Monthly Archives: July 2015

Day 942: Out of the corner of my eye

Yesterday, the weather was so warm and muggy in Boston that — when I saw an air conditioned shuttle bus out of the corner of my eye — I decided to hop on to a corner of that bus, rather than taking the corners of my usual walk to work.

As the bus took a few corners, I glimpsed these three images out of the corner of my eye and put them into a corner of my iPhone:


  
Something about that last photo put this thought into the corner of my mind:

“Out of the corner of my eye” is the title of my next blog post.

Almost immediately, I saw this out of the corner of my eye:

That’s a big stuffed animal, sitting in the corner.

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When I got to my office, I saw many people out of the corner of my eye, sitting in different corners and talking about painful corners of their lives.

My hope is that having a safe space with comfortable corners helped some of them turn a corner, into healing.

During different corners of the day I saw these out of the corner of my eye, between the four corners of my office whiteboard:



If you had been in yesterday’s  therapy group about denial, you might have seen this (which I drew between the four corners of some paper):


Later, I wrote this between the corners of some paper in a second therapy group, where people felt cornered by shame and guilt about their own selfishness:


Perhaps the corners of your eyes are having trouble making sense of the four words between the corners of that photo. That was just one of my many attempts to prove to group members — who had put themselves  into painful corners of self-judgment about being too focused on the “I” —   that selfishness could be helpful and even strengthening.

In that group, somebody I could see out of the corner of my eye — sitting in the corner of the room  — gave us this helpful rule about selfishness:

If you are worried about being too selfish, you’re not.

After my work day was over, I saw this out of the corner of my eye:

Then,  I walked through all the corners between my workplace and my work garage, and saw these out of the corner of my eye:


 


  
  

What did you notice, out of the corner of your eye?

Here’s a song about seeing I heard out of the corners of my ears yesterday:

“I Can See Your House from Here” is from an album of the same name by John Scofield and Pat Metheny, whom I’ve seen through many, many corners over the years. On that entire album, John Scofield’s guitar comes out of the left corner of the stereo sound and Pat Metheny’s guitar comes out of the right corner.

Multi-cornered thanks to all the people I saw and heard yesterday and — of course! — to you, for all the corners you’ve taken on your way here, today.

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

Day 941: Who would you bring in?

Yesterday, at an EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) session, my therapist George gave me an assignment.

He and I were revisiting a very upsetting incident when I was young and left alone with a lot of pain in a hospital room (which I’ve written about here).  The assignment was this:

Make a list of people —  real and fictional — you can imagine protecting and fighting for you. Next time we meet, we’ll bring them into that hospital room with you.

Here are some people I thought of immediately:

I asked George, “How many people can I bring in to that hospital room with me? I don’t think they’ll all fit.” George told me I could bring as many people as I want.

Now,  I’m really looking forward to next week’s EMDR session.

Let’s see if I have any recent photos on my iPhone of some  people I might bring with me, into that hospital room of so long ago.

That’s a very good start.

What music might I bring in, from YouTube? I thought of the chorus of this song (although many of the lyrics don’t fit):

I also like Bruno Mars’s “Grenade”  because there’s a short version reminding me of a fellow WordPresser:

Here‘s a more relevant song:

Who would you bring in, with you?

Finally, I’m bringing in two photos I took yesterday, before my meeting with George and after a therapy group I facilitated at work:



Now I’d like to bring in thanks to George, Bruno Mars, Buffalo Tom Peabody, the Four Seasons, all the people imagined and real in today’s post,  and — of course! — you, for bringing yourself in, today.

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

Day 940: How’s your heart?

The heart of this post relates to my phoning many people from my high school class of 1970, last night.

My heart was hoping to reach as many classmates as possible,  with a heart-felt invitation to attend our 45th reunion, in the heart of the North Shore of Massachusetts, USA.

Even though I haven’t spoken to most of my classmates  in many years, all those I reached last night showed hearts that were kindly courteous and sweet (which helped me, somehow, with my heart-felt vow to give up cookies).

Somebody living in the heart of New York responded to my phone call last night, like so:

Ann Koplow!

It’s been a long time.

How’s your heart?

For a heartbeat,  my heart was surprised at that unexpected question. Then,  I laughed and replied:

It’s funny you should ask.  This year, things were looking kind of dicey, but  recently I had an operation, and people seem to think I’ll be around for a while.

Then, we had this brief exchange:

Me: How’s YOUR heart?

Classmate: Very good.

Me: How’s the rest of you?

Classmate: Also excellent.

My heart felt good and excellent —  after this brief, heart-centered talk — because the heart of it felt real.

In the past, my heart has worried that people see me primarily as somebody with a congenital heart condition. However, that conversation simply felt like an authentic, brief heart connection.

After I left several heart-felt phone messages, I had a heart-to-heart with my sweetheart Michael. I told Michael  there are words in my heart I am NOT sharing with my classmates, as I inform them about the reunion.

Here’s what I’m not speaking from my heart:

This is our 45th reunion and I don’t know how much more time I, you, or anybody else has on this earth. Several people from our class, whom I wanted to see with all my heart,  have already passed away. Please come to the reunion! We shared a lot of important times together, all those years ago.

I don’t share those heart-felt thoughts with my classmates because:

  • People probably don’t want to discuss mortality, especially on a weekday evening with somebody they haven’t seen in decades,
  • There’s much more relevant data I need to convey about the reunion — like where, when, and how much it will cost,
  • In my heart, I really don’t like to pressure people,
  • I avoid, if possible, causing even the smallest amount of heartache, and
  • I’ve got a damn lot of high school hearts to contact, as soon as possible.

Here are some photos I recently snapped from the heart, in the hearts of  Boston’s medical and baseball areas.


                       

       

Which of those photos got to the heart of the matter, for you?

Here‘s “You Gotta Have Heart,” from Damn Yankees:

Going back to the heart-felt title of this heart-centered post, how’s your heart?

Thanks, from my heart, to all my classmates, to Michael, to all the hearts I witnessed connecting yesterday and to you — of course! — for the heart you bring here, today.

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

Day 939: Time Machines 

If I were to use a time machine and travel back to yesterday, I would see these on the board in my office:



If I used Time Machine #1 to actually travel into the past, perhaps I could take some art lessons and draw better time machines.

If you had  time-traveled to that therapy session in  my office yesterday, you would have heard this:

We all time travel, through our thoughts, into the future and into the past. Those of us who over-use the time machine that goes into the future tend to experience worry and anxiety. People experiencing depression have a time machine that travels a lot into the past with regret, guilt, and self-judgment.

I’m now getting into time machine #2 to travel a short distance into the future, wondering what people  will think about my theory of time machines.

Traveling into the past — by just one day, again — I am hearing my boyfriend Michael say:

When I was quitting smoking and I felt like having a cigarette, I would  time travel ten minutes into the future and pretend  I had just had one.  I realized I would be in the same place with or without a cigarette, so why not skip the step of smoking it?

I plan to apply Michael’s technique to quitting cookies.

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While I often recommend that people set their personal time machines to “The Present,” let’s set Time Machine #1  to Monday, July 27, 2015, for a brief visit:


  
  
  

  

As I’m looking at that bunny from the recent past, here and now, I’m thinking:

  • I wonder if bunnies and other animals  time-travel in their minds, like humans do?
  • What number of life-span years would I have given to a bunny, if I had managed to draw one (instead of just a giant tortoise and a human being) in that  pictorial representation  of animal life-spans I retrieved yesterday,  time-traveling into my memory of a children’s encyclopedia from the early 1960s?

  • If you time travel into the Internet (like I just did, 5 minutes ago) you’ll find that my memory of the life span of a giant tortoise was off, by a factor of two.

I believe I’m time traveling a lot, lately, because I’m helping to plan my 45th high school reunion. I won’t time travel two months into the future to imagine that reunion; it will get here, soon enough.

Have any of my readers time traveled into the future to predict what time travel music I might retrieve from time-traveling YouTube?

Instead, I found “The Time Traveler’s Guide, a movie montage by Clara Darko.

Traveling 10 minutes into the future, I think there will be music, and a smile.

Timely thanks to Michael, Clara Darko, bunnies, giant tortoises, human beings who time travel, all the movies and characters appearing in “The Time Traveler’s Guide” and you — of course! — for traveling here, today.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , | 54 Comments

Day 938: Let us read between the lines

Here’s a line that appeared in my line of sight yesterday, through a restaurant window in Harvard Square (a stop on the Red Line of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Association, lined up with Harvard University):

In case you’re having trouble reading between those lines, the main line says

Lettuce read beetween the limes

… a line I read as a triple pun. While I enjoy lines with puns, I would draw the line at two.

Nevertheless, I appreciated reading that line yesterday, because I read it as an invitation to pay attention and go deeper, especially if all meanings are not immediately obvious.

Harvard Square is an excellent place to practice reading between the lines, because

  • It’s a square, so there are at least four lines,
  • Many of the architectural lines have been around for centuries, and
  • Many of the lines you hear spoken there are smart, deep, and complicated, so there’s plenty of meaning between the lines, waiting to be read.

Lettuce see if there are any lines in yesterday’s photos we can read beetween.


That’s  the first photo I lined up yesterday, while I was walking around with my 17-year-old son, Aaron. I don’t have to read between the lines to know that Aaron prefers me to not snap photos when I’m in his line of sight, but he was okay with my lining up that one. How would you read between the lines there?


Those lines were okay with Aaron, too. How might you read between them?


At this point, I started reading between the lines without Aaron, who was meeting his long-time friend Cameron for a birthday party between the lines in Harvard Square. How would you read between those lines?


In the 1970s, I saw comedian Robert Klein perform his stand-up routine two nights in a row at that club. How would you read between those lines?

Here are two shots I took through the windows of the Harvard Coop:


Any lines to read between there?


In a direct line with the Beat Hotel, I encountered this guy, playing impressive beats and lines on a keyboard, with a line of people listening:



How might you read between those lines?

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Here are more lines I saw yesterday, ready for reading between:


  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
You might read between the lines of those photos and conclude that I bought a cookie in Harvard Square yesterday. I did not. Instead, I read between the lines of my craving for sweets and came up with a new diet plan. For as long as I can hold the line on this, I shall mindfully indulge only my sense of smell around delicious cookies, candies, and other things that usually are on a direct line between my brain and my tummy.

Reading between the lines of that last paragraph: I want to look great for my high school reunion in September, so I’ll be smelling cookies, not eating them.

Any readings between those lines?

Now I need to read between the musical  lines and leave a good enough  song between the lines of this post.

Here‘s one of the tunes that a self-loving creature was playing yesterday on the keyboard, between the lines of Harvard Square:

It’s time to finish the lines of this post, so I can read between the lines spoken by people seeking therapy support in my office.

Between-the-lines thanks to my son, to Harvard Square, to Rick James, and to you — of course! — for reading this between other lines you choose, today.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , | 44 Comments

Day 937: Everything’s falling into place

My boyfriend Michael, who fell into place in my life five years ago, likes to say

Everything’s falling into place

after I’ve fallen into relief after being in a place of

Michael has been saying

Everything’s falling into place

a lot lately, as I’ve been doing my best to let go of scary, health-threatening experiences that were falling into place in my life, starting in November of last year.

Since May, when an Implantable Cardiac Device fell into place in my heart, I’ve been gradually falling into a place of hope about the future.

Now that Michael’s oft-repeated phrase

Everything’s falling into place

has fallen into place in my blog, I’m wondering what Michael means, exactly, when he says those words, a smile falling into place on his face.

For example,

  1. What are these things that are falling?
  2. Where is this place they are falling into?
  3. Will they break when they land?

I can’t ask Michael those questions  (because he’s fallen into a place of slumber) but this is falling into place for me: Question #3 , which fell into place above, reflects how catastrophizing — and other automatic cognitive distortions  — can so easily fall into place in the human mind.

Do unhelpful, fearful, and unnecessary thoughts fall into place, sometimes, in your mind?

If so, let them fall into place where they belong:

The trash.

Let’s see if any other photos fall into place, in this post.

Lots of chocolate candies have fallen into place in that display case.

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Two pieces of candy and coin have fallen into place on that countertop.

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Harley has fallen into place on that rug, which — if my memory is falling into place correctly  — also has fallen into place somewhere in the home of WordPresser Diana Schwenk.

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Oscar seems glad that some water has fallen into place in his dish.

Because I was so busy, yesterday, making sure that informational messages about my 45th high school reunion were falling into place for my classmates, no other photos fell into place on my phone.

However, here‘s some music that falls into place, right now:

The Beatles song “I’ve Just Seen a Face” fell into place quite nicely there, don’t you agree?

Which parts of this post fell into place for you?

My thanks are now falling into place for Michael, my Implantable Cardiac Device, our cats, chocolate,  the Beatles, the Loading Dock, and faces I like to see, including yours!

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

Day 936: Do, Do, Do

Here’s something I do, do, do in therapy sessions: remind people they do, do, do not have to do, do, do in order to be worthy, worthwhile, worthy-of-love human beings.

I do, do, do this, too: I remind those people who do, do, do all the time that we are

Human BEings

NOT

Human DOings

and it’s okay to just be, be, be.

Do, do, do you believe that I heard this song yesterday, which I do, I do, I do love?

Stevie Wonder does, does, does what he can do, do, do better than anybody, and in that YouYouYouTube video he is singing “Do I Do” live, in London.

I do, do, do assume there will be lots to do, do, do soon, soon, soon, north of London,  when my son and I do, do, do Edinburgh’s Festival Fringe for the third year in a row, row, row.

Do, do, do you assume, dear, dear, dear readers, that I do, do, do intend to show, show, show another song, now?

I do, do, do love Michael McDonald too, too, too, and three Michael McDonalds  do, do, do “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”!

Do, do, do you prefer any of these pho, pho, photos?



  


   
  
  


  

Do, do, do tell.

Do, do, do you know that I am very, very, very grateful to Stevie Wonder, to  Jimmy Fallon, to Justin Timberlake, to Michael McDonald, and to you, you, you?

Categories: gratitude, personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , | 50 Comments

Day 935: Circles

The cognitive distortion of Negative Filter — filtering out all positives, including hope — keeps the mind stuck in painful circles.

In my work as a group therapist, I witness those painfully negative circles of thought in others — over and over again, around and around.

Because of  criticism, self-doubt, and disappointment, I   — like any other human being — can get temporarily stuck in the painful circles of Negative Filter, too.

Yesterday morning, after reading about some particularly upsetting circles of injustice in the news, my mind got stuck in negative circles, again.

Then, on my walk to work, a tune I dearly love — First Circle by The Pat Metheny Group — circled through my ears and into my circulating mind.

(That live version of “First Circle” is circling beautifully here on YouTube. And don’t click the rectangular button in the middle of the screen, or you’ll have to circle back to listen to the rest of the music.)

That familiar, wonderful music was enough to nudge  my mind out of the painful, repetitive circles of Negative Filter.

I immediately noticed — and captured — the first circle I saw:


From then on, noticing non-negative circles helped me help others who were stuck in their own negative circles of thoughts and feelings.


  

That  circle — of group therapy hand-outs on the floor of my office — demonstrates what happens when a group therapist forgets to press the circular “collate” button on a new, rapidly circling copy machine.

The water in that circle-filled bottle helped sustain me through that circular ordeal.

After completing the circle of a 10-hour work day —  witnessing many people support each other in getting out of negative thinking circles — I noticed all these circles, too:





  
  
  
  


  



  
  
  
  

What circles are you noticing , now?

Circles of thanks to Pat Metheny, Lyle Mays, and the rest of the Pat Metheny Group, to all the people who sat around in circles of supportive group therapy yesterday, and to every circle I saw around the Fenway Park area of Boston and around my non-circular home. Also, special circular thanks to you — of course! — for circling your way here, today.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , | 41 Comments

Day 934: Feelers

Yesterday, I found out that Kerri,


a nurse I’ve happily known for years, is leaving Boston for sunny Florida next month. As we were bidding each other a fond “adieu,” I said to her

I always have my feelers out for kind, wonderful people, and from the moment I met you in the Emergency Room all those years ago, I recognized how amazing you were.

Feeling the need, just now,  to looked up “feelers” in the dictionary, I found this:

An animal organ such as antenna or palp that is used for testing things by touch or for searching for food.

I don’t know about you, but my definition-seeking feelers have never previously  touched on  “palp,” before today.

And, my blog-creating feelers would change

searching for food

to

searching for nourishment

… but otherwise, I feel that definition is fine, for the feeling purposes of this post.

Speaking of feelings, I told Kerri I was glad for her but sad for me and other feeling, Boston-based people who know her.

As you might have felt before, I often have my feelers out for images that strike my feeling fancy, as I feel my way through a day. Here’s what my photographic feelers found yesterday:
  

  
  
  


  

  
  
  
  




  

What do your feelers tell you about those photos?

My feelers are telling me that other  feelers might assume — from those feeling photos — that I have cancer. I do not. I have a cardiac condition that necessitates my getting antibiotics before I visit my dentist, and I get those antibiotics in a cancer infusion center, where my fine-feeling-friend Kerri works (until August).

Also, there were many things my feelers encountered yesterday that did NOT make it to this post and — as usual — I’m hoping I didn’t hurt any feelings.

Here‘s what my musical feelers have brought back from YouTube:

Bernadette Peters is singing “I Feel You, Johanna” from Stephen Sondheim‘s Sweeney Todd.
Also, my feelers found this:

“I Peel You, Banana” by Robert Adams.

Feeling thanks to Kerri, the Infusion Center at Tufts Medical Center, Cam Neely, Dr. Del Castillo, Dr. Gonzalez and Michel (not pictured) at Beacon Hill Dental Associates, everybody at my high school reunion planning meeting last night (not pictured), Bernadette Peters, Stephen Sondheim, Robert Adams, and you — of course! — for bringing your feelers here, today.

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

Day 933: Wiggle Room

I’m  going to give you some wiggle room, now, to think about what “wiggle room” means to you. 

Here’s a little photographic wiggle room, while you’re taking the room to think about that:

  
Those bunnies and chicks look like they’re wiggling in that room, don’t they?

   
 
It looks like there’s some wiggling going on there, too, even though that wiggling is taking place in a parking garage, not a room. 

Let’s see if there are any other photos wiggling on my iPhone that might make more room for the concept of “wiggle room.”

  
Actually, that seems like the OPPOSITE  of wiggle room; it’s a description of somebody not moving. 

Okay, this post has wiggled around, long enough. Here’s a definition of wiggle room that’s currently wiggling on the web:

(Informal) the freedom or opportunity to do something, or to change your mind and do something differently, if that is what is needed.

Here’s my personal — and perhaps simpler — definition of “wiggle room”:

(Informal) the space and freedom to move, without negative consequences.

Now that we have some definitions of “wiggle room,” allow me the wiggle room to explain why I’m writing about “wiggle room” today. 

Since I’ve been giving myself the wiggle room — through this blog, EMDR therapy, and other means  — to wiggle further along the path to self discovery and personal growth, I’ve realized that “wiggle room” is a very important concept, for me. 

Rather than wiggle through another long sentence trying to explain this, I’ll try a wiggly brief explanation:

Because of things that have happened to me in the past, I can easily believe that I have little or no wiggle room with other people. 

In other words, I am constantly fighting fears that any tiny wiggle of a 

  • Mistake,
  • Mis-step, or
  • Misunderstanding

can  threaten a relationship, no matter how secure that relationship actually is. 

Here’s one wiggly example, illustrating this:  

When I was in my early 20s, I managed to escape, physically unscathed, from an encounter with a rapist outside my apartment. When I went inside,  shaking with relief and terror, I did not wake up my roommate, for fear she might be annoyed with me for doing so. 

Can you see how wigglingly weird that is — my not realizing I had that wiggle room with my roommate, to disturb her sleep for such a good reason? Especially since my roommate was a dear and loving friend I’d known since childhood. 

I could give you many different — if less dramatic — examples of how wigglingly easy it is for me to doubt that I have any wiggle room with others. 

I believe that my habitual difficulty with wiggle room causes confusing wiggles in my relationships. That is why I have deliberately and consciously been creating the wiggle room, this year,  to realize I have LOTS more wiggle room with other people. 

Does this make any wiggly sense?

I wonder if I have the wiggle room, now, to share a few more photos that may — or may not — relate to “wiggle room.” 

Let’s find out, shall we?

   

              
   

         

I hope you know that you have the room to wiggle about those photos — or anything else — however you choose. 

I shall now take a little more wiggle room, for myself,  to share this wiggly musical memory:

It’s  the Wiggles, singing about “Fruit Salad” in their wiggly way.

Now I need to wiggle my way to work, to a teeth cleaning (with a wiggly IV of antibiotics), and to a high school reunion planning meeting. I expect there will be lots of wiggle room, everywhere. 

Wiggly and roomy thanks to all those who helped me wiggle my way to writing today’s post and special thanks to you — of course! — for making room to read it. 

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

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