Monthly Archives: January 2015

Day 751: Bitching

Two days ago, I received this email from my dear friend Barbara (most recently appearing in this here post):

Sounds like it might be time to return the bitching bongos to you.  They’ve gotten me through some frustrations… I could bring them by on my way home mid-afternoon, if Michael is going to be home.

So, this is what I found after I got home from work last night:


Now I can start bitching again, with some healing music.

Here’s what I’d like to bitch about, right now:

  • For the second time in my life, I need to have my least favorite cardiac test ever, on Friday (in two days).
  • My favorite cardiologist in the whole world, Dr. Deeb Salem, asked me to come in an HOUR EARLIER than our scheduled appointment today, so I’m wondering what the *&#@!!$% THAT means.
  • Yesterday, at work, we got news that somebody had shot and wounded a cardiac surgeon in a hospital very close to where I work.
  • Just now, I checked the news to find out that this doctor, probably so similar to doctors I’ve worked with my entire life, has died.

I don’t even know how to make sense of all these things right now, my dear readers.

Feel free to bitch about anything you choose, in the comments below.

I leave this post silent, in respect for the loss of life.

Thanks to Barbara and all those I love. And thanks to you for your visit here today.

Categories: Uncategorized | 46 Comments

Day 750: At last (you’re here)

This song came on yesterday, while I was taking a walk on the last day of my long weekend:

(“At Last You’re Here” by Pat Metheny also lasts here on YouTube.)

That’s not the last time, I’m sure, that a song will — synchronistically and coincidentally — match my mood and circumstance.  When I heard “At Last You’re Here” yesterday, I smiled; I had just found something I’d been awaiting, for several weeks. At last, it was here.

The details of what I was waiting for are not important.  Based on my experience for the last 61 years, that won’t be the last time I wait for something to arrive.

For example, as I’m writing this,  I wish and hope to say “At Last You’re Here” to:

  • peace of mind
  • acceptance,
  • confidence,
  • awareness,
  • clarity,
  • faith in myself and others, and
  • the “right” answer to difficult questions.

At last, this realization is here:

In life,  there will be downs and ups,   bad luck and good luck, disappointments and blessings.

In therapy — at the beginning, at last, or at some other point  — people bring up two recurring images/metaphors. To describe personal ups and down, we use this mathematical wave




… the roller coaster.*

At last, are you ever there?

At last, I’d like to tell you this, as clearly as I can:

I (and most human beings I’ve met) are on guard for the next wave of downs/the negative, as a way to self-protect. At last, that does not help. Instead, that extends the life of the negative by anticipating it, focusing on it, and resisting letting it go.

Instead, I believe I shall last longer, healthier, and happier, if I anticipate the positive or (at least) give the positive the same space and time as the negative takes up in my heart, soul, and mind.

In other words, when

  • fear
  • hopelessness,
  • confusion,
  • pain,
  • isolation

at last appear again, I must remember I’ll eventually be saying “at last, you’re here” to

  • relief,
  • hope,
  • understanding,
  • lessening of pain, and
  • connection.

At last, does this all make sense? Let me know, in the comments appearing at last, below.

Here’s another song — At Last! — I’d like to share;

(“At Last” sung by Etta James lasts here on YouTube.)

At last, here are some photos I took yesterday during my walk and my visit with my beloved ex-sister-in-law, Deborah:

IMG_4727 IMG_4728 IMG_4732 IMG_4735 IMG_4736 IMG_4739IMG_4734 IMG_4751 IMG_4753 IMG_4755IMG_4741 IMG_4768 IMG_4771 IMG_4773IMG_4764 IMG_4776 IMG_4778IMG_4774IMG_4779IMG_4780IMG_4787IMG_4786 IMG_4784

At last, Penny the Pen is brave enough to see with both eyes again. Will that last?  What do you think?

Many thanks to Pat Metheny, to sine waves and roller coasters, to Etta James, to Deborah and her husband Joe (who restored Penny’s eye, in a twinkling), to all those who have ups and down, and — at last but not least — to you for being here, at last.

* At last you’re here in the footnote section, so I can tell you I found that image of the roller coaster here. At last I’ll tell you that if you don’t like roller coasters, try this: imagine yourself standing solidly on the ground, observing — in safety — the ups and downs of the roller coaster of life. At last: if you try that, let me know if it helps and if it lasts.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Day 749: Brave enough

Here’s something I’m often brave enough to ask when I’m facilitating a therapy group:

Who is brave enough to get us started?

Who is brave enough to get us started, here and now, dear readers?  I guess it’s  … me!

Are you brave enough to come along?

Right after I published yesterday’s post, which included this photo


… I was brave enough to take a closer look at the face of Penny the Pen, despite my fear of what I might see.


Eeeek!  It seems like Penny — by accompanying me on my adventures since the New Year — has experienced some assault and battery to her face. I’m glad she is brave enough to keep smiling.

Because I’m so sensitive to facial expressions, I wanted to immediately fix Penny’s face yesterday morning. But I wasn’t sure  I was skilled, steady, or brave enough to do so.

I had the equipment.


That’s a permanent marker, so I wasn’t brave enough to use it, at first. However, other non-permanent solutions (like pencils and pens) did not make a mark, at all.

After taking a deep breath, I was brave enough to use that permanent Sharpie to draw in Penny’s eyebrow.

Are you brave enough to look?


I’m brave enough to brag that I did a good-enough job on Penny’s eyebrow.   I haven’t been brave enough, so far, to attempt repairing her eye.

Are you brave enough to vote about what to do about Penny’s eye, in the comments below?  Here are the options I am brave enough to see, at the moment:

  1. I become brave enough to draw a new eye for Penny, despite the risks of drawing something that  might look weird, permanently.
  2. I become brave enough to let Penny stay as she is now, reframing and re-seeing her expression as a friendly wink.
  3. I become brave enough to let somebody else do the repair, who is more skilled and experienced than I.

Right now, I am brave enough to see some parallels there between Penny’s face and my unusual heart (which may need some fixing in the near future, too).

What else do I want to tell you, today, about “Brave Enough”?

Yesterday, I was brave enough to do 7 miles on my brand new, pink elliptical!

IMG_4661 IMG_4662 IMG_4663

I watched the movie Muscle Shoals while I was brave enough to log all those mile yesterday. Here are some photos I was brave enough to take, along the way.


That’s the hospital where singer Percy Sledge was brave enough to work and to sing for the patients, before he was brave enough to create his first record —  “When A Man Loves A Woman” —  at  a music studio in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, USA.

Here’s Percy Sledge, bravely singing that song (found here on YouTube) from his heart and soul:

When I was brave enough to reach this distance on my elliptical:


I saw the brave man we are honoring in the USA today.

IMG_4674 IMG_4672

A few miles after seeing Martin Luther King, Jr., I saw another personal hero, who grew up in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

IMG_4689 IMG_4691

That’s Helen Keller (who previously appeared in this post, which I wrote last May, when I was being brave enough while recovering from pneumonia).

I am now brave enough to recommend the movie Muscle Shoals to you, without reservation.

Here are some more things I am brave enough to tell you, right now:

  1. Last week, I was brave enough to ask someone if I had lost her by expressing some frustration and anger. Her brave answer: “It would be impossible for you to lose me.”
  2. In two days, I will be meeting with my long-time and trusted cardiologist, Dr. Deeb Salem. I plan to be brave enough to ask him some questions about possible surgical repairs for my very unusual heart AND brave enough to listen to his answers.
  3. I took some photos yesterday of our two cats — Harley and Oscar — who are brave enough to have very different styles, regarding bravery:

IMG_4693 IMG_4694

That’s Harley, reacting to my being on the elliptical for the first time, running by as quickly as he can. Here’s Oscar, with more obvious bravery:

IMG_4697 IMG_4695 IMG_4696 IMG_4698

Are you brave enough to stick around for a few more photos I snapped yesterday, at my weekly supermarket shopping with my boyfriend Michael?  Penny stayed home, resting her eye, but I brought along this stand-in


who first appeared in this post I was brave enough to write, last month, after consulting with other cardiologists.

IMG_4716 IMG_4718 IMG_4721 IMG_4714

Oh, and just one more photo, from this morning:


Oscar and Harley are both brave enough to stick by me here. That helps me feel brave enough, today.

Thanks to Martin Luther King Jr., to Helen Keller, to Percy Sledge and the other incredible musicians and producers who’ve worked together at Muscle Shoals studios, to everyone and everything that helped me be brave enough to write this post, and to all those who are brave enough in their own way, every day — including you, of course.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , | 55 Comments

Day 748: A Salt and Battery

I love puns.  My boyfriend Michael says he strongly dislikes puns, but here’s the truth about Michael:

When Michael makes a pun,  he insists it’s not a pun.

When the rest of the world makes a pun, Michael acts like that’s assault and battery.

Yesterday, Michael and I probably made some puns, but I can’t remember any of them right now, no matter how much I assault and batter my brain trying to remember.

BTBW, here are some random thoughts battering around in my mind about what I’ve written so far:

  • When I was a little kid having surgeries in the hospital, those felt like assault and battery.
  • I am anticipating having heart surgery in the future, but everybody assures me that will NOT feel like assault and battery.
  • Since I’ve been 10 years old, I’ve relied on the batteries in pacemakers to stay alive.
  • I can get nervous/anxious/jumpy/whatever-we-want-to-call-it when regular batteries run down (as they always do), because of the way my mind makes associations.
  • The way my mind makes associations probably helps me make puns AND helps me write the kind of posts I’ve been writing here, every day for the last 747 days.
  • 747 is also a kind of airplane.

download (39)

(Image of 747 found here)

  • I plan to fly out on an airplane to California, with my 16-year-old son, next month.
  • The plane reservations aren’t made yet, which can make me nervous/anxious/jumpy/whatever-we-want-to-call-it, but I have faith that my travel agent/niece Laura will take care of this beautifully, because she always does (including the trips I wrote about here, here, here, and here).
  • When I had to replace some batteries yesterday, my mind/brain/whatever-we-want-to-call-it came up with the title for today’s post.


  • I hope it won’t be photographic assault and battery, now, if I share all the other shots I took yesterday:

IMG_4645 IMG_4646 IMG_4648 IMG_4649 IMG_4650 IMG_4651 IMG_4652 IMG_4653 IMG_4654 IMG_4655

I don’t want to batter you into leaving me a comment about this post, but it would feel like the opposite of assault-and-battery to me, if you commented in any way.

Now, I have to salt-and-batter my brain to come up with a good-enough song to end this post.

I don’t mean to procrastinate, but what would YOU choose as a song for this Salt-and-Battery post?

Okay, here are my associations, leading to the Song Du Jour:

  • “Batter, batter, batter” is something Cameron and Ferris say in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off at Chicago’s Wrigley Field, skipping school for a Cubs baseball game.

That YouTube video of that scene doesn’t have great sound (even though it has over 272,000 views).

Gotta go Twist and Shout on my brand new, pink elliptical!

Thanks to Michael the Boyfriend (who, like Ferris, could be a Fry Cook on Venus), Laura the Niece/Travel Agent, Harley the Cat, Penny the Pen, Ferris and Cameron,  John Hughes the Late Screenwriter and Director,  The Beatles the Group, and You the Reader — of course! — for visiting me, today.

Categories: gratitude, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 41 Comments

Day 747: Oh bother!

Oh bother!

I am bothered, right now, by this: I was THIS CLOSE to publishing a post with random thoughts about “bother,” and it’s gone.

I shall do my best to let go of my bothered thoughts and feelings about that, and begin again.

I hope it won’t bother you, now, if I list some random thoughts about “bother”:

  1. Since I was a little girl, I’ve been bothered by fears about bothering other people.
  2. As human beings, we inevitably bother others and are bothered by them, at times.
  3. It bothers me that there was a third item on my list, but I can’t think of it now.

Oh, bother!

Yesterday morning, at cardiac rehab, I wondered if I was bothering people by

  1. making noise,
  2. taking up space,
  3. getting in the way of others, and
  4. expressing my needs.

Oh, bother!  When I wrote that second list in my almost-completed-but-botheringly-lost first draft of this bothersome post, that had three items, too.

I shall now stop bothering you (and myself) by comparing this post with that lost post (no matter how much I liked it). I also am letting go of any blame of myself, WordPress, or anything else, regarding that loss.

This post — although different from my late, lamented post in how it bothers the universe — will be good enough!

I shall now resume bothering you and my other readers with what happened at cardiac rehab, yesterday morning.

I let go of my fear of bothering others yesterday, by

  1. making noise,
  2. taking up space,
  3. getting in the way of others, and
  4. expressing my needs.

Did that bother other people at cardiac rehab?

When I asked Carla if I was bothering her, she made this bothered face:


Even though it usually bothers me when people make non-smiley faces like that, I LOVE that face of Carla’s.

While Carla was taking my blood pressure (which didn’t bother me at all), we talked about our shared fears of bothering others. It bothers me that nice people like Carla are bothered by that, too.  Perhaps, now that we’ve bothered each other with that “bother” talk, Carla and I will be less bothered about bothering people, in the future.

Here are more photos I bothered to take yesterday, at cardiac rehab:




That’s Penny the Pen on the elliptical and Danise on the chair. Danise was bothered, yesterday, by how her hair looked, even though we kept bothering her by telling her we thought it looked great.

Allow me to bother you with one more photo of Danise and hair:


I hope this doesn’t bother Danise or Carla when they read this, but I prefer Danise’s hair, before.

BTBW,* Penny and I are bothered less by the elliptical, compared to any other exercise machine we’ve tried, so I ordered an elliptical last week, online. I won’t bother you with the details, besides these:

  1. the cost of the elliptical I bought didn’t bother my wallet too much,
  2. it’s PINK,
  3. it got great reviews (especially by people who are my height),
  4. it’s sitting in a box, upstairs, and
  5. I’ll be bothering my boyfriend Michael, over the long weekend, to help me put it together.

BTBW,* after cardiac rehab yesterday, I went to work, where I met with somebody who was bothered by Seasonal Affective Disorder and unhelpful thoughts (which we challenged, together).


My sister Ellen unexpectedly showed up at my workplace, yesterday, which didn’t bother me at all. I told her about developments regarding my likely need for heart surgery, which — as I’ve been blogging about lately — bothers me (although less and less, as time goes on). I cried a little, and my sister’s hug — I believe —  bothered neither her nor me.

What else should I bother you with, today?

This tune by Thomas Dolby  (who never bothers me) has been bothering to show up in my earphones a lot lately:

(It never bothers me to find a great live version of a song on YouTube, like here.)

I’ll probably listen to that this weekend, when I bother to go Hyperactive on my new elliptical!

It won’t bother me, y’know, if you bother to leave a comment below.

Thanks to Carla, Danise, Penny, sister Ellen, boyfriend Michael (in advance, for bothering to help me with the elliptical), Thomas Dolby, all those who have ever bothered or have been bothered by others, and to you (of course!) for bothering to visit here, today.

* I shall bother you with one more thing I created today: BTBW means “By The Bothering Way.”

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

Day 746: I’m here!

Yesterday morning, I got an email from my downstairs neighbor, Karen, with this subject:


I herein realized, “Oh, no!   I’ve lost track of Penny the Pen* twice in two days!”

The rest of Karen’s email is here:

Dear Ann,  I moved it up from the back hall as you walk in because I didn’t want Faxy to chew it and I meant to email you last night.  Sorry i didn’t. But she is there today and waiting to picked up.  Love, Karen

Here’s what I want to say about that email:

img_1633 (1)

That’s Faxy,  Karen’s adorable dog, saying “I’m here!”  She most recently appeared in my New Year’s Eve post,  here.

Thank you, Karen, for preventing Faxy from saying, “I’m here” to Penny by chewing her to pieces.

I’m here to tell you that after I got that great email from Karen, I went out into the hallway, and found this here:


This Mommy is glad that Karen is here and that I’m here, too.

I’m here to tell you I then snapped these photos, to let you know that Penny is still here, thanks to Karen:

IMG_4586 IMG_4587 IMG_4588

This may be neither here nor there, but those three photos show that I’m now being more careful that Penny stays here with us, as I transport her between home and my office.

After an interesting day at work yesterday, where several people said, “I’m here!” in their own healing ways in individual and group therapy, I walked back to my car, through the frozen Fenway Park area of Boston. When it’s very cold and I’m here in the friggin’ freezing Northeastern USA, I don’t pause to pose Penny in pictures, purely to make sure that both Penny and I feel fine.

However, be assured that I’m here with Penny while  snapping each of these following images:

IMG_4591   IMG_4590 IMG_4595IMG_4596 IMG_4599 IMG_4604 IMG_4609 IMG_4611 IMG_4614IMG_4618

IMG_4619IMG_4621  IMG_4625

Whenever I walk by that statue of my old hero, Captain Carl Yastrzemski, I salute him, just to let him know “I’m here!” (and so are you, Carl, as I’m writing this.)

After I got home from work last night — saying, “I’m here!” to my boyfriend Michael — Michael (and, later, my son Aaron) tried to guess what the “I’m here Mommy!” sign meant. In the meantime, I took these here three photos :

IMG_4631 IMG_4635  IMG_4633

What else did I want to say about “I’m here (Mommy!)” before I leave here for cardiac rehab AND a full Friday’s workday?

  1. I’m very glad I’m here, in the blog-o-sphere, work-o-sphere, and long-weekend-o-sphere (starting tomorrow).
  2. My 16-year-old son, Aaron, never, ever called me “Mommy.” (He called me “Mama” when he was little.)
  3. I called my late mother “Mommy” when I was a little kid.
  4. To me, the most impressive “I’m here Mommy!”  photo here in this here entire post is that of the shy white-and-tiger kitty, Harley, who is so skittish I wonder what happened with his mommy and others in his life, during the two years before he communicated “I’m here Mommy!” straight to my heart  in a local adoption shelter.

What music is saying “I’m here” to me, in the moment?

Elaine Stritch, who is no longer here with us — but who was here for 89 years (mommy!) before she died last year — is singing Stephen Sondheim‘s “I’m Still Here” still here, on YouTube.

Feel free to let me know “I’m here!” by leaving a comment below for this proud Mommy.

Many thanks to Karen, Faxy, Aaron, Michael, Captain Carl, Elaine Stritch, Penny the Pen,  my ex-business partner Jonathan (who took the fabulous photo of the little kid with the aardvark), my patients, mommies (and non-mommies) everywhere, and all those who say “I’m here!” as best they can, including you (of course!).

* Penny the Pen is saying “I’m here Mommy!” in her special way in previous posts here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

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

Day 745: I Feel Fine

Yesterday, when I was at Cardiac Rehab, I had a good conversation with Kathy


shown there on the left, with Carla and Danise. Kathy and I talked about the latest developments in My Land of A Hundred* Cardiologists, regarding possible surgical interventions and other next steps, for me and my very unusual heart.

Me: I don’t know if the doctors understand this, though. I FEEL FINE.

Kathy:  Yes, and I think your doctors want  you to KEEP feeling fine, by acting sooner rather than later.

Whenever somebody makes sense like Kathy does, I feel fine.

Yesterday, I wrote about Reasons Why I Do Not WANT To Have Heart Surgery. When I get insightful and helpful comments on a post, as I did yesterday, I feel fine. I feel fine, right now, explaining a little more about yesterday’s post, as follows:

Whenever I allow myself to get in touch with my fears and express them (using humor, visuals, and references to things I love), I feel fine.

Before I went to cardiac rehab yesterday, I facilitated a therapy group at work, where — I hope — people felt finer at the end than in the beginning.


I feel fine that I love my work.

However, as usual, even when I feel fine, there’s always something to NOT feel fine about. For example, yesterday, I feared that I was, again, a loser.  

Penny the Pen was missing.

However, right after I parked my car in the hospital garage for cardiac rehab, I saw Penny in the passenger seat.


Whenever I find something I fear I’ve lost, I feel fine!

Here’s Penny feeling fine at cardiac rehab:



In the evening, Penny, my boyfriend Michael, and I all felt fine at a pet superstore in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA:


I feel fine whenever I listen to “I Feel Fine” by the Beatles, found here on YouTube.

What helps you feel fine?

Thanks to everybody, everywhere reading today’s post who feels fine or not fine,  including you!

Picture 67

(Image of Italian word “fine” found here)


* I’m not actually dealing with a hundred cardiologists these days, but it FEELS like it. I feel fine exaggerating, in situations like these. Do you?

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 48 Comments

Day 744: Reasons Why I Do Not Want to Have Heart Surgery (part 1)

Reason # 1: There are no cats in the hospital.



Reason # 2: Even though I have a great team of doctors, there will be some inexperienced doctors involved in my care, like the medical resident from my hospital stay a few years ago who insisted that the top of my foot was a great place for an intravenous needle (it wasn’t).


Reason #3: My heart has this funny idea that it’s going to hurt.


(See this post for the first appearance of my favorite watch, above.)


Reason #4: Inevitable interruption in my incredible blogging streak, currently 744 days in a row.

(10 hours  — which is much less time than I’ve spent writing these blog posts — of applause and cheering found here on YouTube.)


Reason #5: Likely guest blogger likely wreaking havoc with my nice readers. My boyfriend Michael has agreed — a little too gleefully — to fill in for me whenever necessary, with expressed plans including changing the title of this blog to

“The Day(s) of Living Incredibly Judgmentally.”


Reason #6: The worst macaroni and cheese I have ever encountered, in my long and happy life.


Since I don’t know when I’d be undergoing whatever heart surgery my growing team of cardiologists convinces me is the best plan of action for my goal to “live as long as possible,” I am officially declaring this post Part 1 of a continuing series.

I’m wondering, now, what would make a good theme song for

Reasons Why I Do Not Want to Have Heart Surgery (The Original Series).

I could steal the theme music from the Original Netflix Series that is enthralling me and my son, these days …

… but that wouldn’t be very original.

How about this favorite Paul Simon song, appearing previously in this here early blog post of mine?

I like that idea, especially since the title track of The Rhythm of the Saints includes these lines:

To overcome an obstacle or an enemy

To glide away from the razor or the knife

To overcome an obstacle or an enemy

To dominate the impossible in your life.

Thoughts about theme songs, hospitals, cats, macaroni and cheese, medical residents, guest bloggers, standing ovations, House of Cards,  Paul Simon and/or any other reason to comment?

Thanks for having your reasons for visiting here today, dear readers.

Categories: blogging, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , | 65 Comments

Day 743: Be nice to me

Exactly a week ago, I attended a meeting of doctors, nurses, and other treaters at the large hospital-based primary care practice where I work. We started the meeting by taking turns talking about anything we chose — work, personal life, whatever.  The person who went before me described something stressful going on her in life, and then said, “So, be nice to me.”

During my turn, I spoke about the therapy groups I offer for people with depression, anxiety, and stress, as well as my new in-the-moment responsiveness for patients expressing  need and distress during their doctor visits. To end my check-in, I mentioned how I’ve been dealing with personal medical issues and uncertainties recently, and I ended with the same request: “Be nice to me.”

It’s nice to ask for niceness from nice people around you, isn’t it?

The day after that meeting, I consulted with a new cardiologist — Dr. Landzberg at Boston Children’s Hospital — which I wrote about here. Yesterday, I heard from my long-time chief cardiologist at a different hospital, Dr. Deeb Salem, who is always nice to me. Dr. Salem nicely sent along to me Dr. Landzberg’s nice note about last week’s consult.

Before I reveal that, I’m going to request this:

Be nice to me.

Despite my dreams/hopes/wishes to the contrary, Dr. Landzberg agreed with my other cardiologists who believe that I will most likely need heart surgery to repair or replace my valve. When? That is unclear, at this point. Even though it would be nice to think surgery is in the distant future, it might be sooner than nicer/later. To determine the timing, I’ll be undergoing (with various degrees of niceness) lots of tests, including a test I’ve had once before, which was definitely not nice to me.  That test is a transesophogeal echocardiogram, which I shall not discuss in detail here, because I want to be nice to you. Instead, I shall offer this nicely short description: gag me with a spoon (or a medical device).

Here’s some nicer news: I asked Dr. Salem about my plans to visit California at the end of February with my son, and Dr. Salem nicely approved.

I received all that not-completely-nice news yesterday afternoon, when I was at work.  Earlier in the day, I had met with two nice people, in individual therapy, who were hurting emotionally. My main prescription to both of them was

Be nice to yourself

… because — as I’ve noticed in my many nice years on this earth —  people in pain can be the OPPOSITE of nice to themselves. That’s neither nice nor helpful.

Nicely inspired by that, I am ordering myself in this moment (and — why not? — every nicely subsequent moment) to

Be nice to me.

Nice. Feel free to nicely join me in that nice commitment to be nice to oneself, whenever possible.

I think it would be nice to share, at this point, some nice photos I took yesterday:


I don’t know if this is nice or not, but when I’m stuck in nice traffic I sometimes take photos to nicely pass the time. That bumper sticker nicely caught my eye on my drive in to work, because “Lax” is the abbreviation for the Los Angeles Airport, the February destination for me and my nice son (who will turn a nice 17 years old during my time in California).

Next nice photo?


The above is another nice prescription I offered one of my nice patients yesterday morning, as I invited him to gain some nice perspective on a worry that was not-so-nicely taking up a lot of time and space in his head. Hmmm. Maybe I could nicely give myself that same nice prescription, as a helpful reminder about future heart surgery.


That’s Mike, one of the very nice nurses who was at the meeting last Tuesday. Since that meeting, EVERY TIME MIKE WALKS BY ME OR MY OFFICE he says, “Be nice to Ann.” As a matter of fact, Mike is saying “Be nice to Ann” as I’m taking that freaking photo. Nice, Mike.

I’ll have to tell Mike how nice that makes me feel (even though we’ve only been nicely teasing each other about it, so far). I’ll take that nice action, today. Here’s another nice idea: why wait letting people you know you appreciate them?


That nice photo shows Mary, one of my incredibly nice co-workers (nicely appearing previously in this nice post) showing me a gift one of her artistic patients appreciatively and nicely drew for her. Isn’t that a wonderfully nice present for somebody who listens so nicely and so well?


There’s a nice, healing heart that previously appeared in this post, many months ago. That heart is nicely requesting that we take what we need. From the two nice choices there — understanding and strength — which one would you take? I also want to nicely remind you that this doesn’t have to be one-or-the-other: you could nicely take both, if you choose.

For my last photo in this nice post, here’s another nice heart for you:


Speaking of nice, here’s Nicely-Nicely Johnson from Guys and Dolls, singing a very nice song:

(YouTube has that very nice version of “Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat” here.)

You know, writing this nice post for my nice readers has brought some things home nicely to me, right now:

  1. If I’m nice to myself, I don’t really need everybody else to be nice to me all the time.
  2. We all have to deal with nice and not-nice things in our lives.
  3. If we’re too nice and too afraid to rock the boat, we might not make some very nice and important changes in this world.
  4. It’s still nice to be nice to each other, as best we can.

I would truly think it nice if you leave a comment — nice or not-so-nice.

Many thanks to all the nice people appearing in and contributing to this post and to you (of course!) for nicely visiting my blog today.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , | 57 Comments

Day 742: Letting My Freak Flag Fly

Okay, my freaking fabulous followers, I woke up this morning with this “freak” phrase in my freakish brain:

Letting my freak flag fly

… which — unless my memory is totally freaking out — is from a song.

At freaking first, I thought those words were from


(I found that freakin’ image of the musical “Hair” here on Wikipedia, along with a lot of freakin’ words.)

However, I don’t think it was the freaks from that freakingly innovative 60’s musical who sang those words I woke up with.

I believe, in my freaky heart, that those lyrics are sung by  Familiar Freak David Crosby.

Hold on.  I’ll freaking check.

I was freaking right!

(David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and  Graham Nash — known collectively as the freakishly harmonic Crosby, Still, & Nash — are freaking out here on YouTube with “I Almost Cut My Hair” at Madison Square Garden in 2009.)

Now, it’s not a freak accident when I wake up with lyrics in my head, which happens freakin’ frequently. I believe there are reasons for freakin’ everythin’, so I’m going to look more carefully at those freak-flag lyrics:

Almost Cut My Hair

I almost cut my hair
It happened just the other day
It was gettin’ kinda long
I could-a said, it was in my way
But I didn’t and I wonder why
I feel like letting my freak flag fly
And I feel like I owe it to someone

Must be because I had the flu for Christmas
And I’m not feelin’ up to par
It increases my paranoia
Like lookin’ at my mirror and seein’ a police car

But I’m not givin’ in an inch to fear
’cause I promised myself this year
I feel like I owe it to someone

When I finally get myself together
I’m gonna get down in some sunny southern weather
Find a place inside to laugh
Separate the wheat from the chaff
I feel like I owe it to someone

Here are my freaking associations with those words, in the freakin’ moment:

  • I didn’t ALMOST cut my hair just the other day. I freaking DID get it cut, two days ago, by the freakishly talented haircutter and human being, Mia.
  • To me, “letting my freak flag fly” means showing pride in one’s unique individuality — freakish differences and all. What does freakin’ you think about that?
  • I didn’t have the flu for Christmas, but I wasn’t feeling myself during the holiday season — because of some heart health fears and uncertainties I had then.
  • “I’m not givin’ in an inch to fear.”  Isn’t that freaking GREAT?!?!
  • I did “finally get myself together” last Wednesday, because of a freakin’ terrific meeting my son and I had with a new cardiologist.
  • “I’m gonna get down in some sunny weather.”  Because the winters are so freakin’ cold and harsh here in the Northeastern part of the USA, I always try to get down in some sunny weather, if possible. This year, with all the medical uncertainties, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get away.  Yesterday, I committed to a trip, in Freakin’ February,  to sunny


  • Isn’t that freaking fantastic?
  • Finally, how about that recurring line in the song — “I feel like I owe it to someone”?  What is “it,” to me?  “It” is everything and anything, including being authentic.  And who is the “someone” I owe that to?   It’s the freak who is writing this post, people!

Here are some freakin’ fotos I took yesterday and today, letting my freak flag fly:

IMG_4526 IMG_4524 IMG_4528 IMG_4529 IMG_4530 IMG_4533 IMG_4536 IMG_4535

It’s freakin’ time for Freak Ann to go to work, fellow freaks!

Thanks to David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, and all the wonderful freaks who helped me create this post and who are reading it now (including you, of course!).

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, pride | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 47 Comments

Blog at