Monthly Archives: October 2014

Day 669: Spontaneous

Today, I’m writing spontaneously. While I thought about possible topics, yesterday, for today’s  post, I decided to pick this title at the last minute and just see what happens.

While some people might call that

… doing something spontaneously, without planning, can be fun!

Now, I would like to spontaneously link to other posts I’ve written that have “fun” in the title.  Here they are:

  1. Day 248: Random thoughts on fun,
  2. Day 416: Fun with Phobias,
  3. Day 417: Fun with Phobias, Part II,
  4. Day 443: Fun with labels,
  5. Day 496: Fun with Phobias (Part III*), and last (and perhaps least relevant)
  6. Day 516: One possible function of anxiety (dreams).

I love lists, so here’s another one I’m including here, spontaneously, of things that happened while I was creating that first list, above:

  1. I had fun with it.
  2. I was hoping that people would click on those links to my prior posts, since I think they’re all good enough to read.
  3. I’m being brave enough to finally use the “new”method of creating posts today.
  4. As I was about to add the last item in the list, this post disappeared — poof!
  5. I didn’t panic.
  6. I patiently tried to find it.
  7. I decided the post was lost forever and I was prepared to re-create this post, from the beginning.
  8. I found the original draft of this post.

I just tried to link to the last number in that list, but WordPress wouldn’t let me.  That’s okay. I can link to that number, now:

8

I was thinking of writing

F___ YOU, WORDPRESS!!

right there, because I get upset, sometimes, when I’m trying to use something new and can’t figure it out and make a mistake and panic a little, but I thought better of it.

Yesterday, in my work as a psychotherapist and in my life as a human being, I encountered people who had trouble dealing with anger. I’m often not sure what to do with my own anger, either. (I seem to be okay dealing with other people’s anger spontaneously, even though I may fear it in advance.)

My best advice about anger, these days, is

  • own your anger (as well as your other feelings)
  • express your anger in a way that works for you, rather than bottling it up

Before I proceed with THAT list (which I started spontaneously without knowing where it would end), I’d like see what Google Images has for “bottling it up.”

Eeek!  I just lost track of this post, again, when I came back from “Google Images.” I couldn’t find it anywhere.  However, this time, I remembered the process for restoring this post that worked for me before, so I spontaneously did NOT panic. I’m hoping I can learn from this experience to make my post-creation process, next time, smoother and easier.

Where was I?  Oh, yes!  Showing you Google Images for “Bottling it Up.”

Oh!  I just found the earlier draft of this post.  I just didn’t see it before, because I had too many tabs open. You’ll just have to believe me, though, that the first draft totally disappeared.

I just spontaneously closed a lot of those open tabs, so I can more easily keep track of things as I’m writing this post.

Where was I? Oh, yes!  Google Images for “bottling it up”:

bottle

(Image found here)

Bottling_up_Emotions_by_jDoopliss (1)

(Image found here)

Spontaneously, I’m deciding that those are enough Google Images, for today. I feel more comfortable using my own images, since I own those.

But what image(s), of my own, should I include in this post?

I could show you some photos I just had to stop and spontaneously take yesterday, on my way to work:

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I could show you a portion of the whiteboard from the therapy group I did last night (making sure to keep strict confidentiality):

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I DEFINITELY want to show you the photo I took this morning, right before my son left for school, of two pieces of required equipment he had chosen for today, Halloween:

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Have fun trying to figure THAT out.

Before I spontaneously press “Publish” to send this post out into the world, what feels left out, for me?

Music! But what piece of music fits today’s post?

Do YOU have any ideas about that?

Even if you do,  that’s not going to help me now.

Here’s the tune that’s rattling around in my head (and has been, since I rediscovered it while writing this here post). And since I primarily write these posts for ……

ME!

… posting this video, spontaneously, here, will give ME easier access to it.

(This time, I’m linking to just that performance, which I LOVE, of “In France They Kiss on Main Street” with Joni Mitchell, Pat MethenyJaco Pastorius, and Lyle Mays, rather than linking to the whole concert — which I LOVE — as I did in that previous post.)

Okay! I’ve

  • included words, images and music here,
  • had some breakfast, while writing this,
  • managed to avoid my hands being gnawed by one of my cats, while I’m typing this,
  • left enough time to get ready for work, where I have to write something spontaneously that’s due today ….

… so I think those are reasons enough to publish this post NOW.

One more thing: Thanks to EVERYBODY.

Categories: blogging, fun, inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism, taking a risk | Tags: | 14 Comments

Day 668: Cat people

If you know the difference between a cat

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and a dog

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… then you probably know the difference between “cat people” and “dog people.”  Speaking for myself, I’ve read and heard lots of discussions about how Cat People and Dog People differ. (If you want to read some of these comparisons, check out this, this, this, or that) (fetched for me, just now, by Google, which seems kind of dog-like to me).

As I was deciding which articles and quizzes to include here about Cat People vs. Dog People, this conclusion stood out:

Cat lovers are smarter than dog owners, study claims.

Since I am a cat person, you COULD assume that the links I chose for reading materials, above, are good ones. Whether you choose to visit those links probably depends on the kind of person you are.

So why am I writing about Cat People today?  As usual, I have lots of reasons (which may be related to my being a Cat Person) (or maybe not):

  • I realized I hadn’t been showing photos of our two cats, Oscar and Harley, in my blog lately.
  • I therefore took some photos of them yesterday.

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  • We recently found out that our neighbor cat, Mambo, is male, so now we can say, “What a good boy!” with impunity.

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If our cats read this blog, they might get the impression that we like Mambo more than we like them, but they don’t and we don’t, either.

If Michael reads this blog, he might have felines, I mean feelings, about what I’ve included here, so far. If he does, I can change this post, as he requests.

I like being respectful of the preferences of people I include in my blog, whether they are cat people, dog people, or other kinds of people. I especially want to be thoughtful about Michael’s wishes, today, because tomorrow is the fourth anniversary of the day we met.  Yes, my boyfriend Michael and I met …

…. on Halloween.

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Eeeeek!  I hope I didn’t scare you, just now, with that other neighborhood cat (whose name and gender I do not know).

I don’t find our anniversary scary at all, even though Michael described himself as more of a Dog Person when we first met. From knowing Michael for four years, I would say he’s one of those rare people who appreciate cats AND dogs, for what they are.

Last night, Michael and I followed our usual Wednesday evening norm of visiting a local pet-store-with-cat-shelter, where we saw lots of cat people and dog people. The self-avowed cat person in the couple (which would be me)  took all of these photos:

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Michael, as usual, made me laugh out loud, LOL, crack up — whatever cat, dog, or other people want to call it — last night, with this commentary about that product above:

What is this? A laser printer? We can’t poop in this! We’ll get into trouble!

In honor of our anniversary tomorrow, I am posting a song that Michael, I believe, likes better than some of the other music I choose for this blog:

(official video of the theme from “Cat People,” sung by David Bowie, found here)

I don’t know if our different tastes in music have to do with Michael and I being primarily cat people or dog people. I do know that I like David Bowie, too.

Also, in honor of Cat (and, perhaps, Dog) People, I’m including one of my favorite cat videos, from YouTube:

(“Ninja Cat” video found here on YouTube)

Some things just sneak up on you, don’t they?

Thanks to Michael (of course), cat people, dog people, cats, dogs, and you … no matter what kind of person you are!

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , | 39 Comments

Day 667: Norms

 Yesterday, as I was jazzily driving through my neighborhood on my way to work, I saw a front lawn that was COVERED with white.

No, it wasn’t the first New England snowfall. It looked more like this:

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…. which is a photo I snapped (but did not use in this blog) on the morning of the recent lunar eclipse.

As is my norm, I noticed those strips of toilet paper on that lawn and I had lots of thoughts, including:

Yikes!  Why is that place COVERED with toilet paper? Does that mean those people are being harassed, for some reason, by their neighbors?

And since that was the second time I had noticed that kind of morning decoration at that particular residence, I realized I should probably take some sort of action.

Now, it’s NOT my norm to call the police, but I didn’t know what the norm was, in a situation like this.

It IS my norm, when I’m driving to work in the morning, to be

  • tight for time,
  • encountering road traffic, and
  • hesitant to use my phone

… but I was resolute to do something about the multiple toilet-paper-on-lawn sightings.

Here’s another norm for me, lately: Siri (my alleged iPhone personal assistant) and I have a failure to communicate.  So when I told Siri, in all the ways I could imagine, to

Call the local police

… Siri replied:

I can’t do that, Ann

… in different ways. This is not my norm, but I said some very harsh words to Siri, including labeling her and her abilities in extremely unflattering and negative language. Siri, as is her norm (but not mine), took my insults in a very non-defensive and calm way, responding:

After all I’ve done for you?

… multiple times.

As is my norm, when I realize that somebody is NOT going to be of help to me, I figure out a way to get things done, on my own.  This is the phone conversation I had with the local police:

The Local Police:  Sargent So-And-So. (My norm, when I’m encountering somebody for the first time, is to forget their name.)

Me: Hi. My name is Ann Koplow. I was just driving through my neighborhood and I noticed, for the second time, that somebody had covered somebody’s lawn with toilet paper.  I wasn’t sure what to do about that, so I thought I’d let you know.

The Local Police (sounding as calm and as unflappable as Siri, which may be their norm, too, for all I know): Yes, Ma’am.  Does a high school athlete live there?

Me (taken aback and a little annoyed when I am asked a question I think I could NOT possibly know the answer to, which is another norm of mine):  I really wouldn’t know, officer.  Why? (Another norm of mine: to ask open-ended questions.)

The Local Police:  Because that’s what the kids do around here, Ma’am.  When it’s game time, they cover the homes of the local athletes in toilet paper.

Me (laughing, which is a norm of mine, when I’m relieved): Oh! I didn’t  know that.

After that phone conversation, I knew that “Norms” would be the title of today’s post, because I was thinking about how norms are different, from place to place. And I felt lucky that I was living in a neighborhood where the norm for somebody’s home being covered with toilet paper was benign and playful, rather than sinister, scary, and otherwise dangerous. I also thought about how lucky I am that it’s not my norm, since living in this neighborhood, to call the police for anything. (I’ve had to call the police for more serious matters, in previous neighborhoods I’ve lived.)

As is my norm, once I thought of a post title for this blog, I noticed norms everywhere.

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Geese by the side of the road are a norm, around here.

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Things of various sizes momentarily blocking my car on the way to work are another norm, these days.

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Finding lots of cars needing to be parked — a sure sign that the shuttle bus between my parking lot and the hospital where I work has just left without me on it — is another norm.  However, this norm never affects me, since I walk the mile to work.

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Blue skies in the morning are one possible norm around here.

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Tour buses parked outside of Boston’s Fenway Park are another norm, although now that baseball season is over, I’m not seeing nearly as many as these.

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One of my morning, work-week norms is saluting Carl Yastrzemski, as I walk by the statue honoring him, outside of Fenway. I just broke another one of my norms — misspelling names. I remembered, exactly, how to spell Captain Carl’s.

Blogging norms for me include balancing my needs with other people’s needs, so I need to take a short break here, to check if my son needs any help from me getting out to school this morning.

My son, Aaron, needed a little — but not much — help from me. Since he’s 16 years old, this is a developing norm.

Where was I?  Oh, yes. Photos from yesterday, when I was noticing norms.

As I walked by Fenway Park, on my way to work, a strange man was suddenly in my face, showing me his camera. Since I was wearing my headphones, listening to some music I included in yesterday’s post, I couldn’t hear what he was saying. I could tell, though, from his non-verbal cues, that he wanted me to take a photo of him and his female companion, standing outside of Fenway:

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Of course, that’s not the photo I took with his camera.  I took that photo with my phone, after we exchanged words, including:

Strange man: Here!  You just push these buttons!

Me: (as I try to figure out how to take the photo quickly):  You know, I’m on my way to work!

Strange woman: I know!  He didn’t even ask you!

Strange man: That’s Californians for you!

Me: Or guys! *

Strange woman: Yes!  Guys!

Then I noticed another strange guy, who said, “His photo is in post offices, everywhere!” I said, “Hey!  I use that line, too!”  Then I took a quick photo of these three visitors from a strange land called “Long Beach”

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…  before I jazzed off to work.

My norm — in taking photos for this blog — is to let people know I’m doing that. A few minutes later, I encountered this gentleman:

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He also gave me permission to take his picture, although — as with the visitors from California — I did not get his name.

Here are a few more local norms I observed, on my way to work, yesterday morning:

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Later in the day, I observed a common norm at the hospital where I work, as I took a Starbucks break. I saw some unfamiliar faces there, including Kate:

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and some familiar ones, including Alex and Jeannette:

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Because Kate and I just met yesterday, she spelled my name wrong:

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But, despite our unfamiliarity with each other, Kate and I bonded over music, like so:

Me: (thinking Ella Fitzgerald’s voice is singing in the background at Starbucks): Who is that singing, right now?  Is that Ella Fitzgerald?

Kate: I think that is definitely Ella. She has such a great voice.

Regular readers of this blog know I like to include music I love here. While I couldn’t find a YouTube video of the song I heard Ella singing in Starbuck’s yesterday, I did find this:

(Ella Fitzgerald scattin’ some Jazz found here on YouTube)

Before I end this post, I’ll point out another one of my blogging norms: I’ve linked, within this post, to past posts and Wikipedia (and other reference) pages.

What norms do you have (related to blogs and other things)?

One more norm for me to take care of, this morning, before I leave for work.

Oh, wait!  Before I end this post, here are some photos I took yesterday, after work, that I wanted to show you.  Do you notice any norms, here?

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Okay!  Here’s my final blogging norm, for today:

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* The two guys I live with have pointed out, several times, that sexist comments like that are yet another one of my norms.

For those of my readers who were expecting some sort of visual pun in this post, here you go:

norm 1-norm-cheers

Categories: inspiration, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Day 666: Jazz

Anybody who reads my blog probably knows that

I

Love

Jazz.

I’ve loved jazz since the first time I heard Count Basie play on a TV show, when I was very young. (I can’t find that appearance on YouTube, but I found some other Count Basie TV appearances from the 1960’s, here, here, and here.)

When I was in high school, I spent two summers studying jazz piano at Berklee School of Music (now Berklee College of Music).

Not to be judgmental, but I really wasn’t that great at playing jazz piano. Believe me, I’m not being falsely modest here. I’ve simply never had

  • the courage,
  • the technique,
  • the “chops” (as jazz players say)
  • the patience,
  • the stick-to-it-ness,
  • the talent, or
  • the natural ability

…. to improvise on any musical instrument. And improvisation is what makes jazz jazz.

In case you don’t know what improvisation is: in jazz, the musicians  play a tune the way it was written and then they take turns improvising — making up new music within the established chord structure of that song.

So jazz is a wonderful balance of

  • structure and play,
  • dependence and independence,
  • teamwork and individuality.

I never get tired of witnessing great improvisers. I’ve included a lot of them in my blog posts. If you improvise a search through my posts, right now, I’m sure you’ll find some, easily enough.

Actually, I’m going to be kinder than that, right now. Rather than sending you off on a wild-goose chase through my posts looking for examples of good improvisers, I shall take this opportunity to post a jazz tune I love, with two of my favorite improvisers — Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays:

Many times before, in this blogging journey of mine, I have considered posting a YouTube link to “Daulton Lee” (written by Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays, from the soundtrack of movie The Falcon and the Snowman). I’ve often wondered — in the past year and a half — how I could improvise sharing with you that wonderful  and (for me) mood-improving music, but it never seemed to fit any other topic, well enough. It’s not like I’ve written about Daultons or Lees or Falcons or Snowmen.

Snowmen. Hmmmm. Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure I’ve shown photos of snowmen here in the past 22 months (but who’s counting?) since I started blogging.

Oh, well. I guess I can’t be on top of EVERY opportunity to do things I’d like to do.

There’s no time like the present, however! Today, the topic is jazz and I can pretty much post whatever I want!

I’m actually going to return to the past, just for a moment, as I explain to you another reason why I haven’t posted “Daulton Lee” before.  YouTube doesn’t have my favorite kind of jazz video for “Daulton Lee” — that is, a live version with good quality sound.  But the studio version of “Daulton Lee” is good enough, right now.

And I’ve now posted “Daulton Lee!” Another item to remove from my Blogging To-Do List. That’s always a relief.

I will share this with you, though, at this point. I’m not sure “Daulton Lee” is such a great example of jazz improvisation, as I defined it earlier in this post.

Let’s see if there’s another favorite tune I love, that I know I haven’t shared with you before.

I know!  I’ve never included, in any blog post, “Minuano” by the Pat Metheny group. Why?  Same reason as with “Daulton Lee.”  The title doesn’t naturally lend itself to any topic I might tackle here.

Is that YouTube video of the album version of “Minuano” a perfect example of jazz improvisation?  Probably not, but it’s a great nine minutes of music. And here’s a live version I love (even though it doesn’t include the full tune):

Wow!  I’ve really gotten a lot off my plate here today, regarding my favorite music.

Don’t you think it’s about time I explain why I’m writing about jazz today, of all days?

I’m still thinking about my presentation, two days ago, when I spoke about the Koplow Method of group therapy to an audience of other therapists.

As my presentation was ending on Sunday, several people said some kind and complimentary things about the way I do groups, including this:

I love the way you create this clear structure which allows people the safety to play.  It’s like … jazz.

Music to my ears!  I will forever be grateful to that person for improvising, in the moment, one of the best compliments ever.

Telling you that story also lets me segue into this classic YouTube video that my 16-year-old son, Aaron, and I happened to watch last night.

Note: That appearance of the Muppets on The Ed Sullivan Show in the 1960’s is all about somebody really, really, really  wanting to improvise, despite the judgment of others.

Now, how I shall improvise on my well-established blog structure, of showing you photos I’ve taken recently, usually near the end of the post?

Here are some photos I took yesterday, when I was improvising on a visual theme I had chosen for my walk away from work — “Green.”

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Pretty jazzy, huh?

Gotta run to work, where I get to improvise, as best I can.

Thanks to Pat Metheny, Lyle Mays, Jim Henson, and all the other creative masters who helped me write this post today. And — in yet another variation on a theme I’ve included in almost every post I’ve ever written  — thanks to all you jazzy people out there, for visiting here today!

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

Day 665: Smiles

I am smiling as I’m writing this, remembering moments from my presentation yesterday, in a room full of people interested in the group therapy I do.  There were smiles there, as well as lots of other feelings and facial expressions, too.

I’m also smiling as I’m remembering how encouraging and helpful my readers have been for me here as I’ve prepared for this presentation (which went well enough to make me and other people smile).

“Smiles” could have easily been the title of many blog posts before today’s, because I’ve written many times about joy (here, here, here, and here, for example). But smiles have never shown up in the title before.

That makes me smile, in wonder.

Here are some other random thoughts I have, right now, about smiles:

  • When I interact with people who never seem to smile, no matter what, I can feel nervous and unsettled.
  • Yesterday, right before my presentation, I made note that the day was special for another reason: the wedding anniversary of my late parents. Then, part of my presentation preparation included looking at these smiles:

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  • When I look at those smiles, I can smile back and also cry. As I’ve oft tried to communicate (including in this post here), all feelings — not just smiles — are important, honored, and welcomed.

Here is Judy Garland, smiling (and showing other things, too) as she sings “Smile” (music written by Charlie Chaplin).

Here are some smiles from yesterday:

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If you express anything in a comment (including a favorite “Smile” song of your own), what do you think I’ll do?

Thanks to everyone who reads, smiles, cries, expresses, and does whatever else helps each person cope, heal, and grow. If you realize I’ve thanked you … big smile.

Categories: in memoriam, inspiration, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , | 40 Comments

Day 664: Who are these people?

In a few hours, I shall be making a presentation to a room-full of people, about a method  of group therapy I conduct, four times every week, at my place of employment.

I could be asking — myself and the universe — lots of questions about this imminent presentation, including:

  • How am I going to perfectly translate all my knowledge and experience of group therapy into a neat, comprehensive, and engaging 70-minute package?
  • How am I going to make “small talk” during the “breakfast” portion of this “breakfast club” event, prior to my presentation? Won’t I be too nervous?  Won’t chatting with people, that way, feel inauthentic?
  • How can I surreptitiously check my teeth after eating all sorts of food that will indubitably include green, red, and other colorful objects,  to make sure that there’s nothing obvious stuck there, to distract my audience?
  • If I screw this up completely, what will the consequences be?

Actually, it helped me to ask that last question, because I can see that the answer is:

No lasting consequences that I can identify, at all.

However, the main question I wanted to ask in today’s blog is … surprise!  …  the title of this post.

Who are these people?

This is a question I’ve asked before, when I’m:

  • stuck in a long line at the grocery store,
  • not moving because of lots of traffic,
  • observing a crowd of people gathering, for a reason I can’t immediately identify, and
  • other situations that I can’t remember, right now (but that’s okay).

Today, that question mainly refers to:

Who are these people I am going to see in less than 2.5 hours?   Who are these people who made the decision, the effort, and the monetary commitment to sign up to hear me speak today?

Since I do not know who they are, at this writing, I am perfectly capable of projecting all sorts of fears, assumptions, and worries onto them.

Actually, this is not entirely true. I DO know some of the people who will be there today, including Maxine, who reads this blog (I think) and who did a kick-ass presentation of her own, last year. And I know some of the organizers for the event, including Marc, who sent me this email yesterday:

Ann,

One more short day till game time, if you would like me to add to this introduction please let me know. Personally I like it as it stands

See you in the morning,

Marc

… and directly below that was the response I had sent, weeks ago, to Marc’s request for a “bio,” to help him prepare for his introduction of me this morning.

How about this as a bio, Mark?

This is Ann Koplow.

She knows what she’s talking about.

Listen to her.

I’ll work on a better bio, soon.

Thank you, very much.

Annn

Here’s what I notice, now, about that email I had sent Marc (which I completely forgot about until yesterday):

  1. I misspelled both his name and my name.
  2. That’s a pretty good introduction.

So, I guess I’m as ready as I’ll ever be for my presentation today.  But, to complete this blog post, I want to show you some photos I’ve taken recently. It’s up to you to decide whether these images fit today’s topic.

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Before I end this post,  I also want to include two songs that answer the question — “Who Are These People?” — very differently. That is, they reflect how I see people when I feel (1) unsafe and (2) safe.

(“People are Strange” by The Doors found here on YouTube)

(“Shower the People” by James Taylor found here on YouTube)

Thanks to all the people who showed up in this post. I know who they are and I’m grateful I do. I’m also grateful I could shower you with my thoughts, feelings, and experiences, today.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism, taking a risk | Tags: , , , , , | 31 Comments

Day 663: Hard Eights

Yesterday, when I was walking to work, one of my favorite tunes in the wide, wide, wide, wide, wide, wide, wide, wide world showed up in my earphones: “Hard Eights” by Lyle Mays (who, I think, plays “88s” like no other).

See!!!!!!!!! It is NOT going to be hard for me to incorporate 8’s into this blog post.  Already, I’ve used the word “wide” eight times, I’ve used “88s” as a slang term for the piano, AND I’ve used eight exclamation points in the beginning of this paragraph.

What IS going to be hard for me to do, unfortunately, is share Lyle Mays playing this amazing tune — which I’ve been loving for over 18 years. I’ve searched everywhere in the wide wide wide wide wide wide wide wide web, and I can NOT find a video of Lyle playing this incredibly hard and wonderful piece of music.

I did find less than eight YouTube videos of DIFF’RENT people performing “Hard Eights,” and it’s taken me about eight minutes, this morning, to decide which one to show you.

ade ishs Trio performance found here; other brave people playing this hard tune can be found here, here, here, and here.

I wonder if more than eight people will check out all those versions of “Hard Eights” on YouTube?  If you do, note that

  • Takayuki Sasahara & Reiko Sasahara do a nice job with “Hard Eights,” even though it can be hard to play something like that without an audience.*
  • the last YouTube video of that song is Out of the Norm, because it gives credit for “Hard Eights” away from Lyle, to the WRONG people. I find that hard, when people don’t get credit for their creativity.

While I was searching for “Hard Eights” as incomparably performed by Lyle Mays (a search I started over eight hours ago), I found this, instead:

According to that YouTube video description:

TEDxCaltech – Lyle Mays and Friends

Lyle Mays and friends explore music based on physics equations, Feynman’s speech patterns and more, using improvisation, algorithmic composition, live video mixing, and a custom designed linked laptop network.

At about 13:18 in that video, Lyle starts playing some other music very familiar to — and loved by —  me.

I shall now show you eight pictures I easily took, yesterday, inspired by “Hard Eights.”

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I wonder what the iPhone 8 is going to be like?  I wonder if it will actually be able to understand me when I’m friggin’ trying to call somebody by speaking aloud the approximately eight digits in a phone number??!!??!!

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I found this in my mailbox at work. It was a chocolate reward, from my supervisors, for exceeding productivity expectations for how many people I saw for therapy last month (almost the eighth month of the year, but not quite). I can’t help but notice that there are no eights in the number of people I saw during the month of September, at a large hospital-based primary care practice,  in individual therapy and in therapy groups. I thought I might make some sort of 8-times show-off-y comment about that unexpectedly large number (using, say, base 2 numbers) but ……… forget it.

I’m really pushing it, aren’t I, trying to get eights into this post?  Maybe I should just move on to the next photo:

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This is an inside look at the candy reward I got, which was in approximately eight pieces. Anybody want to guess how many minutes went by before I 8 this?

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This shows me copying some materials for my sold-out presentation about the Koplow Method for group therapy, coming up in less than 28 hours.  Hey! Notice all the 8’s in that photo!

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On my way to lunch, in the hospital cafeteria, I snapped this photo of some art on the wall.  I heard a familiar voice say, “That’s a beautiful one, isn’t it?”  It was the beautiful Louise, who showed me this photo of her orchid:

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I saw almost eight blossoms on that beautiful flower.

Okay!  I have to choose two more pictures, to make this post complete.IMG_1316

I made this, yesterday, for my presentation tomorrow. A similar sign hangs in every room where I do my therapy groups. Some people think that eight-letter word is spelled incorrectly. It’s not.

I’m not sure if I’ll use that sign tomorrow. If I need it, I’ll have it.

Last photo? Eight letters I hope I hear tomorrow (and which I would say if I met, in person, all the musicians in this blog post today):

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8,888,888 thanks to all who helped me create this post today (which I’m publishing at 9:48 without proofreading) AND to anybody who-ever-reads-this-post-at-any-time (including you, you, you, you, you, you, you, and you!).


* More than eight minutes after I published this post, I heard the ending of Takayuki Sasahara & Reiko Sasahara’s performance of “Hard Eights,” and discovered they WERE performing in front of an audience. Was it hard for me to admit my mistake here?  No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. Am I glad I did? Eight times yes.

** On December 22, 2015, more than 2 years after I published this “Hard Eights” post, I discovered that Lyle Mays playing this amazing number had finally shown up on YouTube.  I am more than eight times happy to include that, here and now:

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

Day 662: Flooded

It’s been raining incessantly here, for the past few days. There’s been water, water everywhere.

The rain has not stopped me from walking my usual mile between my parking garage near Boston’s Fenway Park, and my workplace, a major teaching hospital in Boston.

Last night, in a therapy group, one of the members quoted a Hungarian proverb:

There is no such thing as bad weather. There are only bad clothes.

I have clothes that are good enough, to walk in the rain.  I also have an umbrella, that keeps me dry enough.

Last night, I walked away from work, in the rain, using my umbrella to shield myself and some of my materials for my sold-out presentation on Sunday about The Koplow Method of group psychotherapy.

I don’t have photos from that walk away from work — I mean, I didn’t want to distract myself. I was completely focused on shielding those papers I was carrying so carefully.

If you want to see some pictures from yesterday,  here are some I snapped during the morning walk:

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Here are some photos I took, once I reached the safety of my office:

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I’m wondering: is it okay that I’m showing you those photos?  Am I flooding you with too many details?

On Thursdays, I am usually flooded, at work, with a lot to do. I facilitate two therapy groups — one at 3 PM and one at 5:30 PM.  These groups are “open access,” which means people can attend them as they choose. I love giving people the choice to schedule their attendance way in advance  or spontaneously, at the last minute, so, that means I’m often entering patient numbers into the scheduling system throughout the day. Also, I need to attend some meetings on Thursday. Plus, I see individual patients.

Is this proof enough, that I am often flooded on Thursdays?

I was also flooded yesterday with some feelings and thoughts about my upcoming presentation. Those included:

During this time of the year — as the days shorten and winter approaches — there is a mindfulness exercise I like to conduct in my groups. I gather fallen leaves, bring a selection of those into the group, and invite people to choose a leaf to focus on.

The incessant rain has been an obstacle to my doing that mindfulness exercise.

Yesterday evening, I had about five minutes free, before the 5:30 PM group. I decided I, personally, wanted to connect with some autumn beauty. So I went outside, did my leaf-gathering, brought them in to the group room, and dried them all, well enough:

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That second photo demonstrates how rushed I was.  However, I took the time to capture my rain coat, sitting in the group room:

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One of the things we talked about, during group, was crying. People discussed their experience of

  • feeling better,
  • being exhausted, and
  • moving on

… after being flooded by tears.

After the evening group was over, somebody left her umbrella behind,, but remembered to come back for it. She said, “My mother gave me that umbrella. I can’t lose that.”  And she didn’t.

Which reminds me of those presentation materials I was protecting so carefully, on my walk away from work.

Once I reached the shelter of my garage, I saw some people who work there, who have been very kind to me in the past (see here, for that story). I was so happy to see them,  I distractedly closed my umbrella, and all that water ran down, over my presentation materials.

Flooded.

Oh, well. I can get some more of those, at work today.

Here’s a song I’d like to hear right now, before I venture back out, into the rain. It’s from Flood, an album by They Might Be Giants.

(“Birdhouse in Your Soul” found here on YouTube)

Thanks to They Might Be Giants for the music, to you for bringing a little birdhouse into my soul today, and to all who give themselves, and others,  protection enough from all those things that flood us, every day.

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

Day 661: Whelmed

With all the things I’m doing these days, including

  • blogging every day,
  • taking photos for this blog,
  • working full-time as a group and individual psychotherapist at a major Boston hospital,
  • being a mother to a 16-year-old son,
  • maintaining my health,
  • participating in activities I love, including musical events and travel, and
  • promoting ideas I have about improving health care delivery

…. it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

Yesterday, I recognized that my chances to feel overwhelmed were increasing, because  my sold-out presentation on The Koplow Method of group therapy is coming up in three days (but who’s counting?).

I don’t want to feel overwhelmed. I just don’t.

Somebody I admire recently said to me:

I’m overwhelmed

as a way to express gratitude. However, when I use the word “overwhelmed,” I mean

  • confused,
  • lost,
  • anxious,
  • disconnected (from people and hope), and
  • insecure.

At the same time, I don’t want to feel underwhelmed, either.  To me, underwhelmed means:

  • unimpressed,
  • dissatisfied, and
  • aware that things can be much better.

For example, WordPress recently changed the way bullet points appear for this blog, and, I, for one, am extremely underwhelmed by that change.

I think it’s time to use today’s title in this here blog post, don’t you? Here we go:

I do not want to feel overwhelmed or underwhelmed. As much as possible, I would like to be balanced and in the middle of those extremes: in other words …”whelmed.”

I am neither overwhelmed nor underwhelmed by the way I defined “whelmed.”

Yesterday, to stay whelmed in the midst of all my different commitments, interests, and obligations, I prepared for today’s blog post, as I made my way throughout the day. That is, rather than wait until I got up in the morning to decide on a topic — which is my usual, natural process — I thought of a title:

What smells?

which was inspired by a new raincoat I was wearing. I knew that

What smells?

was a fertile topic and one that I (and my readers) might benefit from, since I could write about

  • how smells trigger memories,
  • how new smells (and other unfamiliar things) can affect us, and
  • shame people can have about human body smells, which we just can’t avoid in our lives.

Also, since everything has a smell, the opportunities for words and photos were … endless!

Also, there was an obvious musical number I could use in that post:

(I sniffed out that Lynyrd Skynyrd performance of “That Smell,” on YouTube, here)

That post could practically write itself!

So all day, yesterday, as a way of NOT getting overwhelmed by fears and cognitive distortions about my upcoming presentation or underwhelmed by a potentially not-good-enough blog post, I focused on

What smells?

and I saw

  • things that smell and
  • things that USED TO smell (like the Charles River in Boston, which has been cleaned up, quite a bit, since I was a kid).

In addition, I ran into lots of challenges, like traffic that made me late almost everywhere I went yesterday, including

  • work,
  •  Berklee College of Music, to hunt down the recruitment video I helped create for them in the 1990’s,
  • therapy,
  • visiting with my neighbor, whose dog recently had surgery and who has a toilet she recommends as a possible replacement for our toilet that keeps running, running, running, and
  • my usual Wednesday evening routine, with bf Michael, having dinner at a local mall that includes a pet store and Whole Foods Market.

I realized I could include ALL those things, too, since certain obstacles can really stink, unless we let go of feeling overwhelmed and/or underwhelmed by our daily commitments, interests, and obligations, and stay as whelmed as possible.

So I had fun, yesterday, thinking about how I might write to you about

What smells?

and I took lots of  photos, including (in chronological order):

IMG_1134 IMG_1148 IMG_1150 IMG_1152 IMG_1157 IMG_1161 IMG_1162 IMG_1164 IMG_1168 IMG_1169 IMG_1172 IMG_1178 IMG_1179 IMG_1180 IMG_1184 IMG_1186 IMG_1187 IMG_1188 IMG_1190 IMG_1208  IMG_1209 IMG_1217 IMG_1219 IMG_1220 IMG_1221 IMG_1225   IMG_1228 IMG_1238 IMG_1234 IMG_1239 IMG_1243 IMG_1250 IMG_1251 IMG_1253 IMG_1254 IMG_1255 IMG_1256 IMG_1257

But then, I thought, how the hell am I going to explain all those photos? And there are some photos I might want to comment upon, like

  • how everybody gets parking tickets in Boston, even utility workers,
  • a study room at Berklee, which I attended during two summers when I was in high school, which looks exactly the same as it looked when I was 16 years old and where a very mean (and perhaps, insecure) boy said something humiliating to me and his friends laughed, laughed, laughed,
  • my neighbor’s daughter, dressing up for Halloween years ago as a virus particle,
  • my neighbor’s dog toys, which are stuffed animals purchased at the Boston Science Museum, representing (left to right) Ebola, Salmonella, and the common cold, and
  • how the Halloween costumes at Whole Foods Market include a Chef’s outfit, which Michael (who used to cook for a living) found particularly underwhelming.

So, I hope, you can see my dilemma about writing the planned blog post

What smells?

There are just too many chances for that post to be overwhelming or underwhelming.

Instead, I’m glad I changed the topic to

Whelmed.

And sure enough, that’s how I’m feeing now.

Thanks to everything that smells AND to everybody who ever gets overwhelmed, overwhelmed, and/or whelmed. I thinks that includes you, me, and everything, don’t you?

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

Day 660: Sold Out

Whenever I decide to attend a concert, play, or other ticketed event, these thoughts can occur to me:

If I want to go, probably lots of other people want to go, too. What if it’s SOLD OUT??

Being Sold Out, like that — feeling like I’ve been shut out from something I know I want, that I’m on the outside looking in — can be a really unpleasant experience.

Now, would it seem like I was trying to sell you something, if I point out some cognitive distortions (which can lead to stress, depression, and anxiety) in this post already? I’m noticing

  • Fortune telling
  • Mind reading, and
  • What If’s

… in what I’ve written, so far.

Geesh!  I think I may be trying too hard to sell the whole sold out/selling thing, by connecting “Sold Out” with cognitive distortions.

Does that mean I’ve sold out my blogging integrity? And does this connection even make sense? I mean, what could I possibly be trying to sell you, here?

Perhaps this: A lecture, presentation, or other ticketed event featuring information on

Would you buy a ticket to that?

Personally, I decided to buy a ticket to something else, two days ago. Here’s a recent email exchange between me and Peggy (my traveling companion to Panama, who has appeared in this blog, including here, here, here, and here):

Peggy’s email: … Pat Metheny Unity Group with Chris Potter, Antonio Sanchez, Ben Williams & Giulio Carmassi  …  Let me know. I’ll get tickets.

My email:  Yes!

In case I haven’t sold you  — with blog posts including this, this, this, this, this, and that — on the amazing Pat Metheny (who has never sold out his integrity but who has sold out many venues) … I’ll try that again. Here are two videos of Pat with his Orchestrion (which I’m hoping he’ll have with him, when I see him next month:

I wonder who sold Pat that incredible Orchestrion? I’m not trying to sell you on (1) clicking my links or (2) watching videos I post, but if you do, you’ll find the answer to that question.

When I was in the middle of watching that second Pat Metheny video on YouTube, trying to figure out how to sell my readers on Pat’s Orchestrion belonging in today’s post, I received another email, regarding my presentation this Sunday, October 26 (previously mentioned here, here, here, and here):

First of all, congratulations Ann for flooding us with registrations. We filled the house and have had to put quite a few people on a wait list (8 so far).

Do you realize what this means? I’ve finally sold out!

Let’s see if I have any pictures on my iPhone, from yesterday, for Sold Out.

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I wonder if the hospital gift shop has ever sold out of those?

Here’s something I drew on my whiteboard, yesterday, during a therapy group:

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Do you think I could sell out, as an artist?

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Michael made eggplant parmesan for dinner. If he opened a restaurant, I think he’d be sold out.

I think I’m all sold out of blog ideas (for today).

Many thanks to all who have sold, sold out, or have tried to get into something sold out. Does that include you?  It includes me.

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

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