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.

IMG_6223 IMG_6224

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

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21 thoughts on “Day 1026: Unfamiliar Territory

  1. Hi Ann, I think you should be “Freshly Pressed” WITH your musical selections included!!!!!
    I hope you have a joyous day filled with delightfully unfamiliar and comforting familiar territories!!!!!

  2. amusez798387

    I like the idea of an Ann Koplow action figure!

  3. So many of your pictures–those of Fenway Park, or your office–have become familiar territory to those of us who come here regularly, but those first two pictures were unfamiliar territory to me. And yet they were taken in what’s familiar territory to you. It’s wonderful how you lead us through unfamiliar territory. It also sometimes helps to make the familiar unfamiliar. That reminds me of this poem by Charles Simic which you may not be familiar with. If you aren’t I envy you discovering it for the first time.


    This strange thing must have crept
    Right out of hell.
    It resembles a bird’s foot
    Worn around the cannibal’s neck.

    As you hold it in your hand,
    As you stab with it into a piece of meat,
    It is possible to imagine the rest of the bird:
    Its head which like your fist
    Is large, bald, beakless, and blind.

    • Thank you for making the familiar unfamiliar and the unfamiliar familiar, Chris. The gratitude I feel about any comment from you is quite familiar. Love the poem, too.

  4. tmezpoetry

    Great post!

  5. After 60 years in Miami it was time to go . Father and I moved to North Carolina. I have a son here. At 65 and he at 91 it was a very dramatic move full of trepidation. Selecting a house, waiting for closing, then moving and all the expenses. Changes with social security, medicare, new medical insurances , registering the car, tags, driver license. This town has street names not numbered streets and avenues and learning to get to places took a long time. Finding grocery stores, pharmacy, bank, hardware stores, departments stores were a challenge as was finding a new church and new fraternal lodge. When you are older, at least for me, these matters and the resolution thereof are unsettling and produce anxiety. We did it. New people, places and things. And of course I know the location of 5 different pizza joints ! Getting confidence in one’s abilities again is rewarding and refreshing as is having the courage to face the unknown.

    • Thank you, Carl, for having the courage to describe all that new, unfamiliar territory and how you adapted to it, so well.

  6. Oh Ann I do prefer the familiar to the unfamiliar-I think most people do-it is a safer place to be. Your blog is always familiar to me when I manage to get here- a welcome place of knowing I will see great photos and take something away with me to think about. Have a great weekend

  7. Great post Ann! Unfamiliar territory can be a challenge; yet in my case it helps to take “risks”. Seems “unfamiliar” is a “risky” affair, to engage or not, that is the question. I think that humans are creatures of habit, They must set routines in order to “normalise” the nervous system. The sleeping and waking cycles have a function: that is: to balance ourselves. The brain seeks normalisation, because the “unfamiliar” will make it work harder to break our habits and comfort zones. So adaptation is necessary. How can one face “unfamiliar territory”? Through adaptation, but that means change!

    • Love how you adapt your thoughts so beautifully to the topic, Maria!

    • If such change is too drastic, one can become flexible, and still adapt, that is if one has resilience. If the unfamiliar is simply too overwhelming, at least it’s good to know one gave it a shot. Then there’s the retreat to the comfort zone. The “unfamiliar” can sometimes mean an opportunity to grow, but one never really knows until one tries.

  8. Most of my life was spent in London, now both familiar and unfamiliar territory to me now

    • Every place can be familiar and unfamiliar, don’t you think? And I’m glad your face is so familiar to me now, Derrick.

  9. I love how this post balances the familiar with the unfamiliar … sounds like life 😉

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