Monthly Archives: January 2014

Day 397: Everybody loves you

I am going to start this post with a quote from my boyfriend, Michael.  Actually, I am going to start this post by retiring Michael’s title of “boyfriend,” in honor of my feisty friend Sarah, who used to work with me and who gave me a hard time every time I used that term.

What are you two,  fifteen years old?

Sarah would say.  And since I am about to turn sixty-one years young1 tomorrow, maybe it’s time to heed Sarah’s advice, and stop using the term “boyfriend.”

But how else should I refer to Michael?  Here are some possibilities:

Partner

Old man

Main squeeze

Significant other

None of those sound great to me, for various reasons. I’m not sure why “boyfriend” has always seemed like the best choice, so far. Perhaps, the terms we hear when we are young are difficult to shake.

A logical replacement for “boyfriend” would be …. “manfriend.” But nobody says that. If I did use that term, that would be too distracting.  That would derail people from any story I wanted to tell about Michael.

Like now.

One more thing, before I get back on track. I supposed I could just refer to Michael by name, with no identifying title.  That always seems self-centered and unhelpful, though. Why should I expect anybody to remember the name of my boyfriend/partner/old man/main squeeze/significant other/manfriend … without a helpful hint? Or remember my name, for that matter?

Maybe people should remember, though!  Maybe we’re important enough to be remembered, without any identifying information, dammit!

Anyway, let me start this post over.

This post is about a phrase that Michael says to me, quite often. It’s kind of a joke, a running gag, between us.

Picture this, if you will. I come home from work, walk up the stairs, and enter through the back door, into the kitchen.  I am often pretty tired, and I immediately sit down at the same table where I write this blog.

Let me set the scene, with a photo of that table:

Image

That’s not a great photo, actually, to give you an accurate picture, since there are other distracting elements in that shot. I’ll check my photo stash and see if I can do a better job …

…. Nope.  Can’t find a better photo, right now.

I suppose I could take a new photo of the table, but the light isn’t correct (it’s the wrong time of day). Also, I’d have to find my friggin’ phone to take it.

Maybe, just maybe, setting the scene accurately isn’t quite as important as I sometimes think. In any case, back to the story.

So, after I return home from work, I sit down at the table where I write this blog. Michael is usually in the kitchen, making dinner. If not, he comes into the kitchen. He greets me:

How was your day, babe?

or words to that effect.   I then tell him what’s foremost on my mind from my day at work (of course, leaving out any details as dictated by confidentiality). When I’m finished talking, Michael will usually respond, with our running gag, like so:

Everybody loves you, Ann.

And I smile. Or laugh. It never gets old.

Why?

Well, even though Michael has said this many, many times, there’s always some element of surprise.

I am rarely — if ever — feeling universally lovable, as I’m telling my work-a-day stories.   I’m sharing what has lingered from the day and — as I’ve often written about here — the negative sticks. So, my stories are often tinged with regret, worry, concern, or at least a wish to learn from mistakes I’ve made.

So Michael’s response, no matter how often I’ve heard it, surprises me, on some level. And, as many Humor Experts 2 have opined:  When we laugh, it’s an expression of the unexpected.

Sometimes, when I return home after work, I’m feeling great —  very much in touch with pride in my work and with my gratitude for doing work I value and enjoy.  In those cases, when Michael says

Everybody loves, you, Ann

my laugh expresses joy (or celebration, which I wrote about recently).

And, no matter how I’m feeling after work, I can always appreciate the absurd in Michael’s response. No matter how worthy and lovable we are, no matter how much I may yearn for Michael’s statement to be true … not everybody is going to love us.  It’s impossible.

And that’s okay.  We can still survive, thrive, and keep on going.

Okay! I’ve got to end this post, because I’ve got an appointment with Mia 3, very soon.

Thanks to Sarah, Michael, Mia, my old4 student Chris Delyani (whose book is in the photo above), everybody I love, people who love me, and everybody who has ever loved or been loved by anybody.  And, more thanks to you, for visiting and reading today.


  1. I hear Mel Brooks‘s voice in my head as I say this, thanks to his 2000 Year Old Man albums. Thanks, Mel!

  2. Despite any expectations on your part, there are no helpful details about humor experts in this footnote.  (This gag never gets old for me, either.)

  3. Mia is the woman who cuts my hair.  Just as I have trouble finding a good title for Michael, I never know what to call Mia, either. My hairdresser?  No, that’s my mother’s term.  My stylist?  Too pretentious and not accurate, since I don’t experience myself as being “styled” in any way.  Also, I feel uncomfortable using the possessive term “my” about people in my life.  Feel free to make suggestions about what I might call Mia (or Michael, too, I suppose).

  4. I never know what word to use in this situation, either, since “old” has such negative connotations. Chris isn’t old; I just met him a long time ago, when I was teaching a class at Boston University. Feel free to make suggestions about what word to use here, also.

Categories: humor, inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 63 Comments

Day 396: Too much, too little

I know it’s too late for Christmas lights, Christmas songs, and other things Christmas, but a Christmas tune popped into my head, not too long ago (specifically, three minutes before this).  Yes, these lyrics ran through my brain, accompanied by the tune of a popular Christmas song:

On the eighth day of blogging, my true post said to me …

That’s because I just re-read a post I wrote way back on Day 8, called “Too___, too ____, or just right? (Thanks a lot, Goldilocks.)”  That title and post have stuck with me, for over a year.

I just re-read that post, and I recommend it. It’s not too short or too long, too goofy or too serious, too simple or too complicated, too up or too down, too revealing or too coy, too confusing or too plain, too hot or too cold, too hard or too soft, too high or too low, too bad or too good. It offers a different perspective, for sure — that of a new, inexperienced blogger (although, honestly, I can still feel like a newbie, three hundred and eighty-eight days later).

I realize that if you do read that post, it might seem too …. something, to you.   And perhaps we can all agree on this: That title might be a little too long.

But, honestly, dear readers, I’m surprised that old post didn’t seem too anything to me, today,  because … I’m feeling pretty judgmental right now.

I tend to get more judgmental — with “too” thoughts rushing in —  when I’m feeling overwhelmed and depleted. When I’m doing too much, with too little.

Too much with too little. What does that even mean?  Maybe that’s too general. Okay, I’ll provide some details.

Right now, I feel like I’m doing too much …

  • work
  • writing
  • reading
  • thinking
  • activity
  • exertion

… with too little …

  • sleep
  • nourishment
  • down time
  • quiet time

I’m looking at what I’ve written so far and wondering: Is this post — already —  too negative, too confusing, too revealing, too … something?

Well, it might be too something, to somebody. There’s nothing I can do about that, for sure.  But, as usual, it helps me to express my thoughts here.

Here’s some context of why I feel depleted right now: I often feel that way on Thursday nights, into Friday mornings (which is when I’m writing this post). My Thursday work day is very long (10 hours), including two therapy groups, lots of individual therapy sessions, and an important meeting, with too many notes to write, and too many phone calls to return. Also, I work half a day on Wednesdays — so there’s always a back-log of things to do, from my afternoon off.

However, at this point, I’ve written over a year of Friday blog posts, and most of them — I believe — aren’t too down, dreary, or depressing.  I think most of those posts are just right, with a  balance of concerns and hope, good and bad, up and down.

In case you were wondering, people, I am NOT checking those old Friday posts, right now.  There are way too many of them. And, I’ve got too little time and energy, right now.

But my point is this:  I DO feel more depleted than usual, this Friday morning. Why? Well, I’ve got some extra things “on my plate” right now, including:

  • Preparing for my trip, a week-and-a-half away.
  • Groundhog Day, in two days.

Now, why would I need to prepare, in any way, for Groundhog Day?  It’s not like it’s Christmas, for heaven’s sake, with expectations, or traditions like gift-giving or socializing.

You know what? I’m probably being too provincial right now. That is, I’m assuming that everybody knows what Groundhog Day is. In case you don’t,  here’s a definition:

Ground·hog Day
noun
February 2, when the groundhog is said to come out of its hole at the end of hibernation. If the animal sees its shadow—i.e., if the weather is sunny—it is said to portend six weeks more of winter weather.
.
Thanks to Google for that definition, above. Let’s see if Google has some good images, for Groundhog Day, too:
.
Image 1
Image 2
Image3
Image4
Perhaps this post is too rambling, mysterious, or indirect, right now.   Maybe you’re thinking, “Why the heck is Ann focusing on Groundhog Day?  What does that have to do with too much, too little, or anything else she’s written about, so far?  This is too (insert your own adjective here)!!!” Well, I’ll stop being too cagey, and confess: Groundhog Day is my birthday. And, perhaps, I’m not alone in “too” thoughts appearing, around this time, including the ever-popular ….
Am I too old?
And
Have I done too little, at this point in my life?
.
I’ve learned to answer both of those questions with a resounding “NO!” because both of those questions are too
  • painful
  • conventional, and
  • useless.

So why is there any pressure, at all, related to my birthday this year?  I mean, it’s not like last year, when we planned a 60th birthday party for me.  Man, there was a LOT of pressure associated with that. (But also, a lot of fun.)

So that pressure is absent this year. Why am I even writing about this, now?

Here’s why: As much as I love and look forward to my birthday, I’ve been disappointed, during some birthdays past. I’ve expected too much, and gotten too little. So, perhaps, I’m afraid of a repeat of those disappointments, this year.

That’s just too ….

… what?

Human?

Here’s my ending (and I hope it’s not too anything):

Whatever Groundhog Day 2014 brings, my guess is this: It’s going to be just right.

Thanks to Goldilocks, Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell,  anybody who has feelings and reactions about birthdays, people who are doing too much with too little, and to you — of course! — for reading today.

_____
1. I found this image here.  I recommend checking out that link, since it has lots of interesting and fun facts about Groundhog Day, including how to say it in Spanish, Hebrew, Korean, Arabic, and German (and other things that were surprising and new, even to somebody who knew too much about that day already).
2.  I found that image here.
3.  I found that image here. Also, that poster is on my wall, upstairs, a gift from my friend Deb, from last year. Thanks, Deb!
4. I found that image here. I’m going to get a cracker now.
Categories: inspiration, Nostalgia, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Day 395: Confetti Confessions

I confess. I think about confetti a lot.

So it’s not surprising that confetti has shown up in this blog before, in Day 321: The gift of mortality:

IMG_2126

in  Day 307: Beautiful, healing Boston:

IMG_2126

and, in Day 185: Airing things out:

confetti11

Let’s find a definition of confetti, shall we? From Oxford Dictionaries:

confetti

Syllabification: con·fet·ti

NOUN

small pieces of colored paper thrown during a celebration such as a wedding.

Origin

early 19th century (originally denoting the real or imitation sweets thrown during Italian carnivals): from Italian, literally ‘sweets’, from Latin confectum ‘something prepared’, neuter past participle of conficere ‘put together’ (see confect).

Spell confetti with one f and a double t: it is an Italian word.

So now that we know what confetti is, where it came from, and how to spell it, I’m going to return to this, which is still up in the air:

Why do I think about confetti so much?

Lots of reasons, including:

  • It’s colorful, and I love colorful things2:

article-2255449-16B508C1000005DC-660_964x639

Colorful-Christmas-Lights

tumbled-stones

a-beautiful-butterfly-flowers-2652389-480-500

IMG_1164

  • In my work, I notice that people don’t celebrate the positive very much. As a matter of fact, a big part of my job is inviting people to celebrate more. Sometimes we get really radical, and consider the equal time rule — giving celebration the same amount of time given to celebration’s opposite: fear, anxiety, regret, depression, or whatever the person’s experience of anti-celebration. (Well, equal time is fair, isn’t it?) (Even if that’s so difficult to do.)
  • Sometimes I like to come up with ideas for new products, and one I’ve been tossing up in the air for several years is ….NEAT CONFETTI.  Here’s the pitch: I often want to throw confetti in my office, to celebrate progress, a triumph, anything good. But, confetti is messy.  I’d have to clean it up.  So, I can envision some sort of product where confetti explodes out of a box, but is attached to strings, so you can easily reel it back in.

Wouldn’t that be SWEET?

Okay, I think I’ve put together enough for this post.  It’s time to prepare for its conclusion.

So, what have I forgotten?

A NEW image, never before seen in this blog, perhaps?

Here’s something I put up on my white board, earlier this week:

IMG_2646

Here’s what I want to point out, about that image:

  1. Somebody, who was in the same place that had been causing anxiety, depression, etc. for months, was feeling a lot better that day.
  2. While we were able to point to logical explanations for this improvement, this person still found this  mysterious and confusing.
  3. This person, almost immediately after acknowledging the improvement in mood and reduction in symptoms, started listing Reasons Not To Celebrate.
  4. I wished I had some Neat Confetti to throw, that day.

Okay!  Time to clean up, before I leave for work today. Perhaps I should protect what’s mine, in this post:

©  All of these ideas belong to me, Ann Koplow. Although, wait, that doesn’t feel right, since I’ve been inspired by so many people throughout my life. Nevertheless,  if you’re going to use my ideas, try to give me credit, if possible. Although, honestly, sometimes I’m fine with people just sharing whatever-the-hell I’m writing about here, if they think it will do some good.  But, please, don’t try to make money pretending that my ideas are yours, okay?  I especially don’t want to see any of you showing up on “Shark Tank,” pitching NEAT CONFETTI.  That would really suck, and seriously piss me off. Also, some of these photos are mine and some of them aren’t. Do I need to be more specific?  All right, all right! The first two and the last two photos are mine. AND, that equal time rule, in the list of antidotes?  I totally made that up.

Wow. That had quite the mix of feelings and thoughts there, didn’t it?  Plus, I broke several rules of copyright-ing, I believe.  Perhaps I should just thank people, grab something to eat, and call it a morning.

Many thanks to people who try their best to celebrate whenever and however they can, and thanks to you — Yay! — for visiting today.


  1.  I’ve already given credit for this Photo that is Not Mine, in that previous post, so I believe that I’ve protected myself, covered my ass, etc. well enough, so I DON’T HAVE TO DO ANYTHING ELSE.   Yay!!

  2.  These images have all appeared in previous posts, but I’m not going to link to those earlier posts of mine, because my work here is done, and … it’s good enough. Yay!!!

Categories: humor, inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Day 394: Fear of losing track of things

In past posts, I have written about many types of fear (or dread or whatever you want to call it), including:

  1. Fear of loss.
  2. Fear of losing things.
  3. Friggin’ fear of practically everything else1 you might think of.

Today I would like to write about …

… fear of losing track of things.

Losing track of things seems to be a recurrent theme of mine (see here, here, and here for possible proof about that).  And, as usual, when I write about fear, I assume that I am not alone (although your details, in this area, may vary).

Among things I have recently feared losing track of:

  • The right word to use, when expressing myself.
  • The exact right number, as I’m needing to enter credit card numbers, patient numbers, numerical dates, account numbers, and a kashmillion 1other non-intuitive codes2, while performing computer-based transactions, before TIME RUNS OUT!!

(pant, pant, pant)

Okay, I caught my breath.  Where was I?

Oh, yes.  That list of things I have recently feared losing track of:

  • The cable for my camera, which I plan to use in Panama (when I’m away, in less than two weeks)
  • The actual dates for my trip (although I think I may have memorized those at this point).
  • The right way to do bullet points for this list (don’t even try to visualize how bullets have been flying everywhere, here, in the construction of this post because … it’s been a disaster).

Well!  The last word — of that last bullet point of that last list — leads me to this cognitive distortion. 3

Catastrophizing. 
This is a particularly extreme and painful form of fortune telling, where we project a situation into a disaster or the worst-case scenario. You might think catastrophizing helps you prepare and protect yourself, but it usually causes needless anxiety and worry.

Hmmmm.  You know what?  When I went to retrieve that cognitive distortion from my other blog here  — called Ann’s Helpful Hints (re: Letting go of Judgment)  — I realized that there’s something else I’ve lost track of.

How to edit my posts on that second blog of mine.

Yes, dear readers, I was thinking I would like to add something new, to this list of antidotes for unhelpful thoughts.  I wanted to add a new antidote, but because I haven’t edited the two posts at that second blog since I created it (almost a year ago) …. I don’t remember how. And How to Edit those particular posts …. is not immediately obvious to me. And I can’t consider trying to figure that out, right now, because I have to finish this post and get to work, before …. TIME RUNS OUT!!

(pant, pant, pant)

Sorry. Where was I?

Oh,yes. I was thinking of adding a new antidote to my list, for the first time since March.  What is that new antidote?  Something like this:

Talking to yourself.  If you are stuck in an old, unhelpful way of thinking, especially one that involves a “critical voice,” try challenging that old voice by speaking in a new, kinder way to yourself. Watch the language that you use, and speak to yourself as you would to somebody you might be naturally kinder to — a friend, a stranger, somebody that evokes empathy and sympathy in you.

I have found that antidote — of talking to myself — can be a really effective way to learn (and unlearn) things.  As a matter of fact, here are some times when I’ve been talking to myself, lately:

  • When I’m afraid (especially of doing something that’s new or that feels new, because I haven’t done it in a while).
  • Other times when I’m judging my abilities.
  • When I have to enter incredibly long patient IDs, when I’m at my work computer, about fifty friggin’ times a day.

Okay!  It’s time for me to start wrapping up this post, people.

What feels left unwritten, at this point?

My mother sometimes said to me, “Ann, I think you might lose track of your head, if it wasn’t attached.” Therefore, as a supporting image for this post, I COULD show you a picture of my head.

However, I can’t do that right now. If you’ve lost track of that of why that is, you’ll just have to see footnote #4, below, for the answer.

Instead, here’s a photo I snapped a few minutes ago:

Image

Why THAT photo? (I imagine you saying to yourself, right now.) Well, it represents several other things I tend to lose track of:

  1. Food, once I put it in the refrigerator.
  2. Eating healthier.
  3. A Zen, mindful, balanced, centered, or what-ever-you want-to-call that helpful frame of mind.
  4. My own personal power (that is, awareness of those things I can control).

Okay!  Time for me to take some personal power and end this post.

Thanks to Earthbound Farm Organics (for the Zen and the Power), people everywhere who lose track of things, and to you — of course! — for reading today.


  1.  It’s possible that this is an exaggeration.

  2. Other non-intuitive codes include any collection of alpha-numberic characters that don’t resemble the language I learned growing up. Email addresses, anybody? Not to mention the numbers and symbols I need to use, every time, to insert these friggin’ footnotes.

  3. It’s not the last entry on this list of unhelpful and automatic thoughts (also called cognitive distortions in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), but I think you’ll be able to find it, soon enough.

  4. I’m not showing a photo of my head, because — at this point in my blogging path, I am not showing photos of my face. I suppose i could show a photo of the back of my head, but, I washed my hair before I went to sleep, so my hair’s a mess. Don’t even try to imagine it … it’s a disaster.  Plus, I’ve got to end this post, soon, and get to work.  Did you lose track of that, too? (Don’t worry, you’re probably not alone.)

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

Day 393: Left holding the bag (more idioms from Ann)

Here’s what I want to do today, people!  I would like to free associate on the idiom “Left holding the bag.”

Before I do, I would like to provide a wee bit of context, as follows:

      • I like to write about idioms, and so I have: here, here, and here. 1
      • I enjoy free-associating and writing about idioms, just for fun, but I suspect I might also do such things when I am avoiding being direct about something.
      • I have trouble being direct when (1) I need to keep something a secret and/or (2) I’m upset.
      • “Upset” is often a euphemism for “angry.”

Now, my context may have raised some confusion2 which I would like to do my best, right now, to clear up. Here are some thing I’d like to clarify:

      • I don’t like keeping secrets, but I do so when it’s in the service of keeping a situation “safe enough.”3
      • I was upset last night, and woke up feeling upset this morning.
      • This post is a way for me to move forward, through being upset, to the next right thing which — to me — is often related to connections to others.

Arrghh!  I think I’m digging myself deeper into a explanatory hole here. The more I say, the more I fear I need to clarify. I think it’s time to …

Image 4
…. stop this portion of the post, and move on to the Idiom Du Jour, which is

Left holding the bag

So what does that idiom mean?  Here’s a result of an online search, this morning:

be left holding the baby (British) also be left holding the bag (American)
to suddenly have to deal with a difficult problem or responsibility because someone else has decided they do not want to deal with it. “He abandoned the project after a year because he felt that it was going to fail and I was left holding the baby.”

I have to say I was startled by the surprise appearance of a baby:

Image 5
… but I guess that’s because I’m American.

Well, this is fun, but I think I’d like to be more direct, right now.

In a recent post, called “Free-floating, re-sticking anxiety (The __ Metaphor)” I wrote about suspecting that somebody was angry with me.  I did check that out with that person and, as I suspected, I was incorrect.  However, as I also wrote about in that post, I often suspect that SOMEBODY is angry at me, so when I continued to check out that perception, I did eventually, discover ….

…. somebody who WAS angry at me.

You know what?  At any particular time, there probably is somebody, somewhere, who is angry with each one of us. Why?  Because as we move through the world, with all our imperfections, with our messiness, and with our selfishness (which is not always a bad thing), inevitably we are going to hurt somebody’s feelings.

So if you keep asking people, “Have I offended you?” …. no matter how nice you are, or how hard you try NOT to offend people, eventually, the answer will be “yes.”

So THEN WHAT?

Well, speaking for myself, when I DO find somebody who is angry at me, my first response typically is ….

… to feel anger, back.

But that’s just the first step.  There are lots of options for ways to continue from there.

So why did the idiom of “left holding the bag” come to my mind today?

That’s a reflection of this: My first discussion with this person was too short. We only had five minutes to speak on the phone.  So, as a result, I felt left holding the bag. What’s in the bag I’m holding?  Anger, I suppose (or whatever else we want to call that feeling).

So, in my blog post today, I knew I wanted to get ahold of that bag, understand it, perhaps make it smaller, before I talked to the person again. And I definitely want to maintain my connection with this person.

And, you know what?  Writing this post has definitely helped with that.

Also, I chose this topic today because I had a photo I wanted to show you:

Image

Why did I want to show you that? Because that’s the bag I’ve been carrying around lately.  It’s made by Vy & Elle, who recycle vinyl billboards into bags and wallets (among other things).

Bags that you’re left holding can also be beautiful.

Thanks to Vy & Elle, my friends who have been angry with me at any time, stop signs, babies, and to you — of course! — for reading today.


  1. You know, when I include a link to another post, I’m not just doing it because I’m trying to spruce up my post with different colors, people.  I’m including posts I think you might actually find helpful, interesting, and maybe even fun.  It wouldn’t kill you to click on one of those every once in a way, would it?  (If you do click on these links, I apologize for my tone, which may seem a little harsh.)

  2. I started a post last night, with the title “Confusion,” in which I wrote some stuff about the fluctuating temperatures around here (for example, yesterday the high was allegedly 47 degrees: today the high is supposed to be 19 degrees). I rarely start posts the night before; when I do, it’s because of an unusual circumstance. In this case, I’m going to my son’s school this morning at 8 AM, so I thought I might not have time enough to write a post this morning.  Almost always, when I start a post the night before, I don’t use it.

  3. Therapists are trained to keep confidential the identities of their clients. While the people referred to in this post are friends, not clients, I often get into the habit of “secretiveness” regarding personal details.

  4. Stop signs have shown up in previous posts, including herehere, and here. Thought stopping is also the last in this list of antidotes to unhelpful thoughts.

  5.  That baby made a previous appearance, here.

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

Day 392: Possibilities, Patience, and “IM”

Yesterday, I coined the word “dreadless” —  as a possible opposite of “dreadful.”  That was fun.

Today, as I was considering possible topics for this post, the word “patience” came to mind.  And then, its opposite. And I thought:

Why, oh why, is the opposite of “patience” “impatience”?  Why isn’t it “unpatience”?  Or “nonpatience”?  What the heck does “IM” mean, anyway? Are there OTHER words that use “IM” to create the opposite?  The only one I can think of, right now, is “possible” and “impossible.”

I suppose I could do some research, right now, on the use of “Im” to create the opposite of a word.   But I’m not interested in checking corroborating details or data, this morning. 1

Imstead …. ooops!  I mean, insteadI want to just riff on what we’ve got in this post, already.

Here we go!

Patience is something I think about a lot.  When I was in my 20’s, I took a comprehensive test2 of my aptitudes and skills, to discover why I wasn’t satisfied with my career 3. And they told me, “You have three exceedingly high, natural indications of possible impatience” (or words to that effect).

Recognizing that I am “naturally impatient” has helped me, as I have continued to work on developing the other side of that — my capacity for patience.

Yesterday, I was expecting a visit from my friend, Carol, and I was timing my creation of yesterday’s post to coincide with her expected time of arrival.  A few minutes before that, when I was just about to press “publish” ….  I realized — to my horror — that I had closed the wrong window and had lost the last hour of my work.  I get very freaked out when something like that happens. What bothered me the most about that?

  • I was happy with the post.
  • I hate having to rewrite something I’m already done with.
  • It kills me when I realize I’ve done something “stupid” (as in, “Ann! You should have known better than to close that window until after you published the post!”)
  • I realized  I had two choices: (1) to ask Carol to wait, until I rewrote the friggin’ post or (2) wait until after her visit to complete it (and I knew I would be upset and distracted while she was here).
  • I assumed that I would NOT be able to reconstruct the post back to its former glory.
  • I COULD NOT BELIEVE THIS HAD HAPPENED!

I felt an incredible rush of …. panic, disappointment, adrenaline, upset-ness, whatever-you-want-to-call it.

What did I do?  I talked to myself:

Ann, it’s not the end of the world. You’ve lost stuff you’ve written before, many times in many ways. As much as you hate when this happens, you will rewrite it. And it will be good enough.  Maybe, it will be even better!  That’s not beyond the realm of possibility …. that has definitely happened before.

When Carol showed up, I was already in the midst of rebuilding what had been lost. I asked if she could have the patience to wait for me until I published my post. She graciously and enthusiastically said, “Of course!’

Nevertheless, I was very nervous while re-building that post.  Despite Carol’s reassurance, my knowing her for years, and my logical self knowing that this would be fine, I stumbled and froze several times while fixing that post, which had been pretty intricate (with several “bells and whistles”: links, footnotes, videos, photos, etc.)

Why was I so nervous?  Possibly because I was imagining all sorts of negative reactions, including impatience. Not only from Carol, but from …. you, dear readers.

That is, I was imagining Carol’s impatience with me, as she waited. And I was imagining your impatience with me, when I published a post I feared would (1) have errors and (2) would NOT be as good as it could have, should have, would have been, if I had been more careful.

But, it all worked out.  I finished the post, Carol was loving and understanding (as always), and the post was good enough.  Yes, there were a couple of missing links and typos here and there, but I was able to fix those, well enough, later in the day.

And if anybody noticed those imperfections, they didn’t think those were important 4 enough to mention.

Okay!  I can see by the clock on the wall

Image

… that it’s time for me to end this post.

Probably, I could find another image, quickly enough, that fits the topics of this post.

But you know what?  I haven’t got the patience.

Thanks to all those who deal with patience, possibilities, perfectionism, probabilities —  and their opposites — and especially to you, for visiting today.


  1. Actually, a lot of my posts, lately, have had an “attitude” about data and proof. Sometimes, it seems, I just can’t be bothered with details. This reminds me of a story: When I was in college, I decided to take a Calculus Course. I suspected that I didn’t have a natural talent for Calculus (unlike other forms of math), so I took the course “Pass/Fall.”  And, indeed, I neither enjoyed that course nor did particularly well in it, but when the time came for the final exam, I knew that I’d done well enough to pass, with some wiggle room.  When I got to a section of the test where I was supposed to solve something I just didn’t understand, I wrote, “Here are the formulas. I’ve done all I can do.  Please solve these yourself.”   And, that was good enough.

  2. At Johnson O’Connor in Boston.

  3. Technical and marketing writing.

  4. Possibly the opposite of this is … “portent”?

Categories: inspiration, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , | 19 Comments

Day 391: What is the opposite of dreadful?

I chose the title of today’s post because:

  1. It’s a question, and I endorse the Socratic method (which is just a smart-sounding way of saying that I like a style of learning and teaching that involves questions and answers 1 ).
  2. I sometimes enjoy intentionally misleading people for a brief time, before explaining things. In this case, I’m guessing that my readers are thinking that this post is about something that it actually is NOT about. (At least, not intentionally.)

(pause, allowing you to think about all THAT)

Anyway, so what IS this post about?  What else do I want to say about the title?

The inspiration for this post was my waking up this morning, realizing that my trip to Panama is about two weeks away, and …

(drum roll)

… noticing that I am not filled with dread.

Right now, I am carefully checking my dread level, to see how much dread there actually is. I’m imagining a gauge, like this:

gas-gauge2

DREAD

And …. I’ve got nothing.

So, while the Dread Gauge above, would indicate being full of dread, or — perhaps — “dreadful”, what’s the word for being the opposite of that, which is what I am, right now?

In other words, would this gauge …..

Image2

be a pictorial representation of being “dreadless”?

Well, my dear readers, you’re probably noticing that I’m playing around with words right now.  And why? Is this avoidance, of something important?

And what does it mean that I want to keep playing with that word “dreadless”? Well, it could just be a reflection of the fact that I made that word up, so I’m naturally imagining different definitions, like this:

(Note: The above video is thanks to Boost467 and contains language meant for “mature audiences.”)

Well, I’m not sure if I’m avoiding something. Maybe I’m just having fun.   But I do know that I DID want to go other places, in this post, including:

  1. I wanted to give myself credit for making progress. That is, I was feeling more dread during the two weeks prior to my last trip, to London. (Check out these posts hereherehereherehereherehereherehere hereherehereherehere, here, and here — written during that two-week period.) (In some of those posts, the dread is more obvious than others. But it’s there. I know.)
  2. I wanted to think about what’s been helping, in making me dreadless, today.

What’s different about my upcoming trip? A few things I can think of, including:

  • This time, I’m traveling with another adult, who is helping with the planning.
  • Since my last trip, I have completed my last will and testament.
  • For whatever reasons, I am more at peace with my own mortality.

What else has been helping me be dreadless?  I’m not sure, but my best guess is the big two, according to Sigmund Freud: 3

  1. Work.
  2. Love.

Okay!  This post is now the opposite of endless.

Thanks to Sigmund Freud, Busta Rhymes, those who dread flying, people who dread death, and — of course! — to you, for reading today.


  1.  Here’s a video (posted by dieterwanke) of one of my favorite tunes — “Question and Answer” by Pat Metheny, whom I’ve written about, here, here, here, here, and here. It doesn’t include the complete performance, but I’m choosing this because it also features Michael Brecker, one of my favorite sax players, may he rest in peace.

  1. Yes, this is another number 1. Yes, I know I already had a footnote #1, above. However,  no matter how I try to fix this, WordPress insists on re-starting the footnote count. And yes, I’ve tried EVERYTHING to fix this (although, as George Carlin might say, “apparently not”).  So, for now, I’m going along with this WordPress glitch. What did I originally want to say in this footnote?  Two things: (1) I’m still thinking of car-related metaphors a lot. Am I driving too much? (2) I found that image here.

  2.  I found that image here, at a place for free stock images. Good to know.

  3. Perhaps you thought this footnote would include data supporting this. It doesn’t. It’s dataless.

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

Day 390: What kind of wall (is there around you)?

Last week, somebody in therapy used a phrase I’ve heard many times:

I have a wall around me.

This person was referring to a self-protective barrier, between themselves and other people. And it made sense that the wall was there, because of past betrayals and inappropriate intrusions.

I like to reflect other people’s language back to them, because I think the words they use are very important. I also find that metaphors can help explore and uncover possibilities for change.

So I asked  questions about that wall:

What kind of wall is it?

What does it look like?

How much space is there between you and the wall?

How high up does it go?

What is it made of?

Does it change?

How does it feel to be inside the wall?

As we talked about the wall, we agreed a wall could have good sides: Walls can protect and give somebody a safe place to be.

I’m reminded of the saying:

Good fences make good neighbors.

… which is defined by The Free Dictionary like so:

It is easier to be friendly with your neighbor if neither of you trespasses upon the other’s property or privacy.

This person recognized the benefits of a wall, but was unhappy with it.  This wall had served a protective purpose in the past, but was no longer effective. This person had out-grown that wall; also, the wall was keeping out others besides the original people it was designed for.

So, together, we tried constructing a different wall.

At first, this person was unable to think of other  possibilities. The existing wall was so familiar and so old, it was difficult to imagine anything else being there, instead.

But, very soon, we were speculating about other walls. We considered castle walls, like these:

Image 1

Image 2

And garden walls, like these:

Image3

Image

(thanks to Steve Snedecker’s Garden and Landscape Blog)

Image 4

We both realized there were lots of options, to re-construct that wall.

And, we realized the reconstruction project is completely under the control of the wall owner, who has the control to change the old wall to a new wall better fitting the current needs and conditions. There’s no need to tear down an old familiar wall, too soon. There’s time to work on that reconstruction, and (unlike real home re-building projects) every step along the way can bring improvement.

This post I’m building is almost finished.  What improvements are left to do?

(1) Check my trusty iPhone camera, for an example of walls.

Wow!  More than I expected:

Image

(see this blog post, for that wall)

IMG_2393

(this post, for that wall)

IMG_2333

(this post, for that wall)

img_1568

(this post, for those walls)

Oh!  And here’s a photo I took recently, that I haven’t shared yet:

IMG_2583

It’s a Wall of Candy (etc.)!!

Sorry, I got distracted. Where was I?

Oh yes. What’s left to do, before I end this post.

(2) Look into the near future, for walls (and other things) I may be seeing soon:

images (33) 5

filename-dsc00368-jpg  6

Ahhhhhhh.  That’s better.

(3) Give credit, especially to writers, artists, and other people who create.

For example, the phrase “Good fences make good neighbors” is not just an old saying. It also appears in the poem, “The Mending Wall,” by Robert Frost:

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors’.
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows?
But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors.”

.

And one more thing, before I end this post. I want to provide a soundtrack, for those who might enjoy that.  So here’s a tune, by Sting, that’s been playing in my head:

Thanks to PrettyBluePeople (for the “Fortress Around Your Heart” video on YouTube), to Sting, to Robert Frost, to people who build walls, to all my good neighbors (here and elsewhere), and to you — of course! — for visiting today.

__________________

  1. I found this image here.

  2. I found this image here.

  3. I found this image here

  4. I found this image here.

  5. I found this image here.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 43 Comments

Day 389: Company

It’s time for a Random Thoughts post!

For your amusement and edification,1 I shall now free-associate about the word “company.”

“Company” is a musical by Stephen Sondheim.

I love musicals. My favorite musical-ist (to coin a word) is Stephen Sondheim.

I especially love the musical “Company.”

Image2

3

“Company” is special to me, for many reasons:

  1. I find the music, lyrics, the book — and everything else about “Company” — very smart.
  2. Despite critics saying that Sondheim musicals are too cerebral, cold, or (insert any other critical word here), I find his work emotional, illuminating, and all-around excellent — for the mind, heart, and soul.
  3. When I was in my 20’s, I tried out for a local production of “Company,” and got to sing my heart — and brains — out during several months of rehearsals and performances.
  4. In many ways, Sondheim has made my life worth living.

Company is something I seek, but also need to balance with alone time.

Connecting with others is very important to me, and something I love to do.

Sometimes, when company is there, I am yearning to be alone.

When I was a little kid in the hospital, I would wait, with every fiber of my being, for visiting hours to begin, so my mother and other people in my life could come and visit me.

Sometimes I feel alone in the company of others.

When I feel less safe and secure (due to external and/or internal conditions), it is especially difficult to tolerate being alone.

Lately (as described here and here), I’ve been using the GPS-type app, Waze, for company, when I drive to and from work.  Other helpful company — here in the Blog-o-sphere —  have helped me realize that Waze might not be the best company for that situation.

A couple of days ago, to replace Waze during drive-time, I returned to the company of an old musical friend, Pat Metheny:

Image 4

I had a little trouble deciding which video to include here, but I can never resist this tune (and it reflects my recent experience — listening to the album Pat made with Anna Maria Jopek):

5

If you don’t have time to watch or listen to that live version (although I hope you do get to check it out, at some point, especially Pat soloing, starting around 4:30) …. here’s a different, short piece from the Pat Metheny and Anna Maria Jopek album, Upojenie:

6

In many ways, Pat Metheny has helped make my life worth living.

Thanks to Stephen Sondheim, to Pat Metheny, to all those connections that have helped so much,  and to you — of course! — for visiting today.


  1. At least that is my intent.

  2. I found that at The Stephen Sondheim Reference Guide.

  3. I chose this video, made by the University of Rhode Island about their production of Company, because it suited my purposes and intent for this blog post. Also, Note This: When I use footnote superscripts, I can’t put them on the same line with a video that’s imbedded within a post.  So this footnote needs to be hanging out there, alone, on the line, without any company … even if it looks weird.

  4. I found that image here.

  5.  Thanks to waltermigratore, and to that lonely superscript number “5”, hanging out in space above.

  6. Thanks to alleviate1. You know what? That last hanging-out-in-mid-air superscript probably doesn’t feel quite alone, having two others just like it, in the same post.

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

Day 388: What was your intent?

I have (at least) two reasons for choosing today’s blog post title.

That is, I want to answer that question in my title — “What was your intent?” — regarding …. my choice of a title, today.

Okay!  Let’s start our engines, blog post riders! 1

Here’s some advice:

When somebody does or says something that you find confusing — when you do not know what to do (or say) in response to somebody else’s behavior — ask them this simple question, “What was your intent (in saying or doing such and such)?”

I have used this technique, and it can be quite effective.  Other people have told me they have found it effective, too.

In other words, I recommend asking that question.

Now, my wish might be that, at this point in our relationship — Me as Writer, You as Reader — that you might respond, “Yes, Ann!  We believe you!  We will do what you suggest!”

But that’s not realistic, is it?

So let me explain my recommendation, further:

As human beings, we tend to mind-read. Here’s the definition of mind reading, from this list of  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) distortions:

Mind reading.
Without individuals saying so, we know what they are thinking and why they act the way they do. For example, you assume that somebody is having a critical thought about you, you don’t check this out, and this affects your actions and feelings towards them.

So, asking “What was your intent?” is one way to apply the following “antidote“to a very human — but often unhelpful — thought process:

 Reality testing.  Ask people questions to find out if your thoughts and concerns are realistic or true. This is a particularly effective response to the distortion of mind-reading.

Speaking for myself, I tend to NOT ask this question — in many instances where it could help improve interpersonal communication.

Instead of asking

What was your intent?

… I project my own experience and make assumptions about what the other person meant when they said or did something.

For example, last night, my boyfriend, Michael, and I had a “discussion” (translation: we got mad at each other, briefly). And in the course of this discussion, we both were “mind reading”  — making assumptions about each other’s intentions.  And we figured that out, and we’re fine.

Here are clues that you — or somebody else — might be mind reading, too. If you have these thoughts:

I don’t understand why this person did or said this!  This makes no sense to me!  If I were in that situation, I would NEVER do that!

And then, in an attempt to make meaning of what seems inexplicable, you then think:

This person must be trying to hurt me!

This person must not care about me!

This person must be a _____! 2

This is all evidence that Mind Reading might be in the house.

So just stop doing that, people! It’s not good for you!  It’s not good for your relationships!!

As if changing, like that, could be THAT easy. (But wouldn’t that be nice?)

However, here’s something you CAN do, in this situation.  Ask the other person this question:

What was your intent (in speaking or acting that way)?

And then, have an open mind to what the other person replies.  (Which is easier said than done, especially if you’re angry.)

I also want to say this:  in abusive relationships, this would not be an effective antidote. That is, some people’s intentions might be to hurt you (even though they won’t admit it). Actually, in this case, it doesn’t matter what the other person’s intention is — if they are hurting you consistently, get out of the house!

Boy, I sure am giving a lot of advice today. I’m not very comfortable giving advice, usually.

But I did today.

What was my intent, in doing that?

I thought it might be helpful.

Okay, so what remains for me to do, before I end this blog post? In other words, it’s time for the …

The Tying-Up-Loose-Ends Portion of Today’s Blog Post

In my opening sentence, I said I had at least two reasons for writing about this topic today. I’m not sure whether I’ve explored different reasons.  Perhaps I have.

One thing I DO know: I promised fellow blogger Mark Bialczak, in the Comments Section of yesterday’s post, that I would explain this photo:

Image

which I included in Day 386: Clues.

Mark wrote:

And the what-was-it from yesterday’s post. Are you going to share the elusive message down the line, or was it just a brain-teaser like that little game the put on the table at Cracker’s Barrel restaurants where you try to leave just one golf tee standing?

I don’t want to mind read here, but we, as humans, do that.  I think Mark was asking:

What was your intent?

I responded to Mark, in the comments section, like so:

What elusive message is it, to which you refer, Mark? I’m not being coy, I’m just losing track of all the hints and clues I’ve been putting out there in blog posts lately. If you ask directly for me to clear something up, I will do it, most happily.

In other words, I was asking:

What was your intent?

Mark wrote back:

OK, you put the shot of your one-socked foot on the floor with a kitty in the corner and asked what it meant. I’d love to know what you were going for with that one, Ann.

In other words …. Oh, you know.  He was asking: What was my intent in posting that photo?

This was my response:

I am going to attempt to answer your question in the blog I write today (Day 388). Thanks, as always.

Notice the stall — what some people might call “procrastination.”  That is, I didn’t answer his question when I first read it, last night. Instead, I waited until this morning. I waited until right now — this moment — to answer.

Sometimes, it’s difficult for me to answer that question: What was your intent?  Sometimes my intentions are complicated. Sometimes, I have multiple intentions. Sometimes, my intentions are both conscious and subconscious.

Confused?  You’re not alone.

But I will do my best, right now, in explaining what my intentions were, in posting that photo:

  1. I wanted to show another “mystery”3 — that is, when I sleep with socks on my feet, one of those socks often comes off during the night.
  2. I wanted to let people know that I am so engrossed in writing this blog, every day, that I can go downstairs to write, unaware that I have one sock on and one sock off.
  3. It’s so friggin’ cold out, here, that I soon realize that I have one sock off, as one foot starts to freeze.
  4. I am having this experience, frequently, as evidenced by the fact that the sock in this photo is brown, while the sock I mentioned in the previous blog post — Day  385: Wicked Pisser — was …. (drum roll): PURPLE!

Confused? Too Much Information?  It’s Mark’s fault!! (Hint: this would be a reference to another cognitive distortion:  Blaming.)

If it’s anybody’s fault, it’s my fault, because my intentions are often complicated. But, really, it’s nobody’s fault.

Maybe, to be clear and simple,  I should ask myself my own question, one more time. This time, I’ll ask it — not just about that photo or those particular blog posts — but about my writing this blog, in general.

What was (or is) your intent?

Simply and honestly?

To heal.

Okay!  That concludes our blog post for today.

Thanks to Michael, Mark, people who have questioned their own or other people’s intents, and to you — of course!! — for reading today.


  1.  Apparently I’m still using car metaphors.  By the way, if you read this blog regularly, the other driver who was involved in my minor fender bender still has not filed a claim (as far as I know).  I have theories about why that might be. If she were here, I could ask her, “What is your intent?” But she isn’t. So I’ll just have to guess.

  2. This would be the cognitive distortion of Name Calling — which we do to ourselves and to others, too, especially when we’re upset. I sometimes use the word “jerk” (to myself), when I’m mad at somebody.  Sometimes I use stronger language (to myself).   Here’s what I think we’re often saying, when we call somebody a “jerk” or “a _______”: “This person is NOT who I thought s/he was. Maybe they’re not a good match for me. Maybe I shouldn’t be with them.” And, dear readers, sometimes that is true. But often, it’s not. Confused? You’re not alone.

  3. Mysteries have been a theme of my recent blog posts. What has been my intent, in doing this?  Arrrghh!  Will these questions never end?

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

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