Posts Tagged With: blogging

Day 360: Amazing

This post is dedicated to my amazing sister-in-law, Linda, whose birthday is today.

My 360th* post title was inspired by a comment on yesterday’s post by a blogger I admire very much, Shakti Ghosal. The comment concluded with this:

Have fun and continue to be amazing.

As I hope I have demonstrated this year, fun is very important to me (and here’s one post about that).  So I already love what Shakti wrote.  What makes me love that sentence even more, is the use of the word “amazing.”

“Amazing” is one of my favorite words, apparently.**  I use it a lot.  People have pointed that out to me.   And because I can be a rather self-conscious person, when something personal is pointed out to me, I can wonder about it.

Why do I use that word?  What does it mean to me?

And if I’m judging myself, I might ask myself this question, too: Is my frequent use of the word “amazing” … annoying***?

Here’s my answer to that last question:  “Who cares?” (As usual, asking that question helps me let go of self-judgment.  Isn’t that amazing?)

I think the other questions I asked above — the less judgmental ones —  are more interesting.  And I will try to answer them,  in the time I have left before I need to leave for work this morning.

1. Why do I use that word?

I like the sound of it.  It authentically *** reflects that way I feel.  I am amazed, a lot of the time, at how creative, kind, loving, brave, resilient, and hopeful people can be, even after experiencing incredible challenges and set-backs. Often, when I am trying to express my reactions to all that, other words seem inadequate — incapable of capturing the depth of somebody else’s experience and the range of my responses to them.

2.  What does it mean to me?

“Amazing,” when I use it, is almost always a positive word.  I can’t prove that “amazing” is ALWAYS a positive word, when I use it, because I don’t have the tape of everything I’ve said in my entire life.  However, that’s my gut feeling right now: when I use the word “amazing,” it’s a compliment.

It’s true that I am also surprised — amazed —  by negative events. However, I believe, in those circumstances, I use words like “terrible” and “awful.” And, yes, those words are judgmental. Because, as I hope I have conveyed, throughout this year, judgment is human.

And I am human.  And so are you.  And we are connecting, in some way, right now.

Isn’t that amazing?

Okay, it’s time for an image.  Let’s see how Google Images responds to the word “amazing” today.

Aha***!  Google Images responds in many different ways, which does not amaze me. Here are some of the first responses, in order of appearance:

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Image*****

Image******

Image*******  Image********

And before I end, for today, I shall consult my iPhone, too.

As my iPhone just showed me,

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A-Okay!  I have some personal images to show you, too.

I think it’s amazing that I get to do work I love:

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that I can walk around, every day, and see beauty where I live (no matter how clear my vision is that day):

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and that I get to blog here, every day, for readers like you, including those who tell me they would order “Year of Living Non-Judgmentally” merchandise:

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There are many more things that I find amazing, this morning, including

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how some creatures are  not afraid of heights (which is amazing to me, because I am afraid of heights) ….

…  but it’s time to end this post.

Thanks to amazing creatures, readers, writers, walkers, and humans everywhere and — most of all — to you, for visiting today.

____________________

*Actually, it’s the 361st post, but who’s counting?

** Another one of my favorite words is “apparently.”  Another one is “actually.”  I don’t know why so many of my favorite words begin with the letter “A.”

*** Another favorite word.

**** This image was here.

***** This image was here.

****** This image was here.

******* This image was here, today. (I’ve seen this one before.)

******** This image was here.

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

Day 335: Closure

Closure is really on my mind, today, because:

  • It’s the first day of December, which is the last month of the calendar I use.*
  • When I started this blog on January 1, 2013, I committed to blogging once daily for one year.
  • In my life, I am going through some endings (as we all do, all the time, of various sizes and importance).
  • I do group and individual therapy, so closure is my bread and butter.**

I just got lost in my own asterisks, at the end of this post. So, where was I?

Oh, yes.  Closure.

What do I want to tell you about closure, today?

Closure is important, in order to move on.

There is no right or wrong way to do closure.

Closure is challenging, because it brings up old closures, which often relate to losses.

I like to use the term “ending the chapter”, when I talk to people about closure.  Somebody, in my office, recently said that in their culture, they use the term “putting the period on the end of the sentence.” I like that, too.

Here are the punchlines of this post:

I want to put closure on The Year of Living Non-Judgmentally, in a way that honors my original commitment and intent.

However, I (selfishly) want to keep blogging every day. it helps me, tremendously.

So this is my commitment, for the month of December:

I will figure out a way, that’s good enough, to “put the period on the sentence” and “end the chapter” of this Blogging Year.

This will allow me to honor the old and embrace the new, as I move into my next phase of writing here (whatever that may be).

Closure.

Speaking of closure, something feels unfinished to me, here.  What’s missing? Something besides all these words, words, words.

I need a picture, people.

I will now check that place I keep my photos, my calendar, and way too many other things (my smart phone, of course).

Hmmmmmmm ….. Voila!

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It’s the dawn of a new day, looking back from where I live.

That’ll do.

Thanks to those who look back and forwards, smart phones and people everywhere, and to you — of course! — for reading today.

__________________

* Although, that’s not really true, since the calendar I use most frequently is on my smart phone. And while there’s a lot that confuses me about that calendar, I do know that there is neither ending nor beginning there.

** If you don’t recognize that idiom, it means “someone’s basic income; someone’s livelihood—the source of one’s food.” ***

*** Actually, now that I think about it, maybe closure isn’t my bread AND butter. Maybe closure is my bread, and hope is my butter. ****

**** Or vice versa.*****

***** Today, I master****** the art of the self-reflexive footnote.

****** In my mind.

Categories: humor, inspiration, personal growth | Tags: , , , , | 28 Comments

Day 303: What I know/What I don’t know

I, like others I know, tend to focus more on what I DON’T know, rather than what I DO know.

I am trying to change the balance of those thoughts, this year.

It’s only fair, people!

It’s time for lists of (1) what I know and (2) what I don’t know.

Let’s start with the “negative” first (so I can end with the “positive”).

Here are some things I don’t know:

  1. How to get more readership for this blog post.
  2. How to get more people to come to my therapy groups.
  3. The future.

Hmmmm.  That’s an interesting list.  Now that I’ve written those three things down, I feel like commenting on them.

Okay, it’s MY blog post, so I can do whatever I want, right now!

Here are my comments on that list:

  1. I have expressed a wish to do that (get more readers for this blog), throughout this year, but I’ve been ambivalent about doing that, honestly.  If I have TOO many readers, maybe I would feel overwhelmed.  And maybe this blog isn’t good enough to have a kashmillion readers.
  2. I have expressed a wish to do that (get more members for my groups), throughout this year, but I’ve been ambivalent about doing that, honestly. If I have TOO many people in my groups, maybe I would feel overwhelmed. And maybe the groups aren’t good enough to have dozens of participants.
  3. It’s true that I don’t know the future.  I wish I could remember THAT more often.

Okay, now it’s time for a list of some things I DO know (this morning):

  1. I could deal with more readers for this blog.  While that seems like I’m predicting the future, I’m basing that on this fact: I’ve been able to deal with much more difficult things, so far in my life.
  2. I could deal with more participants in my groups.  While that seems like I’m predicting the future, I’m basing that on this fact: I’ve been able to deal with much more difficult things, so far in my life.
  3. It will be very cool, for me and other Red Sox fans, if the Red Sox win this World Series at home, because that is an event that has not happened since 1918 (which is a very long time ago).

Now that I’ve done all those lists, I have another comment on what I’ve written so far.

While I may fear that what I do — here, in the blog-o-sphere and there, in the real-life-o-sphere — isn’t good enough, on some level, I KNOW it IS.

Okay!

It’s time for me to post a few more things I know, as a set-up a photo I took yesterday.

I know:

  1. It’s getting colder around here.
  2. People want those they love to keep warm (and safe, in general).
  3. Some things that are very different from us  — out there in the real-life-o-sphere — have feelings much like we do.

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It’s time to end this post, so I can have another day where I DO know some things,  DON’T know some other things, and — in some cases — know more than I think I know.

Thanks to all of you, for reading today.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Day 301: Bearing up

Yesterday, I met my old friend Lawry in Harvard Square, Cambridge, for brunch, with some members of his family.

It was great to see everybody.  I loved talking to Lawry, his wife, his daughter, his sister, his brother, and his brother’s wife.

It was particularly special for me to spend time with them, because I had been feeling some anxiety, over the weekend, about my health (and some about the Boston Red Sox, too).

And it was wonderful to be back in Harvard Square. (See “What’s the problem?” and “Random Images (paired)“, two earlier posts, for more adventures in Harvard Square.)

Here’s a little photo essay, about my time in Harvard Square yesterday.

A Little Photo Essay

by Ann

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On my way to meet Lawry and his family for brunch, I saw this amazing tree.  I had to stop and take a picture. Thank you, tree.

It was another beautiful autumn day. Those of us who live in the Greater Boston area have been remarking, this year, about how friggin’ great the fall weather has been.  Those of us who dread the onset of winter in the Greater Boston area have been wondering whether this is a good or bad omen about how painful it’s going to be, too soon. (Actually, I can only speak for my own thoughts about this.)

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Moments after  I took that first shot of the tree,  I had to stop and take the above photo. Why?  It’s a sign about a group, people!

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Here’s a closer shot of the sign (and some of the flags) that you can see in the background of the previous photo.

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As I said, it was a beautiful day. Look at those trees and that sky.

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Another sign in front of the church. I snapped this, as a is Note To Self:  “Ann, make sure you sing more (especially as the cold and dark descend)!”

After I took that photo, I stopped dilly-dallying, and focused on getting to brunch with Lawry and his family.

I didn’t have any photos of Lawry or his family members to show you today, because I was too focused on interacting with each of them, in the moment. Right now, I wish I had some visual proof of how great they all are, but you’ll just have to take my word for it.

After brunch, I went to Urban Outfitters because I needed a scarf and gloves — that is, gear for winter,  coming too soon to a location near me.

And …  I DID find a great scarf and some colorful gloves there, which definitely cheered me up. (My philosophy: If I’m going to be cold, I might as well look cool.)

While I was shopping  in the store, I couldn’t help but notice this:

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I had never seen anything quite like THAT.  I’ve noticed lots of children — and adults — wearing animal hats in these parts, but a full-bear winter coat?  I was very intrigued, but assumed it was most likely just for display. (I mean, it’s almost Halloween, for heaven’s sake.)

However, when I was in line to pay for my merchandise, I noticed that the people in front of me — a woman and her son —  had just bought one of those bear coats, which was being stuffed into a bag. I blurted out, “Wow!  You got one of those!  Can I see it?”

The woman paused, but then kindly took it out of the bag, to show me. She told me it was for her son, Asa, who was a student at Boston College. “Will you try it on for me?” I asked Asa, as I told them both about this blog.

This was Asa’s reply:

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How cool is THAT?

Now it’s a day later, and I’m still feeling better.

Many thanks to Asa and his mother, Lawry and his family, Christ Church Cambridge, Urban Outfitters, all things that make life bearable, and to you, of course, for reading today.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Day 299: Why haven’t I published anything (outside of here)?

This morning, I am posing questions about where I am in my life, right now.

I have enough expertise and skill to be a published author. Why haven’t I made that happen, so far in my life?

What’s gotten in the way of that?

Here are some things I can think of:

  1. Doubts about my (previously mentioned) expertise and skill.
  2. My ability to think of a kashmillion things I would rather be doing other than writing something for publication.
  3. Concern (and perhaps some other feelings) that other people would  have the control to accept or reject something that was important to me (and what makes THEM such friggin’ experts, anyway?!??)
  4. My short attention span. (Look!  It’s a baby wolf!)

baby_wolf_cub-600x618

Where was I?

Oh, yes. I was asking the question:

Why haven’t I published anything, so far in my life?

Oh, I wanted to state the obvious, at this point.  I’m not counting what I’ve published here, at WordPress. Because if I did, I’ve published almost 300 times.

I’m discounting that.

Hmmmm. I’m wondering if I’m discounting anything else?

Because, recent data suggests that I can forget things that I’ve done.  By “recent data,” I am referring to my blog post, two days ago, where I forgot that I had actually taken a photo of Carl Yastrzemski, when I was at the 1st game of the World Series, at Boston’s Friendly Fenway Park.

So, let’s see. have I published anything, outside of  these blog posts?

Hmmm. I guess you could say I have.

About 20 years ago, when I was in Social Work school, I wrote a paper about how people with disabilities were portrayed in the media. I interviewed people from a local chapter of (I believe) the National Spinal Cord Injury Association, and they asked if they could publish a version of my paper in their national publication. Which they did.

And in years past, if you Googled my name, that article appeared. But I can’t find it now, to check my facts (and support my bragging).

So maybe I’ll see if I can find that article, later.

But in the meantime, it’s a beautiful day!

Which means, I would like to wrap this post up.

Before I do, here’s what feels left undone.

I want to ask  myself another question:

Do I WANT to publish (or do I just think I SHOULD publish)?  (Psssst!  The word “should” can indicate a cognitive distortion.)

Hold on, I’m thinking ….

Here’s the answer.

I do want to publish, if it’s something:

  1. I feel passionately about, and
  2. I think would be helpful to share with others.

So what might that topic be?

I’m interested in communication of all kinds, verbal and nonverbal. Maybe I should write a paper on something like this:

The people in the following image (from a national TV broadcast) are having an experience that most would consider joyful:

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That is, they are attending a World Series Game, where their home team is leading by a score of 8-1, one strike away from victory.  What emotions are they communicating, non-verbally? What are the factors influencing those non-verbal communications, from the stand-point of those sending AND receiving the communications?

That’s definitely an interesting topic.

However, I can think of another topic, that’s probably a better fit for the two criteria I listed above: The therapy groups that I have created and facilitate, where I work.

So I would like to take steps to publish, about those.

One last thing, before I end this post: I believe it helps, once you have identified a goal, to make a commitment for action, ideally witnessed by others.

Therefore, I hereby commit, to my group of WordPress readers, that I will take a measurable step, by the end of this year, to publish about those therapy groups.

Okay!

Thanks to  Dan Shaughnessy (the author of “One Strike Away: The Story of the 1986 Red Sox”), thatcutesite.com,  baby wolves (and other distractions), the National Spinal Cord Injury Association, verbal and non-verbal communicators everywhere, and to you — of course! — for witnessing today.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Day 291: Introducing a New Member/Cat to a Group/Household

This is one of those posts, dear readers, where I try to be clever, with a topic that applies to more than one situation.

As a group therapist, I have some wisdom about effective ways to introduce new members into established groups. As a cat owner, I am now dealing with the experience of introducing a new cat into a household that includes one other cat.

So let’s see how I do, today, being clever (I wish) and helpful (I hope).

Here we go ….

Ann’s Helpful Tips for

Introducing a New Cat/Group Member

into an Established Household/Group

Phew!  Even the title was exhausting. Nevertheless, let’s continue ….

Tip #1.  Be respectful of the differences in each member’s/cat’s experience of the situation.

A group member/cat who is familiar with the group/household is going to be more comfortable. A new member/cat is going to be less comfortable and (we might assume) more anxious in the group/household.

Therefore, it is helpful to skillfully leave room for each member/cat  — new and  old —  to be where he/she/it needs to be.

I don’t know, readers.  This post might be too ambitious/complicated.  What do you think?

Maybe I should quit while I’m ahead.

The best I can do, right now,  is to provide an image that, somehow, helpfully illustrates something in this blog post.

I hope this works (fingers crossed):

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Thanks to new (and established) cats and group members, everywhere. And special thanks to you, for visiting today.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Day 289: Sometimes, it just helps to know you’re not alone

Two confessions, this morning:

  1. Sometimes, I confuse words for things. For example,  I’ll say “January” when I mean “July.”  I wonder if people think —  when I do that — that I am confused about what time of year it is.  THAT could be embarrassing.
  2. Sometimes, I procrastinate making changes. That can feel embarrassing, too.

So it helps when I realize that I’m not alone in these imperfections. Especially when I realize that I am joined by a person — or an establishment — that I respect.

Therefore, I was pleased to see this sign, this past October weekend, in front of one of my favorite local restaurants.

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Besides the headline, I want to point out some other things about that sign:

  1. It’s located in the eastern United States (not in Australia or any other place south of the equator).
  2. It uses one of my favorite words (“yummy”).
  3. It concludes with something I’ve considered using more of, lately (an emoticon).

If you don’t like emoticons, insert your own preferred smiling image, here, to conclude.

Wait!  Before I do end today’s blog post, I’d like to present some of MY preferred smiling images (from previous posts, this year):

photo (28)photo (13)IMG_0206IMG_0329IMG_0256IMG_0499IMG_0524IMG_0609IMG_0611IMG_0762IMG_0769adams-rib-poster3IMG_1291photo (51)IMG_0877IMG_0561Micah kickphoto (56)IMG_1423IMG_1433IMG_0084IMG_1151IMG_0093IMG_1162

There’s more, but it’s time for me to end this post, people!

Thanks to Patou Thai Restaurant, people confused in any way by seasonal change, procrastinators (and anti-crastinators, if such people exist), smilers everywhere, and to you, of course, for reading today.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Day 258: All of you is lovable

All of you is lovable.

What does that mean?

All the different parts of you are lovable.

What does THAT mean?

I mean that all the things that make up you, in the moment, are lovable.  That includes all your feelings — even the ones you judge or disown (like fear, perhaps, or anger, or sadness). That includes all your body parts — even the ones you may not like so much.

Lots of things, in the past — bad and good — have contributed to what you are in this moment. But what you are, right now, is lovable.

Does that mean that you feel loved, or are loved?

I don’t know.

But I know that you are lovable.

All of you.

How do I know?

I’m very smart.

How can I prove that to you?

Read my friggin’ posts, people!

Thanks to humility, pride, and all the other parts of being human. And thanks to lovable you, for reading today.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Day 216: Putting worries away.

A few days ago, I blogged about creating a Worry Box.

Today, for the first time, I decided to use it.

I woke up with too many worries this morning.

So many worries, I didn’t even know what I was really worrying about.

I could guess why I’m worrying this morning.

But why wait? Let’s use the Worry Box!

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Step 1: Cut up pieces of blank worry paper.

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Step 2: Write down a worry.

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Step 3: Put the worry in the box.

Repeat Steps 2 – 3, as needed:

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Which leads us to the last step:

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Step 4: Close the Worry Box.

Yay!

Thanks to all of you worriers/warriors who are reading today. May all your worries be contained, put away, and groundless, as you deserve.

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

Day 215: Bragging, Fear of Envy, and Healing

In my family, growing up, there was a value placed on humility.

Also, there was a fear of reprisal for the Sin of bragging.

I heard, around my house,  many times, that if one bragged, retribution could be swift — from supernatural sources or from my fellow human beings. And I grew up with some fear about envy directed towards me.

I also felt safe enough to feel “full of myself” as I grew.

I have a particular memory, at age seven, of balancing on a short, wrought-iron railing in my backyard.

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That’s not the actual railing from my backyard. Somehow, though, that captures the “feel” of my memory (even though that Google Image shows the winter, not the beautiful spring day of my memory).

In that wonderful memory,  when I was seven, I was balancing on the wrought-iron railing in my backyard, and thinking, for the first time, thoughts like these:

“Hey!  I can do this!

“I am whole.”

“I am great.”

It’s hard to capture that memory in words, because it’s my first memory of a certain feeling. In retrospect, using my “clinical lens” as a psychotherapist, I would now say those were my first feelings of mastery.  My first feelings of self esteem, as a young child.

That moment was so wonderful, that I can remember it, clearly, fifty three years later.

I believe that there were probably many reasons why I had those feelings, that day. Here’s one reason, I’m speculating now: I must have felt loved, by people I also loved.

However, like I mentioned before, there was also fear of reprisal, in my home, for feeling too full of yourself. And I did feel very full of myself, that fine spring day, balancing on a short wrought-iron railing in the backyard.

And, sure enough, there were some “reprisals” from the universe.  Before much time had passed, after that wonderful spring day, I was spending a lot of time, ill, in hospital beds, separated from the people who loved me.

But there were a couple of people, in those hospitals, who also loved me (enough), to help me feel safe (enough). That’s what I believe, right now.

As a result, I may have been damaged by those scary hospital experiences, but I didn’t completely lose that wholeness I had felt, while balancing on that wrought-iron fence in the backyard.

I may have lost track of that wholeness and self-esteem, at times. But it was always there, waiting for me to find it again.

i was wounded, but not shattered. And wounds can heal.

A therapist once gave me a poem, which included a line about a vase that had been broken and glued back together again.  I can’t remember the poem or the line, but I remember the important “points” of that poem: The vase was whole again, in a new way. And the vase was strongest,  at the mended join.

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It doesn’t feel that way, sometimes. I can feel most vulnerable, most at risk of shattering, at those scarred and mending places. And when I feel more vulnerable, I can be more afraid of those Old-Time Scary Things: Envy from other people and from the universe at large.

Which can keep me “playing small,” at times. Which can prevent me from bragging. Which can prevent me from climbing up and saying to myself or others:

“Hey! I can do this!”

“I am whole.”

“I am great.”

Despite that fear, I am going to take a risk today, and quote some co-workers who reviewed their experience of working with me, last week. (All quotes are anonymous, of course, and each person stated comfort with these quotes being shared.)

(Taking a deep breath, because this DOES feel scary.)

Okay, here are some quotes:

Working with Ann has been very rewarding.

With her emphasis on forming and maintaining connections, she is highly successful in forging relationships with patients and staff alike, and with the strength of her conviction that everyone has valuable resources to share with others, she inspires hope and bolsters self esteem.

Ann is exceedingly approachable and collaborative. Always upbeat and very devoted to her work and helping other providers and patients alike.

I am very happy to work with Ann. She is a knowledgeable and compassionate therapist.

I love teaming with Ann Koplow and hope we continue our partnership.

Working with Ann has been a great experience for me. She is always open to my questions and eager to help. Her energy and enthusiasm raise the spirits of her colleagues. She is most certainly a trusted partner and collaborator in the care of our patients. My patients who have been able to do therapy with Ann give me only positive feedback.

Yikes, those are good reviews.

So what am I afraid of, now? That perhaps sharing those might be alienating to some people. That perhaps my “bragging” will cause some retribution against me, in some way.

However, while I have witnessed the backlash of envy (from people or the universe), which has fueled those old fears,  I have also witnessed something quite different, too:

The mutual power of healing.

That is, when one person feels healed in a group — which often involves accepting positive, authentic feedback from others — the other people seem to heal, a little, too. I have seen smiles on people’s faces when somebody in their midst “brags” about an accomplishment. Or when somebody gets authentic, heart-felt compliments from other people in the group.

Another point:  even if envy might scare me sometime, it’s just another human and natural emotion. And as I wrote about yesterday, human emotions are like the weather: passing through, soon to be replaced by something else. And while the weather (and envy) might kill some people,  more often than not, it does not.

I want to end this post with another quote: a poem by the Persian poet, Rumi. I love this poem and have used it with many other people, over the years. One reason I want to quote this poem today?  Because of something I witnessed yesterday in the waiting room where I work: A previously depressed woman, born in Iran, grinning from ear to ear, “bragging” about some recent accomplishments, and  blowing a kiss to her old therapist, who happened to be walking by.

GUEST HOUSE

by Rumi

This being human is a guest house
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

My deepest thanks to Rumi, to people I’ve worked with over the years, to the wonderful blog where I found that picture of the vase, and to all the people, out there, who have felt envious of or healed by the “bragging” of others.

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