Day 2452: Be prepared to stop

Yesterday, on the first day of my two-week vacation, I was prepared to stop and  to appreciate this sign in Beverly, Massachusetts, USA.

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Be prepared to

  • stop,
  • look,
  • listen,
  • think,
  • feel,
  • connect,
  • change,
  • move on, and
  • encounter lots of photos from the South and the North shores of Boston.

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Be prepared to stop while you’re in the middle of creating a blog post in order to go to the dentist and then take your cat to the vet because, after all, what else should you be doing on your vacation?

Be prepared to stop, take a breath, and share the rest of your photos from yesterday:

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Be prepared to stop and tell me what photos you liked best and why.

Be prepared to stop and enjoy these tunes by the Zombies, stopping and appearing soon at the Cabot in Beverly.

I’m always prepared to stop and express my thanks to those who help me create these daily blog posts and to all those who read them, including you!

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Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Day 2451: In memory of my mother

Today is the 11th anniversary of my late mother’s passing, according to the lunar Hebrew calendar AND the solar Gregorian calendar. To honor her memory, I lit a Yahrzeit candle:

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This is the obituary of my mother that’s still online:

Louise (Sulkin) Koplow

Entered into rest August 12 at the age of 90 years, of Peabody, formerly of Lynn & Swampscott. Beloved wife of the late Aaron Koplow. Devoted mother of Ellen Koplow of Medford & Ann Koplow of Brighton. Cherished grandmother of Aaron David Fairbanks of Brighton. Loving sister of the late Emma Gordon, Elizabeth Rich, Esther Sulkin, Beatrice Plane, Ernest & Louis Sulkin. Dear aunt of many nieces, nephews, grand nieces, grand nephews & their families. She also leaves a large group of friends that she has known for decades. Services at Stanetsky-Hymanson Memorial Chapel, 10 Vinnin Street, SALEM/SWAMPSCOTT line on Thursday, Aug. 14 at 1:00 p.m. Interment at Cong. Ahabat Shalom Memorial Park, Danvers. Memorial week through Tuesday, August 19, daily from 2-5pm and 7-9pm at Woodbridge Assisted Living, 240 Lynnfield St, Peabody. In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy may be made in her memory to the American Heart Assoc., 20 Speen St., Framingham, MA 01701.

I miss my mother, who had a huge influence on me, every day.  As the years go by, I have more “conversations” with her in my head. I can still hear her voice, saying my name, with a mixture of love, concern, worry, and anticipation.  Here are other things I can hear her say, in her special voice:

Everything worth doing is worth doing well.

There’s a place for everything and everything in its place.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

I can also hear her infectious laugh and see her dancing and clapping at holidays and celebrations.  She loved my father’s sense of humor  but she would kick him under the table when she thought he had gone too far with a teasing joke.  She was thoughtful, kind, and welcoming to all.  She didn’t like surprises, but she appreciated the wedding anniversary surprise party my sister organized for our parents. My mother loved living near the ocean and she spent a lot of time in the sun on the beach.

My mother was very clean and neat and she did not want a pet in our house.  However, after my first heart surgery at age 10, she let me get my heart’s desire — a kitty.  She loved that cat, too, and after Tuffy died at age 13, my mother told me she saw a bird in the yard  she thought was Tuffy reincarnated.  Although reincarnation didn’t really fit in with the Orthodox Jewish beliefs my mother adopted after she married my father, I think that reflected how she chose to grieve — to believe that a beloved spirit still existed.  Like my mother did with Tuffy,  I see my mother in other beings, everywhere.

Yesterday, consciously or unconsciously, I took many photos to fit today’s post.

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Here’s a favorite photo of my mother:

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Here‘s a song that my father sang to my mother on another anniversary celebration:

Thanks to my mother, to all who loved her, and to you — of course! — for reading this post, today.

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Categories: in memoriam, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 32 Comments

Day 2450: Don’t worry, be _appy

Don’t worry, be happy, my dentist suggested to me yesterday, when I was worrying about having swallowed a loose dental crown.

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It’s easy for me to be happy and to not worry when I have such a wonderful dentist.

Don’t worry, be happy that I have more photos from yesterday.

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Don’t worry, be happy wearing whatever you like (especially when you’re on vacation) and spending time with felines and humans you love.

Last night, when Rachmaninoff’s 1st symphony came on the radio, Michael said he thought Rachmaninoff could be “sappy.”  Don’t worry, be sappy, Rachmaninoff.

Don’t worry, I’ll be snappy ending this post with my usual gratitude for all who help me create this daily blog and — of course! — for YOU.

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

Day 2449: This & That

I’m on vacation this week & next!

During my vacation I’ll be

  • staying at home & traveling overseas,
  • taking Oscar & Harley to the vet,
  • seeing a lawyer & changing my will,
  • attending the Edinburgh Fringe Festival & performing there,
  • doing this & doing that.

I noticed this & that yesterday:

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The Stop & Shop and this & that appear in this song by Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers:

 

When I feel great, I fear that something bad will follow. Good things & bad things happen, but not necessarily in that order.

 

Last night, when I was feeling great about this week & next, that crown fell off.  My dentist — who is wonderful & enjoying a much earned vacation in Florida — reassured me & texted another dentist at Beacon Hill Dental Associates.  On Tuesday, I’ll take the cats to the vet & see that dentist.

Are you reading & commenting today?

Thanks & more thanks to all who helped me create today’s post & to you (including my wonderful dentist!) for reading, here & now.

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

Day 2448: here comes trouble.

Here comes a photo of the socks I wore to work yesterday:

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Here comes an exercise we took the trouble to do in last night’s Coping and Healing group:

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Here comes more explanation of that exercise — somebody in the group said that listing three positive things about themselves every day helped reduce symptoms of troubling depression and self-judgment.  I thought it would be good for each of us in the group to take the trouble to create that kind of list.  Despite past troubles bragging about myself, I decided to list more than three positive things about myself and I encouraged the other group participants to do the same for themselves, recognizing that many people have trouble acknowledging positive things, especially when they are depressed. I had a little trouble listing eight  positive things about myself because of the messages about modesty in my family of origin.  However, I also went to the trouble of “stealing” the positive things other people said about themselves, if those applied to me also.

Here comes my suggestion for you: please take the trouble to list three or more positive things about yourself in the comments section below.

Here comes the rest of my photos from yesterday.

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Here comes troubling news : acclaimed songwriter/musician/poet David Berman — who struggled with depression and substance abuse — died this week at age 52.

No matter what trouble comes — including darkness and cold — the best we can do is to keep coming together.

Here comes my gratitude for all who help me create these daily posts and for you — of course! — for taking the trouble to read them.

 

Categories: group therapy, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 31 Comments

Day 2447: Empathy, again

Yesterday, in my therapy group, I wrote the word “empathy” twice on the white board.

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I wrote “empathy” twice because I heard and experienced so much of it from the group participants. I especially noted and appreciated it because I hear and experience so little empathy, these days,  from world leaders.

Why do the participants in a therapy group seem to have so much more empathy than world leaders?

Is it because “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”?

Is it because people who have come together to cope, heal, support, and learn from each other naturally have more empathy?

What does your empathy tell you about that?

Here’s a definition of empathy, again:

em·pa·thy
/ˈempəTHē/

noun
the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
synonyms: affinity with, rapport with, sympathy with, understanding of, sensitivity toward, sensibility to, identification with, awareness of, fellowship with, fellow feeling for, like-mindedness, togetherness, closeness to
“what is really important about learning a language is learning empathy for another culture”

Here are some quotes about empathy:

Empathy is really the opposite of spiritual meanness. It’s the capacity to understand that every war is won and lost.  And that someone’s pain is as meaningful as your own.  — Barbara Kingsolver.

Sympathy relies on a common experience. If you’re clumsy, you might have sympathy for others who tend to bump into things. Empathy, on the other hand, is the ability to understand another person’s feelings even if you’ve never experienced them yourself. —  Joe Gebbia

A prerequisite to empathy is just paying attention to the person in pain.  — Daniel Goleman

Human nature is complex.  Even if we do have inclinations towards violence, we also have inclination to empathy, to cooperation, to self-control.  — Steven Pinker

Empathy begins with understanding life from another person’s perspective. Nobody has an objective experience of reality.  It’s all through our own individual prisms.  — Sterling K. Brown

Empathy is the latest code word for liberal activism, for treating the Constitution as malleable clay to be kneaded and molded in whatever form justices want. It represents an expansive view of the judiciary in which courts create policy that couldn’t pass the legislative branch or, if it did, would create voter backlash.  — Karl Rove

When you show deep empathy towards others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That’s when you can get more creative in solving problems. — Stephen Covey

The struggle of my life created empathy — I could relate to pain, being abandoned, having people not love me. — Oprah Winfrey

Empathy is the starting point  for creating a community and taking action. It’s the impetus for creating change. — Max Carver

Empathy is a tool for building people into groups, for allowing us to function as more than self-obsessed individuals.  — Neil Gaiman

 

Is there empathy in my other photos from yesterday?

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Which of those photos represents empathy best, to you?

For me, it’s this one:

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Or maybe this one:

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If necessity is the mother of invention, what is empathy?  Here’s “Call Any Vegetable” from Just Another Band from L.A. by the Mothers of Invention:

Here‘s another version of “Call Any Vegetable”:

Any empathy in this quote from Frank Zappa, the leader of the Mothers of Invention?

The mind is like a parachute.  It doesn’t work if it’s not open.

I look forward to the empathy in your comments, below.

Empathic thanks to all who helped me create today’s post and — of course! — to YOU.

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Categories: definition, group therapy, personal growth, photojournalism, quotes | Tags: , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Day 2446: Recurring dreams

One of my recurring dreams is to have a show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.  Much to my amazement, that will be occurring on August 19 at 13:00 (1 PM) at the Natural Food Kafe basement room. I only have one show this year, but I’m hoping the show will be recurring next year.

My show — “Group ‘Therapy’ with Ann” — is loosely based on the recurring groups that I do five times a week at work. At this point, I’m staying up and having dreams about how to make that work well  since there are new and non-recurring elements I’ve never dealt with before, including:

  • it’s about half the time of my usual groups,
  • I don’t know how many people will show up,
  • several of the participants will be total strangers to me, and
  • it’s a show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival!

I know that I will be using some recurring elements of my real groups, like mindfulness and a check-in where everybody will have the space and time to speak uninterrupted.  In  my recurring groups, I always introduce the check-in by saying what I’m curious about in the moment, as a way to suggest what people might want to share. For the purposes of my Edinburgh show, I’m planning on curiously asking people:

  • why they came to the show,
  • how they would introduce themselves,
  • something we might not guess about them,
  • their experience in the moment,
  • what keeps them up at night,
  • what keeps them going,
  • a favorite saying and/or song, and
  • a recurring or vivid dream they’ve had.

In my check-in, I plan on singing one of my original songs and also sharing a recurring dream I have, about trying to call somebody on the phone and not getting through.

Last night, what kept me up was my indecision, at this point, about what to do at the mid-point of the show.  When I finally fell asleep, I had my recurring dream (which hasn’t occurred in years).

In my dream last night, I was trying to call Michael on my cell phone. It was incredibly difficult, because of new changes to the phone, which I couldn’t figure out.  People were trying to help me connect to him,  but nothing was working.  Eventually, I attempted the tried-and-true method of saying to Siri, “Call Michael!”  At that moment, Michael showed up. I was very relieved to see him,  but it was too late for me to get to an important appointment. (The dream had other non-recurring elements,  including a Trump supporter who kept trying to steal one of my boots as I was putting it on, but never mind.)

Do you have a recurring dream?  Would you talk about it if you came to my show? Actually, it would be a dream for me if any of my readers showed up at my Fringe show, no matter what they decided to share.

Certain recurring dreams and themes show up in my photos.  Can you spot any today?

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Here’s the original song I’m going to sing during my check-in, which has had recurring appearances in this blog:

I have a recurring dream about people leaving comments, and they often do!

Recurring thanks to all who help me create this daily recurring blog, including you!

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Categories: group therapy, original song, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Day 2445: Hard to describe

It’s hard to describe

  • what’s going on in the world,
  • what’s going on inside,
  • values,
  • moods,
  • feelings,
  • body experiences,
  • what you’re thinking,
  • what other people are thinking,
  • what’s important,
  • love,
  • hope,
  • grief,
  • conflict,
  • connection,
  • anxiety,
  • depression,
  • stress,
  • problems,
  • solutions,
  • the past,
  • the future,
  • the present, and
  • many other things.

And yet, I try to describe what’s hard to describe here, every day, with words and pictures.

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It’s hard to describe how much it helps me to

  • blog,
  • eat healthy meals prepared with love, and
  • look for what’s beautiful in the world.

Here‘s “How Hard to Describe What I Am” by 13th-century Persian poet Rumi:

What’s hard to describe, for you?  I hope you describe it in a comment, below.

The depths of my gratitude for all who help me create these posts and all who read them (including you) may be hard to describe, but here goes:

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Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Day 2444: How many lives do we have?

How many lives do we have?

I assume each of us has only one life.  So what do we each want to do with our one, precious life?  What do we want to do to preserve the precious, one life of others?

This past weekend in the USA too too many people lost their one lives because of gun violence. I am going to spend the rest of my one life doing whatever I can to stop the madness of such easy access to assault weapons — weapons designed to end as many lives as possible as quickly as possible.

This weekend, when so many lives were lost,  I spent my one life with those I love doing what I love — the priority for every single day of my one precious life.

How many photos do we have?

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Because I don’t have nine lives,  I don’t smoke and I try to live healthy.   I owe it to myself and to those who love me.

When I search YouTube for “How Many Lives Do We Have?” I find this:

How many thoughts and feelings do you have, here and now?  I look forward to reading every one of my readers’ comments.

How much gratitude do I have for those who helped me create this post and for you?

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

Day 2443: Mass shootings

This morning, I looked at the news with dread to find out more information about the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas.  After I found out more horrible details about that one, I saw that there had been another mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio.

For years, many people have presented credible cases on ways to reduce gun violence in the United States and polls indicate that most Americans agree with these changes.

And yet, the mass shootings go on.

What can we do?

This is what I do:

  • I write about it in my blog (even when it’s too much to process).
  • I ask for contributions to Everytown for Gun Safety on my birthday and today.
  • I vote for people who share my views about gun violence.
  • I support my son in attending a University outside of the United States, partly because I believe he is safer there.
  • I encourage the acceptance and love of the different parts of each human being and the different parts of the human race.

I also distract myself from this horrific violence in my country by taking photos of other things.

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It’s an uphill climb to find a solution for uncontrolled violence; I hope we find it fast.

Here’s “Mass Shootings: When words fail”  featuring Steve Hartman and The Onion:

 

Thanks to all who helped me create today’s blog post and — of course — to you, for being here, now.

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

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