Monthly Archives: November 2014

Day 699: True detective

My son and I started watching the HBO series True Detective this weekend.


(The truth is I detected that image of True Detective many places on the internet).

It’s true you would have detected this on my Facebook page last night:

The best TV show ever? I’m thinking maybe yes, after watching two episodes.Thanks for the push, Jonathan.

You don’t have to be a detective to find out who Jonathan is.  He’s my ex-business partner.

Together, for many years, Jonathan and I detected as much truth as we could, in the murky, confusing, and (let’s face it) profit-driven universe of marketing and advertising.

That’s how I would begin telling the story of Jonathan and Ann in the World of Advertising and Marketing.  The truth is that I don’t know what words Jonathan might use, detecting the truth of that experience.

That reminds me of the narrative structure of True Detective, where the two detectives involved in a case tell the story very differently.

Where is the truth in  any situation, when all involved tell the stories somewhat differently?  How do you detect the truth in all of that?

In my own way, I’ve tried to be a true detective throughout my life. Here are some truths I’m detecting right now:

  • It’s raining outside.
  • I’m going back to work tomorrow — detecting truths, as best I can, as a group and individual psychotherapist in the outpatient clinic of a major Boston teaching hospital —  after a four-day Thanksgiving vacation.
  • Like one of the detectives in True DetectiveI often take my pulse by feeling the artery in my neck.
  • I wonder what it all means sometimes (like some characters on True Detective).
  • I don’t like spoilers, so I just turned away from the internet when looking for different True Detective links for this post.
  • I don’t know what the truth is about my health.
  •  I’ll be seeing four medical detectives in December (who might narrate my story differently).
  • December starts tomorrow.

I detected some photographic truths yesterday and before I present the evidence, here’s the theme music from True Detective (found here on YouTube):

My images, from yesterday:

IMG_2603 IMG_2604 IMG_2605 IMG_2606 IMG_2607 IMG_2610 IMG_2611 IMG_2612 IMG_2616 IMG_2618 IMG_2619 IMG_2620 IMG_2622 IMG_2623 IMG_2625 IMG_2628 IMG_2629 IMG_2630 IMG_2632 IMG_2633 IMG_2634 IMG_2637 IMG_2638 IMG_2641 IMG_2643 IMG_2644 IMG_2645

What true story would you detect and create, out of those?

Thanks to everybody who truly helps me detect and create my my own story, every day, and to those reading my story here (including you, detecting your own truths on the way).

Categories: blogging, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 35 Comments

Day 698: Discover

Since writing yesterday’s post, I’ve discovered ways to let go of fears about

  • my very unusual heart,
  • how long I have on this amazing earth of ours, and
  • public speaking.

I discovered (again!) that people in the blog-o-sphere, the medical-o-sphere, and the world-o-sphere can help me let go of fears. I also discovered my way, yesterday, to submit a proposal to present a workshop at a group therapy conference this summer, about a form of group therapy discovered by me!

Here’s the no-more-than-50-word description I submitted yesterday, for my workshop presentation proposal:

Discover and experience a new group model (currently thriving in a large medical setting) where participants (1) attend when they choose, (2) identify practical strategies for reducing depression, anxiety, and stress, and (3) support and learn from each other and from a facilitator who role-models vulnerability and authenticity.

Surprised to discover the first word (or any other words) of that proposal? I shall now dis-cover for you the reason for the big finish of that description — the title of the group therapy conference this summer:

Getting Real:  Vulnerability and Effective Group Leadership.

Based on past discoveries, I know this: there are no guarantees I shall be presenting a workshop in June 2015. But I’ve discovered it’s good, for me, to try.

After I wrote my day-after-Thanksgiving blog post yesterday morning, I discovered many things, as usual, in the Greater Boston USA neighborhood where I live. There were two tunes I re-discovered yesterday, playing as I walked around, trying to discover a way to pay a real estate tax bill (among other errands):

(I’ve discovered a live version of The Pat Metheny Group‘s “Here to Stay” here on YouTube.)

The other song (with an interesting title) I re-discovered yesterday during my walk, was “Futures” from the Like Minds album with Gary Burton, Pat Metheny, Roy Haynes, and Dave Holland. As I’ve discovered before, there is no guarantee I shall discover a tune I want to share with you, on YouTube. However, in the search for “Futures” on YouTube, I discovered two wonderful things instead:

I leave it to you to discover what music you want to hear (if any) as you discover some images I discovered, yesterday, on my quest to pay my real estate tax bill, on the day after Thanksgiving, in the northeastern sector of the USA. *

IMG_2548 IMG_2551 IMG_2552 IMG_2553 IMG_2554 IMG_2556 IMG_2557 IMG_2559  IMG_2562 IMG_2564  IMG_2565IMG_2569 IMG_2570 IMG_2571 IMG_2573 IMG_2575 IMG_2585 IMG_2576IMG_2586IMG_2590 IMG_2592 IMG_2593 IMG_2595 IMG_2597

What did you discover, here and now?**

Thanks to all the musicians and non-musicians who contributed to my writing this post and to all those who discovered their own ways to read this today (which, I’m sure you will discover, includes you).

*I know I could discover a better way to write this photo introduction (as well as other things here), but I want to discover new things, today!

** Besides the fact that I didn’t pay my real estate tax bill yesterday.

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

Day 697: Worst Fears

“Worst fears” is a technique I sometimes use, as a therapist, inviting people to let go of fear.

That seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it?

Here’s how it works:

  1. People express or show fear (or some sort of emotional discomfort).
  2. I ask, “What’s your worst fear, about that?”
  3. They think about that and express it (sometimes for the first time).
  4. That seems to help.

What’s my worst fear about this post, so far?

That I’m not being particularly clear or convincing.

Let’s see what happens when I ask YOU that question (in a slightly different version, which I also use in my work):

What’s your worst fear, right now?

Did that help you, in any way?

Or did it make things worse?

My recommendations, regarding answering that question, would be:

  1. Take a breath.
  2. Write down (or otherwise put words on) an answer (in order to externalize the fear and to start identifying specifics).
  3. If that doesn’t help, STOP doing it.
  4. Distract yourself with things you know WILL help. For example, look at some fun photos:

IMG_2534 IMG_2535 IMG_2536 IMG_2538 IMG_2539 IMG_2541 IMG_2542 IMG_2543 IMG_2544 IMG_2545 IMG_2546

Did that help?

What are MY worst fears, right now?

  1. That my very unusual heart is failing, in some ways.
  2. That I will be alone with that.

Did it help me to write those down?

Yes, it did.


Because, now that I’ve written down those worst fears, I can answer them, as follows (in my usual inquisitive style):

  1. Does anybody’s heart really and truly fail?
  2. How can I be alone, if I keep posting cool photos like those?

Thanks to my ex-in-laws (not pictured) with whom I spent Thanksgiving Day, to my boyfriend Michael’s family (whom I saw briefly, last night), to all who feel fear and do their best to let go of it, and to you — of course! — no matter what your worst fear is.

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

Day 696: Thanksgiving Connections

An hour or two (but who’s counting?) before we on the east coast of the USA connected to Thanksgiving 2014, I connected to Mark Bialczak‘s comment on my post yesterday:

Ann, you’re on a two-year run of blog superiority, going strong, going proud, going to all measures to stay in tune with life. And we run to it every day to read your wisdom, see your pictures, listen to your songs. What a connection. Thank you, and bless you and your special heart. Happy Thanksgiving to you and Aaron and Michael. 🙂

Yes, Mark. What a connection! I give thanks for that, for you, and for all others who read this blog.

Yesterday, after I wrote my post and before I read any comments (including Mark’s) about it, I heard this song on my walk to work:

(I give thanks for this live version of Sting’s “The Soul Cages,” found here on YouTube.)

Throughout the day, I connected “The Soul Cages” to almost everything I saw, and I was thankful.

Before I connect you to the photos I took, I had hoped to connect you to a definition of “The Soul Cages.” The only definitions I can find, however, through my internet connections, relate to Sting’s album and song.

So I guess I’ll connect you to my own personal definition (for which I thank all my neurons, synapses and other mind and body connections):

The Soul Cages: Bodies and other things that hold souls, during life on earth.

Here are the images I connected to and captured with connections to “The Soul Cages” (for which I am thankful):




IMG_2440 IMG_2445 IMG_2450 IMG_2451 IMG_2453 IMG_2459 IMG_2463 IMG_2466 IMG_2467 IMG_2471IMG_2478IMG_2491


(image thanks to Jen Soska via Maureen Herman)

IMG_2494 IMG_2495 IMG_2496 IMG_2503 IMG_2505

IMG_2515 IMG_2528 IMG_2533

What connections are you making, right now?

Many thanks, on this 2014 Thanksgiving, to all the connections I’ve ever made in any way (which would include you, if you get the connection).


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

Day 695: It keeps you running

What keeps me running?

Actually, I can’t physically run,  these days, because of how my heart and my pacemaker are running.  I’m not sure what this all means — in terms of my present and my future —  but here’s something that keeps me running: my faith that doctors and I will figure things out and come up with the best plans to keep me running, on this earth, for as long as possible.

Here’s a song that came on, yesterday, when I was walking, not running, to work:

(“It Keeps You Running,” performed live by Michael McDonald and The Doobie Brothers, runs here, on YouTube)

Here are some photos I took yesterday, of things that keep me (and others) running (or which like to run):



IMG_2398 IMG_2405 IMG_2412 IMG_2414 IMG_2416 IMG_2420 IMG_2425 IMG_2426 IMG_2430

What keeps you running?

Many thanks to Michael McDonald, to The Doobie Brothers, to all people, cats and things that run as best they can, and to you — of course! — for running by here today.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , | 22 Comments

Day 694: Oddly specific gratitude

Uh-oh.  Here I was, all ready to write a particularly judgmental post, during these Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally, called “Pet Peeves,” and I got tagged by blogging master Chatter Master to participate in something called “Oddly Specific Gratitude,” which has a list of instructions of how to do something right, which is one of my pet peeves, because I’m often afraid that I’ll screw things up, especially when it’s something I have’t done before.

So here goes nothing.



First, I need to share the instructions, then share oddly specific gratitudes listed by the 16 bloggers who preceded me, and then add my list of oddly specific things I’m grateful for.

I shall now share the instructions:

  1. Add to the list with your own oddly specific bits of gratitude. Add as few or as many things as you’d like. Include a picture or two if you’d like… but you certainly don’t have to. Put your name at the top of the list to see where yours started and the next blogger’s begins. (Pssst!  Already I’m confused and I’m thinking there’s a good chance I will not do this correctly.)
  2. Tag the post with the usual pepper tags and oddly specific gratitude. (Pssst! When I copied ChatterMaster’s post, I did get the pepper tag, but not having participated in any other pepper-y post before now, I’m thinking there’s a good chance I put that in the wrong place.)
  3. Tag another pepper to add to the list by linking to their About page, but there’s a catch! When you tag the next blogger, be sure to include a bit about why you’re grateful to be in the same blogging world with them.:) (Try not to tag anyone who has already been tagged that way more people get to join in the fun.) (Pssst!  It’s Ann again, adding her two cents to this list. You can tell it’s me, because I started this with “Pssst!” and it’s in italics. Isn’t that odd that I mentioned this at the END of the list of instructions?)

The List of Oddly Specific Gratitude

Nerd in the Brain:

1. the smell of wild onions when I mow the lawn
2. coffee makers (having the coffee already prepared in the mornings is magical)
3. the way my crazy dog barks likes a vicious beast at the horses across the road, but then cowers behind me like a needy wimp whenever a horse actually comes close
4. hearing my husband talk on the phone to the rest of his team at work… it reminds me that he’s not just my silly, sweet, awesome husband… he’s also my competent, responsible, highly skilled husband
5. opening a blank lesson plan book and imagining the possibilities to come
6. sausage balls
7. watching Grace’s enthusiasm for all things musical
8. the way I can hear a smile on Olivia’s face whenever we say hello or goodbye on the phone
9. knitting with really soft, squishy yarn

Not a Punk Rocker

10. Getting a random text when Matthew is in cell-signal range. (“Hi”)
11. Awesome stuff in the mail, including Legos and letters from friends, making me smile when I need it the most at the end of a long day.
12. Cherry chapstick.
13. Somebody found my blog by searching for “deadpool talks about political social issues” yesterday.
14. Skype and chat for keeping me in touch with friends in “real-time” when one or the other of us needs it the most.
15. Finding new blogs to read and follow through this challenge!

Jackie P (tobreathistowrite)

16. Having friends like I do here in the blogging world. You all make my days brighter.
17. My dog Sam. He loves me unconditionally, wish more people could love like that. Plus, he makes me laugh daily.
18.Coffee. Without it the world would be a much sadder and thirsty place. And I would be a much harder person to deal with.
19. All the bright and cheerful colors around. Something about bright colors makes me happy. The gold of the sun, the cerulean blue of the sky, the wonder of a rainbow, they never cease to make me glad I’m alive.
20. Books…… you all know what I mean.

Fish of Gold

21. Spell check. Even though it did just strangely try to correct my horribly botched spelling of “another” to “Antoine.” I don’t even know anyone named Antoine, spell check.
22. I’m grateful to myself for being the sucker who couldn’t walk away from my dog’s cage at the animal rescue. My failure to do so has converted 70 dog pounds into a metric ton of joy and unconditional love.
23. Male’s hilariously failed attempts at sexting.
24. My sense of humor. I wouldn’t have survived this long without it.
25. To the Peppers for continuing my harebrained Nano Poblano Blog Hop Story idea and turning it into something unexpectedly awesome. Go Team Pepper
26.I also second #18.

Knocked Over by a Feather

27. My aunts Oreo truffles. They are addictive.
28. Finding my comfy spot in bed.
29. Receiving a spontaneous real hug from my daughter, which rarely happens.
30. Watching stupid TV with my husband.
31. Hearing my mom call me sweetie or something similarly saccharine sweet on the phone

Mental Mama ( Mental in the Midwest)

32. the world’s best tiny mommy
33. Evie and Sissy Cats
34. lithium, depakote, and gabapentin
35. the world’s most amazing support network
36. good dark chocolate, preferably with cherries
37. the jumbo margaritas at Romeo’s – lime, on the rocks, extra salt

Mark Bialczak

38. My dear wife Karen for buying me two season tickets for Syracuse University football six years ago, going to every game with me (but one when she went on a cruise) since and turning home game Saturdays into Happy Happy days win or lose.
39. That Ellie B aka Dogamous Pyle usually looks like this on the end of the living room couch and her specially covered ottoman daily come 10 p.m. after a day of enthusiastically ruling our Syracuse city home we call Little Bitty

Ellie B

40. That Karen talked me into going to the Paws for the Cause rescue dog event that March day four years ago when we saw Ellie marching around in her orange “Adopt Me” vest.
41.That my daughter Elisabeth was smart enough and confident enough and brave enough to go back to school this fall to get her associate’s degree and New York State certificate to become a physical therapist’s assistant, 2 1/2 years after getting her bachelor’s in biology.
42. That writing every day on since Oct. 27, 2013 has turned out to be so much fun.
43.That Sheena Not a Punk Rocker talked me into hosting Nano Poblano this year, allowing me to meet so many interesting new bloggers! Wait. I want to add two more exclamation points to this one!!

Coulddoworse (Rachel or Lundygirl)

44. The park that I walk through four mornings a week

2014-11-04 08.24.1045. Iced fingers

2014-11-01 10.11.5546. Crochet and blogging; though never at the same time

SAM_146347. making something beautiful

SAM_132948. flowers

SAM_116749. Hot toasted sandwiches with my family on a very rainy bank holiday.

toast50. beauty that you see in the detail

SAM_081951. Great memories to mull over and enjoy.


Notes Tied On The Sagebrush

52. I am grateful that I was able to copy this whole list with pictures and get it pasted on to my post without messing it up at all, I hope.
53. I am grateful for my kids xoxo, and my husband xoxo
54. I am grateful to read good books, and watch good films
55. Good food, good wine and good friends
56. That I live in the state of California, USA
57. Discussions with my blogger friends and getting their support for my writing

Linda G. Hill – Life in Progress

58. That moment when I’m not aware that I’m falling asleep.
59. The one Smartie (candy-coated chocolate) that tastes slightly different than every other one in the box.
60. #18 – on this list, not the number eighteen.
61. That my children are alive.
62. Whatever it is that compels me to write; specifically to tell stories.

Idiot Writer ~ Idiot Writing :

63. Poetry (obviously) – mostly my poetry – I need it – lots to say things I cannot say any other way.
64. The Sun – when it shines in the UK.
65. The cheap chocolate bars I found! (and so do not feel guilty buying)
66. The fire-place – though I hate the smoke it emits.
67. Figuring out how to pump the tyre on my car yesterday.
68. Internet – SPEcifiCALLY – finding WordPress.
69. Saturdays – Cos I do not drive on Saturdays. Usually.
70. The sound system in my car – and my teens choice of music…it COULD have been – so so – not good.
71. I nearly forgot about SALT. Salt has so many uses! I am eternally grateful that salt – AND potatoes exist.

Last but not least...or rather first

72. Last but not least…or rather first – EVER so, very grateful – that Linda has wine. 😛


I’m grateful for:

73. The 11 bloggers who came up with 72 oddly specific items for which they are grateful, leaving me to really stretch to come up with anything new or different.
74. That said, I wish to second, third, or fourth (I’ve lost count) #18. COFFEE!
75. God, the almighty creator of everything and everyone, for granting in me the wisdom to…oh damn, the devil made me write that. Never mind.
76. Those rare days when I’m able to sleep later than 6 a.m.
77. My wife, for being a wonderful mother who stayed home to raise two great kids while I was off doing my worky-thing.
78. San Francisco weather, because it never snows, never gets below freezing, and never gets really hot and muggy.
79. My health, except for my vertigo, tinnitus, and my current lameness due to plantar fisciitis. But otherwise, my health is pretty damn good.
80. My blog and the fellow bloggers I interact with on pretty much a daily basis.
81. iTunes
82. The Oxford comma and those who use it.

Lucy at the Excessive Gardener 

I am grateful for :

83. I am so grateful for Evernote. Those of us who use and cherish it know why life is so much better. I am really grateful that I spend the few dollars each month for the premium version.
84. Golden Retrievers. My Golden, Roger, died years ago and I still miss him. I live with a Golden, my roommate’s, and he is a joy and a pain to live with but he is proof that if you know one Golden Retriever, you know them all.
85. My new knee. How wonderful it is to walk without pain. I can hardly wait to have the other knee replaced.
86. The drug Avastin. The FDA withdrew approval of the chemo drug for breast cancer, which means insurance companies won’t cover it, and it is not cheap.  I was lucky and got in on clinical trials for Avastin. It saved my life.
87. That I live in Florida, right where I want to be: minutes from white, sandy beaches and warm Gulf waters and only 2 hours to Disney World.
88.  Better World Books.  If you know it, you know what I mean.
89. Quad Core.
90. Defensive gardening. There’s nothing more satisfying than out-smarting a bug or an animal.

Now my list:

91. I’ll start by saying what goes without saying but should be said anyway:  I’m grateful for my husband Mark, my family, and my friends.

92. I’m grateful that I live in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul) of Minnesota. We have an amazing combination of abundant cultural opportunities, a highly educated and literate population, PLUS endless amounts of parks, lakes, bike trails, you name it.  We need the horrific winters to keep out the riffraff.

93. I’m grateful for having a job that provides me opportunity for (partially) subsidized travel experiences.

94. As everyone else said, #18 (coffee!)

95. I’m grateful for books! So many books!  So many writers with so many words!  As long as I have the capacity to read, I’ll never be bored.

96. I’m grateful that my husband has the best hobby ever: in his spare time, he makes furniture out of wood in our garage.  He loves doing it and I love the furniture he makes for me.  Talk about win-win!

Mark made this for me!

97.  I am grateful for the internet, which provides me with the opportunity to blog and to meet all of you amazing bloggers. I’m particularly grateful for the Nano Poblano Peppers for the sense of community y’all have been providing this month.

98. Cats! I’m grateful for my kitties Tennessee and Zelda for being such cute and cuddly pains in the butt.

Tennessee and Zelda

Me – Who Am I

I’m grateful for:

99. Warmth! When it’s -10 outside, I’m grateful for a heater that works.
100. We made it to 100! I feel privileged to be the one who fills this one out.
101. My son. He shows me the world in a way that no one else can.
102. Fellow bloggers and the wonderful community we have here.
103. Today I’m grateful for today; a day that I may not have had.
104. Fruit. Fruit does a body good.
105. Sleep, finally! Insomnia is terrible.

Me Next – Chatter Master

106.  Not having a body temperature of 94 degrees.

107.  Fat baby cheeks that split in to super wide grins and smiles with various numbers of teeth-when they see me.

108.  That moment at the end of the day when I know I’m done “doing” all that I am going to do for the day and there are those peaceful few minutes of quiet and relaxing with my husband.

109.  Saying “I love you” at the end of phone calls and visits and not feeling awkward about it.  And knowing my kids don’t either because I raised them with it being easy to say “I love you”.

110.  Remembering a song from childhood and thinking no one else in the world knows it, only to Youtube it and there it is!

111.  People.   Good people.  I’m so very thankful for good people.

Pssst!  It’s me, Ann Koplow, from The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally, trying to let go of judgment and add my list of oddly specific gratitudes, starting with #112, which is a number I have no particular associations with:

112.  Numbers and other things I have no particular associations with, since I love seeing things in a new light, letting go of baggage from the past.

113. Numbers and other things that I do have particular associations with, since I love things that have been in my life, up to this point.

114. Even though #112 and #113 cover everything in the universe (at least the way I think), I am also oddly specifically grateful for the way I think.

115.  Everybody who has ever read my blog or anybody else’s blog, which may seem oddly general instead of oddly specific, at this point.  (I’ve been in a very feisty mood lately, so I would like to see ANYBODY give me a difficult time about how I’m choosing to participate here.)

116. My cats, including Oscar, shown here moments after he accidentally accessed Siri — the alleged “personal helper” on my iPhone —  having about as much luck getting help from her as I usually do:


117. My keyboard (pictured) and my fingers (not pictured):


118. Photos I take accidentally with my iPhone, like that one directly above.

119. People I meet during the day who are willing to engage in an authentic, open way, even if only for a moment, like Kenny


who stands guardian at the parking lot where I get my medical care, where I’ve been needing to go to several appointments lately because nobody knows what the hell is going on with my health.

120.  My memory, which allows me to quote, accurately enough, dialogs I have with people like Kenny, such as:

Kenny (obviously using the memorized script he has to say to every driver who enters the parking lot since, apparently, people are parking there who shouldn’t be): Do you have an appointment here?  Are you a patient?

Me (making an exaggerated sad face, because I REALLY DON’T WANT TO BE GOING TO A MEDICAL APPOINTMENT and then nodding “yes” slowly, saying nothing).

Kenny: (after a brief pause) Oh.

Me:  Do you believe me?

Kenny: No.

… which cheered me up considerably and resulted in my Literally Laughing Out Loud.

121. My memory, which allows me to recall another thing Kenny said to me, after I Laughed Out Loud: “You have a good day, sweetie.” (Yes, I know this is supposed to be a list of Oddly Specific Gratitude, not Oddly Repetitive Gratitude, but please see #115, above.)

122. The room to have all my feelings, including sadness, humor, fear,  disappointment, annoyance, gratitude, etc. etc. etc.

123.  The opportunity to end lists (at least my portion of them)

Okay!  Let’s see what I else I have to do in this post today. Ah, yes!  I shall now express gratitude to all previous bloggers preceding me:

The List of Oddly Specific Bloggers

Nerd in the Brain
Not a Punk Rocker
To Breath is to Write
Fish of Gold
Knocked Over by a Feather
Mental in the Midwest
Deborah at Notes Tied on the Sagebrush
Linda at Life In Progress
Idiot Writer
Mindful Digressions
The Excessive Gardener
Booking It

Me – Who Am I.

The Chatter Blog

The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

Now, I have to do one more thing, I think, to make this right (or “good enough” as I prefer to think about such things). I need to tag another blogger, which means I have to find the list of other people willing to participate in this.  Arrrghhh!  I am having a lot of trouble finding those kinds of things these days, simply because I’m dealing with too much friggin’ information lately.

Hold on …

I’m choosing (drum roll, if you’ve got a drum):

… because I’m oddly specifically grateful for that name.


Thanks to all for whom I’m oddly specifically grateful, which includes you, y’know.


After I published this post, I realized I forgot to include something, for which I am NOT oddly specifically grateful:


Michael’s cooking. On what planet would it be odd to be grateful for that?

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

Day 693: Fishy

This is the first photo I took yesterday:


Actually, that is NOT the first photo I took yesterday. I took these two of Harley, one of our two cats, before that one:

IMG_2315 IMG_2316

The photo with the word “fishy” marks the first time yesterday I thought: “Hey!  That would make a great title for a blog post!”

Now that I think of it, those two photos of Harley also fit today’s topic as follows:

  • Harley is a cat, so he likes his food fishy and
  • He is very shy, so he acts like everything is fishy.

In case you’re not familiar with either of those uses of “fishy,” here’s a definition:


1. of, relating to, or resembling fish or a fish.
“a fishy smell”
synonyms: fishlike, piscine
2. (informal) arousing feelings of doubt or suspicion.
“I’m convinced there is something fishy going on”
synonyms: suspicious, questionable, dubious, doubtful, suspect; odd, queer, peculiar, strange; funny, shady, crooked, sketchy

Don’t you think there’s something fishy going on with this post already? Isn’t it suspicious, questionable, dubious, doubtful, suspect, odd, queer, peculiar, strange, funny, shady, crooked, and/or sketchy that I started out with one photo and then quickly switched to some other ones? And, also, that I included a definition WITH NO LINKS OR ATTRIBUTIONS?

Maybe I’m overstating things.

Would it be fishy if I just moved on to some other photos I took yesterday, with “fishy” on my mind?


Is there anything fishy about that photo, for you?


On my walk yesterday, I met somebody else who may have eaten something fishy that morning.

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I wonder if that new-to-me neighborhood cat thought the way I interacted and then just walked away was fishy, in any way.

As I mentioned a few days ago, in this post, I had plans to see “Jesus Christ Superstar” with my ex-sister-in-law, Deborah yesterday.  I saw this on my drive to the theater:


What could be fishier than that?  Perhaps this tuna sandwich I had for lunch:


I ate that tuna sandwich at a restaurant I used to frequent (fishily eating many tuna fish sandwiches there) when I worked at my previous job (as the director of a psychiatric day treatment program).

Is there anything fishy about these two photos I took after I finished that tuna fish sandwich?

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Personally, I find it fishy that two accountants could have the name “Kaplow,” which is fishily close to mine (and which I wrote about here while I was recovering from pneumonia six months ago).

After I took those photos yesterday, I drove to the theater to meet my ex-sister-in-law.  The parking lot was absent of fish, cars, and people when I got there, which seemed fishy to me.


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As things seemed fishier and fishier, I got a text from Deborah, which said, “I got the tickets.”  When I called her, I found out I was at the wrong theater. “Jesus Christ Superstar,” fishily enough, was actually taking place a few miles away at the REGENT theater, a name fishily similar to the place I went, and the same theater where my 16-year-old son played John Wilkes Booth in “Assassins” this summer (in a performance that was particularly non-fishy).

Would any of you find it fishy if I told you that I made the performance yesterday with minutes to spare?


That’s Deborah, offering me some gum before “Jesus Christ Superstar” started.  Is that fishy, that I took a photo of that?  I’ll tell you why I did it: I’ve been getting fishily mixed messages lately from my cardiologists, regarding how spry I’m feeling now and may be feeling in the future.


There are my beloved ex-in-laws Deborah (left) and Laura (her daughter). Deborah doesn’t like to have her picture taken, which I find fishy, since she’s so beautiful. Also, to the far right of the photo is the beautiful Victoria, Laura’s daughter and my son Aaron’s cousin (and close friend). Is it fishy that Victoria is sitting that far away from us?  (I don’t think so, at all.)

The performance of “Jesus Christ Superstar” at the Regent Theater in Arlington yesterday was lots of fun. There were some people in back of us who were talking loudly throughout the performance — which I always find very fishy — and who didn’t stop, despite Deborah and me both turning around and giving them the fish eye.  I took a photo of them


with my flash turned off, and wondered if they might find that fishy. Knowing I could use that photo in my blog today helped me focus on the music instead of on them.


After the show, I went home for a walk with my boyfriend Michael in the nice weather, before we went for our Sunday food shopping.

I would think it fishy if you didn’t guess what was coming next.


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That’s Vahan, who we see every Sunday when we pick out fish for Michael to cook for me and my son. Vahan was interested in my blog — for himself and his girlfriend —  which I didn’t find fishy at all.

I need to finish this blog fishily early today, to get to a sleep doctor’s appointment by 8:30 AM, before I go to work. However, I think my readers might find it fishy if I don’t include any music here.

Now, I could present the entire score from “Jesus Christ Superstar”  because of the many connections between Christianity and fish but, instead, here’s the first “fish” song that came to mind:

“The Fish (Schindleria Praemeturus)” by Yes found here in a nine-minute live version from Montreux in 2003:

If you have time to watch that whole thing, I find that a little fishy.  Also, is it fishy that YouTube video has only 62 views?

I am fishily not happy enough with these song choices, at this point, so how about this tune, that starts with the word “fish”?

(YouTube video of “Can’t Help Loving Dat Man of Mine” from the film musical “Showboat” which I fishily haven’t seen yet, even though I went to film school in the 1980’s, found here.)

In case you find anything fishy about that, here’s another version of that tune:

(Billie Holiday version found on YouTube here)

What’s fishy about all this, for you?

Thanks to all fish, cats, and people contributing to and reading this post today, including you!


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

Day 692: Quality of Life

In yesterday’s post, I cited (and did other things to) a study about quality of life.  But what IS quality of life? Let’s see how other people qualify and quantitate “quality of life,” shall we?

Here’s the first definition returned by Google:

Quality of life (QOL) is the general well-being of individuals and societies. QOL has a wide range of contexts, including the fields of international development, healthcare, politics and employment. Quality of life should not be confused with the concept of standard of living, which is based primarily on income.

I have no idea where that definition came from; it just appeared without citation.

Q:  Does that affect my quality of life?

A: No.

Wikipedia, my lovely assistant in many of these posts, has an entry, page, or whatever-else-you-might-call-it on ‘Quality of life.”  Care to join me in discovering how “Quality of life” is explained in Wikipedia-land?

Aha!  The first paragraph of the Wikipedia page is VERY CLOSE to the definition I included in this post.

Q: Does that affect my quality of life?

A: No.

The first paragraph of the Wikipedia page includes this one additional sentence about Quality of Life (abbreviated to QOL, since Quality of Life, I guess, includes using abbreviations to save everybody time and effort):

Instead, standard indicators of the quality of life include not only wealth and employment but also the built environment, physical and mental health, education, recreation and leisure time, and social belonging.

Q: Does that affect my QOL?

A: Well, I like built environments, physical and mental health, education, recreation and leisure time, and social belonging. Does that answer the question?

How is your quality of life, right now? Would your QOL improve if I kept defining QOL?  Or do you think you know what Quality of Life means — to you and to other people?

Quality of Life is something I have been thinking a lot about lately.  Duh.  Why else would I be writing a post about it today?

As I’ve oft expressed since I started writing this blog way back in 2013, I write here, every day, to improve my Quality of Life and, so far, it’s been working. And yet, I’ve never written about QOL before today.

Here are my conscious reasons for writing about Quality of Life, right now:

  • I am getting very mixed messages from my two cardiologists about my current and future QOL.
  • Mixed messages adversely affect my Quality of Life.
  • I am constantly on the lookout for ways to maintain — or even improve — quality of life for myself (and others, too).
  • I had to write about SOMETHING, people.

Here are two things that improve my quality of life:

#1.  Carol.


Carol has been improving my QOL since the 1980’s. I first met her the week before I was scheduled for yet-another-in-a-long-series of pacemaker replacement surgeries.

At that time, my quality of life was negatively affected by a persistent feeling of cold in my back that just would not go away, no matter what I did. My business partner at the time, Jonathan, told me that Carol could help me.  Here’s a memory of my first conversation with Carol:

Me: I’ve had many surgeries in my life and I’m scheduled for another one, next week. And I’ve got this weird feeling of cold in the middle of my back, that won’t go away.

Carol: That makes sense. That’s fear.

I remember, that day, feeling understood in a new and profound way, which really improved  my QOL.

Yesterday, Carol improved my Quality of Life during an often difficult day for me: November 22 — the anniversary of my first surgery at age 10 AND the day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

Here are some of the things Carol said to me, yesterday:

  • You are incredibly healthy.
  • You look beautiful, like a Russian Princess, to me.

That improved my quality of life.


#2.  Cats.

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That’s Mambo — our neighbor cat — adding to my “social belonging”  in my “built environment” by getting into my car after I returned from getting my hair cut by Mia (who also improves my Quality of Life, every time I see her).

What else do I want to include about QOL, in this post?  I would like to wrap things up soon, so I can finish writing a proposal today for presenting a workshop about the therapy groups I do (which I hope improve the Quality of Life of others).

Music definitely improves my Quality of Life, and I often include a musical selection in my posts. But I also have trouble making decisions. And what song would fit today’s post?

Actually, what song would NOT fit? Every piece of music I love (and there are so many) improves my quality of life, whenever I hear it. So how do I choose among them all, this morning?


I know! I’ll do a random spin of Spotify, my current music delivery system (which also improves my QOL), and see what comes up.

Aha!  It’s a repeat, from a recent post, but will that decrease anybody’s quality of life?

Actually, that’s a different version of Sting performing “What Have We Got?” from The Last Ship (found here on YouTube, if that helps improve your QOL).

That video, from NBC’s Today Show,  reminds me of two things — an event in the past and one in the future:

  1. My late father told me a story, many years ago, about how he and my mother, when visiting New York City, were outside looking in the studio windows during a live broadcast of The Today Show, when a good friend of theirs, who was up on a ladder at his home near Boston, suddenly saw them there on his TV and was so surprised, he fell off the ladder (thus temporarily diminishing his QOL).
  2. My friend Deb (previously appearing in posts including here,here, and here) and I are going to NYC in two weekends to see The Last Ship on Broadway!

How do you think all this affects my QOL?  What affects yours?

Thanks to Google, Wikipedia, Carol, Mambo, Mia, Deb, my doctors, my parents, Sting, Spotify, randomness, and to everybody and anything that’s ever improved anybody’s Quality of Life in any way, which includes you (in case you didn’t know)*.

* Duh.

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

Day 691: How are you?

Where I live, when people say

How are you?

they often mean


and don’t expect a real answer.

A typical exchange is:

How are you?

Fine. How are you?


How are you?

(nod and silence)

When people say, “How are you?” to me, my usual response is to answer authentically, in some way, without taking too much time or space (which is not exactly easy, since people are often asking that question on the move).

I’m not sure why I go against the cultural norms, regarding “How are you?” Here are my best guesses, in the moment:

  • Because I was born with an unusual heart and followed by doctors since before I could speak, that question has been really important for me to answer honestly and authentically.
  • I want to engage in real and valuable communications with other human beings, even if they only last a moment.
  • I’m a rebel.

That last bullet point reminds me of a song, from my past.

Before I share that song, I’m going to ask you to guess what song that might be.

Why am I asking you to guess?  Because if you were to ask me “How are you?” today, I would answer:

“I’m sad, mad, glad, and scared.  How are you?”

and when I’m having lots of mixed emotions, I like to cheer myself up.  And this is how I am: I love guessing games AND music.

I am now going to look for the song  that just popped into my head  — for the first time in years — when I wrote the words “I’m a rebel.”

Oh  no! When I searched for the song I remembered, I found that the title was NOT “He’s a rebel,” but something else instead:

(“He’s a Runner” by Laura Nyro, performed by Blood Sweat & Tears found here on YouTube.)

How are you, now that I’ve made that mistake?

How am I? I wonder.

Well, I’m glad to be listening to that song, for the first time in decades. With its interesting chords, voices, instruments, moods,  and other musical stylings, it’s making me happy.

How else am I?

I’m also happy with the idea of being a runner, right now. When I was a kid in the hospital, having heart surgeries, I really wanted to run away. But, back then, if people asked me “How are you?” I didn’t tell them.

How else am I?

I’m glad to be writing this, on the anniversary of my first heart surgery/pacemaker implant, on November 22, 1963. Last year, on this same date, I asked myself  “How are you?” and wrote this blog post.

How are you about statistical data and research? I wanted to share with you this study I found online, yesterday, when I was searching information about “Congenitally Corrected Transposition of the Great Arteries” (which is one medical name for my very unusual heart).

Here’s the complete abstract:

J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2012 Apr;143(4):885-90. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcvs.2011.08.031. Epub 2011 Sep 28.

Quality of life and perceived health status in adults with congenitally corrected transposition of the great arteries.



The purpose of this study is to assess perceived health status and quality of life in adults with congenitally corrected transposition of the great arteries who have not undergone anatomic repair.


Quality of life as measured by the satisfaction with life scale and linear analog scales and perceived health status as measured by the Short Form 36 Health Survey (version 1) were evaluated in 25 adults with congenitally corrected transposition and compared with a control group of 25 adults with mild, hemodynamically insignificant defects.


Instruments were returned by 83% of patients (25/30; 11 male; mean age, 44.6 ± 16 years). Health status by the linear analog scale was significantly lower (P = .03) in subjects (median, 80; range, 15-100) than in controls (median, 85; range, 65-100). Quality of life by the satisfaction with life scale was also lower (P = .009) in subjects (mean, 24 ± 8) compared with controls. Age was negatively correlated with the Short Form 36 Health Survey physical functioning (r = -0.41, P = .04), bodily pain (r = -0.5, P = .01), and physical component (r = -0.56, P = .004) summary scores in adults with congenitally corrected transposition but not in controls.


Adults with congenitally corrected transposition have lower reported health status and satisfaction with life than a control population, with perceived health status declining with advancing age.

Copyright © 2012 The American Association for Thoracic Surgery. Published by Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.

This is how I am: I like to interpret data, using my own language. To me, that abstract means that several doctors and researchers got together and asked a bunch of people with my very unusual heart “How are you?” and then compiled the answers to conclude that people like me feel worse, in many ways, than “normal” people, and that difference continues to get more significant, with advancing age.

How am I, about that?

Fuck them.

How am I now?


Here’s another way I am: I like to post photos I’ve taken recently. Let’s see if I have any images, on my iPhone, for “How are you”?

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How are you?

No matter how you are, thanks for the visit.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

Day 690: Different styles, continued

Yesterday, I wrote a post titled “Different styles” which included

  • dealing with people whose styles are different from mine,
  • accepting the different styles I have within me, and
  • cursing.

After I wrote that post in the morning, I went to a doctor’s appointment, with one of my cardiologists.

I have two cardiologists — whom I’ve nicknamed “Mr. Spock” and “Captain Kirk” — because of their different styles.

Yesterday’s appointment was with Mr. Spock, whom I see approximately twice a year. (I am seeing Captain Kirk once every three months.)

Here is something I’ve been noticing about their different styles, lately: Mr. Spock Cardiologist looks into the future for me and for my very unusual heart in what seems to me to be a more negative way.  My personal style of observation tells me that Captain Kirk Cardiologist looks into the future for me and my heart in a more positive way.

I believe that Mr. Spock and Captain Kirk recognize their style differences, but I don’t know if they would use language like “negative” and “positive.”

It occurs to me, in the moment, that negative and positive are two sides of a battery:

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Here are my associations, in the moment, with that photo (which lives here, according to Google Images):

  1. I have been dependent upon cardiac pacemaker batteries, to stay alive, since I was 10 years old,
  2. I am currently confused about whether I am getting green, yellow, or red signals regarding my future and possible next steps (including valve replacement surgery), and
  3. The word “currently” in #2, above, is a pun, which I could say was intentional, but that would be lying, and that is NOT my style.

I wonder if I have confused people, so far, in this post. If I have confused you, that is NOT just a reflection of my personal writing style. If you are confused, you are not alone. I am confused.

Since my personal style is to seek clarity, whenever possible, I hope to move forward, through confusion, as soon as possible.

In the meantime, I shall be listening to music, which always helps me, no matter what my and other people’s personal styles are. Here’s a song I was very glad to hear yesterday:

I started loving that rendition of “Ain’t That Peculiar” soon after I got my first cardiac pacemaker, on November 22, 1963. While those lyrics are about a failed love affair, many of them seem to apply to my  situation, including “unlike a child, my tears don’t help me to get my way.”

But that’s my personal style, too: thinking lots of things are connected and applicable to my situation.

For example, right after I saw Mr. Spock Cardiologist, yesterday, I snapped this photo, thinking it somehow applied to my life:


Does that seem peculiar, that I took that photo? That bumper sticker reminded me of Rodents of Unusual Sizes  from the movie “The Princess Bride,” which cheered me up, a little.

When I saw “RUS” yesterday, I thought I might riff, in today’s post, about what else RUS could stand for.

What else could RUS stand for?

  • Russia, where my ancestors emigrated from, to the USA.
  • That’s all I’ve got, this morning. Could you think of some other Relevant, Useful Suggestions for what else RUS might stand for?

I took some more photos, after that one, as I went back to work.  (I get my medical care and I work as a psychotherapist at two different Boston hospitals that have, I think, different styles.)

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Speaking of Dark Places, I have found that people who feel depressed, confused, despairing, and overwhelmed — losing (temporary) track of hope — can tend to isolate.

I don’t think that helps, do you? And yet I witness people doing that — the opposite of what would help — all the time.

Ain’t that peculiar?

Thanks to doctors of different styles, all those who do their best when confused, rodents and hearts of unusual sizes, people who put lights on trees (and elsewhere) as the days grow darker and colder, and to you — of course! — for bringing your different styles here, today.

Categories: Uncategorized | 14 Comments

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