Monthly Archives: February 2014

Day 424: Things I learned from groups this week

I am very lucky. I get to do work I love: group therapy.

Why do I love that work so?  Well, every week, I witness people connecting and healing, in their own unique way, but also as part of something bigger.

It’s so amazing, each time. I’m never sure if I can ever really capture the experience in words.But I can’t imagine anything better.

Okay!  That’s the end of the introduction to this post.  What’s the “meat” of this post today?

I’d like to list just a few of the many things I learned2 this week, facilitating3 groups:

  •  Mindful eating — that is,  consciously focusing on taste, texture, and the experience of eating, while letting go of distracting thoughts over and over again — can be helpful and …. almost a revelation for people.



  • Feelings of shame are like …. weeds. That is, they keep springing up , they spread easily, and they are really difficult to get rid of. But we have to keep doing our best with that, or they might choke out other, more beautiful things.


  • When people expose their feelings and thoughts in the presence of others, they often realize they are not alone.

I think I’ll stop there, especially since the word “few” (which I used in the introduction to that list) means ….. three, to me.

Hmmmmm. I wonder why I’m using so many ellipses (….) in this post?

Maybe it’s because I’m trying to convey something I would do if I was speaking these thoughts out loud, right now. That is, each time I’ve used … dot dot dot … in this post, I would pause for emphasis and — perhaps — allow my listeners to fill in their own assumptions.

It’s fun to speak directly to people.  Another reason I love my work!

Thanks to Dr. Susan Albers (for the first Mindful Eating image), to my bf Michael (for the second one), to Bloom into Landscaping (where I found the weed image), to all who have the courage to be vulnerable and to heal in the presence of others, and to you — of course! — for participating today.

1  The challenge of capturing this experience in words came up for me several times this week, as I had two deadlines for doing that very thing: (1) writing an article about the way I do group therapy and (2) writing a proposal to make a presentation about that, also.

2 Actually, I re-learned many of these things, but that’s how human beings learn, people!

3  “Group facilitator” is the term most people use, these days, instead of “group leader.” I like that term. I think it does a good-enough job of capturing that experience.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Day 423: Teaching an old dog new tricks

Yes, that’s the title for today’s post.  “Teaching an old dog new tricks.”

First of all, what does that mean?  It’s an English idiom, defined as follows, according to

Idioms & Phrases
teach an old dog new tricks

Change longstanding habits or ways, especially in an old person. For example, His grandmother avoids using the microwave oven; you can’t teach an old dog new tricks . This expression, alluding to the difficulty of changing one’s ways, was first recorded in 1523 in a book of husbandry, where it was used literally. By 1546 a version of it appeared in John Heywood’s proverb collection.

I’m noticing the reference to microwave ovens there, something I blogged about here (and which actually does relate to teaching an old dog new tricks).

As I look at the other definitions of that idiom online, I’m learning it may be the oldest proverb/idiom/saying/whatever-you-want-to-call-it on record. Wow. That’s impressive.  I’m also reminded that the actual idiom is the negative form, that is: 

You cannot teach an old dog new tricks.

Prov. Someone who is used to doing things a certain way cannot change. (Usually not polite to say about the person you are talking to; you can say it about yourself or about a third person.)  I’ve been away from school for fifteen years; I can’t go back to college now. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Kevin’s doctor told him not to eat starchy food anymore, but Kevin still has potatoes with every meal. I guess you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.


Geesh!  I have so many reactions to THAT definition, I’m wondering this: Will I be able to avoid my old trick of digressing and digressing away from what I wanted to say, like a dog off the scent, with a dog’s chance of getting back to where I want to be?

Well, I’ll quickly say this. That last definition:

  • Encourages indirect communication (also known as “politeness”) (also known as “talking behind somebody’s back”).
  • Encourages negative self talk.
  • Made me hungry.

Okay!  Back to some things I knew I wanted to write, today.

First of all, is it even okay to use my idiom du jour?  Or is it too politically incorrect?

Well, I AM using it, aren’t I?  This IS my blog, after all, and every dog has its day. But is it nice, or helpful, to use that idiom?

Three of the words in that saying DO make me uncomfortable, actually:

  1. The word “old,” which can be interpreted as an insult.*
  2. The word “dog,” which can be interpreted as an insult.*
  3. The word “tricks”, which can be interpreted as an insult.*

Also, I hesitate to use the original saying:

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks

… because it is the absolute opposite of what I believe:

People can change, no matter where they are in their lives.

So why did I choose that saying, this morning? Because I’ve been aware of some old, doggedly automatic habits of mine, lately.  And I’ve been working like a dog to change them.

Here are two old, dogged, tricky thought patterns I’ve been noticing:

  1. After I publish a post and I notice something “wrong” with that post — a grammatical error or any other type of mistake — I tend to dismiss or minimize any positive comments I get from readers before I can correct the error(s).
  2. If a stranger smiles at me, my automatic response is this: to check myself, to see if there is something ridiculous about how I look.

Those are old tricks, for sure, dear readers.

How am I changing those and teaching myself new ones?

As always, it helps — a lot — to catch those puppies in the act. It also really helps to name them.

Maybe I’ll call the first one “Fido” and the second one “Spot.”

Okay! I see I’m up to some old tricks in this blog post, dear readers. That is, I’m approaching the end, without a helpful and/or playful image in sight.

Let’s see what pictorial bones I can toss out there, right now.

Hmmmm. I can’t find my iPhone.  That’s an old trick of mine: hiding — or temporarily losing — important things, perhaps to make my life more interesting. (Here’s a new trick in response to THAT: having faith that I’ll find my iPhone, in one of the old familiar places.**)

So, let’s go to Google Images, and see what we can retrieve for “teaching an old dog new tricks.” Yes, let’s see if that dog will hunt.


(I found that image here.)


(I found that image here.)


(I found that image here.)


(I found that image here.)

My conclusion for this post? There’s life in the old dog yet.

Thanks to dogs of all kinds, all humans who contributed to the images in this post, and to you — of course! —  for barking up this tree/post, today.

* Especially for a woman.

** My phone usually hides in my pocket, my bag, or my car.

Categories: humor, inspiration, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Day 422: Singing out loud

I love singing out loud, especially to certain tunes.

When I’m in my car, I don’t repress that urge, at all.

I used to repress the urge to sing out loud elsewhere — assuming that people around me might get annoyed. Lately, I don’t care.

What’s different, now?

Whenever I feel self-conscious these days, I remind myself that:

  • Most people won’t notice, at all.
  • Other people are constantly moving their mouths when they’re alone in public, so now it’s “the norm.”
  • If somebody hears me singing out loud, it won’t kill them (and maybe, just maybe, they’ll enjoy it).

I think I’ve blogged about this before — if  not about singing in public, then definitely about doing a public dance step or two.

Why am I writing about this, today? Because, music is very effective personal medicine for me.  When I listen to music, it makes a huge, positive difference. And whenever I participate, join in, or otherwise perform music … even better.

Last year, in some blog post (which I won’t try to locate now), I made a pledge: to get more involved with music performance. And earlier this week, I had the chance to participate in a local choral group, but … I decided to pass, for now. I just don’t have enough time AND it would have taken me away from dinner with my bf Michael and my son Aaron.

So the time is not quite right for that, but I believe that will happen, soon. And, here’s a helpful reminder:

I have all the time I need.

In the meantime, I would like to make another pledge: to commit to singing out loud — more often and with even less self-consciousness, from this day forth.

What will help me do that?

  • Watching this video, which I LOVE, of two guys who have mixed emotions about the song “Somebody That I Used to Know”, by Gotye:

(Many thanks to The Breakfast Toms.)

  • Reconnecting with an old friend.


Yes, Oscar is an old friend (and an inveterate photo-bomber), but I’m referring to the inhabitant of the background: Ye Olde Karaoke Machine.

I haven’t used that Karaoke machine, in years, and I believe it’s time to crank that sucker up again.

Therefore, I would like to make a commitment — a pledge, if you will:

I pledge — with these fine readers as my witnesses — to, without undue self-consciousness and/or coolness, sing with the aid and abetting of the Karaoke machine pictured above*, tunes including but not restricted to:

  • “Harden my Heart” –  Quarterflash
  • “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” – The Tokens
  • “Blue Bayou” – Linda Ronstadt
  • “Mack the Knife” – Bobby Darin
  • “Carry On My Wayward Son” – Kansas
  • “Cry Me A River” – Julie London
  • “Daydream Believer” – The Monkees
  • “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” – Marvin Gaye
  • “I Saw the Light” – Todd Rundgren
  • “The Boy from New York City” – Manhattan Transfer
  • “When Sunny Gets Blue”**

That should help.

Thank you for witnessing!

Hmmmmm. I wonder if I can get a new Karaoke disc, with THIS on it?

… because “Everything is Awesome” has been a relentless earworm since I saw “The Lego Movie” last weekend. And, as The Breakfast Toms might agree: If you can’t beat them, join them.

Feel free to join me, dear readers, in singing out loud.

Thanks to Oscar, to The Breakfast Toms again (because they’re not afraid of repeating themselves), to my old friend Rob (who helped me type up some lists of Karaoke tunes, several years ago), to Lego girl (for the “Everything is Awesome” Youtube video), to all the artists who contributed to the tunes I mentioned above, to people who are brave enough to sing out loud, and to you — of course! — for visiting today.

* If it still works.

** I am using the punctuation and information that I see on my lists of Karaoke tunes… which I found, easily, this morning!  Yay!

Categories: inspiration, Nostalgia, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , | 35 Comments

Day 421: Labeling, again.

On Day 147 (oh, those were the days!) I wrote a post called “Labeling.”  I just re-read that post, and it’s got some interesting stuff in it, plus photos of bunnies (and other spring-inspired images, too).

By “interesting stuff” I mean:

Wow!  I already wrote, there, things  I wanted to say today.

But I think I can find some new things to write about labeling, today, that MIGHT be helpful.

Who might it help?  Me. And maybe — if I’m lucky — you, too

That paragraph, above, reminds me of an anecdote, actually. It’s one I haven’t told here yet.

Years ago, I went to see the monologuist, Spalding Gray, whom I thought was a wonderful story-teller. He was doing a show, at the Brattle Cinema, called “Interviewing the Audience.”


(I found this image here.)

As people waited to enter the theater, Spalding Gray picked audience members out, and asked them if they would agree to being interviewed by him, on stage.

He didn’t pick me. I felt disappointed, I’m sure. And I probably applied some labels to myself, like these:

Unworthy. Unattractive. Not interesting.

My memory is I worked on letting go of those labels, which felt pretty familiar at the time.

Yes, most labels we apply to ourselves are familiar. That’s why they “stick.” And they’re often negative. That’s why “labeling” is in this list of automatic and unhelpful thoughts (also called “cognitive distortions”).

Anyway, back to that long-ago show, at the Brattle Theater.

My then-husband, Leon, and I sat down in the theater, and Leon left to get some refreshments. When he returned, Leon — who knew I really admired Spalding Gray and who also knew, I believe, my yearning to tell my stories — said this to me, “He is having trouble getting people to agree to go on stage. Why don’t you ask him?”

Now, that felt like a huge risk but, throughout my life, I have taken risks, when the potential pay-off seems huge.

I thought, “What do I have to lose?  It doesn’t hurt to ask!”

And those are often helpful things to say to myself, to this day.

So I went back out and approached Spalding Gray.  I said something like, “My husband said you were having some trouble getting people to interview, so I thought I would check to see if you needed anybody else.”

And Spalding Gray said ….

Who are you trying to help: You or me?

And there was something about that question that felt AWFUL, to me, in that moment. I felt like I had been …. unmasked, in a very unflattering way. I froze and replied, robotically, “That’s a good question.”  Spalding Gray then took out his notebook and asked me questions, but the “life” had gone out of me. I just wanted to get out of there. I have no memory of what I said, but I remember walking, dazed, back to my seat.

My memory, also, is that when he took the stage, he said something about feeling guilty.  I don’t know if that was related to our encounter. I’m not even sure I’m remembering that correctly.  In case you didn’t guess, he did not call me up to the stage.

And it took me a while to recover from that. I remember feeling depressed, self-judging, miserable …. for weeks.

I also remember telling that story to a few people, who labeled Mr. Gray in all sorts of ways. The label that sticks with me, right now, was “unkind.”

But why, oh why, did that encounter feel SO terrible to me? Why, oh why, did it take me so long to recover?

I think it was because of labels I immediately applied to myself, in the moment of that encounter.  Spalding Gray’s motives for what he said  — how I (or anybody else) might label HIM —   are NOT important, I’m realizing now.

If we try to guess somebody else’s motives, what are we doing?  It’s another, unhelpful cognitive distortion:  mind reading.

So labeling him, in any way, is neither helpful nor important. What’s important is this:  the labels I applied to myself, that day and for weeks after.

Spalding Gray didn’t knock the wind out of me.  My labels did.

Here are the labels I called myself, because of a one-sentence reaction I received, from an artist I admired:

Self-centered. Narcissistic. Selfish. Phony. Pretending to be focused on others’ needs when I’m REALLY just focused on my own.

Spalding Gray did not call me ANY of those things. He just asked a simple question.

And, I realize now, it’s the same question I  ask myself — in one way or another — whenever I make an intervention as a psychotherapist. It’s the same question I encourage interns to ask themselves, too:

Who is this for?  You or them?

And, if I let go of labels, that is a GREAT question.

So I would like to thank Spalding Gray, decades later. I’d like to forgive him AND me, right now.

May he rest in peace.

One thing that might help me, in my quest for peace? Letting go of labels.  Replacing them with acceptance. I shall try my best, from this day forth.

Thanks to story-tellers everywhere, imperfect as we may be. And to you — of course — for reading today.

Categories: inspiration, Nostalgia, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , | 41 Comments

Day 420: Falling behind/Keeping Up

This is going to be a quickly-composed post, dear readers.

Maybe that will help ME become quickly composed, also.

I’ll be more direct about my state of mind, right now.  I feel:

  • rushed.
  • aware of a VERY packed day ahead of me, at work, on my first Monday after returning from Panama.
  • a little “thrown” because of some mistakes I just discovered (my mistakes and others’ mistakes).
  • a little guilty.

I don’t have time to write much more about those feelings this morning, but I would like to add a little more about that last feeling.

Little guilt, let’s call it, for now.

I’m having some guilt/fear/whatever-you-want-to-call-it, regarding the very distant (distant, NOT distinct) possibility of hurting somebody else. How do I think I might hurt this person?  By seeming to be “competitive.”  By lessening somebody else’s chance to get what they want.

In this blog, I’ve written before about “free-floating” negative feelings that attach themselves to whatever they can hold on to — and once dislodged by reality testing or other coping strategies, float and attach again. (See here for a blog post about that.)

That’s a very familiar feeling …. and I suspect that’s what I’m really dealing with, this morning.

What else am I dealing with?

Fear of falling behind. Fear of not keeping up — at work and elsewhere.

That’s a very familiar feeling for me, too. When I was on a hike in Panama, that old feeling showed up – in a obvious, physical way. (See here, for that post.)

So how can I compose myself AND this post, right now, so everything is “good enough”?

Let’s go to another old, familiar routine (but one that’s more helpful):

  1. Check iPhone for relevant images.

Well, I don’t know if this is relevant, but I just found a photo I took yesterday, which shows something I THOUGHT I SAW. (I doubt the evidence of my own perceptions, sometimes.) (That’s a familiar feeling, too.)  So what’s the photo?


Aren’t those BUDS on the trees?!?!??!!


Okay, so what was this post about, again?

I THINK this post might have been about the healing power of distraction and hope,  and how those help me (1) keep up with obligations and (2) let go of unhelpful thoughts.

No matter what this post IS about, it’s time to end it, so I can make it to work, with some time to spare. Above all, I don’t want to rush, this morning (or ever, actually).

Thanks to everybody who falls behind, keeps up, competes, rushes, doubts their perceptions sometimes, and anybody else  I haven’t covered so far, in this expression of gratitude.  And special thanks to you — for keeping up with me today.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , | 16 Comments

Day 419: LOL

Today is my only child’s birthday. My son is 16 years old.  Happy birthday, Aaron!

Last year on this date, the post title was  “Day 54: My son’s birthday” and — leaping old lizards! — I sure don’t want to use the same title twice. 1

I chose “LOL,” because my son:

  • makes me Laugh Out Loud,
  • helps me Learn Outstanding Lessons, and
  • is a Love Of my Life.

And while my son expresses annoyance about:

  • abbreviations like LOL,
  • non-precise language,
  • how often I tell him I love him, and
  • my use of “dear reader,” capitalized acronyms, and some of my other blogging conventions …

I often observe Looks of Love, on his Laconic, Old-Soul, Luminous face.

Ooops! I better stop before I embarrass him (on the off-chance he reads this post). Although it’s probably too late for that.

Lord, Oh Lord, it can be difficult for a mother NOT to embarrass her 16-year-old son.2  For example, mothers often share things their kids did when they were much younger. Geesh, that IS embarrassing, isn’t it?

And which, of course, I’m going to do right now (as I also did, in that birthday post, a year ago).3

Here’s something hanging in our back hallway right now, which my son created for Mother’s Day, many years ago:


I like — okay, LOVE — that. As a matter of fact, I’m LOL-ing, right now.

Loads Of Loving thanks to my son and to Lots Of Laughers, everywhere. And thanks to you – of course! — for the Light Of Life you bring here, today.

1 I’ve already re-used a title in this blog, due to Laziness Or Lateness, but I’d rather avoid that, if possible.

2 Although, Aaron tells me I’m doing okay with that, so far.

3 In case I’m being too subtle, check out that post for some wonderful Aaron-generated LOLs, okay?4

4 Or, if you’re lazy or lethargic like me (I mean, it IS the weekend), or otherwise less than likely to link, here are those LOLs, right here:

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

Day 418: Uneasy/Easy

Last year, in the dead of winter, I wrote a post “Day 17: I think I wake up most mornings feeling uneasy.”

That’s a phrase that has echoed for me, ever since I sent it out into the blog-o-sphere. I thought of that phrase again this morning, upon awakening.

And I wondered, why “uneasy”?  And, what does “uneasy” even mean?

Here’s what occurred to me, this morning.

Perhaps we humans are hard-wired to strive and accomplish more, in order to survive. And perhaps what helps us do that is a built-in, easily triggered sense of …  uneasiness.

Yes, uneasiness, or whatever else we want to call it. Dissatisfaction. Worry. The longing for something more. The sense that things aren’t okay, or — if they ARE okay in the moment — the sense of how they might go wrong in the future. Focusing on what we don’t have rather than on what we do have. The attraction to what’s wrong, rather than to what’s right. How the negative sticks more (and seems larger) than the positive. Awareness of weaknesses rather than strengths.

If you share this experience with me,  I would be interested in how you might put that into words.

If you share this experience with me, I think you might agree with this, too. NO WONDER it’s so difficult to:

  1. Stay in the moment.
  2. Feel easy, happy, at peace.

It can take effort, that’s for sure. And practice.

Here’s what helped me feel easier, this morning, immediately after I woke up.  The sound of birds, outside my window.

And although I know it wasn’t these birds:



It helps to know they’re all out there, somewhere, too.

What’s missing for me, before I end this post?  Some sounds, reminiscent of what I heard this morning.

How about this YouTube video  (thanks to NewEnglandgardening)?

That was easy.

Thanks to birds of all types of feathers, sounds, easiness, and seasons,  and to you — of course! — for alighting here today.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 32 Comments

Day 417: Fun with Phobias, Part II

Yesterday, I rambled and wrote about some personal, irrational fears.

I was going to call these personal fears “ridiculous,” but I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings, since evidence exists that others might share some of my personal phobias, too.

When I published that post yesterday, I felt an extra little burst of joy, thinking, “Wow! This topic is a friggin’ gold mine for future post ideas!”

And as I often like to say, “Why wait?”

Herewith — for your viewing and reading pleasure — are more personal phobias, inspired this morning by (a) the fertile mind of yours truly and (b) just looking around.

1. Pack-o-phobia: Travel-related fear of packing


and — even more inexplicably — unpacking.

photo (83)

2. Pill-o-phobia: Fears related to the taking of medicine.


Symptoms of pill-o-phobia may include concerns about (a) medication dependency, (b) forgetting a dosage, (c) aging, weakness, or other stigmatized perceptions, and (d) a related phobia (see directly below).

3. Medetails-o-phobia: The fear of encountering written or spoken medication disclaimers which focus on side effects** and soothing sentences like “ask your doctor if this medication is right for you.”


4. Spill-o-phobia (generalized): The fear of spilling anything, anywhere.


5. Pantrymoth-o-phobia:  The fear of opened (and, in severe cases, unopened) boxes of grain-based products.


6. Lactolack-o-phobia: The fear of running out of any kind of milk, especially for cereal:


And finally …

7. Utensiloss-o-phobia: The fear of encountering a missing eating implement, especially when hungry:


I could go on (believe me), but I don’t want to trigger anybody’s longblog-o-phobia, which I think is self-explanatory.

Thanks to courageous people everywhere who overcome personal fears all the time and to you — of course! — for braving this blog today.

* This photo was taken the day I wrote this pre-travel post. All other photos taken this morning.

** Which almost always include death.

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

Day 416: Fun with Phobias

Good morning, my dear readers!

I am finally getting around to a topic I’ve been considering for many months: Personal Phobias.

I’ve written about fear, many times before, because that’s a feeling that I — as a  card-carrying member of the human race — face every day. But I haven’t turned my attention to the term “phobia” yet, here in this blog.

So what is the definition of phobia, according to experts other than me? Let’s use for this one, shall we?  Here’s the first definition of phobia there:

: an extremely strong dislike or fear of someone or something

Hmmm.  I don’t think that really captures what a phobia is. Let’s go to the next entry at that site — the “full definition”:

:  an exaggerated usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation

I like that better because — as advertised — it’s fuller. That is, it includes those helpful modifiers “exaggerated,” “usually inexplicable,” and “illogical.”

Here are some other interesting facts, about the word “phobia,” from the Merriam Webster website.

Phobia Fact #1. This caught my attention because I  am interested in poetry:

Rhymes with PHOBIA

Have fun, limerick writers!

Phobia Fact #2.  Because I’ve just returned from a 6-day trip to Panama, I also noticed the Spanish translation of “phobia”:

Spanish Central Translation: “phobia”

This means (1) I knew more Spanish than I thought and (2) I could have gotten into more in-depth discussions with people in Panama.

Phobia Fact #3.   Now here’s a perhaps more useful and interesting fact about the word “phobia.” The first known use of the word “phobia” was in 1786.

The  Merriam Webster site doesn’t cite specifics about that first use, but I believe there WERE a lot of scary things going on around that time, especially if you were a member of certain economic classes.  However, I must confess that history was not my strong suit in school.

But now I’m curious about likely candidates for the first use of the word “phobia.” And Googling “1786 historical events” DOES reveal some interesting possibilities.

Here’s the full list of noteworthy  1786 events, according to

Feb 13th – Abraham Baldwin selected president of University of Georgia
Feb 24th – Charles Cornwallis appointed governor-general of India
May 1st – Mozart’s opera “Marriage of Figaro” premieres in Wien (Vienna)
Jun 8th – Commercially made ice cream 1st advertised (Mr Hall, NYC)
Jun 10th – A landslide dam on the Dadu River created by an earthquake ten days earlier collapses, killing 100,000 in the Sichuan province of China.
Jun 29th – Alexander Macdonell and over five hundred Roman Catholic highlanders leave Scotland to settle in Glengarry County, Ontario.
Jul 29th – 1st newspaper published west of Alleghanies, Pitts Gazette
Aug 2nd – Utrechtse Vroedschap flees
Aug 8th – Congress adopts silver dollar & decimal system of money
Aug 8th – Jacques Balmat & Michel Paccard are 1st to climb to top of Mont Blanc
Aug 11th – Captain Francis Light establishes the British colony of Penang in Malaysia
Aug 29th – Shay’s Rebellion in Springfield, Mass
Sep 4th – -5] Orange troops plunder Hattem/Elburg
Sep 5th – Montplaisir Ceramic factory opens in Schaarbeek Belgium
Sep 11th – Annapolis Convention to determine interstate commerce
Sep 26th – Britain & France sign trade agreement
Oct 15th – Earliest 32°F (0°C) recorded temp in NYC
Oct 20th – Harvard University organizes 1st astronomical expedition in US
Nov 7th – The oldest musical organization in the United States is founded as the Stoughton Musical Society.
Nov 30th – Peter Leopold Joseph of Habsburg-Lorraine, Grand Duke of Tuscany, promulgates a penal reform making his country the first state to abolish the death penalty. November 30 is therefore commemorated by 300 cities around the world as Cities for Life Day.
Dec 29th – French Revolution: The Assembly of Notables is convoked

Now, as you read that list, some of those events may seem inherently scarier to you than others.

Personally, the most obvious candidate for the first use of the word “phobia” is … the landslide.

Although, now that I think of it, a fear response to a landslide involving major loss of life is neither inexplicable or illogical, which is part of the full definition of phobia.  Being afraid of a natural disaster is a perfectly understandable fear.

Taking that into account, if I had been alive in 1786,  likely candidates for the First Use of the word Phobia might have been:

Figaro-phobia: The inexplicable fear of alienating your hairstylist and receiving a terrible haircut, especially  if s/he is prone to emotional or musical outbursts.

Ice-cream-ad-o-phobia: The inexplicable fear of consuming too much ice cream, especially after viewing marketing materials.

I see a couple of other likely candidates in that list, involving math and cold temperatures, but … I digress.

Yes, it’s true, my dear readers. This whole time-traveling section of this post has been … One Big Digression. What I really wanted to write about this morning were personal, inexplicable, exaggerated, and illogical fears I’m feeling …. IN THE PRESENT.  In case you haven’t noticed, my new (as of 1/1/14) subtitle for my “blog banner” is:

Here and now, with all of it.

So what are some personal phobias, I’ve been noticing, in the here and now?  Here’s a beginning list:

Neo-term-o-phobia: The fear of using the wrong word or phrase, especially related to new, unfamiliar systems or technologies, such as “subtitle for my blog banner.”

Ridicul-o-phobia (generalized): The fear of looking or otherwise seeming ridiculous.

Ridiculo-footwear-o-phobia: The fear of being ridiculed because of bad or foolish shoe choices.


Now, as regular readers of this blog may know, that photo has appeared before — in this blog post — when I revealed I had worn two different boots to work one day.  Regular readers may also know that I’ve been doing pretty well at letting go of THAT phobia.

Here’s more proof of my progress, in that area:


That photo is also an illustration of a cure for phobias, recommended by experts and wise people around the globe:

Embrace — and perhaps even enjoy — your fears.


Now, because I also have this phobia:

Procrast-o-phobia: the fear of being late for important things because of becoming too involved in other activities

… I need to start finishing this post.

Here are two more personal phobias:

Plumb-o-phobia:  the fear of having problems with pipes and other water-delivery and/or waste-removal systems, that may lead to (1) damaging overflows and (2) the need to call the plumber.

Don’t worry, dear readers. I’m not including any photos for THAT phobia. And I’m going to end this post with the phobia that originally inspired it:

Tax-o-phobia: the exaggerated, illogical, and inexplicable fear of anything related to the process of annual tax preparation, including official documents arriving in the mail after January 1.


Am I alone in these personal phobias, people?

Thanks to Mozart, my boyfriend Michael (for the blogging slippers), people in the past and the present who have dealt with fears or phobias of any kind, and — of course! — to you, for visiting today.

Categories: humor, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

Day 415: Chilling

Well, I have to get myself together and remember how to do a Work Day, dear readers, so this is going to be a short post.

I think. We shall see, won’t we?

So, the topic is “Chilling.”

Here’s my first definition of that word. And, you know what?  For the first time since I started this blog, I am NOT going to consult any other source — expert, on-line, or otherwise — about the “right” words to define or explain.  I’m just going to trust that I can make up a definition that’s good enough:


(verb form)

Being cool, letting go of  concerns.

Antonym:  Worrying

Honestly, that is something that I am working on, every single moment.  Like now.  With every word I write. And in the spaces between the words and the paragraphs, too.

That helps.

Let’s see if I have any pictures, to illustrate that use of the word “Chilling”.

I MUST have some within easy reach —  I just got back from six days in Panama, people!

Here are some photos that fit the bill (although I am making some assumptions about other people’s states of mind):











Now, I wanted to include other definitions, including these:



Cold, creating a feeling of coldness.

Antonym: Warming




Scary, frightening, terrifying

Antonym: Reassuring


… but I need to end this post, and return to work.

I’m glad I spent more time, this morning, on that first definition of “Chilling.”

Thanks to the people of Boquete, Panama — residents and visitors — and to you — of course! — for visiting here today.

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

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