Day 1056: Triggers

Today’s post title triggers a wish to define “triggers.”

plural noun: triggers

a small device that releases a spring or catch and so sets off a mechanism, especially in order to fire a gun.
“he pulled the trigger of the shotgun”
3rd person present: triggers
cause (an event or situation) to happen or exist.
“an allergy can be triggered by stress or overwork”
synonyms: precipitate, prompt, elicit, trigger off, set off, spark (off), touch off, provoke, stir up

Here‘s a description of psychological triggers:

What is a Trigger?

In the strictest sense of the term, trigger is used to refer to experiences that “re-trigger” trauma in the form of flashbacks or overwhelming feelings of sadness, anxiety, or panic. The brain forms a connection between a trigger and the feelings with which it is associated, and some triggers are quite innocuous.

Today’s date, November 22, is a trigger for me. Because my thoughts and feelings have triggered a daily blog post since 1/1/13, November 22 has triggered two previous posts (here and here).

This triggers a question and an answer:

Q. Why is November 22 a trigger for me?

A. On November 22, 1963 — when I and modern medical technology were both very young —  President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed AND I  underwent my first heart surgery, receiving my first of many cardiac pacemakers.

This photo of my family, taken shortly before November 22, 1963,  triggers many memories for me.


Looking at those faces, here and now, triggers this thought:

We didn’t know what was coming.

Yesterday, I was triggered to capture lots of photos. Which ones trigger reactions in you?

This fish bowl, which triggered my taking two photos …



… triggered this reaction in me:

OMG.  They designed this so that the world looks right TO THE FISH.

November 22, 1963, doesn’t trigger any particular music for me, since I was out of it, the whole day. If this post triggers any music in you, feel free to share that (and anything else) below.

Many thanks to all who visit here, today.

Categories: anniversary, blogging, Nostalgia, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 52 Comments

Day 902: What is that a sign of?

Since January, 2013, I’ve been writing a post every day, through:

  • rain,
  • snow,
  • light
  • dark, and
  • three Father’s Days.

What is that a sign of?

I can never remember where to put the apostrophe in “Father’s Day.”

What is that a sign of?

My father died in 1997 and I still think about him, almost every day.

What is that a sign of?

I often see something — in my daily journeys — that inspires the title of my next blog post.

What is that a sign of?

Once I decide on the title of a blog post, many things I see seem to fit that title.

What is that a sign of?

Are these signs of anything, to you?


I could easily think that everything I encountered yesterday was a sign of SOMETHING. For example,

… my initials and my father’s initials are the same.

What is that a sign of?

When I’m thinking of my father, Aaron Koplow, the song “Trans-Island Skyway” by Donald Fagen often shows up, as it did yesterday.

What is that a sign of? I’m not sure, but the lyrics include the following:

We reach the sprangle
Just at dawn
These little streets I used to know
Is that my father
Mowin’ the lawn
C’mon Daddy get in let’s go
C’mon Daddy get in let’s go
C’mon Daddy get in let’s go
C’mon Daddy get in let’s go
C’mon Daddy get in let’s go
C’mon Daddy get in let’s go
C’mon Daddy get in let’s go

I don’t know what a “sprangle” is.  What is that a sign of?

Whenever I hear that song, I can see my father on our lawn.

What is that a sign of?

If you leave a comment, I won’t necessarily take it a sign of anything, but I will definitely appreciate it.

Many signs of gratitude and thanks to my father, to signs everywhere, to Donald Fagen, to sprangles (and other things I don’t know the meaning of), to sky-ways and by-ways, to everything  I saw and heard yesterday, and to you  — of course! — for reading this Father’s Day 2015 post, here and now.

Categories: in memoriam, Nostalgia, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , | 53 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


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


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?

IMG_4163 IMG_4164 IMG_4165 IMG_4166 IMG_4167 IMG_4168 IMG_4169 IMG_4170IMG_4172

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?


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


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?

IMG_4192 IMG_4194 IMG_4197 IMG_4199 IMG_4201 IMG_4202 IMG_4203 IMG_4204 IMG_4207 IMG_4208 IMG_4210 IMG_4211 IMG_4212 IMG_4213 IMG_4214

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?


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?


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 692: Quality of Life

In yesterday’s post, I cited (and did other things to) a study about quality of life.  But what IS quality of life? Let’s see how other people qualify and quantitate “quality of life,” shall we?

Here’s the first definition returned by Google:

Quality of life (QOL) is the general well-being of individuals and societies. QOL has a wide range of contexts, including the fields of international development, healthcare, politics and employment. Quality of life should not be confused with the concept of standard of living, which is based primarily on income.

I have no idea where that definition came from; it just appeared without citation.

Q:  Does that affect my quality of life?

A: No.

Wikipedia, my lovely assistant in many of these posts, has an entry, page, or whatever-else-you-might-call-it on ‘Quality of life.”  Care to join me in discovering how “Quality of life” is explained in Wikipedia-land?

Aha!  The first paragraph of the Wikipedia page is VERY CLOSE to the definition I included in this post.

Q: Does that affect my quality of life?

A: No.

The first paragraph of the Wikipedia page includes this one additional sentence about Quality of Life (abbreviated to QOL, since Quality of Life, I guess, includes using abbreviations to save everybody time and effort):

Instead, standard indicators of the quality of life include not only wealth and employment but also the built environment, physical and mental health, education, recreation and leisure time, and social belonging.

Q: Does that affect my QOL?

A: Well, I like built environments, physical and mental health, education, recreation and leisure time, and social belonging. Does that answer the question?

How is your quality of life, right now? Would your QOL improve if I kept defining QOL?  Or do you think you know what Quality of Life means — to you and to other people?

Quality of Life is something I have been thinking a lot about lately.  Duh.  Why else would I be writing a post about it today?

As I’ve oft expressed since I started writing this blog way back in 2013, I write here, every day, to improve my Quality of Life and, so far, it’s been working. And yet, I’ve never written about QOL before today.

Here are my conscious reasons for writing about Quality of Life, right now:

  • I am getting very mixed messages from my two cardiologists about my current and future QOL.
  • Mixed messages adversely affect my Quality of Life.
  • I am constantly on the lookout for ways to maintain — or even improve — quality of life for myself (and others, too).
  • I had to write about SOMETHING, people.

Here are two things that improve my quality of life:

#1.  Carol.


Carol has been improving my QOL since the 1980’s. I first met her the week before I was scheduled for yet-another-in-a-long-series of pacemaker replacement surgeries.

At that time, my quality of life was negatively affected by a persistent feeling of cold in my back that just would not go away, no matter what I did. My business partner at the time, Jonathan, told me that Carol could help me.  Here’s a memory of my first conversation with Carol:

Me: I’ve had many surgeries in my life and I’m scheduled for another one, next week. And I’ve got this weird feeling of cold in the middle of my back, that won’t go away.

Carol: That makes sense. That’s fear.

I remember, that day, feeling understood in a new and profound way, which really improved  my QOL.

Yesterday, Carol improved my Quality of Life during an often difficult day for me: November 22 — the anniversary of my first surgery at age 10 AND the day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

Here are some of the things Carol said to me, yesterday:

  • You are incredibly healthy.
  • You look beautiful, like a Russian Princess, to me.

That improved my quality of life.


#2.  Cats.

IMG_2310 IMG_2313 IMG_2314

That’s Mambo — our neighbor cat — adding to my “social belonging”  in my “built environment” by getting into my car after I returned from getting my hair cut by Mia (who also improves my Quality of Life, every time I see her).

What else do I want to include about QOL, in this post?  I would like to wrap things up soon, so I can finish writing a proposal today for presenting a workshop about the therapy groups I do (which I hope improve the Quality of Life of others).

Music definitely improves my Quality of Life, and I often include a musical selection in my posts. But I also have trouble making decisions. And what song would fit today’s post?

Actually, what song would NOT fit? Every piece of music I love (and there are so many) improves my quality of life, whenever I hear it. So how do I choose among them all, this morning?


I know! I’ll do a random spin of Spotify, my current music delivery system (which also improves my QOL), and see what comes up.

Aha!  It’s a repeat, from a recent post, but will that decrease anybody’s quality of life?

Actually, that’s a different version of Sting performing “What Have We Got?” from The Last Ship (found here on YouTube, if that helps improve your QOL).

That video, from NBC’s Today Show,  reminds me of two things — an event in the past and one in the future:

  1. My late father told me a story, many years ago, about how he and my mother, when visiting New York City, were outside looking in the studio windows during a live broadcast of The Today Show, when a good friend of theirs, who was up on a ladder at his home near Boston, suddenly saw them there on his TV and was so surprised, he fell off the ladder (thus temporarily diminishing his QOL).
  2. My friend Deb (previously appearing in posts including here,here, and here) and I are going to NYC in two weekends to see The Last Ship on Broadway!

How do you think all this affects my QOL?  What affects yours?

Thanks to Google, Wikipedia, Carol, Mambo, Mia, Deb, my doctors, my parents, Sting, Spotify, randomness, and to everybody and anything that’s ever improved anybody’s Quality of Life in any way, which includes you (in case you didn’t know)*.

* Duh.

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

Day 687: This reminds me of that

“This reminds me of that” is:

  1. A description of my writing style.
  2. The way human brains work, making connections.
  3. A good enough title for this post.
  4. A topic that allows me to pretty much say or show you anything I choose.
  5. The artistic impulse that guides the way I take photos for this blog.
  6. The phrase that was on my mind when I woke up a little while ago.
  7. A title where I considered emphasizing different words, including “THIS reminds me of THAT” or “This REMINDS me of that.”
  8. What people often say (or imply) when they are telling important stories in therapy sessions.
  9. A function of the mind that can cause all sorts of feelings and reactions, including joy, anxiety, pity, sadness, fear, depression, jealousy, and annoyance.
  10. How people often respond to each other in conversation.
  11. All of the above.
  12. All of the above, plus many more things I could add to this list, if I had more time to write this morning.

That reminds me of this:


This reminds me of that other post where I showed you the “What Helps” lists I use in group therapy. Actually, I think I did that in more than one previous post.

This reminds me of that thing I do in most of my posts, where I look for relevant links (and then wonder if they’re helpful to anybody). Right now, I can find references to “What Helps” in:

That reminds me of this: when I search WordPress for previous posts, the resulting list is often too long for me (and you, too, I would assume). It also reminds me of a comment faithful WordPress reader and writer Mark Bialczak made in a previous post of mine (which included the words “here, here, here, here, here, here, and here”) (give or take a few “here’s”), but damned if I’m going to look for that comment now, people!

That reminds me of this: I need something to eat, at this point in my post-writing process.

That reminds me of this: Self-care (including getting good enough nourishment and sleep) is very important, for all of us.

My 16-year-old son Aaron’s alarm clock just rang for the third time since I’ve gotten up this morning. That reminds me of this: he is perfectly capable of getting himself ready for school, without any assistance from me, these days. That reminds me of this: I’m going to parent-teacher conferences at his high school, tomorrow.

That does NOT remind me of this, but I want to write it now anyway: It’s time for me to show you some photos I just took!


That reminds me of this: I went to a 80’s dance party where I needed leg warmers for my costume  and — despite my assumption that they would be difficult to locate — I easily found them at T.J. Maxx!


That reminds me of this: I haven’t shown you photos of our two cats recently. That’s Oscar.

That reminds me of this: I thought I took a photo of both cats, including Harley, right after I got up this morning, but apparently I didn’t.



reminds me of


that and




That reminds me of this:

  • I attended lots of stand-up comedy shows in the 1980’s (when I was NOT wearing leg warmers) and even performed once or twice, myself,
  • My son and I saw Emo Philips (included on the cover of that book) this past weekend,
  • I’ve seen five of the comedians listed on that cover in person, and
  • I appeared at an Open Mic night in the 1980’s (when I was NOT wearing leg warmers) with one of the comedians listed on that cover.



reminds me that it’s time to get ready for work (even though that photo doesn’t show the current time).

Does any of this remind YOU of anything?

Thanks to Aaron, Oscar, Paul Nagano, Emo Philips, T.J. Maxx, people I work with, and everybody else (including you, of course!) who is reminded of anything else, ever.

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

Day 682: Repeating oneself

I used to worry about repeating myself, but I’ve learned to let go of that.

Yesterday, I repeated the steps of a new (and helpful) habit:

  1. Recognizing I’m having feelings of depression, anxiety, or stress,
  2. Reaching out (even if that seems risky),
  3. Expressing myself (including writing about it here),
  4. Allowing room for help in return,
  5. Taking action(s) I know will be helpful, even if they seem (oddly) difficult to do (for example., repeating the action of calling a plumber who hasn’t called me back), and
  6. Feeling better, letting go of judgment about my process.

Thanks to all those in the world-o-sphere and in the blog-o-sphere (which has its own kind of plumbing) who helped me along with that, yesterday.

Here are some phrases I love repeating to people:

  • “No need to apologize.”
  • There’s no right or wrong way to do this.”
  • “There’s room for all feelings.”
  • “All of you is/are welcomed here.”
  • “You have all the time you need (believe it or not).”
  • “The secret to life is three things: (1) show up, (2) be gentle, and (3) tell the truth.”
  • “What do other people think?”

Here are a few of the many things I hear other people repeat, on their own, in therapy groups, to each other:

  • “Let it go.”
  • “I’ve had a similar experience.”
  • “You did the best you could.”
  • “I’m grateful for you.”

I’m assuming I’ve repeated some aspects of this post before, and I shall now quote the title of a post draft I wrote on 4/4/13,* four months after I started this daily blog:

Day __: Am I repeating myself? Who cares!

Here are some photos from yesterday. Perhaps some of them will seem like I’m repeating myself. I’m not.


IMG_2072 IMG_2074 IMG_2077IMG_2082 IMG_2087 IMG_2089 IMG_2096 IMG_2102 IMG_2103 IMG_2109 IMG_2111 IMG_2112 IMG_2119 IMG_2120 IMG_2122 IMG_2124

At the risk of repeating myself in my music introductions here, I heard this song yesterday, as I walked to work:

(“It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry,” from the album Super Session with  Al KooperSteven Stills, and Mike Bloomfield, found here on YouTube)

Here’s another version of Bob Dylan’s “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry”:

(YouTube video found here of “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry,” written by Bob Dylan, performed by Dylan and George Harrison, at The Concert for Bangladesh)

Here’s something else I like to repeat: Any questions?

Many, many, many, many thanks to all who repeat themselves in any way, which would include Al Kooper, Steven Stills, Bob Dylan, everyone else who helped with the creation of this post, and you, of course!

* I love dates that repeat the same number for the month and the year, like 4/4/13. Any guesses why?

Categories: Nostalgia, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Day 680: I love you

Dear Readers,

WordPress tells me, this morning, that I have NOT used “I love you” as a title, yet, for a post.  I love you, WordPress, for letting me know.

WordPress also tells me that I have NOT tagged the Marx Brothers before, in six hundred and eighty days of posting.

I love you, Marx Brothers.

(“Everyone Says I Love You,” from the Marx Brothers movie “Horsefeathers,” found here on YouTube)

Yesterday, I believe I told my sister, Ellen, that I loved her, in my post for her birthday. But I didn’t say those exact words.

I love you, Ellen.

Why do you suppose those words can be difficult, challenging, or otherwise risky to say? I would love it, if you let me know what you think about that.

I love including lists in these posts, so here’s another one.

I love:

  • people
  • animals
  • my work (doing group and individual therapy)
  • natural beauty
  • food
  • writing this blog
  • traveling
  • taking pictures for you

IMG_1869 IMG_1870 IMG_1873 IMG_1876 IMG_1882 IMG_1884  IMG_1896 IMG_1901 IMG_1904 IMG_1907 IMG_1908 IMG_1909 IMG_1922 IMG_1924 IMG_1944 IMG_1946 IMG_1948 IMG_1951 IMG_1976 IMG_2002 IMG_2005 IMG_2014 IMG_2016 IMG_2018 IMG_2019 IMG_2020


  • and many other things (and not necessarily in that order).

What do you love?



Categories: blogging, love, Nostalgia, personal growth, photojournalism, tribute | Tags: , , , , | 24 Comments

Day 679: Sisters

Today, November 10, is my only sister’s birthday.

Happy Birthday to my excellent, five-year-older sister, Ellen!

This is the first song I can remember encountering — when Ellen and I were both kids — about sisters.

(“Sisters” from the movie White Christmas found here on YouTube)

A lot of those lyrics may not apply, but the love and protective fierceness do.  If you mess with me, lord help you! You will have to answer to my sister, Ellen.

Here’s a song I know Ellen would appreciate. It’s from Wicked, a musical she introduced to me and to my son Aaron.

(“For Good” from Wicked found here on YouTube)

Ellen is more of an extrovert than I am, and her style is to involve the people she loves in the things that she loves. So Aaron and I have both seen Wicked with Ellen and my wonderful sister-in-law, Linda. (We’ve also seen Les Miserables with them, but I’m not immediately aware of a song from that score that would apply, are you?)

I’ve seen a lot of things with — and thanks to — Ellen.

Yesterday, when I was on my Sunday walk, I saw many things that reminded me of her, including these:


We both grew up in the same nest, on the North Shore of Boston, in a house that was on a


… the local term for a cul de sac,or a street that has no outlet.


My older sister has always looked out for me.

IMG_1881Ellen appreciates beauty in nature and is an excellent photographer.


No matter where she’s lived, there’s always a place for me to sit and relax and just be, with her.


I’m not scared, when my sister is around.


Ellen has always understood and left room for my love for cats (even though she is very different from me). One way we are not different is this: we both love to Swing Dance (so I’m glad there’s an Area for Swing in that photo, above). (We both love puns, too.)


Ellen has a big heart. She doesn’t express her feelings the way I do, but her love always shows through.

IMG_1925 IMG_1926

Whenever I saw natural beauty yesterday, I thought of Ellen.

Ellen is great at connecting with people, in her work and everywhere.


No matter how confused I get,

IMG_1937 IMG_1941

… not knowing which direction to turn, Ellen helps guide me.

Even when I’ve looked like this:


… Ellen has stayed at my side, always …


… when I’ve needed her.

When we were growing up, and I made it to …


… five years after Ellen, the teachers there wondered if I would be as wonderful as she was. We were very different and — I hope —  appreciated for our own strengths.

More natural beauty, from yesterday:

IMG_1957 IMG_1960 IMG_1961 IMG_1966 IMG_1971 IMG_1973


…which all reminded me of Ellen, especially since she has always wanted to live near water.


That image reminded me of the losses we’ve shared together (including both of our late parents).

Let’s face it, everything reminded me of Ellen, yesterday. That’s what happens when you share so much with an incredible sister like her. Here are some photos of gifts I might give her:


IMG_2008 IMG_2011

…. that I know she would appreciate.


I’ve always looked up to Ellen. And here’s the last photo I took, yesterday, thinking of her:


Now I’m going to look for one more picture, from ONE OF THE TWO RED SOX WORLD SERIES GAMES WE’VE ATTENDED TOGETHER AT FENWAY PARK (excuse me for shouting, but Ellen would understand).

Actually, it’s taking me a while to find that image from October 2013. Here’s something I found in my WordPress Media Library, in the meantime:


I found the photo I was looking for!Slide3 (2)That television screen-capture — from the 2013 Word Series game Ellen and I attended — first appeared in this post,* just about a year ago.  I see several familiar faces there, including one I love very much.

Happy Birthday, Ellen!

And many, many thanks to everybody reading today.

* Actually, that photo didn’t appear in that post. It appeared here. But I’m glad I linked to that report about the World Series game I shared, with my sister, Ellen.

Categories: Nostalgia, photojournalism | Tags: , , , | 50 Comments

Day 676: Colors

Several years ago, I went into a store in the Boston area and noticed that people from a local radio station were there. One of the DJs announced to the shoppers:

A prize to the first person who can come up with eight musical groups with a color in the band’s name!

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this in any of my previous colorful or non-colorful blog posts, but I love

  • CONTESTS and

I wonder if people who are reading this know that about me, or whether they are finding this out for the first time, much like I discovered, just now, that I can use colored letters in WordPress.

Anyway, the radio guy in the store announced that contest, and my mind went to work.

I now interrupt this story to bring you this question:

What band names, with colors in them, can you think of, right now?

While you’re thinking of those, here’s some mood music, brought to you this morning from high (or medium) atop the Koplow Family & Friends Building in beautiful suburban Boston:

(YouTube video of Duke Ellington‘s “Mood Indigo” found here)

And in case you prefer a different kind of music, here’s another tune, with the same color in the title:

(I found “Indigo Passion” by the Atlanta Rhythm Section on YouTube, in this video created by DJ Bayonic)

Okay, ladies and gentleman! For my listening and viewing pleasure, please place your colorful, musical names in the comment section, directly below this post.

For your listening and viewing pleasure, here are the band names I came up with, back then:








Green Day

Simply Red


Black Sabbath

Deep Purple

Pink Floyd

The Moody Blues

Blue Cheer

I remember the radio D.J. doubting “Blue Cheer” as a real band name, but I must have convinced him (without anybody having access to the internet, back then), because:


Like I said, I love winning.

And I love colorful things, including these:


and these:

IMG_1809… which are the “Coping and Healing” group handout folders, that people get to choose from, before they join my therapy groups.

I also love shades of grey (which is an antidote to the unhelpful cognitive distortion of Black-and-White Thinking), as you can see by this still life in my office:


I like to point out the ever-present box of tissues to people in individual and group therapy, to let them know that all feelings are welcome. I like to point out that clock, too.

Speaking of feelings, time, color, and art, yesterday I got this email from my long-time friend and amazing artist Paul Nagano (previously appearing in posts here and here):

Dear Friends:                                

                    THE FINAL
                               OPEN STUDIO  
                 of PAUL NAGANO in Boston
Saturday and Sunday —     Nov. 15 and 16        11am to 5pm
                 This is a 
                             CLEARANCE SALE 
               because I will be leaving Boston and moving to Honolulu on December 19.
art, frames, books, art materials, objects, kitchen utensils, tools, 
even a few pieces of furniture  —  will be available for sale.
You will also be able to view the original of my magnum opus from this past summer–
“PARINIRVANA in the Great Garden” —
 I look forward to seeing you for a fond farewell.
Please, as always, bring some canned goods or other non-perishable food items
to benefit our Annual Food Drive for the GREATER BOSTON FOOD BANK.

P a u l — (after 47 years, leaving Boston on Dec. 19, to live in Hawaii 

                       …..and…….    arriving    there     on     Dec. 22)


In response, I sent Paul this one-word email (even though I knew this move was coming):



and Paul replied:


Remember, Ann, CHANGE is GOOD!  –even when it’s bad, and a little sad.

I’m going to let Paul have the last words, today, except for these:
Categories: inspiration, Nostalgia, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 36 Comments

Day 661: Whelmed

With all the things I’m doing these days, including

  • blogging every day,
  • taking photos for this blog,
  • working full-time as a group and individual psychotherapist at a major Boston hospital,
  • being a mother to a 16-year-old son,
  • maintaining my health,
  • participating in activities I love, including musical events and travel, and
  • promoting ideas I have about improving health care delivery

…. it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

Yesterday, I recognized that my chances to feel overwhelmed were increasing, because  my sold-out presentation on The Koplow Method of group therapy is coming up in three days (but who’s counting?).

I don’t want to feel overwhelmed. I just don’t.

Somebody I admire recently said to me:

I’m overwhelmed

as a way to express gratitude. However, when I use the word “overwhelmed,” I mean

  • confused,
  • lost,
  • anxious,
  • disconnected (from people and hope), and
  • insecure.

At the same time, I don’t want to feel underwhelmed, either.  To me, underwhelmed means:

  • unimpressed,
  • dissatisfied, and
  • aware that things can be much better.

For example, WordPress recently changed the way bullet points appear for this blog, and, I, for one, am extremely underwhelmed by that change.

I think it’s time to use today’s title in this here blog post, don’t you? Here we go:

I do not want to feel overwhelmed or underwhelmed. As much as possible, I would like to be balanced and in the middle of those extremes: in other words …”whelmed.”

I am neither overwhelmed nor underwhelmed by the way I defined “whelmed.”

Yesterday, to stay whelmed in the midst of all my different commitments, interests, and obligations, I prepared for today’s blog post, as I made my way throughout the day. That is, rather than wait until I got up in the morning to decide on a topic — which is my usual, natural process — I thought of a title:

What smells?

which was inspired by a new raincoat I was wearing. I knew that

What smells?

was a fertile topic and one that I (and my readers) might benefit from, since I could write about

  • how smells trigger memories,
  • how new smells (and other unfamiliar things) can affect us, and
  • shame people can have about human body smells, which we just can’t avoid in our lives.

Also, since everything has a smell, the opportunities for words and photos were … endless!

Also, there was an obvious musical number I could use in that post:

(I sniffed out that Lynyrd Skynyrd performance of “That Smell,” on YouTube, here)

That post could practically write itself!

So all day, yesterday, as a way of NOT getting overwhelmed by fears and cognitive distortions about my upcoming presentation or underwhelmed by a potentially not-good-enough blog post, I focused on

What smells?

and I saw

  • things that smell and
  • things that USED TO smell (like the Charles River in Boston, which has been cleaned up, quite a bit, since I was a kid).

In addition, I ran into lots of challenges, like traffic that made me late almost everywhere I went yesterday, including

  • work,
  •  Berklee College of Music, to hunt down the recruitment video I helped create for them in the 1990’s,
  • therapy,
  • visiting with my neighbor, whose dog recently had surgery and who has a toilet she recommends as a possible replacement for our toilet that keeps running, running, running, and
  • my usual Wednesday evening routine, with bf Michael, having dinner at a local mall that includes a pet store and Whole Foods Market.

I realized I could include ALL those things, too, since certain obstacles can really stink, unless we let go of feeling overwhelmed and/or underwhelmed by our daily commitments, interests, and obligations, and stay as whelmed as possible.

So I had fun, yesterday, thinking about how I might write to you about

What smells?

and I took lots of  photos, including (in chronological order):

IMG_1134 IMG_1148 IMG_1150 IMG_1152 IMG_1157 IMG_1161 IMG_1162 IMG_1164 IMG_1168 IMG_1169 IMG_1172 IMG_1178 IMG_1179 IMG_1180 IMG_1184 IMG_1186 IMG_1187 IMG_1188 IMG_1190 IMG_1208  IMG_1209 IMG_1217 IMG_1219 IMG_1220 IMG_1221 IMG_1225   IMG_1228 IMG_1238 IMG_1234 IMG_1239 IMG_1243 IMG_1250 IMG_1251 IMG_1253 IMG_1254 IMG_1255 IMG_1256 IMG_1257

But then, I thought, how the hell am I going to explain all those photos? And there are some photos I might want to comment upon, like

  • how everybody gets parking tickets in Boston, even utility workers,
  • a study room at Berklee, which I attended during two summers when I was in high school, which looks exactly the same as it looked when I was 16 years old and where a very mean (and perhaps, insecure) boy said something humiliating to me and his friends laughed, laughed, laughed,
  • my neighbor’s daughter, dressing up for Halloween years ago as a virus particle,
  • my neighbor’s dog toys, which are stuffed animals purchased at the Boston Science Museum, representing (left to right) Ebola, Salmonella, and the common cold, and
  • how the Halloween costumes at Whole Foods Market include a Chef’s outfit, which Michael (who used to cook for a living) found particularly underwhelming.

So, I hope, you can see my dilemma about writing the planned blog post

What smells?

There are just too many chances for that post to be overwhelming or underwhelming.

Instead, I’m glad I changed the topic to


And sure enough, that’s how I’m feeing now.

Thanks to everything that smells AND to everybody who ever gets overwhelmed, overwhelmed, and/or whelmed. I thinks that includes you, me, and everything, don’t you?

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

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