Monthly Archives: October 2015

Day 1034: Pleasant/Unpleasant

In honor of Halloween today, it might be pleasant to imagine this post being read by Donald Pleasance (the psychiatrist in Halloween, a movie I have not seen because I know it’s unpleasant).

If you are presently pleasantly or unpleasantly unaware of Donald Pleasance, here‘s “the last aperrience” (do you find misspellings unpleasant?) of Donald Pleasance in a Halloween film:

Yesterday, while I was pleasantly walking in unseasonably pleasant New England weather, I heard some music with many pleasant memories.

I find music like “The Pleasant Pheasant” — with Billy Cobham on drums, Michael Brecker on saxophone, Randy Brecker on trumpet, George Duke on keyboards, John Abercrombie on guitar,  Will Lee on bass,  and Garnett Brown on trombone — exceedingly pleasant. My pleasant boyfriend, MIchael, thinks jazz fusion is quite unpleasant. He finds the Ramones, Joy Division, and the Clash (who have a particularly unpleasant name) very pleasant, instead.

Michael and I met five years ago on a pleasant Halloween in pleasant Harvard Square. Here are some pleasant words we exchanged — through the pleasant online dating site OkCupid — right before that extraordinarily pleasant day:

Me: Sure, meeting at Peet’s is a fine suggestion. You know it’s going to be Halloween when we meet up, right? Do you think we should be in costume? My suggestion is that we both wear masks that are made from printouts from a picture we’ve posted here. That way, we’ll be sure to recognize each other. Otherwise, I might not recognize you unless you have the same exact expression you have in your black and white picture here. In the other picture you posted, you’re too far away, so I don’t think that will provide me much help in spotting you. Although maybe it will when you’re far away. I hope you have a wonderful evening, night, morning, and whatever parts of the day you experience before we write again.

Michael: I’ll keep this relatively short today Ann, so we have a lot to babble about tomorrow. Excellent suggestion concerning the cut out masks incidentally. I cracked up. Ah, I don’t really know what you mean by “black and white” picture though, Ann. I really am that pasty. So is my apartment. I’m afraid I let my hair get kind of long but you’ll know me sure enough. I will be the man with, by far, the scrawniest legs in the cafe.

Me: Speaking of cracking up, I did the same when I read your black and white picture comment. You really are pretty hilarious.  SInce you have given me some helpful hyperboles and superlatives regarding how to identify you (e.g., “the scrawniest”), I’m trying to be thoughtful that way and come up with something similar which will, without fear of contradiction, identify me as being the most of something in the vicinity. But I’m having some trouble with this. I just don’t think I’m that much of a stand-out, either way. The best I can come up with now is that I will be the person with the most curious expression on his or her face standing outside of Peet’s. By “curious” I don’t mean “odd” (as in “curiouser and curiouser” in Alice in Wonderland), but rather “curious” as in “eager to find out.”

It’s pleasant for me to remember that day, five years ago, when Michael and I met, although I went to another pleasant coffee house first, by mistake, and had to rush to get to Peet’s on time, which I found very unpleasant.  When Michael and I share pleasant memories about our first pleasant meeting, he tells me that I had a rather unpleasant expression my face when he first saw me. That’s because I find it unpleasant to be late (especially for something I expect to be surpassingly pleasant).

Here are some pictures I took yesterday. It would be most pleasant if you let me know which ones you find particularly pleasant or unpleasant.

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Those last two pictures I took during a pleasant stroll with Michael on Pleasant Street. Honest.

Pleasant thanks to Michael, Donald Pleasance, Billy Cobham, the Brecker brothers, George Duke, Will Lee, John Abercrombie, Garnett Brown, and pleasant people who helped me write this post, Especially pleasant thanks to you — of course! — for being here, in the pleasant present.

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

Day 1033: Dark and Light

At this time of the year, when the days get dark earlier, I think a lot about dark and light.

Here are some quotes about dark and light:

Light can only be understood with the wisdom of darkness.”
― Ka Chinery, Perceptions from the Photon Frequency

“For every item that carries the darkness of humanity there’s one that holds the light. And that light is worth believing in. Not just in others, but in yourself as well.”
― C.M. Rayne, The Forbidden Land of Andara

The Value of Sun shine is just because of the existence of Darkness

-“Samar Sudha”
― Samar Sudha

“Harmony will prevail. After darkness, there will be light. The light cannot come without the darkness. Better days are bound to come now.”
― Sook Nyul Choi, Year of Impossible Goodbyes

“It’s not what you have on the outside that glitters in light, it’s what you have on the inside that shines in the dark.”
― Anthony Liccione

“I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light, things that have saved my life over and over again, so that there is really only one logical conclusion. I need darkness as much as I need light.”
― Barbara Brown Taylor, Learning to Walk in the Dark

“When darkness falls, beauty is lit from within.”
― Johnathan Jena

“The light in your soul is far greater than the darkness. Shine your light.”
― Lailah Gifty Akita

“You know how to dance in sunlight when everything is going fine, but you have to learn to dance in darkness when the sun is gone and nothing is going well.”
― Therese May

As I’m typing this post in the dark, the light of my laptop shows many more quotes about dark and light.

Here are some lights and darks I saw yesterday:

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What darks and lights are you seeing, now?

Here’s  a song about the light:

Here’s a song about the dark:

I’m not afraid of dark chocolate, but I did ask for milk chocolate, yesterday, as a reward for my presentation about my therapy groups at work.


Thanks to Robert Cray, to Todd Rundgren, to Barbara McQueen (my esteemed fellow group therapist who brought me the milk chocolate), to people who bring light and dark into therapy, and to all those who hold both dark and light, including you!

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

Day 1032: Not There

In my therapy groups, people often express concern about the people who are not there. In response, I invite them to focus on the people who are there, including themselves.

I understand how those who are not there can overshadow those who are there. For example, this morning I spent some time wondering and worrying about people who used to show up regularly in the comment section of this blog, but who are not there. I can focus a lot on the people in my life who are not there (like my late parents) rather than the people who are there.

I am going to follow my own advice, today, and focus on the people who are there, including myself. I believe this will serve me well, as I

  1. give a presentation on my groups to my fellow social workers,
  2.  run two therapy groups,
  3. sit with people who are there for individual therapy, and
  4.  check who has visited this blog, throughout the day.

What might help me focus on what is there, rather than on what is not there?

Mindfulness — the practice of being as much as possible in the moment — helps me and others focus on what’s here and what’s now.


What’s there, in that photo?  Those leaves — which are not there on trees any more — are going to help me and others be mindful of  what is there, throughout the day.

There are lots of things I saw yesterday which are not there on my iPhone. Here are the photos that are there, here and now:

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What music do you expect to be there, now, in this post?  While “Stairway to Heaven” and “Born to be Wild” could easily be there, I’m choosing this song, instead.

Just in time for Halloween, the Zombies are there,  with “She’s Not There.”

Thanks for being there!

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

Day 1031: Hope

I hope I can express, in my first post about hope, how important hope is for human beings who struggle, cope, bruise, and heal.

I hope you understand that I’m saying that hope is important to all of us.

Hope is:

  • a word that comes up in therapy, every day.
  • something I hold for every person I encounter.
  • according to Emily Dickinson, “the thing with feathers.”


I hope you don’t mind if I include that entire Emily Dickinson poem, here.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers – (314)
“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

I hope you see the hope in today’s photos.

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I hope I am healthy and you are, too.

I hope you enjoy today’s music!

I hope you share thoughts, feelings, and music about hope, below.

Hopeful thanks to Emily Dickinson, to Frank Sinatra, to children everywhere, to Foxes and Fossils, to Crosby Stills & Nash (for creating “Helplessly Hoping“), to people who hope to heal, and to you — of course! — for reading this post and liking it (I hope).

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

Day 1030: Be Yourself

I’m going to take the advice in my post title, today, and be myself.

That’s the easiest thing to do, isn’t it? I mean, who else could I possibly be? Haven’t I’ve been being myself since the day I was born?

Be yourself, right now, and think about your reactions to that title.  Have people told you to be yourself? Who, why, where, and when?  Have you ever told yourself that?  What was the result?

I’m just being myself, now, asking questions about other people.

When I’m being myself, I often like to explain what’s behind my actions.  Therefore, I’ll tell you that I’m writing about “Be Yourself” today because I said that to two people I love, yesterday, who are both nervous about interviews.

I don’t know if “Be Yourself” is helpful advice. It’s difficult to be yourself when you’re

  • anxious,
  • meeting somebody new,
  • wanting to impress,
  • concerned about the possibility of rejection, and
  • invested in a particular outcome.

I’m just being myself whenever I include a bulleted list of examples, like that one.

I’m going to be myself and show you some photos I recently took, hoping that some of them fit today’s topic. Be yourself, please, when you look at them.

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IMG_6294 IMG_6299 IMG_6303


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I took this photo


when I was being myself, stuck in Boston traffic and wondering, “What IS that on the side of the Hancock tower?”

When I got home from work,  I was myself — I googled it and found this article, “Artist Behind Mural on Former Hancock Building Revealed.”

Myself, I did NOT know

  • that was a temporary art installation by French artist JR or
  • that the Hancock tower is now the “former Hancock building.”

I guess I was too busy being myself.

If you were being yourself and writing this post, what music would you include?

That’s Graham Nash, being himself and singing “Be Yourself.”

Thanks to all who are themselves, including you!

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Day 1029: Webs

I wonder how many webs I can spin into this post about webs?

O, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!

If you weave around the web, you’ll easily find who wrote that quote about a tangled web.  In the web of my memory, however, I associate that web quote with my late mother,  who married my late father on today’s date, October 26. Both my parents practiced and valued honesty, above all.

One time I can remember weaving a web of deceit about my parents  was when my sister and I tangled together a surprise anniversary party for them, decades ago. Let’s see if I can spin an image from that surprise party into the web of this post.

While I spin all my custom t-shirts through the web these days, back then my sister and I used other means to weave my parents’ wedding photo onto those t-shirts.

Yesterday, I saw these webs:


O what a tangled web I weave on WordPress, every day.

What music from the web should I weave into this post? I could choose something written by prolific songwriter, Jimmy Webb.

All I know, honestly, is that today I want to share this song, which my father sang for my mother at another anniversary party.

My web of gratitude today embraces my parents, my sister,  Jimmy Webb, George and Ira Gershwin (for “Love is Here to Stay“), Art Garfunkel, Ella Fitzgerald, and you — of course! — for whatever spin you put on this post, here and now.

Categories: anniversary, personal growth, photojournalism, tribute | Tags: , , , , | 31 Comments

Day 1028: Can’t do it alone

Whether it’s blogging, work, play, or other parts of my life, I need support from other people, because I

Even fiercely independent people (like me, sometimes)

I’m a group psychotherapist because I believe people

Yesterday, other group therapists and I discussed how people

That photo I took yesterday

… so here are some other photos:


Yesterday, people tried to guess this riddle

… but nobody could do that alone, so here’s the answer:

No guts.

Even though people

… it takes guts to ask for help and support.


… without music, so here‘s something I heard, yesterday, after the group therapy retreat.

Because I can’t do any blog post alone,

I’d like to thank people who heal in groups, Aaron Copland, Thomas Whaling (for the Copland video), Whole Foods, PetSmart, T.J. Maxx, and you — of course! — for not doing it alone, today.

Categories: blogging, group psychotherapy, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , | 56 Comments

Day 1027: Blanks

I’m drawing a blank, this morning, on what to write about.

Perhaps I’m drawing a blank because — instead of blanking out and relaxing, the way I usually do on a Saturday — I’ll be attending a retreat of group therapy leaders.

Perhaps I’m drawing a blank because I know that my mind might go blank, today, when it’s my turn to speak.  Even though I’m experienced in groups, my mind can go blank (especially if anybody in the group has a blank expression).

Perhaps I’m drawing a blank because I saw these, yesterday:

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I also saw this yesterday:


If you’re drawing a blank for the answer to “Why didn’t the skeleton cross the road?” just fill in these blanks:

_ _    _ _ _ _

If nobody fills in those blanks, I will do so  later (after I return at ____ o’clock from the all-day group therapy retreat).

I’d like to find the words, now, to express how difficult it’s been to insert blanks into this blankety-blank post, but my mind’s a blank.

Was I shooting blanks when I took these other photos yesterday?


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Here’s what somebody whose name is _____ said, last night, about “Poverty is unnecessary day.”

Next month, perhaps Whole Foods will be advertising “cancer is superfluous day.”

When I tried to reply to that, my mind went blank.

What music makes your mind go blank?

Please fill in the blanks below this post with a comment, even if your mind’s a blank.

I’m drawing a blank on how to end this post, so …


106 has a lot of blanks, doesn’t it?

Categories: blogging, group psychotherapy, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Day 1026: Unfamiliar Territory

This title represents unfamiliar territory for this blog — I’ve never written about “Unfamiliar Territory” before.

However, this topic is familiar territory for me and for the people who see me for individual or group therapy.

People often choose to venture into the unfamiliar territory of psychotherapy when they  encounter:

  • the loss of somebody important,
  • a change in financial circumstances,
  • a new job situation,
  • an illness, and
  • other unfamiliar territory in their lives.

My job is to make the unfamiliar territory of psychotherapy as safe as possible, so people can explore and move through these unfamiliar and unexpected territories.

How else might we explore the unfamiliar territory of this post?

Here’s some unfamiliar territory I captured yesterday, on my iPhone.

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I  saw that unfamiliar license plate as I drove through familiar territory a week before Halloween. Sometimes, unfamiliar territory yields unexpected treats.


Some people, when in unfamiliar territory, label themselves “selfish,”  entering the familiar territory of shame.  I often suggest that people leave that familiar territory and enter the unfamiliar territory of Self Care.


This peanut butter substitute is very familiar to me — it lives in the familiar territory of my office. Healthy nourishment can sustain us through unfamiliar territory.


I drew the familiar covers of some  books,  during a therapy group that focused on escaping from and into unfamiliar territory.


I rapidly snapped my Carl Jung action figure — which was unfamiliar territory for some people in my office yesterday — because somebody said,  “There should be an Ann Koplow action figure!”  Compliments can be unfamiliar territory for people, but they are definitely worth exploring.

Here’s some probably unfamiliar musical territory, which is very familiar to me:

Stephen Stills and Eric Clapton newly explore the familiar territory of home in “Go Back Home.”

Here’s some familiar territory for me: I wonder if I’d be invited into the unfamiliar territory of “Freshly Pressed” on WordPress if I stopped including musical territories in my posts?

Please make the unfamiliar territory below this post more familiar, by sharing any thoughts you might have about “Unfamiliar Territory.”

Those of you familiar with this blog know I end each unfamiliar post with gratitude to those who helped me create it and to you — of course! — for reading, here and now.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Day 1025: Emotional

What emotions, thoughts, and/or judgments do you have about the word “emotional”?

Is “emotional” …

  • a good thing?
  • a bad thing?
  • a label that’s been applied to you?
  • a label you’ve applied to anybody?
  • a word that applies to only certain beings?

Might anybody get emotional about any of the photos I took yesterday?

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If you got emotional about any of those photos, what emotions did you have?

In group and individual therapy, I find it helps to

  • accept all your emotions, without judgment,
  • identify what emotions you’re having, and
  • express them, in a way that feels safe enough to you.

Any emotional reactions to that?

I’m glad that this emotional video came up first in my search on YouTube:

Here‘s another emotional, “tear-jerking” video I found on YouTube:

Did you get emotional about this post?  I’ll be emotional if you leave a comment .

And it’s all good.

Emotional thanks to all who helped me create this emotional post and to you — of course! — for whatever emotions you bring here, today.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , , | 37 Comments

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