Monthly Archives: December 2014

Day 730: Honestly

Honestly, I’ve been wondering what kind of post to create on the last day of this year AND my second year of blogging.

Honestly, I could reminisce about the highlights,

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the lowlights,

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and the midlights

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of the days and nights of 2014. But honestly, it would take me a long, long time to go through all the photos and all the experiences I shared with you in 2014.

Honestly, I’d like to write a regular, run-of-the-mill post today, because isn’t today just another day (no matter how much significance we tend to give certain days over others)?

Honestly, all the posts I wrote for you (and — honestly —  for me, too)  this year included:

  • some acknowledgement of the past (usually, a link to the day before),
  • a list or other collection of connections,
  • a mixture of light and dark,
  • an invitation to let go of fear, dread, shame, or something else that gets in the way,
  • some ideas about moving forward,
  • a mixture of thoughts and feelings,
  • randomness,
  • love, and
  •  honesty.

Honestly, every post I wrote for you and for me in 2014 helped me

  • learn,
  • grow, and
  • face the day ahead with more courage.

Honestly, if it weren’t for this blog, I don’t think I would have seen, heard, thought, felt, and experienced as much wonder, curiosity, and hope in 2014.

Honestly, having this blog was like confiding in a community of great listeners,  carrying everybody’s presence with me no matter where I went, and enjoying everything so much more, because I knew I could show it to you the very next day.

Honestly, I saw these yesterday, and looked forward to sharing them with you today:

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Honestly, I think Harley’s gotten more comfortable with everybody, in 2014.

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Honestly, I really need to straighten up and clear off my blogging table.

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Honestly, I took only ONE of all those delicious chocolates offered to me at work yesterday. Would you like to guess which one I took? Which one would YOU have chosen?

Honestly, whenever I ask you to guess, listen, look, or respond  in these posts, I don’t need you to do anything. I’m just glad you’re here.

Honestly, whenever I say that I heard a song on one of my walks that fits a blog post perfectly for me, I’m telling you the truth. For example,”1999” by Prince was the first song that came on yesterday and I thought,

Wow!  That’s always seemed like the PERFECT New Year celebration song, ever since I first heard it in 1982. I can’t wait to use it in my end-of-year celebration post!!

Honestly, I can’t find “1999” anywhere on YouTube right now.

Honestly, every time I’ve encountered an obstacle in 2014, whether in blogging or elsewhere ,  it’s all worked out — maybe, even for the better.

Honestly, who knows?  We’re all just doing the best we can.

Honestly, as I was dancing yesterday, next to my car in my work-place parking lot …

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…  I heard a song which reminded me of the one video I kept meaning to share with you in 2014.

Honest!

Honestly, this is why I love that video of Carly Rae Jepsen, Jimmy Fallon, and The Roots playing “Call Me Maybe” with kids’ classroom instruments, so very very much.

It’s filled with honest, heart-felt joy.

AND bongos*!

Call me maybe, tomorrow? I’ll be here.

Many honest thanks from me to you, here and now.


* Also found, in 2014, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Categories: blogging, gratitude, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , | 47 Comments

Day 729: Baking Soda Moments

Okay, everybody!  All together:

What’s a baking soda moment?

Even though I’m the writer here, I’m not sure of the answer. Maybe we can all figure it out as we go along (much like life in general, y’know?).

Let me start at the baking-soda beginning. Yesterday morning, at cardiac rehab (where we are gathering moments of data about my very unusual heart, for various cardiac cooks and bakers), I heard and saw Danise and Carla (who work there) singing, rapping, and dancing to the words “Baking Soda.” These momentary interruptions seemed to confuse and delight all the patients there.

My first “Baking Soda” moment was when I was weighing myself, before my work-out:

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At first, when I heard them, I thought Danise and Carla were saying “Bacon,” not “Baking.”IMG_4317

As I started exercising, it became clear that “Baking Soda” was from a song Danise had heard, moments before she came into work.

Here’s Carla

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having a baking soda moment as she says, “I’m going to kill Danise for putting ‘Baking Soda’ into my head!”

I’m not sure if I was having some baking soda moments when I responded to Carla that

  • at my work as a clinical social worker, I’m mandated and obligated to report physical threats against people and
  • I wasn’t at work.

As I’m looking at that baking-soda-moment photo of Carla above, I’m noticing cleaning-related products there, which remind me of my immediate associations with baking soda, as follows:

  1. Baking soda can be used as a cleaning agent.
  2. Baking soda gets rid of smells in refrigerators and elsewhere.
  3. Baking soda is an essential ingredient in baking which makes baked goods rise.
  4. Baking soda is a home remedy for various ailments.

I just checked Wikipedia, to see if my remembered baking soda moments, listed directly above, were correct. They are!   Wikipedia also lists Baking Soda’s appearances in film, including this one in the Marx Brother‘s Duck Soup:

In one scene, he receives a message from the battlefield that his general is reporting a gas attack, and Groucho tells his aide, “Tell him to take a teaspoonful of bicarbonate of soda and a half a glass of water.”

Is that a Baking Soda coincidence (with my first photo above), or what?

Wikipedia also lists additional uses for baking soda, as

  1. A fire extinguisher
  2. An acid AND a base neutralizer
  3. A paint and corrosion remover, in a process called “sodablasting.” Isn’t that a blast?

Here’s Danise sodablasting “Baking Soda!”

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In that last photo,  Danise is remembering a past baking soda moment, when somebody threw some gefilte fish at her, when she was working at a supermarket!

Maybe that’s actually a gefilte fish moment, which I should save for a future blog post.

Now that this post is half baked, I’ll tell you that yesterday’s baking soda moments yesterday also included Danise showing me

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“The Bands That Make You Dance” and

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that scar she got on her arm, falling off a child’s bike when she wasn’t a child. Danise said she was so embarrassed about that ..

  • she ran away from some construction workers nearby who wanted to help her the day that happened and
  • she tells people she got the scar from playing ball in flip flops.

That reminds me to take this very baking soda moment to point out that I didn’t take very many photos yesterday.

Why?

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Holy Baking Soda! That’s my iPhone, which flip flopped from my hand, hitting the ground. I think that screen could use some baking soda moments, don’t you?

Actually, I told Danise and Carla yesterday I like the way the phone looks now, because:

  • it’s easier to differentiate from other phones,
  • it looks like it has cobwebs, reminding me of H. P. Lovecraft and other horror stories, and
  • the phone has scars now, just like its owner.

Here are two more baking soda moments I captured yesterday:

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That’s a photo I snapped while I was cleaning up after my workout at cardiac rehab. Although I wasn’t cleaning up with baking soda, I was

  • removing the residue of heart-tracking electrode attachments (which I’ve done before, in a kashmillion baking soda moments throughout my life),
  • thinking about how those illustrations are NOT representations of my very unusually formed and shaped heart,
  • pondering the fact that I’ve promised Danise my next blog post will be titled “Baking Soda Moments,” and
  •  realizing I have no clue how I’m going to write that post but I believe, in my heart, that I’ll find a way.

One more photo, from a baking soda moment at work:

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Those are two suggested home remedies — as basic as baking soda —  for the common human ailment of people giving you unwanted advice.

Yesterday, I also seized  baking soda moments to try to choose a baking soda song for this post. Then, on my walk back to my car, after work, this tune played  on my phone:

I swear, baking soda readers, when I looked at my smashed-screen phone to find out the title of that Donald Fagen song (found here on YouTube), I thought it said “The New Bread.”

Is this post completely baked, yet?

Just a few more b.s. moments, with me:

  • As the end of the year approaches, moments seem more ________.
  • As the baker of your own life, how would you complete that sentence?

Did anything in this baking soda post get a rise out of you?

Thanks for reading!

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

Day 728: I Write Like ___ ______

Yesterday,  I discovered the website I Write Like. After I had finished writing a blog post — like I have been writing here on WordPress every day for the past two years — I spent some time checking out which famous authors I Write Like thought I wrote like.

Here are the authors I Write Like told me I write like, after “reading” several of my blog posts:

David Foster Wallace

Cory Doctorow

Mario Puzo

Dan Brown

James Joyce

H.P. Lovecraft

… with  David Foster Wallace and Cory Doctorow getting the vast majority of the write-like votes.

Here’s what I’d like to write, like myself,  about those results:

  • While I’ve read things written by James Joyce, H. P. Lovecraft, and Dan Brown, I’ve never heard of Cory Doctorow.
  • I’m particularly pleased that James Joyce was written into that list, since he and I have the same birthday.
  • Yesterday, I kept entering samples of my writing into I Write Like, hoping to find out that I write like some of my favorite writers, like Jane Austen, Anne Tyler, George Eliot, and Joseph Heller.
  • Who knows how I Write Like writes like they can tell how you write?
  • I’ve heard of the late David Foster Wallace — whom I Write Like thinks I write the most like — but I haven’t read anything he’s written.

I have some reactions about admitting that last point, which now reminds me of the following story, which I’ve told friends, but have never written, like, before today.

A True Story I’ve Never Written, Before Today

by Ann

When I was a senior at a fancy-shmancy, hoity-toity college majoring in English Literature, I wrote my honors thesis on my favorite author, Jane Austen.  The name of that thesis (as best I can remember and write like the 61-year old person I am) was:

Perception and Judgment in the Novels of Jane Austen

Two faculty members from the English Department of my college read my thesis, and they gave me significantly different scores  — a very high one and a lower than average one. I guess those two readers had very different opinions about what I wrote like.

However, my course grades and other criteria were good enough to put me solidly on the road to graduating

Magna Cum Laude

from

A Very Impressive University!

Near the end of the school year, my Senior Year Advisor told me that — because there were too many people with high grades — the English Department had decided to add an additional requirement, for the honors candidates.

The new requirement was an Oral Exam, where I would be questioned by three faculty members.

My advisor told me that  my personal Oral Exam Board would be:

  • an expert on American Literature,
  • an expert on Celtic Literature, and
  • an expert on Renaissance Literature

which didn’t exactly match my specialty, 18th Century English literature.  He also told me that those three people on my orals board were …. not very nice.

Nevertheless, I entered the room, the day of my oral exam, with hope and some amount of confidence. I mean, I was solidly on track to graduating

Magna Cum Laude

from

A Very Impressive University!

Here’s the opening dialog, oh so many years ago,  between me and the Orals Board:

Orals Board Examiner:  I see that you did your thesis on Jane Austen.  Did you know that Mark Twain said that she should not have been allowed to die a natural death?

Me (trying to look like I thought that was a good question): Yes, I’m aware of that. Mark Twain also praised a friend’s library just because he did not have any of her books.

Orals Board Examiner:  So?  What do you think of that?

Me: (pause):   I would rather not talk about Austen that way.

I remember seeing displeasure written all over the faces of the Orals Board. And the experience went downhill,  from there. It’s written, very clearly in my memory, those three saying things to me, throughout the exam, like:

You’re an English major HERE and you haven’t read THAT?!??!

To this day, I am grateful that I did not cry in front of my Orals Board. However, as soon as the door closed behind me after I left the room, I burst into tears.

I remember people I knew at school not believing me when I told them I had failed the oral exam miserably. (Apparently, people thought I wrote like somebody who did well on exams.) One friend, who knew somebody on my Orals Board, said, “I’ll talk to him. I’m sure you did fine.” I remember the look written on my friend’s face when he returned with the news that yes, indeed, I had failed the oral exam miserably.

That’s not the end of the story I’m writing — like a WordPress blogger — today.  I advocated for myself, by going to the Chairman of the English Department to ask for another chance. I remember, very clearly, this dialog with him (and the expressions written on his face, also):

Me: For whatever reason, I choked during that Orals Exam. I got really scared and my mind went blank. I don’t express myself well in those kinds of situations. All my other grades show that I deserve a Magna Cum Laude. All I’m asking is that you give me another Orals Board, with people on it who are specialists in my area of expertise.

The Chairman of the English Department (with “no” written all over his face): I don’t think so. You’re expressing yourself very well and articulately now,  Ann.

Me: (thinking about that for a moment): How about this, then?  The two readers of my thesis gave me very different grades. Could I have another reader for that?

The Chairman of the English Department: No.

That was all (s)he wrote. So, I did not graduate

Magna Cum Laude

from

A Very Impressive University!

Instead, I graduated

Cum Laude

from

A University that Was Then Less Impressive To Me

which is still quite honorable, don’t you think?

A few months ago, I wrote this blog post, which helped me let go of any lingering regret, disappointment, and feelings of injustice, from that long-ago experience.

Unfortunately, something else has lingered, from that day. Whenever I admit that I haven’t read something by somebody famous like David Foster Wallace, I can hear and see those three people on that Oral Exam Board saying

You haven’t read WHAT??!??!?!

… with looks of utter contempt, written all over their faces.

Perhaps, my writing like this, today, will silence those particular internalized critics, forever. And, perhaps it will rewrite my sensitivity to the expressions on other people’s faces.

Now, my dear readers of what I write like, here on WordPress, I am going to re-visit I Write Like, enter this here blog post on that there website, and find out which writer I Wrote Like, today.

Aha!  I Write Like does NOT think I wrote like David Foster Wallace today. Instead, that judgment board thinks I Write Like

H. P. Lovecraft

who, according to WikiPedia, writes like an influential writer of horror fiction.

Well,  I’m glad that I Write Like is not writing that I write like an influential writer of horrible fiction.

I wonder if there’s also a website called I Shoot Like, which could tell me which famous photographer takes pictures like these:

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Do any famous writers on I Write Like use music, like I do?

(Don’t know much about a lot of things, but the official title of that song — found here on YouTube — is “Wonderful World” by Sam Cooke, who wrote like Sam Cooke.)

Feel free to write like you do, to tell me who or what you thought I wrote like, today.

Thanks to everybody, everywhere, who writes like they choose, which includes you, of course!

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , | 52 Comments

Day 727: Guess what I did

As I’ve written about before (like here),  I have certain repeating, repetitive dialog exchanges with people, especially my boyfriend Michael (not shown, identified,* in any photos in this almost-two-year blog).  

For example, when I am telling Michael a story, this exchange can happen:

Me: Guess what I did then, Michael.

Michael (exaggerated pause, indicating thinking):  You cried?

Michael is a very good guesser. Maybe that’s because I’m a very good

Guess what I’d like to do now!

If you guessed “cry”

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

YOU’RE WRONG!**

And that incorrect guess would show that you’re probably not as good a guesser as Michael, but that’s because

  • you don’t know me as well as Michael does and/or
  • I sort of set you up there, didn’t I?

This is what I want to do now in this post. I want you to

Guess what I did yesterday.

If you guessed “cry” there …

YOU’RE RIGHT!**

However, I’m not that impressed by that guess, because I told you I cried in my weird blog post yesterday morning.

Also, I did much more than cry, yesterday. How am I going to tell you, in this post, what I did?

Guess!

What I Did Yesterday: A photojournalistic essay

by Ann

I wrote a blog post in the morning, sitting on a sofa with two cats and a calculator.

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Then, I had lunch at a favorite restaurant in Arlington, Massachusetts, USA, with my son Aaron.

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Guess how old Aaron (not pictured) is! He’s 16, soon to be 17. Guess what I do, sometimes, when I think about how lucky I am that he still likes having lunch with his mother.

Guess how Aaron feels about my taking photos for this blog!  Like Michael, Aaron is not exactly thrilled,  but he’s also tolerant of my stopping to capture images I like.

Here are the photos I took, as Aaron and I walked through Arlington after lunch:

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Aaron got into one of those shots above. Can you guess which one?

Then, because neither Michael nor Aaron wanted to see a movie I wanted to see, guess what I did next! (There’s a hint, about that, in this post.)

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Guess what movie I saw, happily, by myself!

There are hints about that, here, here, here,  here, and here.

Guess what’s telling me where those hints are, about which movie I saw yesterday. WordPress!

You may not guess this, but I always want to put a “?” at the end of a sentence that begins with “Guess.”  Guess who told me not to do that!

My son, Aaron.

Guess what I did when I saw Into The Woods  yesterday!

Right now, I am secretly guessing what some of the comments about this post are going to say.  Let’s see if I’m RIGHT!**

Any more guesses about what I did yesterday?

Michael, Aaron, and I went into Harvard Square  last night.

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As I’m looking closely at that last photo, I’m guessing that somebody else wanted to capture a memory of what I was seeing there, last night.

Guess what I did, after I took that picture!

  1. Michael and I dropped Aaron off at Tasty Burger in Harvard Square, so he could join his friends for a sleep-over.
  2. Michael and I went home.
  3. I fell asleep while we were watching “Chopped” (not pictured).
  4. I decided to give my sleep machine another try by wearing one of these masks (pictured previously here and here):

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Guess what I did when I had to wear machines in the hospital when I was a little kid!?!?

I never cried then, actually.

Maybe that’s why I love crying so much, now.

Guess what song I’m going to include in this post!

If you guessed a song from Into the Woods ….

You’re WRONG!**

(Did you guess I would find a live version of Seal singing “Don’t Cry” here on YouTube?)

Guess what I’m going to do now!

I’m going to give thanks, of course, to Michael, Aaron, the Madrona Tree Restaurant in Arlington, Stephen Sondheim, Into the Woods, Harvard Square,  Aaron’s friends,  Seal,  guessers everywhere,  and  you — of course!  — for reading and guessing here, today.


* Would you like to guess whether Michael is pictured, unidentified, in any photos in this blog?

** If you’ve ever been to Boston’s beautiful baseball stadium/temple Fenway Park any time in the last few decades, you might guess how I came up with that kind of RIGHT and WRONG, here in this non-judgmental blog. If not, I’ll tell you.***  The scoreboard in Fenway Park asks people to guess the number of people attending the game and it reveals, after dramatic pauses, who is WRONG and who is RIGHT.

*** If I hadn’t told you, would you have guessed?

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

Day 726: Weird

Isn’t it weird that on my 726th consecutive day of blogging, WordPress is telling me that I have 2012 followers OR 1651 followers, depending where I look?

Isn’t it weird that I am wondering if I should do a special blog post when my number of followers matches the number of the year we’re in, ESPECIALLY since (1) I don’t know which number of followers is true, real, or authentic and (2) the number of the year is about to change?

Isn’t it weird that months ago (when I had far fewer followers) I started the draft of a post titled “PTSD” that included all of these:

Possibly Terribly Serious Diagnosis

Post That Seems Depressing

Post That Starts Depressingly

Pets That Startle Dispproportionally

People That Seem Disdainful

Past Terrifyingly Sucky Doctors

Possibly Terrifying Sleep Deprivation

… and I haven’t published it yet?

Isn’t it weird that I decided to go to work, yesterday, on the day after Christmas,  even though I work at a large Boston hospital, and hospitals are notoriously empty of staff during the holiday season (as evidenced by this photo I snapped on my way to the cafeteria during lunchtime yesterday)? IMG_4187

Isn’t it weird that I made the choice, before work yesterday, to go to cardiac rehab (for reasons relating to my unusual heart),  on the day after Christmas?

Isn’t it weird that Carla and Kathy at cardiac rehabIMG_4173

decided to go into work yesterday even though it was the day after Christmas and their co-worker Danise had made the choice to stay home with her family? Isn’t it especially weird that they look so happy, even though I told them that the title of today’s post was going to be “Weird”?

Isn’t it weird that Carla wrote things on my work-out reminder

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that have previously appeared in this blog here and here? And isn’t it weird that I took four shots of that card yesterday, and had trouble deciding which photo to use?

Isn’t it weird that Kathy made this face yesterday

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when she was describing how sad and empathic she was about the FEELINGS of Christmas trees, after seeing a bunch of unsold ones earlier that morning, on the day after Christmas?

Isn’t it weird that I took all these other photos on the day after Christmas, even before I made it to cardiac rehab in the morning?

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Isn’t it weird that I am now choosing to show you the very first photo I took yesterday morning — after showing you all those other ones — even though this photo is the only one that directly relates to yesterday’s post?

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Isn’t it weird that I never explained this photo from yesterday’s post?

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Isn’t it weird that I heard the studio version of the Pat Metheny Group‘s “The Way Up — Part 3” as I walked by this on my way to work, after cardiac rehab?IMG_4184

(weird, live version of “The Way Up — Part 3”  found here on YouTube)

Isn’t it weird that I didn’t tell you about my hearing “The Way Up — Part 3” at the beginning of this post, so you could have started listening to it way before now?

Isn’t it weird that I’m now remembering how when The Way Up came out, a decade ago, I found out, at the last minute, that the Pat Metheny Group was touring and playing that whole wonderful album, and I was upset that I had missed the performance in Boston, but my then-manager, named Michael, pointed out that I could still see the concert if I drove to Connecticut that night, and I found a ticket for the concert and a place to stay, left work early and drove there by myself, and it’s still one of my best memories of a concert, ever?

Isn’t it weird that I just remembered all that, especially since Carla and Kathy were talking at cardiac rehab yesterday morning about how they don’t mind going to movies or to the beach by themselves, even though other people in their lives think that’s weird?

Isn’t it weird that I took all these other photos yesterday?

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Isn’t it weird that I’m crying a little, as I’m writing this part of the post, especially since I’m about to show you this great photo I took at Whole Foods Market last night, when I was feeling happy with my boyfriend Michael?

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Brenda, our cashier at Whole Foods last night, told us about her Mr. Spock button and her experiences  meeting most of the cast members of Star Trek: The Original Series (which I love and have written about here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here).

Maybe it’s not so weird that I was crying a little there, since:

  • writing this post has brought up all sorts of different memories for me,
  • listening to music I love moves me in many different ways,
  •  Kathy’s sadness about all those lonely Christmas trees may have affected me,
  • there was some very sad news yesterday, at work, about somebody losing a child,
  • and there are photos of lots of kind people in this post and — as I wrote about in 2013 — Kindness Can Make Me Cry, Even Harder.

Isn’t it weird that I haven’t included any photos of any of our cats, yet?

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Isn’t it weird that Harley, who is usually so shy, is sitting on the sofa with me while I’m writing this?  And isn’t it weird that there’s a calculator there, even though I didn’t need it to write this post?

What do you find weird about this post?  And what does the word “weird” mean to you?

Many weird thanks to all the weird people everywhere who helped me write this post today and to all those who are reading it — weirdly or non-weirdly — including YOU.

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

Day 725: Fractal

Yesterday,  when I was having some Christmas lunch at a sushi restaurant with my 16-year-old son Aaron, the conversation turned to fractals.

I’m curious. Do you know what a fractal is?

If you look up “fractal” on Wikipedia, this is the first thing you’ll find:

I don’t know the meaning of that little cleaning brush,* up there on the left. Is Wikipedia warning us that the “Fractal” article needs to be cleaned up and de-technicalized, so most people can understand it?  Or is Wikipedia suggesting that readers should brush up on their knowledge of fractals, starting now? Or is that brush actually an example of a fractal?

Here’s what inspired the discussion of fractals yesterday: Aaron was folding paper, like so, while we were waiting for our food.

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While he was folding, Aaron asked me if I knew what a fractal was.

Do you ever think you know something, until somebody asks you to explain it?  As I tried to access my memory of fractals, I was imagining interesting, intricate patterns involving branching and lines getting smaller and smaller. I wasn’t sure that was correct, though.

Aaron told me that a fractal

  • contains itself and
  • is repetitive.

I wondered, to Aaron, if I were a fractal, because I can contain myself and I am sometimes repetitive. (If you don’t believe me, just read more of my blog posts.)

According to Aaron, I am not a fractal. I’m not sure what Wikipedia would say about this, since I stopped reading that article once I saw the cleaning brush.

I wondered, at the sushi restaurant,**  if these things were fractals:

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I then said something, to Aaron, that I’ve repeated before. That is, I mused out loud that the topic under discussion might be a bloggy one. To my surprise, Aaron expressed an opinion that “Fractal” WOULD make a good title for a post. I’ve never heard Aaron repeat something like that before, and I could hardly contain myself. So I knew I HAD to write a post, today, titled “Fractal.”

That brings us up to now.

This post now contains a dilemma, that my other blog posts** repeat and contain. How can I write a blog post which

  • has the chosen title,
  • contains myself (truly and authentically),
  • repeats, in a contained way, enough of my previous insights, for continuity, and
  • contains and repeats a worthwhile experience for my readers?

This post contains something else that repeats for me: Once my mind contains an awareness of something, I see it repeating, wherever and whenever I am.

That is, once I was aware of fractals yesterday, I saw them everywhere. When I went for a Christmas Day walk, I looked for and saw fractals:

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Are those really fractals?  What is your fractal impression?

When we visited my boyfriend Michael’s family** later in the day, were there fractals there?

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That last photo not only contains curves (which Aaron names as an important component of fractals), it also repeats bongos (seen previously here, here, here, and here).

I don’t think YouTube** contains any repeating song named “Fractal,” do you?

This was as close as I could get:

That’s “Fragile,” in a live performance** by Sting (who created that beautiful song) and Stevie Wonder (found here on YouTube).

Because I’m a psychotherapist AND a human being who has dealt with medical challenges my whole life, I contain more repeating knowledge and understanding about “Fragile” than I do about “Fractal.”

But that didn’t stop me from writing this today, did it?

Before I end this post — so I can, perhaps, go see fractals at cardiac rehab** and at work,** too — here’s another photo, which I just snapped:

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Regular readers of my blog** might have expected that photo to contain and repeat one of my cats, Harley or Oscar:

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I’d explain that photo, if I had time, but I’ve got to fractally and fragilely run. Any guesses why I included that photo here (and whether it contains fractals)? Any  fractal-post-related questions?

Thanks to Aaron, to  Michael, to Michael’s family,** to Wikipedia,** to Sting, to Stevie Wonder, to Genki Ya Sushi,** and to all who read these posts, no matter how fractal or fragile you are.


* Apparently, your experience of this post may or may not contain one picture of a cleaning brush.
** Which may contain those who may or may not understand fractals, like me.

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

Day 724: Children

Yesterday, I saw, heard, and experienced many things related to children.

I took these two photos on my way in to work:

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Then, in individual and group therapy, I worked with people who had

  • lost children
  • felt lost, as children, and
  • last week had lost somebody they loved as children, to suicide.

Here’s some of that work in progress, drawn by a former child, on a board:

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I left work, as I usually do on Wednesdays, around noon time. This is what I heard, on my walk back to my car:

That‘s Bernadette Peters singing “Children Will Listen,” from Stephen Sondheim‘s Into the Woods. Here are the words she’s singing:

Careful the things you say,

Children will listen.

Careful the things you do,

Children will see and learn.

Children may not obey

But children will listen.

Children will look to you

For which way to turn

To learn what to be.

Careful before you say,

“Listen to me.”

Children will listen.

Careful the wish you make.

Wishes are children.

Careful the path they take.

Wishes come true,

Not free.

Careful the spell you cast

Not just on children.

Sometimes the spell may last

Past what you can see

And turn against you.

Careful the tale you tell

That is the spell.

Children will listen.

Guide them, then step away,

Children will glisten.

Tamper with what is true

And children will turn

If just to be free.

Careful before you say,

“Listen to me.”

Children will listen.

Children will listen.

Children will listen.

Because it was Christmas eve, there were very few people around during my walk back to my car. But I still noticed children (and people who have been very important to children).

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Then, at my workplace garage, I saw Selemun, who was especially kind last year, when my only child was sick.

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I also saw this reindeer car at my workplace garage:

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… which appeared previously in this here post.

On my drive back home, I stopped for more children-related things:

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Then, last night, I witnessed lots of beautiful children (and former children) giving and receiving gifts:

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Thanks to children and adults in my family, to all those who work — and those who live on — in the Fenway Park area of Boston, to Bernadette Peters and Stephen Sondheim, to people who listen, and to all children and former children (including you!) visiting here, today.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , | 34 Comments

Day 723: What’s been going on?

Yesterday, in my therapy office, people discussed going to gatherings for the Christmas holiday, where friends and family would probably be asking them

What’s been going on?

or some other form of that question.

As we discussed that likely question, there was concern about how to answer it and how others might respond to the answers.

I hear that a lot — concern about reactions from others, regarding what people have or have not been doing with their lives. Those concerns usually heighten when holidays, reunions, and other social gatherings are going on.

Yesterday, we discussed and expanded the possible answers for the question

What’s been going on?

to include these:

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Besides realizing there were many possible ways to respond to that question (including several not shown above), it also helped to realize that

  • other people’s reactions don’t matter as much as we fear,
  • other people often are more interested in telling you what’s going on with them (than judging what’s going on with you), and
  • you can answer “What’s been going on?” however you choose.

Regular readers of my blog might be wondering

what’s been going on

with me, after I took a cardiac stress test yesterday.  I suppose I could respond with one of the answers listed above, but instead I’ll tell you that

  • I don’t have any new information to report and
  • I met some new people who had things going on with them, yesterday, including:

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Al, whom I met in the parking lot of Tufts Medical Center before my stress test, and who told me  he

  1. has been wearing hats like that for 30 years,
  2. owns many varieties of them, in 13 colors, and
  3. always wears one when he goes to the hospital.

Al definitely has a lot going on, don’t you think?

I also met Jason

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a cardiology fellow who was conducting my stress test. After the stress test, Jason looked at my record  to see what’s been going on with me, and said, “I see that you’ll be consulting with Dr. Michael Landzberg next month.”  As I  told you so here yesterday, there’s been a lot going on in my life regarding this Michael Landzberg (even before I’ve met him), since Dr. Landzberg is THE expert on people with unusual hearts like mine. I wasn’t surprised, at all, that Jason knew Dr. Landzberg, since that level of Landzbergian recognition has been going on a lot, lately.

However, I didn’t really know what was going on at that point, because  Jason then said,

He’s my father-in-law.

What’s been going on, with all these friggin’ coincidences?

What’s been going on here, visually, has included Al, Jason, and a third man, too:

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Yesterday afternoon, when I met with my supervisor, Lynda, at work, she asked me

What’s been going on?

and when she heard all that’s been going on with me lately, she said,

It’s too bad you don’t have ten days off during this time, to relax.

No matter what’s been going on with me, I love — and am sustained by — my work, providing individual and group therapy to people who have a lot going on with them.  I’m doing fine, dealing with what’s been going on with me.

What’s been going on with you?

Finally, here’s what’s (been) going on, according to a late and great musical artist:

Many thanks to Al, Jason, Santa, Dr. Landzberg, Lynda, Marvin Gaye, and all those who are doing their best to deal with what’s been going on with them, including you, of course!

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

Day 722: I told you so

Yesterday morning,  I was treading on the treadmill at cardiac rehab

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and  Danise

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said, “I told you so!” as she recounted a story about her weekend.

I don’t know if I told you so before, but I often listen to conversations around me and if I find them interesting, sometimes I interrupt!
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If you have a judgment (or any other thoughts) about that, feel free to tell me so.

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Anyway, Danise and I told each other a little bit about “I Told You So” while — as I already told you so — I was treading on that treadmill. We agreed that “I Told You So” might make a good t-shirt. I also told Danise it would make a good title for today’s post.

If I haven’t told you so before, I’ll tell you now:  I almost never say “I told you so.” Why not?  I don’t think people like it if you tell them:

  1. I was right,
  2. You were wrong, and
  3. You should have listened to me.

Who wants to be told that?

If you tell somebody “I told you so” and  they react poorly, all I can say is …

… I told you so.

See?  How did that feel?

I told you so far, in this post, about Danise talking about her weekend and my working out at cardiac rehab.  What have I told you so far, in This Second Year of Living Non-Judgmentally, about recent developments with my very unusual heart?

Even if I told you so before, I’ll tell you this again:

  1. Several cardiologists in the greater Boston area have different beliefs about what’s going on with my very unusual heart and what should be done about it.
  2. I’m hoping, with all my heart, that the doctors who believe I need major surgery soon will NOT be saying, “I told you so,” any time soon.
  3. As I’ve told you so many times in this blog, I have a lot of trust and admiration for my primary cardiologist Dr. Deeb Salem, who is a good listener and a great doctor.
  4.  On January 7, I’ll be seeing THE specialist for adults for my very rare congenital cardiac anomaly, at Boston Children’s Hospital.  How do I know this guy is THE specialist?  Several people have told me so.

I’ve told you so many things about my heart situation, lately. I’m not sure how comfortable you are, reading those kind of details. Perhaps I haven’t told you so in so many words, but it’s helpful for me to write about all this, here.

Even though I don’t say “I told you so” very often, I do like to form my own opinions about what’s going on with me medically, which can conflict with what the experts are saying.  If I’m right (and the experts are wrong), those are  opportunities to say, “I told you so.”

For example, when I transferred my care from Children’s Hospital in 1980 to work with Dr. Salem, he wanted to find out why I was born with a complete heart block — where the atria of my heart were NOT saying “I told you so, so, so, so, so, to beat after me” to the ventricles — necessitating my having a pacemaker at age 10. At that point, nobody had told me so that my heart was super unusual. Why? Because nobody at Children’s Hospital had discovered that I had congenitally corrected transposition of the great vessels (to be fair, cardiology technology wasn’t sophisticated enough to tell us so, back then).  I don’t have time to tell you so much the whole story of all that right now, since I need to go get a detailed cardiac stress test this morning — to get more data so the cardiologists can tell me so much more about what the &*#@!!&(# is going on with my weirdly unusual heart.  But I do want to tell you (so you will get my point)  what I did, back in 1980 when I disagreed with Dr. Salem’s conclusion that I might need heart surgery, after he discovered the truth about my bizarrely strange heart.

When Doctor Salem surprised me, while I was waiting for pacemaker replacement surgery in the hospital, by telling me so much about my heart, including that they might need to sew the pacemaker wires onto my heart after I had believed, for many years, that I would NEVER need that kind of surgery again, I got up out of my hospital bed and started packing my bags, to leave. Dr. Salem — whom I’ve told you so many times is a wonderful doctor — was empathic and creative enough to figure out, with me, another solution. And, since age 13 and until today — when I’m telling you so much, so quickly — I’ve never had heart surgery, again.

As I’ve told you so, above, I need to leave soon to go to a cardiac stress test today. But I have time to tell you one more story, about how I sometimes take opportunities to say, “I told you so!” to my doctors.

Last Friday, after synthesizing all the conflicting medical input I’ve been getting, I wrote an email to Dr. Salem. The subject of the email was:

By the way, here’s my working recommendation for what to do with me

A judgmental critic might disapprovingly say “I told you so, don’t do that!” regarding that email, because:

  • I came up with my own recommendations, even though I’m just the patient, and
  • I wrote such a friggin’ long subject for that email.

Would you like me to tell you what I told Dr. Salem in that email, so boldly?

You can tell me that you want me to tell you so, now. But I’m not going to tell you.

Why?

I may have told you so far, during my blogging journey, that I like to tell stories effectively. Therefore, I think it would be better if I tell you later, not now,  what I wrote in that email.

When will I tell you so much more about the contents of that email, and my prediction and recommendation about the best course of action for my heart? Probably, after I get the opinion of THE expert at Children’s Hospital, whom I’m seeing on January 7.  Honestly, dear readers, wouldn’t that make a great telling of the story? Especially if — based on what Dr. Michael Landzberg tells me — I’ll be able to say “I told you so!” to all those cardiologists who think I need a valve replacement or even more invasive heart surgery in the near future.

I told you so much and so little so far, today. Personally, I think it’s time I told you so, visually, with these other photos I took yesterday:

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What am I telling you, in that photo I took at cardiac rehab? I told you so many people are stressed out over the holiday!

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That’s Mary, whom I work with. If I haven’t told you so many times before this that I love working with her, I’ll tell you so now.  Before I took that photo, Mary told me this, “That diploma is in Latin, so nobody can tell how old I am!”

Have I told you that I park in a garage and easily walk the miles back and forth from work? (By the way, that’s more data that has gone into my personal recommendation about treatment for my heart, contained in my email to Dr. Salem, which I’ll be telling you about later.)  Here’s what I saw, yesterday, in that garage:

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That car is saying, “I told you so that I’m a reindeer!”

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Let’s see if my iPhone is saying “I told you so!” about having more cool pictures from yesterday I can tell you about, right now.

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If you have any reactions to anything in this post, please tell me so in a “I told you so!” comment (or not).

Oh!  I forgot to tell you so about the song that woke me up this morning.

That’s Los Lobos, telling so many people, live, “Don’t Worry, Baby!”

I told you so!

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Thanks to Dr. Salem, to Dr. Michael Landzberg, to Mary, to Danise, to Los Lobos, to anybody anywhere who has ever told me so (or told me anything else). And, thanks to everybody to whom I’ve ever said, “I told you so” … which now includes YOU!!

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

Day 721: Reunited

Yesterday morning, one purple glove of mine reunited with another one.

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The black mitten on the right might have to remain alone, instead of reuniting with its lost partner. No matter what happens in the future, I now have enough gloves to keep me warm.

After happily reuniting one purple glove with another in the morning, I then reunited with my close-friend-since-we-were-5-years-old,  Barbara. (Previous reunitings with Barbara can be found in posts here, here, here, and here).

On my drive to Barbara’s home yesterday, I saw a sign hoping to reunite a pet with its owner:

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Barbara and I reunited in one of the common areas in her apartment building where, I assume, people reunite all the time.

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In that photo, Barbara is reuniting me with one of my favorite winter treats  — hot chocolate — produced from this impressive machine, uniting Starbucks with at-home brewing:

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Those of you reuniting with my blog today may have recognized a familiar item in the photos above:  my bongos (with which you can reunite here and here).

I brought the bongos to Barbara’s, yesterday, along with a quiche and lots of fruit.

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I brought all these things to my reunion with Barbara because she — like me — has been dealing with some very challenging situations lately. Barbara and I grew up together and we both come from families where reuniting somebody with fruit (and other gifts) = love.

While none of my previous family or friend reunitings have involved bongos, I chose to bring bongos to Barbara yesterday because:

  •  those bongos have proved to be a very useful tool for me to express and let go of frustration, fear, and other feelings about medical challenges not currently in my control and
  • bongos are a particularly fun way to reunite.

Much to my reuniting delight, Barbara agreed to borrow my bongos and to use them as best she can. In this next photo, you can see the bongos uniting, on Barbara’s work desk, with some other helpful tools for reducing stress (which regular readers of this blog may have reunited with before):

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Then, Barbara reunited the bongos with their official name:

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In the next photo, my soon-to-be-bongo-ing friend, Barbara, is reuniting with something new she recently created:

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Have you ever heard of an Art (or Paint) Bar?  Apparently, these socializing establishments reunite people with art talent they may or may not have ever expressed before. I shall now reunite you with that painting Barbara created, for a closer look:

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Barbara told me yesterday she had NEVER PAINTED ANYTHING BEFORE she painted that at Pinot’s Palette Franchise in Lexington. I am now, as I’m writing this, reuniting with my amazement about Barbara’s new, previously undiscovered artistic skills, since that painting easily reunites me with my memory of Boston’s Leonard Zakim Bridge:

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(I reunited with that visual memory of the Zakim bridge here, thanks to Tony Hisgett.)

My son and I, when we were reuniting with my late mother every weekend, called that “The Wishbone Bridge” as we passed by it on Sundays. Can you see why?

What other important memories  would I like to reunite with now, regarding my reuniting with Barbara yesterday?

Yesterday, Barbara and I firmly reunited with our resolve to not let cognitive distortions (pictured above, with bongos) and other unhelpful thoughts get in the way of our well-being, including our on-going and valuable reuniting with each other.  We reminded ourselves and each other, during our reunion yesterday to:

  • let go of counter-productive mind-reading about each other (e. g., “she’ll be mad at me if I’m late” or “she won’t have time for me this weekend, so I won’t even ask to get together”) and
  • remember, as best we can, that we will always do whatever we can to support each other.

For example, Barbara offered, yesterday, to reunite with me during an upcoming medical appointment. I told Barbara that my ex-sister-in-law, Deborah, had also offered (in a comment to this post) to accompany me when I visit some of the bevy of cardiologists who are currently reuniting and interrupting with my life.

People offering to accompany me to medical appointments is a very powerful antidote, for me, to a particularly unhelpful, pernicious, disturbing, and stubborn thought that I reunite with, constantly:

Ann, you are alone in these scary, medical experiences.

Why do I keep reuniting with that thought, despite evidence everywhere to the contrary? Because that felt very true when I was a little kid, growing up in the hospital. But it’s not true now.

I would assume that some people reading this post have unhelpful thoughts they reunite with, at times,  such as:

  • I am damaged, beyond repair.
  • I am unworthy.
  • I am hopeless.
  • I am alone.

If you do have unhelpful thoughts you reunite with regularly, could you please unite with me, today, and allow for the possibility that those are simply NOT TRUE?????

If you would like to unite with me on that, feel free to reunite with me via a comment, below.

Anyway, I would now like to reunite this post to my day yesterday. Reuniting with Barbara was wonderful personal medicine for me — even better than going bongos!

After my visit with Barbara, I reunited with my boyfriend Michael, and we did our usual Sunday evening food shopping. There, I reunited with things that reminded me of past posts I’ve written here, including:

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reuniting me with memories of a post I wrote my first week of blogging and

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which reunited my thoughts with a post I wrote two days ago.

At the check-out counter, Michael and I reunited with our old friend Al:

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Whenever we reunite with Al, there are lots of words and attitude flying around. I witnessed this, yesterday:

Al:  Do you know why I always check the eggs before someone walks out of here?  I check them every time because I want to make sure nobody returns them.

Michael: I thought you did it to be annoying.

Al: No! It’s because I’m a professional.

Al, at other times we’ve reunited with him, could easily have replied to Michael, instead, “I do it to be annoying to YOU, Michael.”  However, everybody seems to be behaving a little differently these days. Maybe that’s because they’re reuniting with familiar time-of-the-year traditions, like these:

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What song do you think would be a good one to reunite with, now?

How about this one?

I’ve chosen that version of “Reunited” by Peaches and Herb (found here on YouTube) in honor of Barbara, because (1) Barbara likes music with lyrics and (2) we might have watched that show together when it first aired in 1979, a year where we had reunited as roommates.

I realize I’ve reunited today with my tendency to write long posts — on a MONDAY MORNING, no less — when you might not have the time to read this. If so, I hope you reunite with it later (and maybe even let me know what you think of all the reunitings here).

Many thanks to Barbara, Deborah, Michael, Al, Peaches, and Herb;  to people who do their best to reunite with helpful thoughts and behaviors; to all those things I like to reunite with, such as quiche, fruit, musical instruments, antidotes, peaches, herbs, candles, and latkes;  and — of course! — to you and every other person in my reuniting community, here and now.

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

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