taking a risk

Day 1075: Breaking Barriers

At a therapy group last night, people talked about their experience of breaking barriers, including:

  • fear,
  • self-consciousness,
  • rejection,
  • perfectionism,
  • distrust,
  • insecurity,
  • differences,
  • shame,
  • guilt,
  • doubt,
  • miscommunication,
  • hopelessness,
  • old habits,
  • misunderstandings,
  • pain,
  • assumptions,
  • toxic/difficult/mean/uncaring people, and
  • internalized negative messages.

My imperfect memory is definitely a barrier to including all the barriers discussed during that interesting group session. I do remember one of the group members recommending this, as a way to break barriers:

Just jump!

As you’re reading this post about breaking barriers, what are the barriers in your life?  How might you begin breaking them?

Am I breaking barriers with any photos I took yesterday?





Any barriers to believing that  all they sell there is the greatest feeling on earth, during those hours?

Please, just jump into the conversation below, breaking any barriers along the way.

Thanks to all those who break barriers as best they can and to you — of course! — no matter what barriers you’ve broken to be here, now.

Categories: group therapy, personal growth, photojournalism, taking a risk | Tags: , , , , , , , | 41 Comments

Day 1064: Audiences

Throughout my adult life, I’ve thought a lot about audiences. As a technical writer, marketing writer, teacher, partner in an advertising agency, group and individual psychotherapist, business owner, musical performer,  AND a daily blogger, I’ve learned that identifying and connecting authentically with an audience is very important.

At the same time, each one of us really knows only our own individual experience. I might imagine and try to understand the potential members of any audience, but it’s impossible for me to really get into anybody else’s head. The only head I can really inhabit is my own — and that’s true for any human being, no matter how much each one of us projects, researches,  empathizes, or otherwise tries to connect with an audience.

So, how can any one of us really comprehend and connect with the other people in any audience, in any situation?

Do you — my audience — have any answers for that question?

As I’m creating this blog post, I am aware that you, among others in my blogging audience, will be reading it. At the same time,  I don’t really know

  • who you are,
  • what you’re looking for here, and
  • how I can give you what you need.

I can only guess.

Therefore, no matter who my audience is — for anything I put out into the world — I need to focus on what’s important to me and on communicating that as effectively and authentically as possible.

Then, if I miss the mark and I do not connect with my audience, at least I’ve created something that matters to one person — myself.

Why am I writing about audiences to you, my blogging audience, today?

Why not?

Also, yesterday I signed up to audition for the U.S. television show, The Voice.

Actually, I wasn’t sure whether I was going to share that fact with any audience.  Why?  Because sharing anything with an audience  involves vulnerability.

And what does vulnerability tell me now?

I may fail.

But then, I can ask these follow up questions — to myself and, simultaneously,  to my audience:

What does failure mean?

What if the concept of failure did not exist?

And I can also tell myself this:

No matter what happens, I’ll have something interesting to blog about.

And  I’ll probably have some pictures to show you, like these (which I took yesterday, not really knowing who my audience might be today):

Speaking of The Voice, what does your voice want to express, here and now?

My thanks to audiences, everywhere.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, taking a risk | Tags: , , , , , , | 31 Comments

Day 1063: Hair and now

A couple of days before now, I put this hairy post up on my Facebook page:

So, I am tired of believing, on any level, that my lovability is connected to how young I look and/or the way I wear my hair. Therefore, I am seriously considering cutting my hair super short and letting my hair color be completely natural. So my profile picture might be looking VERY different, very soon.

Now, the amount of support I got from this post was hair-raising.

Yesterday, I went to see my beloved hair expert, Mia at MiAlisa salon (appearing now in previous blog posts here, here, here, and here). I brought along these pictures of hair:

I noticed this sign at Mia’s hair salon …


… when my hair was this length:


I could still see all the wonderful words on that sign when my hair was this length:

And despite my son Aaron’s prediction that I might judge myself negatively after radically changing my hair, I was non-judgmental when I took these photos last night …

… and I’m still non-judgmental, hair and now.

Do you have any thoughts or feelings about hair, now?

Here and now, I’m grateful to Aaron, Mia, MiAlisa Salon,  Amuleto Mexican Table in Waltham and you (no matter what state your hair’s in now).


Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, taking a risk | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 74 Comments

Day 945: Yellow

At first, I thought I’d be naming this post

Green and Yellow

… because I saw a lot of green and a lot of yellow yesterday.

Here are some of the greens:




Ahhhh. That was restful. Do you feel as green and renewed, now, as I did yesterday?

Yes, “Green” could easily be a part of my post title today, especially since the last photo I snapped yesterday was of a green cashier who was in training at the green supermarket Whole Foods at Fresh Pond in Cambridge (very close to all those green shots I’d taken earlier). Here is that  wonderfully green  cashier, Helena:

Helena, despite being green, bravely guessed that I was a psychotherapist and that my boyfriend Michael was a professor of Philosophy, just by engaging with us for five minutes. I, a psychotherapist, was green with envy at Helena’s powers of observation and guessing. Although Michael never went to college, he told Helena that an online IQ test  said he should be a “Visionary Philosopher.” I thought both Michael and Helena were the opposite of yellow (which can mean “cowardly”) and, before we left Whole Foods, I sought out Helena’s manager to praise Helena’s green and impressive skills.

Getting back to the point I made, above (when this post was still green), a green reader of this blog might insist that I include “Green” in the title of this post. Indeed, I even have some perfect images for “Green and Yellow”:

… assuming people know that “green” can also mean “money.”

However, I very recently published a post titled “Greens” and non-green readers know that I don’t like repeating myself.

Anyway, here are some more yellows I saw yesterday:

… before my non-green-and-yellow cell phone ran out of power.

It’s occurring to me now that, in  the English language, the word “yellow” doesn’t have a lot of positive connotations. My immediate associations with “yellow” are

  • Cowardly and
  • A “lemon” of a car.

Maybe that’s why I’ve never even considered getting a yellow car, before yesterday. However, this man

… Neran, helped me feel much braver about doing something green and new. Also, when I mentioned to Neran that I was a psychotherapist (even though Neran is less green than Helena, he didn’t guess that about me), I found out that Neran

  • also works with people with mental illness and
  • Neran’s supervisor, for that other job,  is MY long-time and brave supervisor, Ross, from a previous job.

Anyway, perhaps I could tie up this “Yellow” post with a perfect ribbon, but I need to get to work where — among other things — I have to find out if I have really have  the green to buy one of those yellow beauties, above.

Before, I do, what music matches the colors in this post?

How about “Me and the Boys” — performed by redhead Bonnie Raitt — from the album Green Light?

Yellow thanks to Bonnie, Helena, Michael, Neran, and Ross*, to colorful rides everywhere,  to all the boys in my life (including my 17-year-old son, Aaron), to the Fresh Pond area of Cambridge Massachusetts USA, and to you — of course! — for coming along for this green and yellow ride, today.

  • in alphabetical order, because I greenly and yellowly felt like it.
Categories: fun, gratitude, personal growth, photojournalism, taking a risk | Tags: , , , , | 33 Comments

Day 905: Michael from Boston

Many blog posts ago, I expressed a wish to perform  a new rendition of Joni Mitchell’s “Michael from Mountains,” dedicated to my boyfriend, Michael.

Michael is not from mountains. He’s from the Hyde Park section of Boston.

Here are the lyrics to “Michael from Boston” (as adapted by Ann from WordPress):

Michael wakes up from a sleep
He takes me up streets for a coffee run
Sidewalk potholes are so steep
With birdies that cheep, bunnies having fun
There’s kitties and puppies and possum-y pet toys
That lie on the lawn
in colored arrangements I snap with my camera
At dusk and at dawn

Michael from Boston
Go where you will go to
Know that I will know you
Someday I may know you very well

Michael brings me to a park
It’s light and it’s dark with the clouds up high
Kids on zip lines and on swings
Like puppets on strings hanging in the sky

He cooks us great suppers in second floor kitchens
They’re yummy and bold.
And Michael will hold me
To keep away cold when the winters come by
Michael from Boston
Go where you will go to
Know that I will know you
Someday I may know you very well

Michael leads me up the stairs
He wants me to care and he knows I do
Cats come crying at the door
And he feeds them more with a dish or two
There’s rain in the window
There’s sun in the paintings that smile on the wall
I want to hear all
But his accent’s so thick that I never do

Michael from Boston
Go where you will go to
Know that I will know you
Someday I will know you very well.


While I’ve snapped pictures, over my blogging years,  to illustrate almost every point in that song, Ann from WordPress  likes to show  photos she’s taken since her last post. I hope the following photos will reflect aspects of Michael, Boston, and/or those song lyrics.

What do you  — from mountains, Boston, WordPress, or wherever — think of all this?

Now, I need to record that song with the new lyrics. Not sure how good my voice is going to sound this early in the morning. Also, who knows if I’ll get all those new words right?

Well, Ann from WordPress is having trouble recording a video of “Michael from Boston” because I’m getting no sound on my iPhone from Apple.

Because of the help and support of Michael and other kind people from Boston, I am not panicking about technical difficulties these days. However, I’ll need to restart my iPhone to try to fix this. So, I shall post this now and add a performance video later.

Okay! Still no sounds from my iPhone, but the YouTube video has sound, so here it is:

Many thanks to Michael and others from Boston, to Joni from Canada, and to you — of course! — no matter where you’re from.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, taking a risk | Tags: , , | 32 Comments

Day 894: What kind of week was it?

What kind of week was it?

It was a week of relative safety.

It was a week when my hair, among other things, looked blue:


(If it’s a week when you are having trouble reading that blue t-shirt, it says

Everybody is a


but if you judge a


by its ability to

climb a tree,

it will live its

whole life

believing that it is


It was a week when my cardiologist,  Dr. Mark Estes, was pleased with my recovery from my May 4 heart-related surgery.

It was a week when I put aside my fears of singing in public and auditioned  for a musical.

It was a week when I did NOT get  a call-back for that musical.

It was a week when the  “rejection” of not being called back neither dampened my mood nor my hope to perform more in public. While it’s true that I had the

of telling myself I was “rejected” because I could not make any Thursday rehearsals …

…  my rapid recovery from that disappointment may have been the best part of my week.

It was a week when the question “Where’s Waldo?”  was finally answered.

It was a week of lots of work in therapy.


It was a week of many cats.


It was a week of lots of  music.


It was a week of different people and different perspectives.



It was a week of messy and clean.


It was a week of wildlife — fake and real.


It was a week when I attended — and gave a workshop at — a group psychotherapy conference.

It was a week that’s not quite over and which will include — today! — my meeting fellow WordPresser Mark Bialczak and his lovely wife Karen.

It was a week when I sang “Green Finch and Linnet Bird” many times, some better than others:

What kind of week is it, for you?

Many thanks to everyone who helped me create this week-in-review post and special thanks to you — of course! — for being here.

Categories: gratitude, personal growth, photojournalism, taking a risk | Tags: , , , | 30 Comments

Day 669: Spontaneous

Today, I’m writing spontaneously. While I thought about possible topics, yesterday, for today’s  post, I decided to pick this title at the last minute and just see what happens.

While some people might call that

… doing something spontaneously, without planning, can be fun!

Now, I would like to spontaneously link to other posts I’ve written that have “fun” in the title.  Here they are:

  1. Day 248: Random thoughts on fun,
  2. Day 416: Fun with Phobias,
  3. Day 417: Fun with Phobias, Part II,
  4. Day 443: Fun with labels,
  5. Day 496: Fun with Phobias (Part III*), and last (and perhaps least relevant)
  6. Day 516: One possible function of anxiety (dreams).

I love lists, so here’s another one I’m including here, spontaneously, of things that happened while I was creating that first list, above:

  1. I had fun with it.
  2. I was hoping that people would click on those links to my prior posts, since I think they’re all good enough to read.
  3. I’m being brave enough to finally use the “new”method of creating posts today.
  4. As I was about to add the last item in the list, this post disappeared — poof!
  5. I didn’t panic.
  6. I patiently tried to find it.
  7. I decided the post was lost forever and I was prepared to re-create this post, from the beginning.
  8. I found the original draft of this post.

I just tried to link to the last number in that list, but WordPress wouldn’t let me.  That’s okay. I can link to that number, now:


I was thinking of writing


right there, because I get upset, sometimes, when I’m trying to use something new and can’t figure it out and make a mistake and panic a little, but I thought better of it.

Yesterday, in my work as a psychotherapist and in my life as a human being, I encountered people who had trouble dealing with anger. I’m often not sure what to do with my own anger, either. (I seem to be okay dealing with other people’s anger spontaneously, even though I may fear it in advance.)

My best advice about anger, these days, is

  • own your anger (as well as your other feelings)
  • express your anger in a way that works for you, rather than bottling it up

Before I proceed with THAT list (which I started spontaneously without knowing where it would end), I’d like see what Google Images has for “bottling it up.”

Eeek!  I just lost track of this post, again, when I came back from “Google Images.” I couldn’t find it anywhere.  However, this time, I remembered the process for restoring this post that worked for me before, so I spontaneously did NOT panic. I’m hoping I can learn from this experience to make my post-creation process, next time, smoother and easier.

Where was I?  Oh, yes!  Showing you Google Images for “Bottling it Up.”

Oh!  I just found the earlier draft of this post.  I just didn’t see it before, because I had too many tabs open. You’ll just have to believe me, though, that the first draft totally disappeared.

I just spontaneously closed a lot of those open tabs, so I can more easily keep track of things as I’m writing this post.

Where was I? Oh, yes!  Google Images for “bottling it up”:


(Image found here)

Bottling_up_Emotions_by_jDoopliss (1)

(Image found here)

Spontaneously, I’m deciding that those are enough Google Images, for today. I feel more comfortable using my own images, since I own those.

But what image(s), of my own, should I include in this post?

I could show you some photos I just had to stop and spontaneously take yesterday, on my way to work:

IMG_1590 IMG_1592 IMG_1598

I could show you a portion of the whiteboard from the therapy group I did last night (making sure to keep strict confidentiality):


I DEFINITELY want to show you the photo I took this morning, right before my son left for school, of two pieces of required equipment he had chosen for today, Halloween:


Have fun trying to figure THAT out.

Before I spontaneously press “Publish” to send this post out into the world, what feels left out, for me?

Music! But what piece of music fits today’s post?

Do YOU have any ideas about that?

Even if you do,  that’s not going to help me now.

Here’s the tune that’s rattling around in my head (and has been, since I rediscovered it while writing this here post). And since I primarily write these posts for ……


… posting this video, spontaneously, here, will give ME easier access to it.

(This time, I’m linking to just that performance, which I LOVE, of “In France They Kiss on Main Street” with Joni Mitchell, Pat MethenyJaco Pastorius, and Lyle Mays, rather than linking to the whole concert — which I LOVE — as I did in that previous post.)

Okay! I’ve

  • included words, images and music here,
  • had some breakfast, while writing this,
  • managed to avoid my hands being gnawed by one of my cats, while I’m typing this,
  • left enough time to get ready for work, where I have to write something spontaneously that’s due today ….

… so I think those are reasons enough to publish this post NOW.

One more thing: Thanks to EVERYBODY.

Categories: blogging, fun, inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism, taking a risk | Tags: | 14 Comments

Day 664: Who are these people?

In a few hours, I shall be making a presentation to a room-full of people, about a method  of group therapy I conduct, four times every week, at my place of employment.

I could be asking — myself and the universe — lots of questions about this imminent presentation, including:

  • How am I going to perfectly translate all my knowledge and experience of group therapy into a neat, comprehensive, and engaging 70-minute package?
  • How am I going to make “small talk” during the “breakfast” portion of this “breakfast club” event, prior to my presentation? Won’t I be too nervous?  Won’t chatting with people, that way, feel inauthentic?
  • How can I surreptitiously check my teeth after eating all sorts of food that will indubitably include green, red, and other colorful objects,  to make sure that there’s nothing obvious stuck there, to distract my audience?
  • If I screw this up completely, what will the consequences be?

Actually, it helped me to ask that last question, because I can see that the answer is:

No lasting consequences that I can identify, at all.

However, the main question I wanted to ask in today’s blog is … surprise!  …  the title of this post.

Who are these people?

This is a question I’ve asked before, when I’m:

  • stuck in a long line at the grocery store,
  • not moving because of lots of traffic,
  • observing a crowd of people gathering, for a reason I can’t immediately identify, and
  • other situations that I can’t remember, right now (but that’s okay).

Today, that question mainly refers to:

Who are these people I am going to see in less than 2.5 hours?   Who are these people who made the decision, the effort, and the monetary commitment to sign up to hear me speak today?

Since I do not know who they are, at this writing, I am perfectly capable of projecting all sorts of fears, assumptions, and worries onto them.

Actually, this is not entirely true. I DO know some of the people who will be there today, including Maxine, who reads this blog (I think) and who did a kick-ass presentation of her own, last year. And I know some of the organizers for the event, including Marc, who sent me this email yesterday:


One more short day till game time, if you would like me to add to this introduction please let me know. Personally I like it as it stands

See you in the morning,


… and directly below that was the response I had sent, weeks ago, to Marc’s request for a “bio,” to help him prepare for his introduction of me this morning.

How about this as a bio, Mark?

This is Ann Koplow.

She knows what she’s talking about.

Listen to her.

I’ll work on a better bio, soon.

Thank you, very much.


Here’s what I notice, now, about that email I had sent Marc (which I completely forgot about until yesterday):

  1. I misspelled both his name and my name.
  2. That’s a pretty good introduction.

So, I guess I’m as ready as I’ll ever be for my presentation today.  But, to complete this blog post, I want to show you some photos I’ve taken recently. It’s up to you to decide whether these images fit today’s topic.

IMG_1326 IMG_1330   IMG_1349 IMG_1358 IMG_1365 IMG_1376 IMG_1378 IMG_1379 IMG_1382 IMG_1383 IMG_1388

Before I end this post,  I also want to include two songs that answer the question — “Who Are These People?” — very differently. That is, they reflect how I see people when I feel (1) unsafe and (2) safe.

(“People are Strange” by The Doors found here on YouTube)

(“Shower the People” by James Taylor found here on YouTube)

Thanks to all the people who showed up in this post. I know who they are and I’m grateful I do. I’m also grateful I could shower you with my thoughts, feelings, and experiences, today.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism, taking a risk | Tags: , , , , , | 31 Comments

Day 615: Voices

As I voiced in yesterday’s post, my son Aaron and I had tickets to see Steely Dan in concert last night.

Rather than just using Wikipedia’s voice to explain who Steely Dan is, for this post I’m choosing the voices at Steely Dan’s Facebook page.

Here’s what I just found, there:


Here’s something else I found there, much to my surprise. Somebody voicing this, about the concert:

save your money and buy a cd or dvd. they show up over a half hour late in sweltering weather, don’t do all their hits, fagan off key, songs overpowered by horns and drums, no driving rhythm, walter becker not featured much at all. waste of time.and money, had to sit behind some 40ish losers that spent the whole concert dancing and clapping. i remember steely dan from college. shadow of their former selves. 5 thumbs down

I’m surprised by that person’s voice, because:

  1. I don’t usually read negative reactions to Steely Dan’s impeccably musical performances.
  2. That negative opinion was posted weeks before the concert we saw last night.
  3. I’m wondering who, in the world,  has 5 thumbs.

Now, I COULD have voiced some opinions like that about last night’s concert, because some “facts” of that review are correct, as follows:

#1. Steely Dan started late.  

My guesses about that last night, which I voiced to Aaron, included:

  • An opening act always delays the headliners. Because they were a jazz combo, Bobby Broom and the Organi-sation did not include any singing voices, but their instrumental voicings — playing standards like Superstition and The House of the Rising Son — were extremely enjoyable. Here’s a photo I snapped, while Bobby Broom, etc. were playing, before Steely Dan appeared:


  • An amazing rainstorm — with loud, booming voices of thunder —  passed through the Boston area, just as Aaron and I prepared to leave for the concert, and I voiced my opinion that the storm might delay the start of the concert. It certainly delayed our leaving and freaked out several inhabitants of our home. I tried to capture the strength of the storm and the reactions of one of our cats, but I wasn’t very successful:

IMG_8787 IMG_8802

#2. The weather was sweltering.

It was pretty hot, at first, at the outdoor venue last night. However, the thunderstorm cooled things down, a little, inside the Bank of Blue Hills Pavillion (which has gone through several name changes, in my lifetime). So I was comfortable enough to sing along and otherwise voice how happy I was.

#3. They didn’t do all their hits.

Well, of course they didn’t!  If Steely Dan had played all their hits, I probably wouldn’t have been able to publish this post until tomorrow!  What I’m trying to give voice to, here, is this: Steely Dan have had so many hits and so many great songs over their long career, that last night’s concert would have been too long for me (instead of too short, for that five-thumbed reviewer on their Facebook page) if they had played them all.

Although, come to think of it, the musicianship — including the backup voices — were all so great last night, I might have been thrilled to hear everything, instead of just these songs:

  1. Aja
  2. Hey Nineteen
  3. Black Friday
  4. RIkki Don’t Lose That Number
  5. Show Biz Kids
  6. Time Out of Mind
  7. Green Earrings
  8. Razor Boy
  9. Bodhisattva
  10. Daddy Don’t Live in that New York City No More
  11. Babylon Sisters
  12. a non-Steely Dan blues number, which I had trouble recognizing (damn!) during  which Walter Becker voiced one of his incomparable monologues (which Aaron enjoyed, very much) as he described a dream involving jungle animals and cars, which led into an introduction of all the band members, including the back-up vocalists).
  13. Josie
  14. Peg
  15. My Old School
  16. Reeling in the Years
  17. Kid Charlemagne (encore)

4. I sat directly behind somebody who kept standing up and dancing.


And while I wouldn’t have used the same judgmental language our anonymous reviewer from Facebook voiced, above, I did get annoyed by this, at points throughout the concert.

How did I let go of that annoyance last night, so I could enjoy myself?

  • I voiced my annoyance to Aaron. This included pretending I was going to throw an empty cup of lemonade at that Babylon Sister (whose name might have been Rikki, Peg, or Josie, for all I know) after she stood up for the more than Nineteenth time.
  • I bonded with another sister, sitting directly in back of me, who voiced this quick, positive response to what I said to her: “They always sit directly in front of me!” (which, by the way, includes the cognitive distortions of all-or-nothing thinking and over-generalization). The happy-looking woman, in back of me, replied, “Better THAT than having to be with her!”
  • When Rikki/Peg/Josie/Whatever-her-name-was turned around and looked at the crowd, I demonstrated my displeasure, as best I could, by making faces at her.
  • I decided to embrace and accept what I could not control by taking photos of her, including the one shown above and these, too:

IMG_8826 IMG_8827 IMG_8828 IMG_8829 IMG_8830

As you can see, her male companion (whose name I can’t speculate about, since Steely Dan didn’t sing any songs with guy’s names, last night) (and who didn’t look old enough to be her Daddy From New York City) joined her, near the end of my photo-taking session.

I need to voice this, though:  I joined in with them, soon after that, as we all stood and danced, for the last few numbers.

Let’s see, are there any other points, from the Five-Thumbed Review, above, that I want to challenge?

I guess not.

To sum  up, Aaron, I, and many, many, many other people last night, in the Blue Hills Bank Pavillion, enjoyed a great Steely Dan concert, last night. Was it perfect? No. Is this review perfect?  No.

Is it all good enough?  What do you think?

So, is it time for me to end this post?

Not quite.

I decided yesterday that I would do something here, today, much scarier — to me — than a raging thunderstorm.

I started that process yesterday, soon after I returned home from meeting an old friend at the coffee house of a local library:



… which reminded me of my trip, earlier this year, to Boquete, Panama (see here, here, here, here, here, here, and here).

If you were to give voice to the suspicion, right now, that I’m stalling, you would be correct.

Here’s what I decided to do, yesterday. In order to move forward towards my goal of singing at an Open Mic, I posted a YouTube video of my playing and singing Pretzel Logicsoon after I returned home from the library.

Now, I could voice some excuses (managing expectations) for what you are about to hear (and I could also post more videos in this post, to make this more invisible on WordPress) … but WTF!!!

(you can find that video here, if you really want to)

I just hope no five-thumbed reviewers hear that voice of mine. (But if they do?  So What?!)

Thanks to Steely Dan and all the other excellent musicians and singers we saw and heard last night, to reviewers everywhere (no matter how many thumbs they have), to everybody else who had a voice in creating today’s post, and to you — of course! — for expressing your voice however you choose, here and now.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, quiz, taking a risk | Tags: | 25 Comments

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