Monthly Archives: December 2013

Day 365: End of Year (Big Deal!)

I’m looking at the title of this post, people, trying to decide what to tell you about it.

I’m looking at this entire year, people, trying to decide what to tell you about it.

Here’s a relevant quote, from a movie I love.

“Let me explain. No, there is too much.  Let me sum up.”

Here’s a short clip, including that quote:

(thanks to angelofcaine69)

I wanted to find a clip that included JUST that quote, but I couldn’t. So time to move on … to summing up.

Perhaps I avoid summing up.  Why? Maybe because summing up can involve numbers*. Or maybe because summing up means conclusions and decisions, which I can also avoid, because I LOVE …

  • Creating space for people to come to their own conclusions and decisions.
  • Opening up possibilities, rather than restricting them.

And yet, today is a traditional day for summing up and for conclusions. To get closure. To let go of the past (while still respecting its gifts). To move forward.

I’m now looking at the title of this post, again, with a critical** eye.  I’m asking myself, “What is true in that title, and what is opinion?”

Well, it’s an undeniable fact that it’s the End of the Year, right now (at least where I live).  But … is it really a Big Deal? And if it IS a big deal … to whom? To me?  To you?  To other people?

I’ll tell you what I love about “Big Deal!” in that title.   It implies “Yes” AND “No.” It contains authenticity AND irony.***

Yes, I love that.

Okay!  At this point in today’s blog post, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to re-visit my “About” page, which was written a year ago, to see if I have fulfilled my commitments.

ABOUT THIS BLOG

This blog is part of my creative process.

It’s also a way to work on my growing acceptance and appreciation of life, and to share and develop some of the wisdom I’ve been slowly accumulating. My commitment is to start on January 1, 2013 and to blog once daily, throughout 2013.

This blog is also another way for me to take risks, to venture out into the world in new ways, and to embrace and express all my different human feelings– joy, fear, sadness, anger, the whole Emotional Enchilada. I plan to engage in my well-developed sense of play, and approach some painful material, also.

So this blog does a lot for me!

Hey!  You know what?  I fulfilled those commitments.   I shall now take a moment to celebrate that accomplishment, by asking for “New Year Fireworks” from my old friend, Google Images.

Image

(thanks to  dailymail.co.uk)

Because celebrating what I’ve done is a skill I continue to work on (and encourage in others), I would like to extend this celebration for few more minutes, via the same request —  “New Year fireworks” — from another old friend, YouTube.

(thanks to hanabian)

I’ve learned a lot this year, my dear readers.

What have I learned?

Well, I guess you’ll just have to read those posts I wrote, every day, to really answer that question. But, to emulate Inigo Montoya, let me sum up:

  1. I blogged.
  2. I learned many things, from myself and from other people.
  3. I have a lot more to learn.
  4. Therefore, I will continue to blog, as long as I have ideas, and as long as anybody wants to keep reading.

Since I’m continuing on this blogging adventure, what to do about the title of this blog? I mean, it’s “The Year of Living Non-Judgmentally” and that year is coming to a close, today. So, obviously, I have to change it.

(sigh)

That’s been another thing on my friggin’ to do list, y’know?

Well, I highly recommend taking the easy way out, whenever possible. Keep it simple.

And every change, no matter how small, still counts. Every change is a Big Deal.

So without further ado, I shall now unveil the new title of this here blog:

The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

Yep, that’s it!

I don’t know what YOU think or feel about THAT.  However, I do know this:

I LOVE it.

Thanks to all my readers for a year of living, loving, and learning; of disappointment and hope; of fear, sadness, anger, and joy; of all those big deals and more. See you tomorrow, in 2014!

____________________

* I don’t want people to get the wrong idea, regarding my feelings about numbers. I love numbers, sometimes.  However, numbers are not my native language, so sometimes they challenge me. Hmmm. I don’t like the way I said that. “They challenge me” is too mild, too wimpy a statement. How about this? Sometime, I hate numbers. Nope, too strong.  How about this? Sometimes, numbers make me crazy.  Nope, “crazy” is not a great word for me to use. How about this?  Sometimes they make me angry. Nope, people have trouble with anger.  Arrrghh!  What’s the right word, regarding me and numbers?  Damned if I know, right now. Maybe I’ll figure that out next year.

** In other words, with judgment!  Did you catch me?

*** Or humor or sarcasm or whatever else you want to call that.

Categories: humor, inspiration, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 51 Comments

Day 364: What day is it?

I believe this thing to be self-evident:  On the penultimate* day of The Year of Living Non-Judgmentally, I have managed to come up with the goofiest title, ever.

And I’m not being judgmental about that. I happen to think that “goofy” is high praise. (I believe I’ve demonstrated that belief, in this previous post.) Although, one could argue that praise, of any sort, is also judgmental.**

All right, Ann!  Enough with the charmingly (you hope) digressive style! Let’s cut to the chase!  Why do you think that title is goofy?

I think the title is goofy because … it expresses a confusion about the day, after stating what day it is.

Then why in the Wild Wild World of Sports*** did you choose THAT title (after considering several others, as usual)?

Because at this time of the year, I am often confused about what day it is.  There is something about  The Week Between Christmas and New Year’s**** that causes rampant confusion in my brain, about the day.  To add to this, I am taking two days  off from work before New Year’s Day, and routine changes often confuse my sense of time.

I’m assuming I am not alone, in these experiences.

Although I AM alone as I am writing this.

Although that’s not entirely true, either.  How can I say I’m alone?  There’s a cat on my lap.  This cat, to be exact:

IMG_2327

That image meets my stringent criteria for posting my own photos here, including (1) I’ve never used it before, (2) it’s in focus, and (3) it is perhaps cute and interesting enough to ameliorate* possible feelings of annoyance at my charmingly (I hope) digressive and inquisitive writing style*****.

Where was I?  Oh, yes, I am not alone. Further proof of that: my 15-year-old son, Aaron, and my boyfriend, Michael, are both here, albeit* asleep.

Hmmm. So what IS this post about, so far?  What are the themes that are already emerging?

Well, confusion is a theme.

And what might confusion indicate, right now?

It might indicate that I need a little more food or sleep.  That’s (always) possible.

However, I think it also indicates that it’s the next-to-last day of the year. Endings — and the approach of endings — can definitely cause confusion, in me.

Perhaps I’m not alone in that, too. Also, confusion is not always a bad thing,  is it?

As I am approaching the end of this post, let’s see if I can find an image that represents “confusion,” right now.  First, I shall check my trusty iPhone. I have no expectations, at this point, whether a photo is waiting there, that will fit the bill.

(….suspenseful pause…..)

OMG!  I’ve struck gold. Not fool’s gold; real gold. The mother lode!  The mother of them all. ***

IMG_2498

That shot, which I took last Friday in the hospital cafeteria, not only meets all my criteria for my own photos, it is the perfect representation of the concept “confusion.”   While true perfection may not exist, just look at all the confusion we’ve got there, in one single image. Feast your eyes on all the opposites, dialectics*, paradoxes, and contradictions!

Healthy/unhealthy. Biodegradable/Plastic. Cafeteria food/Salad bar. Dark/Light. Mac & Cheese/Anti-Mac & Cheese.

It’s all there, people! (And you may see more, too.)

Ahhhhhh.  My work here is done.

At least for the day.

Thanks to all my readers, no matter what day you happen to drop by. There’s no confusion here: I appreciate your visit, wherever you are.


* One of my favorite words.  I would define it, but I’m hoping the context will clarify its meaning, if necessary. Also, I hope to use this footnote as a running gag throughout the post.

** My good friend Krystal wrote me about that, last week.

*** This is a steal from Mel Brooks. See here for the first (mis-remembered) steal. I can’t find a clip for the second steal, which is from one of my favorite movies, “The Producers.”

**** Yes, Mark Bialczak, I am using this form, for now.

***** At least, in this particular case, among cat people. For people who don’t like cats, all bets are off.

Categories: humor, inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 45 Comments

Day 363: Areas to work on

Yes, dear readers, it’s that time of year where people think about, create, avoid, debate about, embrace, get pissed off about, and otherwise engage in …..

New Year’s Resolutions.

I usually say, “I refuse to do New Year’s Resolutions!” That’s my usual stance.

It’s time to take a break in this post, already, for a confession. I don’t know the correct way to punctuate that phrase. I usually write it the way I did, above, but — in my mind — it might also be:

  1. New Years Resolutions
  2. New Years’ Resolutions
  3. New Years’s Resolutions

Let me check Google, now, to see if anybody else gets confused, like that.

Apparently not.

Has anybody, besides me, noticed that I’m stalling, at this point?

I guess that speaks to my point:  I really don’t like New Year’s Resolutions.  Why? Maybe it’s the friggin’ title.   I can really get stuck on titles, that’s for sure.

So why don’t I like the title “New Year’s Resolutions”?  (I DO like the fact that I can spell that with confidence, now.)

Actually, I don’t like New Year’s, period.  (Eeeeek!  I’m not sure how to punctuate “New Year’s” either. Hold on, while I check Google ….. Aha!  Apparently there IS some confusion about THAT.)

I’m still stalling, aren’t I?

So, yes, in the past, I have been known to say, “I hate New Years Eve.” I don’t like new year’s day.” “New Year’s Eve and Day are my least favorite time of the year.” And,  “I love my birthday. I save my fears and dread about the passage of time and my own mortality for the new year.”

Yes, I have been known to say all those things. And, I’m pretty sure I wrote something similar, at some point, in my blog this year.*

But I want to tell you this, right now: This year, I have NOT been dreading the approach of New Years.  I’m not knowing exactly why that’s true,  but  — as always — I can guess. This year:

  1. I’m letting go of assumptions about what New Year’s should be (including how to punctuate it).
  2. I’m expressing my thoughts and feelings, every day, to people I feel connected to.

And those two things help, a lot.

In the past, I have resisted New Year’s Resolutions, because they have spoken to me of this:  The Potential for Failure.

It’s difficult for me to let go of that connection with New Year’s Resolutions — The Potential for Failure —  especially since I first heard about them when I was a little kid. If we attach meaning — or decide about something — when we’re children, that belief can feel quite stuck, even if it’s not helping us now. Letting go of it, changing that belief, is really hard to do.

Therefore, I ‘d like to create a new name, in place of  New Year’s Resolutions. I believe that would help.

Here would be my wishes for that new name:

  1. It would focus on making my life better, while also letting go of judgment about how I’ve done, so far.
  2. It would be a phrase that’s new(er); that is, something I did not hear as a child.
  3. It would not evoke the Possibility of Failure, but would rather promote hope.
  4. It would be easy to punctuate (and spell, too).

Hence, the title of this blog post: “Areas to work on.”

That phrase is definitely better, but I can’t say that I love it, yet.  It reminds me, a little too much, of reviews I’ve gotten at work.  And, like many people, I have had performance-review-related anxieties.

However, my work-related reviews, for the most part,  have turned out well, even if the few negative parts of any review have stuck — felt “bigger” than the positive ones.

Hmmmm. You know what I’m realizing now?  Those “negative parts” of which I speak?  They  usually are in THAT place in the review: “Areas to work on.”

And — of course —  that IS where they’d be, right?  Because “Areas to work on” is the place, in every review of past performance, where the focus is on What I Could Do Better (which, to a person with perfectionist tendencies, might sound like “You’re not doing enough.”)

Well, although I could have done better with this post (I suppose), at least I’ve made my way back to the title.  And you know what? That title IS good enough, for my requirements.**

Okay, here we go!

Areas to Work On

in 2014 (and beyond)

by Ann

  1. My mind’s a blank.
  2. Remember that my mind will blank out and wander, but it will come back.
  3. Remember to eat and drink what I need, in the moment.
  4. Sleep when I am able to, letting go of fears about whether I’m doing that right.
  5. Forgive myself, as best I can, for actions (or non-actions) from my past.
  6. Remember that warnings and alerts — both external and internal — are usually not a matter of life and death.
  7. Allow for the possibility that you don’t have to keep proving your credibility to people, over and over again.
  8. Geesh!  Isn’t that enough?

Well, it’s my blog post, so I say it IS enough. Except, as usual, I’d like to include some imagery here, too.

Here are some Google Images for “New Year’s Resolutions” (which, at least, speak to my previous points about punctuation possibilities):

images (24)***

New_Years_Resolutions****

new-years-resolutions*****

resolutions-2011******

And one final Google Image, for “Areas to work on,”  that I really like:

voahi4b_gray (1)*******

Ta-Da!

Thanks to  everybody who helped make this post possible, to New Year’s Resolutioneers everywhere, and to you — of course! — for reading today.


* I assume so, but I can’t seem to find anything right now. You’re just going to have to take my word for it.

** Although it DOES have a dangling participle, if you care about such things.

*** I couldn’t find the home, for that image.

**** I found that image here, but if you click on that link, you might have some trouble getting back to this post.

***** I found that image here.

****** I found that image here.

******* I found that image here.

Categories: humor, inspiration, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , | 44 Comments

Day 362: Not Knowing

When I came up with the title for this post, I immediately thought of another post, from Day 80, called “Learning from everything (Beginner’s Mind).”

I’ve been doing that a lot lately: remembering Posts from Bloggings Past.  I don’t know why, exactly, but here are three guesses:

  1. I’ve written hundreds of posts, at this point*, so there are lots to choose from.
  2. New Year’s Eve is approaching, so nostalgia is everywhere.
  3. Human beings tend to focus on the past.

In the moment, here are some things I am Not Knowing:

  1. What I am going to say in this post.
  2. What I am going to do, during the five days I am taking off from work (starting today).
  3. How I am going to transition this blog, at the end of the year, to whatever it’s going to be next year.

Now, that’s NOT what I expected to be writing about today. I thought I’d be writing, right now, about my mixed feelings about Not Knowing, which run the gamut from fear to love.  And there’s a lot I could write about that, because I have so much experience with Not Knowing.

As a matter of fact, here are some things I don’t know, every day:

  1. What’s going to happen that day.
  2. What’s really going on with people I meet.
  3. Every-day details, including names of places, people and things; how to open friggin’ modern packaging; the “right way” to maneuver around other people when I’m walking; many rules of etiquette (including whether anybody even pays attention to those things any more); how to use my computer (and other machines) the way I want to (especially when technology keeps changing); etc. etc.

What do I notice, right now, about that list?   I notice that some of them are related to my imperfect memory. Other are related to:

  • What other people are thinking.
  • The future.

Am I alone, in Not Knowing those things?  I think not.

Okay!

Because Not Knowing can be uncomfortable, I would like to move on, to something I DO know, before I end this post.

I know that I love seeing these things in my office, every day I’m at work:

IMG_2499

IMG_2496

Image

And I don’t KNOW,  but I think I’ll be seeing those again, next Thursday.

Thanks to Erik Gehring for the photograph “Willow Island,” to the artist who painted that lovely landscape (whose name escapes me now**),  and to everybody who’s read anything I’ve ever written, which would include you — of course! —  today.


* Personally, I find that amazing.

** And which I hope I will know again, soon.

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

Day 361: That whole bad day/good day thing, again

Approximately 100 days ago, I blogged about Bad Day/Good Day.

I think that was a good post, if I do say so myself.  Not bad at all.  And if you click on the link, and travel back in time and space to go there, I think you’ll enjoy it. I know I learned a lot, from the experience of living that day and writing about it, so you might learn something, too.

But no pressure to do that.

So what did I want to tell you today, now that I’ve completed that past-oriented introduction? I wanted to journey back into the past, again  — although not so far —  by writing about yesterday.

Yesterday, my dear readers, was a challenging day.  And “challenging,” sometimes, is a euphemism for “bad.”

What made my day challenging?

  • It was the day after Christmas. I really don’t like working on the day after Christmas. Somehow, I had forgotten that. (Note to self: remember, next year, that you don’t like working on the day after Christmas.)*
  • A lot of people didn’t show up. The corridors, throughout the hospital where I work, were eerily empty. And this reminded me, big time, of being stuck in the hospital, when I was a kid, during Christmas time. And even though I didn’t celebrate Christmas then, that really, really sucked.
  • Around 3 PM**, I got a wicked craving for comfort food.  And I knew exactly what I wanted: Macaroni and cheese. I wanted that so badly, visions of it were dancing in my head:

Image***

Image****

Image*****

Now, where was I?   Oh yes, reasons why my day sucked, yesterday.

Ooops! My language changed there, didn’t it?  I think I need something to eat.

I’m back!  So, where was I? Oh yes, reasons why my day was challenging, yesterday. I will end that list with this:

  • There was no macaroni and cheese, to be found.

However, my day got better, as days often do.  What helped make it better?

  • Somebody showed up for my group last night.
  • I learned a lot.

And, while I don’t like to fortune-tell — because who knows what today will bring — I’m pretty sure that today will turn out all right, too.

Why?

Because the hospital cafeteria is serving this:

Image******

Yippee!

Thanks to people who love macaroni and cheese, and — according to my old student and current Facebook friend, Chris — that includes everybody. But just in case it doesn’t,  thanks to you, for visiting today.

 ___________________________________________

* Chances are, I won’t remember this, unless I read my own blog posts.

** I wanted to check my memory on the timing here, and I thought I could do that easily, because I tweeted about this yearning yesterday. However, Facebook is telling me this happened 15 hours ago and Twitter is telling me it happened 16 hours ago. Arrrghhh. So, never mind.

*** That image lives here.

**** That image lives here, and I can’t tell you how much it pleases me that there is Clip Art for macaroni and cheese.

***** That yummy image lives here.

****** That image lives here.

Categories: humor, inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 33 Comments

Day 360: Amazing

This post is dedicated to my amazing sister-in-law, Linda, whose birthday is today.

My 360th* post title was inspired by a comment on yesterday’s post by a blogger I admire very much, Shakti Ghosal. The comment concluded with this:

Have fun and continue to be amazing.

As I hope I have demonstrated this year, fun is very important to me (and here’s one post about that).  So I already love what Shakti wrote.  What makes me love that sentence even more, is the use of the word “amazing.”

“Amazing” is one of my favorite words, apparently.**  I use it a lot.  People have pointed that out to me.   And because I can be a rather self-conscious person, when something personal is pointed out to me, I can wonder about it.

Why do I use that word?  What does it mean to me?

And if I’m judging myself, I might ask myself this question, too: Is my frequent use of the word “amazing” … annoying***?

Here’s my answer to that last question:  “Who cares?” (As usual, asking that question helps me let go of self-judgment.  Isn’t that amazing?)

I think the other questions I asked above — the less judgmental ones —  are more interesting.  And I will try to answer them,  in the time I have left before I need to leave for work this morning.

1. Why do I use that word?

I like the sound of it.  It authentically *** reflects that way I feel.  I am amazed, a lot of the time, at how creative, kind, loving, brave, resilient, and hopeful people can be, even after experiencing incredible challenges and set-backs. Often, when I am trying to express my reactions to all that, other words seem inadequate — incapable of capturing the depth of somebody else’s experience and the range of my responses to them.

2.  What does it mean to me?

“Amazing,” when I use it, is almost always a positive word.  I can’t prove that “amazing” is ALWAYS a positive word, when I use it, because I don’t have the tape of everything I’ve said in my entire life.  However, that’s my gut feeling right now: when I use the word “amazing,” it’s a compliment.

It’s true that I am also surprised — amazed —  by negative events. However, I believe, in those circumstances, I use words like “terrible” and “awful.” And, yes, those words are judgmental. Because, as I hope I have conveyed, throughout this year, judgment is human.

And I am human.  And so are you.  And we are connecting, in some way, right now.

Isn’t that amazing?

Okay, it’s time for an image.  Let’s see how Google Images responds to the word “amazing” today.

Aha***!  Google Images responds in many different ways, which does not amaze me. Here are some of the first responses, in order of appearance:

Image****

Image*****

Image******

Image*******  Image********

And before I end, for today, I shall consult my iPhone, too.

As my iPhone just showed me,

IMG_2386

A-Okay!  I have some personal images to show you, too.

I think it’s amazing that I get to do work I love:

Image

that I can walk around, every day, and see beauty where I live (no matter how clear my vision is that day):

Image

and that I get to blog here, every day, for readers like you, including those who tell me they would order “Year of Living Non-Judgmentally” merchandise:

Image

There are many more things that I find amazing, this morning, including

Image

how some creatures are  not afraid of heights (which is amazing to me, because I am afraid of heights) ….

…  but it’s time to end this post.

Thanks to amazing creatures, readers, writers, walkers, and humans everywhere and — most of all — to you, for visiting today.

____________________

*Actually, it’s the 361st post, but who’s counting?

** Another one of my favorite words is “apparently.”  Another one is “actually.”  I don’t know why so many of my favorite words begin with the letter “A.”

*** Another favorite word.

**** This image was here.

***** This image was here.

****** This image was here.

******* This image was here, today. (I’ve seen this one before.)

******** This image was here.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Day 359: Gifts

The title of today’s post was a no-brainer, because it’s Christmas Day!

Now I need to make my first decision of this post.  What image should I present?

Checking my trusty iPhone ….

Image

When I saw this scene last week, even winter felt like a gift to me.

Let’s see what gifts the Google Images Buffet* has to offer us, today!

This photo reminded me of the first time I ever celebrated Christmas in the early 1980’s,  with my then-future-and-now-ex-husband’s family.**

Image

I can’t make that photo appear larger here, but I am happy to say that finding this photo gave me the gift of discovering another WordPress blogger, theuglyvolvo, whom I am now following. I would like to thank theuglyvolvo for the gift of that photo, and I am looking forward to more gifts from her blog.

To go back to my reason for choosing that photo: My first Christmas with my in-laws was a gift, as was my most recent one with them, last night.

Okay!  It looks like I’m doing Random Thoughts About Gifts!!  I don’t know about you, but I love these Random Thought posts.

Here are some more random thoughts about gifts:

When I was in my early 20’s, I joined an 8-week therapy/support group called “Women and Self Esteem.”  I got a lot of gifts from that group.

For example, I remember a homework assignment where we each chose a hero, who was a woman.  I chose Bonnie Raitt.

Why?

Use your eyes, people!

Image***

Image****

Still wondering why I chose Bonnie Raitt?  Use your ears, people!

****

And here is Bonnie live, from the 1970s:

And, Bonnie live, from 2012:

There were lots of things I wanted to say, regarding that Women and Self Esteem group, but damn!  Isn’t Bonnie Raitt amazing?  It’s no wonder I picked her as my hero!

Anyway, here’s what I wanted to tell you about that Women and Self Esteem Group:

  1. I got many gifts from the group, which I still use, including the realization that the qualities I admire in others, I may also possess.  (And if I don’t possess them yet, I will most likely acquire them, because I value them so much.)
  2. I gave gifts to other people in that group, although it’s taken me many years to realize and appreciate that.
  3. One of the gifts I gave that stands out for me, now: During one session, I reacted with impatience to another member of the group, which I felt guilty about.  However, during the group’s last session, she told me that my reaction helped her realize something important about herself and her family. She thanked me for that gift, adamantly. I was not able to accept her thanks at the time, because I still felt the guilt about my not-perfectly-polite reaction. But that encounter, which I still remember, was a gift that keeps on giving.

I’m sure I have many other gifts I could share with you, right now.

That last sentence brings me back to my first Christmas with my in-laws, when I was also in my late 20’s. That night, for the first time, I saw a huge display of gifts under a Christmas tree, in person. Let’s see if Google Images can offer up the gift of another photo, that might evoke that experience for me:

Image*****

That’s better.

When I first saw a tree with all those gifts, at my in-laws, I froze with amazement and delight. And lots of the gifts were for  ….. me!

Last night, lots of the gifts were for me, too, but most of them weren’t in packages.

Thanks to my heroes, my in-laws, my family, my friends here in the Blog-o-Sphere, and my friends in the Real-Life-o-Sphere.  Whether or not you realize it, you bring me gifts, every day.

__________________________________

* Searching on the word “gift.”

** Let me know if I need to explain this. It makes sense to me.

*** Thanks to Rolling Stone, for that image.

**** I found that image here. And that first video, also.

***** I found that image here.

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

Day 358: Pressure

Today’s post is about pressure. And honoring my almost-year-long tradition of confusing my readers as soon as possible, I shall start with a poem:

’twas the day before Christmas, and all through the flat,

Several creatures were stirring, including a cat.

Image

Now, if I do say so myself, I’ve done a nice job confusing people almost immediately, including using the word “flat” which implies that I live in the UK, which I don’t.

And here’s how I bring things back to the Topic du Jour  almost immediately. I’ve relieved some pressure on myself, by including the above photo — thus fulfilling another Year-of-Living-Non-Judgmentally tradition (grand or otherwise).

That’s a relief! Now I can breathe easier.

Here’s another tradition around these parts: Ann asking questions, that she then answers. (Okay, there seems to be another sub-topic here. Traditions.  Should I make that part of the title?) (Easy decision:  Nope.)

Where was I?  Oh, yes, asking myself a question, as follows: Why did I start with that poem, when the topic is Pressure?

I will answer that question with a list (something else that’s a tradition around here). I started this post with that poem because:

  1. It’s December 24th.
  2. I wanted the centerpiece of this post to be a list of things I felt pressure about, yesterday.
  3. As a result, I thought of the line “Making a list and checking it twice.”
  4. My next (erroneous) thought was that the above line came from “’twas the Night Before Christmas.”
  5. Voila!  I thought of the beginning lines of this post.

Is anybody out there concerned about me, at this point?

No worries. It’s just another edition of  “Ann’s Mind and Welcome To It ” (which could be the title of my blog next year) (if I change it).

And I want to confess something else about Ann’s Mind, right now. I’m a little anxious. Why? Because after I got up, I realized that I forgot to plug in and charge my phone/camera/life support system last night … and the power on that device is verrrry low* . I would take a picture to show you how low the power is, but I can’t. (If you don’t know why I can’t take a picture, at this point, I empathize with your state of mind. Truly.)

Anyway, I would really like to get to that aforementioned list, right now. So here it is!

List of Things I Felt Pressure About, Yesterday

  1. Responding back to phone calls.
  2. Responding back to emails.
  3. Responding back to comments here at WordPress.
  4. Making decisions about a trip to Boquete, Panama.
  5. Making decisions about Christmas gifts.
  6. Making decisions about what to do about WordPress awards.
  7. Deciding about unimportant friggin’ details, including how to coordinate my packed and often unpredictable schedule at work today, so that I can connect, for two seconds, with somebody I would really like to see, so that I can get ahold of some gifts I really want that I can then give to people I love, tonight.

If you had trouble following that last item on the list, again, I empathize.

Here’s my point (and I do have one)***.

I felt a lot of pressure at points during the day, yesterday.  And who put that pressure on me?

Me.  Just me.

Nobody else did.  Everybody else was just:

  1. Doing their job,
  2. Trying to connect, and/or
  3. Being kind.

I am not going to say, “Shame on me,” about all that.  Nope.  That doesn’t help.

Here’s something that does help:

Image

It’s a reminder, on a post-it note.  I could say more about that, but, Jiminy Cricket!  Look at the time.

There are other posts, here at WordPress, where I HAVE said more, but …..

No pressure!

Thanks to everyone who has ever nominated me for an award, list-makers, poets, holiday celebrators everywhere, those who put (and relieve) pressure on anybody, and to you — especially — for reading today.


* As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve relied on cardiac pacemakers since I was a kid, so devices running out of power can seem scary to me.**

** Although, honestly, I think I’m not alone in my cell-phone-running-out-of-power fears.

*** I always hear Ellen DeGeneris’s voice in my head, when I use that line.  Thanks, Ellen!

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

Day 357: How to Let Go of Shame

Wow!  That’s quite a title, isn’t it?

First, let’s define shame, by comparing it to our old friend, guilt.

Guilt is “I did something wrong or bad.”   Shame is “I am wrong or bad.”*

I can’t remember — if I ever knew —  who originally came up with that definition. Feel free to do the research and get back to me.

The first time I heard that definition, though, I knew, “That’s it!”  And whenever I tell people that definition, I see recognition in their eyes, too.

And while some people have told me they believe that guilt serves a purpose,* NOBODY has ever sung the praises of shame.

So, readers, I hope we all agree that letting go of shame, right now, would be a good thing.

Agreed?

Okay, let’s do it!

One, two, three, GO!!!!!!

Hmmmmmmm.

There’s the rub, isn’t it?  It’s tough to let go of shame. It sticks.  It holds on, for dear life.

I haven’t quite figured out why it’s so difficult to let go of shame.  I do know that people come into my office, day after day, and use terrible words like “worthless,” “unlovable,” and “loser” to  describe themselves. Those are sure signs that shame is in the house.

Imagine, for a moment, somebody you love being called names like that.  Wouldn’t you be FURIOUS?  I’m outraged right now.  Angry. Pissed off.**  And I get upset every time I hear somebody in my office using words, like those, to describe themselves.

Let me be clear. I don’t get angry at the person, for having the shame. I get angry at the shame and the toll that it takes on people.

I feel like I’m writing in circles, this morning.

Because what I REALLY want to do is to figure out a way that we can let go of shame.

Actually, that’s probably a great description of what I do, for work.  However, that doesn’t make the catchiest business card in the world, does it?

Ann Koplow

Trying her damnedest to help you let go of shame

If I ever go into the therapy business for myself, I’m definitely going to have to work on that slogan. For now, I’d like to help you let go of shame, a little bit more, today.

Actually, if you really do agree with me that shame holds you back, makes you feel bad, and is not helping you right now, that would be progress.That’s the first, and most important step. The rest is just details.

As some people say, though, the devil is in the details.  So let’s try this. Ask yourself some questions, about your shame. For example: Where does your shame live?  Can you describe it?  For example, does it have colors, a shape, a size? How else might you describe it, using your senses? Often when we “externalize” something like that — put words on it, compare it to things that are familiar — it helps reduce its power.

Actually, when I was asking those questions, above, I imagined describing a perpetrator of some crime, to a criminal sketch artist.

Which reminds me, I haven’t used an image in this post yet. I just googled images for “shame,” and there’s not a lot of good choices, this morning. This was the only one I wanted to include:

Image***

Okay! I’ve got to run to work, so … what feels left unfinished, for me, about this post?

Just this:

Whenever we consider letting go of shame, shame can get really pissed off. Because, like I said above, it wants to hold on for dear life. Therefore, if any part of this post made you feel bad, I would recommend the following:

Be extra kind to yourself today.

And THAT, dear readers,  may very well be the answer.

Thanks to anybody who has ever felt shame and — of course! — to you, for reading today.


* Like this person, here.

** If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you might have speculated, right there, that I needed something to eat. You would have been correct.

*** And unless I’m mistaken, this seems to be from a website where somebody is advocating Embracing Your Shame. Figures.

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

Day 356: Signs, Full Stop

Like yesterday’s post, this post begins with a mistake — with something I mis-remembered.

When I woke up this morning, I knew I wanted to re-use this photo, which I took last week:

Image

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen one of those signs with Extra Added Stopping Power (flashing lights edition).  I hadn’t, until my trip last week through space and time to sign my will.

After I woke up this morning, I knew I wanted to use that sign, again, in today’s post. And before I trudged downstairs to begin writing, I had many thoughts about what I wanted to tell you, including this:

During 1991, when I was in my late 30’s, and was in the middle of an upsetting law suit (which I had decided to pursue), I ran a stop sign and hit another car. The other car was driven by a mother, who was with her little girl.  

To this day,  I still have a vivid image of the mother, afterwards, standing outside her car, crying, her daughter standing next to her, frozen, and a bag of groceries spilling its  contents into the street.

Today, the image of that accident is still there, in my mind, for me to look at.

Even though nobody was really hurt (physically), I wondered afterwards whether I would ever recover, and let go of my guilt.  My mind kept telling me, “It was your fault.” “Being distracted and upset is NO excuse.” “The red of the tomatoes from the grocery bag could just as easily have been the blood from that little girl.””You are guilty. Period.”

I worked on that experience, in therapy, for a long time.  And I remember also thinking this: if I had actually seriously hurt or killed either of those people, I would never be able to live with myself.

But why such a harsh sentence, for myself?  I mean, my mistake was being distracted, momentarily.  I’m usually a good, observant driver.

And, honestly, I still get distracted, these days, too.  I’m  not a perfect driver. I could still kill somebody, some day. That could definitely happen (to me, or anybody else, no matter how well we drive).

And I still wonder: Would I be able to go on, if something like that happened now?

In my work as a therapist, I talk to people, a lot, who feel guilt about something they’ve done. They often use words like “terrible” to describe the deed. Usually, whatever they did, they didn’t mean to.  It was an accident. They were distracted. They were dealing with difficult emotions. They were, often, doing the best they could, at the time.  But still, something awful happened, and they can ascribe the blame to themselves.

In therapy, we have very interesting conversations about those experiences. Here are  some things I try to communicate, to those people:

You may feel different in profound ways, but you’re still the same person, with all your flawed and beautiful human qualities, as you were before this happened.

If this hadn’t happened, would you feel differently about yourself?   Well, you are still you, only now having made a (terrible) mistake.

Why condemn yourself to a sentence of never-ending guilt, for something that you cannot undo?

I hope they hear — and take in — invitations to forgive themselves, whether they hear them from me, or somebody else.

I hope I take those in, too, because — just by living as long as I have — I have several memories of times when I was imperfect, made mistakes, and hurt somebody else.

So, what’s my unfinished business, for this post, right now?  I told you, at the beginning, that I had made another mistake — related to my memory of that stop sign, above.  You can see evidence of that mistake, in the title of this post.

I had (mis)remembered the part of the sign that says, “all way.”  I thought it said, “full stop.” And I was all ready to say lots of things about the phrase “full stop,” including references to punctuation marks, among other things.

When I first realized that mistake this morning, I entered “full stop” into Google Images, because I wasn’t ready to let go of that (misremembered) phrase. And here’s what came up:

the-full-stop*

i-d-rather-be-a-comma-than-a-full-stop.american-apparel-unisex-fitted-tee.white.w760h760**

download (7)***

keep-calm-and-use-a-full-stop-at-the-end-of-the-sentence****

full_stop_120304_IMG_6306*****

And I liked those images, partly because they reminded me of other posts I’ve written for you (and me) this year. (See here and here for two of those posts.)

But here’s what I want to say about the phrase “full stop,” right now.  I wish I had come to a full stop at that stop sign, so many years ago.  But I didn’t.

Maybe, if a sign like the one I saw last week — with its flashing lights and a stop sign at every corner —  had been at that intersection in 1991, all three of us — that mother, the little girl, and me — would have been okay.  In other words, maybe the accident would not have occurred.

But it did. So the best I can do, in the moment, is hope that all three of us are okay, now.

I am.

Thanks to good-enough therapists, drivers, rememberers, healers, and forgivers, wherever they are. And extra special thanks — with flashing lights — to you, for reading today.

____________________

* I found this image here.

** I found this image here.

*** I found this image here.

**** I found this image here.

***** I found this image here.

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

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