come out of surgery. The doctor came out and told us that everything had gone well, and that Ann would live a long, long and wonderful life. We were really glad! It was a great dream.

I am very moved by that dream, that my friend dreamed for me,  of doing it differently. It reminds me of this: There are many, many ways to do things differently.

Starting today.

What are some visuals, for “doing it differently”?  Let’s check “Google Images.”

Lots to choose from!

Image*   Image**     Image***

Image****

Image*****

Image******

There were so many images, I had trouble deciding.

Sometimes, though, words are worth a thousand pictures.  A few more, from my friend’s e-mail:

You are the girl who lived. Something really big and scary and powerful was after you, but you prevailed.

As we all prevail, with help from others.

Many thanks to my friend, to dreamers everywhere, to all who do it differently,  and to you — of course! — for reading today.

___________________

* From Kylie Legge and “In Public Space We Trust.”

** From Living with RA.

*** From “good morning” creativity.

**** From Practical Pages.

***** From Theridion.

****** From birdwings.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , | 21 Comments

Day 328: Limits

It’s time for a post of random thoughts!   Today’s topic is “limits.”

Here are some thoughts on limits, this morning:

I have both strengths and limits. I assume you do, too.

Limits are human, so there is no shame in having them.

We can choose to push limits, to develop new strengths.

We can choose to go with our strengths, and respect our limits.

Setting limits with other people (“I can do this, but I can’t do that”)  can be a real strength.

Hmmm. I’m feeling the need for an example, or at least an image, right now.

Let’s see what I have on my iPhone.

Here’s a photo I took at work last week, of a sign posted on a door:

Image

Voila!  An example of How to Set Limits.

Here’s another image, from the whiteboard in my office:

IMG_2264

I see an exploration of limits and strengths there, for sure.

Now, let’s see what Google images has for “limits,” today.

Image

That image, which I chose from many others,  is from markblackspeaks.com.  According to that website, which I just visited for the first time, Mark Black is a “Heart and Double-Lung Transplant Recipient turned 4-Time Marathon Runner” who has been “inspiring and motivating audiences for years with his unique brand of humour, authentic delivery and powerful insights.”

Cool.

Hmmmm. I know when I came up with this topic, this morning, I was hoping to make a few other points, too.

I can’t remember what those were, now.  I guess that’s a reflection of the limits of my memory. However, as I often tell people who lose their train of thought: That thought will come back to you, if it’s important enough. If it doesn’t, you’ll have other thoughts, that are equally important.

Here’s a thought I know is important, because it (somehow) inspired the whole topic today.

In yesterday’s post —  Will, Part Deux — I made these points, which people seemed to appreciate:

I don’t have to do a perfect [last will and testament].  I mean, people will forgive me if they feel slighted or inconvenienced by my will .

And if they don’t forgive me, so what?  I’ll be dead.

Today, I would like to push the limits of those points. That is, I’d like to expand them, like so:

I don’t have to do a perfect [anything].  I mean people will forgive if me if they feel slighted or inconvenienced by [anything I say or do].

And if they don’t forgive me, so what?  I’ll still be alive.

Okay! Time to end this post, limits and all.

Thanks to Mark Black, to people who push, accept, and set limits every day, and to you– of course! — for reading today.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , | 15 Comments

Day 327: Will, Part Deux

Six Score and Four Days ago (but who’s counting?), I wrote a post, named “Will,” regarding my last will and testament.

Yesterday, during a day of reflection and self-care, I revisited that topic.

Actually, I’ve been revisiting that topic — in thoughts and deeds — since I wrote that post.  And I’m very close, as I write this, to completing my will.

I don’t know about you, but working on my last will and testament — Also Known As the document that will survive me after I am DEAD — brings up lots of issues for me.    I am aware that I am not alone in that.

This is what I know about completing the Will Process, right now:

  1. I’d like to acknowledge the importance of other people, but not to bother them.
  2. I enjoy surprises, but I’m not sure how other people feel about those.
  3. I am not sure how to deal with #1 and #2, regarding my will.
  4. #3 is okay, because  I don’t have to do a perfect will.  I mean, people will forgive me if they feel slighted or inconvenienced by my will.
  5. And if they don’t forgive me, so what*?  I’ll be dead.**

It’s another gift of mortality!  (See here for more about that.)

Okay! It’s time to end the process of This Post. What’s left undone?

As my loyal readers know, I like to include an image before I end.

However, I didn’t take any photos yesterday. Also, I’ve been noticing a new glitch in WordPress — where some photos that have previously blossomed in their full glory in my posts are now reduced to teensy little images.***

Well, dear readers, I can’t control WordPress, nor your personal operating system and its proclivities for presenting images.

What I CAN control is what I do. And my will is to show you an image, anyway:

Image

This came in the mail, yesterday.  It’s a ring I’ve been looking for, for a long time.

Thanks to people who like and don’t like surprises, mortal creatures everywhere, and to you — especially — for reading today.


* “So What” is one of my favorite tunes AND it’s an antidote to cognitive distortions.

** I don’t claim to know what happens after we die, but I’m assuming that Worrying About What Others Think will not be a featured activity.

*** If this happens, I hope people know they can refresh the page or click the images to see their full effect.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , | 12 Comments

Day 326: Helpful reminders, on November 22, 2013

I have another blog, besides this one, called Ann’s Helpful Hints (re: Letting go of Judgment).  It only has two posts: a list of cognitive distortions and a list of antidotes for unhelpful thoughts.

Here’s one of the antidotes:

Use Helpful Reminders.  Use helpful phrases to challenge habitual distortions. For example, for mind-reading or fortune telling, remind yourself “I’m not psychic.” Make a list of other phrases that help you, such as “I am doing the best I can,” “One step at a time,” etc. Consider sticking these reminders where you can see them.

In therapy groups, I often put up a list of helpful phrases.  The group members and I add to it, as we choose. In other words, the list is a work in progress (like everyone who comes to the groups).

I can remember a few of the phrases on that list, right now:

You’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.

The pain of the loss is directly related to the importance of the connection.

Less is more.

That last one was easy for me to remember, because somebody suggested it last night.

Here’s why I’m writing about this topic, today.

I want to include, in this post, some  helpful reminders that people have written to me, lately.

If you wish to “connect” with me, please do.

While you are observing the anniversary of your 1st [pacemaker] implant, is it possible to view it as a celebration ( not painful) of life…YOUR life…& your continued presence in my life and the life of your other readers & friends & family. 

Take heart, Ann.

Thanks to all, for every helpful reminder, phrase, or thought. Quoted or not. Expressed or unexpressed.

Here’s one more phrase, before I end.

Rest in peace.

Rest in peace, John Kennedy.

Image*

Rest in peace, all those I love, who have passed on before me.

Scan_Pic0017**

I want to use that phrase for the living, now.

Image***

Here’s my wish, for all my “readers & friends & family.” (And for me, too.)

May we all rest, in peace, while still here on this earth.

Not perfectly. Not all the time. But as best we can.

Thanks so much, for reading today.


** Left to right: my father, my mother, Nell Zaitchik, Rabbi Samuel Zaitchik

***  fromanxietytolove.com

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Day 325: The Anniversary Connection

Anniversaries are important.

They must be, otherwise why do we observe them, so often, and in so many different ways?

Image*

We observe all sorts of anniversaries, joyful and painful.

Here are some Google Images, for “observing anniversaries”:

Image**

Image***

Image****

Tomorrow, I’m marking a painful anniversary. Here’s how I’m preparing for it:

  1. I’m naming it — here and elsewhere.
  2. I’m leaving room for new perspectives.
  3. I’m being kind to myself.

When something is painful, I tend to isolate.  I know I’m not alone, in THAT.

I just googled “animal in pain behaviors.” Here’s a quote from a Wikipedia article.

Many animals also exhibit more complex behavioural and physiological changes indicative of the ability to experience pain: they eat less food, their normal behaviour is disrupted, their social behaviour is suppressed,***** they may adopt unusual behaviour patterns, they may emit characteristic distress calls, experience respiratory and cardiovascular changes, as well as inflammation and release of stress hormones.

So, yes, I’m not alone in that.  And I’ve met many other people whose social behavior is suppressed, when they are in pain.

Tomorrow, on the anniversary of November 22, 1963, I will probably spend most of the day by myself.

That is a choice. I like being alone. It helps leave room for contemplation and change.

However, I am making a commitment — to myself and to my social network — to reach out, if I need to.

When I choose to be alone (and I do have that choice, as an adult), I want to remember that I don’t HAVE to be alone.

I need to remember this:  if I do reach out, I will get a response. I will, most likely, feel some connection.

And if I don’t, I can reach out again. And again. Until I feel connected.

In the past, if I have reached out and not felt a connection, I have felt worse.

That can feel too risky: to reach out, when you’re in pain. I see that, all the time.

It’s not too risky.   Someone will be there, eventually. You just need to reach out, until you connect.

I know that, now.

Thanks for connecting, today.

______________________________________

* Thanks to Vroman’s Bookstore for the image.

** This 9/11 image was attributed to this site.

*** Thanks to PRI for this image.

**** This image of Walter Cronkite, announcing John F. Kennedy’s death, was attributed to this site.

***** Emphasis added, by me.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

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