Posts Tagged With: Boston Marathon bombings

Day 2344: Not sure?

Not sure

  • what to do,
  • what to think,
  • what to feel, or
  • where today’s blog post title is coming from?

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I’m not sure about a lot of things,  but I sure appreciate clear instructions about what to do when I’m not sure (like when I’m having another one of those days and I’m not sure exactly where to place the different remnants from my lunch in the hospital cafeteria).

Not sure about the definition of “sure”?

sure
/SHo͝or/
adjective

1. confident in what one thinks or knows; having no doubt that one is right.
“I’m sure I’ve seen that dress before”
synonyms: certain, positive, convinced, definite, confident, decided, assured, secure, satisfied, persuaded, easy in one’s mind, free from doubt

adverb

INFORMAL•NORTH AMERICAN
1.certainly (used for emphasis).
“Texas sure was a great place to grow up”

I’m not sure whether that’s the best definition of “sure”  on the internet, but I put it here anyway.

Not sure about any of my other photos from yesterday?

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Michael was not sure if our recently repaired entry-way roof was supposed to look like that, so he called the roofer, who sure came over fast last night to respond to our concerns.

JAGMAC  — a group of six siblings from Baltimore — is  “Not Sure.”

Not sure about anything, here and now? I’d sure like to know about it.

I’m not sure how to express my gratitude to all who helped me create today’s post and — of course! —  to YOU, but I’ll put this here.

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

Day 1718: Spend time with people you love

Yesterday, I found out that two people I love will be leaving earlier than I wish. I’m resolving to spend as much time as possible with them whenever we can.

I often think of this line from Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods:

Sometimes people leave you halfway through the wood

because that’s inevitable, isn’t it?  Here are other  lines from that song:

Hard to see the light now

Just don’t let it go.

Things will come out right now

We can make it so.

Here‘s that song performed by Bernadette Peters, whom I love:

 

Let’s spend time with the photos I took yesterday.

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Krystle Campbell left us too soon. Again, I resolve to spend time with people I love.

As always, I appreciate spending time with people I love on WordPress. Thanks to all who helped me create this post and to you — of course! — for visiting, here and now.

 

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

Day 120: A walk down Boylston Street, Boston, on April 29, 2013

Yesterday, after I parked my car and was about to walk to work, I realized I had two hours before I had any appointments. Because my parking garage was close enough, I spontaneously decided to walk, in the opposite direction, down Boylston Street in Boston, towards the location of the Marathon bombings.

Two days before, Boylston Street was re-opened to traffic and to business. And as was reported, many people showed up that day, to walk down the street.

I don’t know why everybody went there on Saturday. I assume that some of them were — like me — long-time Boston residents, feeling ready for another way to heal, to proceed towards a new sense of “normalcy.”

I felt ready enough, yesterday morning, to go there (perhaps partly because of the blog post I had just written).

The rest of this post is going to be a photo essay, as I show you that walk I took yesterday morning down Boylston Street, through the familiar, through my fears and sadness about how the familiar had changed, and back again.

I am probably going to write more about the familiar, and less about the unfamiliar.

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The above is the first photo I took yesterday morning.

I’m walking down Ipswich Street, approaching Boylston Street. The streets that intersect Boylston are alphabetical, going from Arlington to Ipswich. So, according to my calculations, I am now about 4.5 blocks away from the finish Line of the Marathon (which is located between Dartmouth and Exeter Street).

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This was the second photo I took, and it was the first location I captured on Boylston Street, itself. This is near the corner of Ipswich and Boylston, very close to that first picture, above. (You can actually see the red Berklee flag in the first picture).

I have great associations with Berklee College of Music. First of all, I love jazz. It’s been my favorite genre of music since I was 13 years old. Also, I went to Berklee (then called Berklee School of Music) for two summer programs, when I was 15 and 16 years old. Here’s another reason I have great memories of Berklee: in my previous career (in advertising and corporate video), my business partner, Jonathan, and I had the wonderful experience (in the 1990’s) of creating the promotional video for Berklee, which was sent to prospective applicants to the school. Making that video, taping hours of incredible jazz playing by faculty and students, and interviewing the people there, who all were teaching or learning something they loved, was such a fabulous experience.

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This is a very cool building, a block down Boylston Street. These are my foremost associations/memories with this building — (1) the building won a big architectural prize a while ago, (2) there used to be a Tower Records there, and (3) I got to meet my Guitar Hero, Pat Metheny, there (he was signing albums at the Tower Records) and I got to tell him how much I appreciated him.

Looking at this picture this morning reminds me that Boston is filled with exceptions to every rule (it also reminds me that I am more distracted than usual, these days). I already told you that the streets that intersect Boylston go alphabetically from A to I (Arlington, Berkeley, Clarendon, Dartmouth, Exeter, Fairfield, Gloucester, Hereford, and Ipswich) and I used that rule to calculate my distance above. Wrong! This building is at the corner of Boylston and Massachusetts Avenue (a main thoroughfare through Boston and the suburbs of Cambridge, Arlington,and Lexington) , which is a non-alphabetical interruption between Ipswich and Gloucester. (Boston: Home of Confusing Exceptions to Rules.)

So revising my estimate — which was based on rules but is now based on reality — at this point I am about 4.5 blocks away from the finish line.

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It’s been a little while since I’ve walked down this stretch of Boylston (between Mass Ave and Gloucester) and I had never seen this before, so I wanted to take a picture of it. Again, I heart Berklee.

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I am still between Mass Ave and Gloucester. I’ve always noticed this parking garage, from when I first went to Berklee. The fence in the foreground indicates that I am crossing over the Mass Pike. I might mildly resent that this enormous fence gets in the way of my taking a better picture, but I feel protected (since I am sometimes afraid of heights and falling, and I never feel scared walking over the Mass Pike, thanks to this fence).

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This was my first encounter with obvious evidence of the events of April 15. I am not going to say much about these images, but just present them to you. The above is the fire station on Boylston. It’s very close to the previous picture, before Gloucester Street.

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The poster in the photo above, signed by many.

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A close up of the poster above.

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Another signed poster, in front of the fire department.

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The Hynes Convention Center, on the other side of Boylston Street, right near Gloucester.

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A statue that I’ve always liked, in front of the Prudential Center. This is also on the other side of Boylston Street, between Gloucester and Fairfield.

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At the corner of Fairfield Street, looking down Boylston toward Dartmouth. This is the side of the street where the bombings took place.

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Still walking down Boylston, past Abe and Louie’s Restaurant.

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This is approximately where the second bomb went off, between Fairfield and Exeter.

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This is what was closer towards the street, on that spot, on Monday. I took several close-ups of what had been placed there …

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I was the only one I noticed taking pictures, and while I was taking those above, I felt a little strange. Everybody else who was walking by seemed to be there just to return to their usual routines. I did notice that as I was taking these pictures , though, other people joined me to stop and look for a little while.

At this point, I felt pretty emotional and shaky. Right as I turned to walk further down Boylston, I noticed a very familiar place.

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I ordered my usual Starbucks order, and as I was waiting, it felt familiar to me to ask somebody who looked kind and open, if I could take a picture of him and put him in my blog. (I’ve done similar things before, including at another Starbucks.)

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This is Gabriel. I know I was distracted that morning, because I forgot to take more than one picture of him, and I forgot to ask him if he was okay with the picture I took. I don’t love this picture, personally, because I don’t think it captures how great he was. Or maybe it does.

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After I left Starbucks, holding my chai tea latte, I walked toward the site of the first explosion, looking across the street at the Boston Public Library.

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This is what I saw as I approached and walked closer to Marathon Sports, between Exeter and Dartmouth.

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There was no marking — with flowers, messages, or items — at the site of the first bombing. I stood here for a little while, taking the pictures above. Then I moved to the next store front, closer to the finish line.

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There were some workers standing outside. The door was open, as you can see, and work was being done on the interior. I noticed the Lao Tzu quote, “Act without expectation” which reminded me of the familiar — that is, “helpful” thoughts I’ve written about in this blog, through this Year of Living Non-Judgmentally. (For example, losing one’s investment in the outcome.)

The three guys who were standing outside — whom you can barely see in the above picture — interacted with me, after I took this picture. They made eye contact and I said, “How are you?” One of them answered, “Living the dream,” which I loved. They asked if they were in my way, and I indicated that I had already taken a picture of the Lao Tzu quote. I then said, “Thank you,” starting to cry. (I felt so sad.) One of them said, very gently, “That’s okay, ma’am.”

I walked away, crying a little, hearing the echo of those spoken words.

This was the next thing I noticed.

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This was across the street, as I headed back from where I had started. I thought those plants on top of the Lenox Hotel marquis were so beautiful, below that sign thanking the first responders (with the little heart of love).

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Walking back up the street, re-approaching the site of the second bomb.

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It was such a beautiful morning. At some point I realized that Gabriel, from Starbucks, was walking in front of me, wearing ear phones. I caught up with him and we talked a little as we walked a short distance together. He was, again, warm and friendly. He told me where he was from, which was not from this area. He told me he really liked it in Boston. We spoke a little bit about the recent events and I expressed my sadness. Gabriel acknowledged how sad things were, and also spoke to how things were already starting to seem better. I felt that, too.

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Another view of that statue I like in front of the Prudential.

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Looking back up Boylston, in front of the convention center.

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As I reached the corner of Mass Ave. I saw Eugene. We spoke a little. He told me that he has been shining shoes for 30 years. I asked how he was and he said, “Up and down, up and down, but for the most part, it works out.” As Eugene and I were talking, he recognized a customer, who sat down to get his shoes shined.

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The customer was Eric. Eric told me he is a faithful, regular customer of Eugene’s. Eric is the Chair of Jazz Composition at Berklee. I told Eric that I had many fond memories of Berklee.

I’ll end this photo essay with more of the familiar. I stopped by Fenway Studios, on Ipswich Street, as I walked to work, to visit with Paul Nagano for a few minutes. Paul is an old friend and a wonderful artist.

This is Paul, standing in front of one of his wonderful watercolors.

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I was so glad I got to see him that day.

Thanks to every person who appeared in this post, in one way or another. And thanks to you, for reading.

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

Day 115: Boston Kind (and Strong)

Something I’ve been noticing a lot, during this Year of Living Mindfully (that’s actually a better title for this blog, but it’s too late to change it!) ….  is kindness.  I’ve blogged about that quite a bit, including here, here, and here.

That first linked post is about kindness I encountered away from home, in February — in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina.

The second post is about kindness I deliberately decided to notice after I returned home — to beautiful Boston, Massachusetts.

The third one is about my realization that kindness, lately, has been making me cry  even harder than cruelty has — and in a healing way.

And whenever I write about people who are on “My Teams” (the people who support me)  — like here and here — I’m writing about kindness, too. That’s because Kindness and Competency are my two main criteria, when I’m picking team members.

I think kindness is all around us.  I  see it.  I think I always have — when I’m open to it.

Sometimes, of course, it is very difficult — if not impossible —  to see that kindness. Especially when cruelty is unmistakably present in the moment.

My experience on April 13, in Boston

As I wrote on April 16,  I was in Boston on April 13, two days before this year’s marathon, walking around the site of the future bomb blasts, with my son. The proximity of that experience — in time and space — to the violence, danger, and cruelty on April 15 — felt traumatizing to me after the bomb blasts occurred.

What I haven’t told you yet was this:  WHY I was in Boston with my son, on April 13.

There was another reason why April 13, 2013, was a happy day for me. Another reason,  in addition to sharing — with my son and hundreds of other people —  the excitement and anticipation that has always preceded every Boston Marathon.

I haven’t told you another reason why my  memories of that day – when I was, with my son, in such close proximity to the violence and cruelty to come — were such good ones, that — when the bomb blasts occurred — I feared those good memories might be tainted for ever.

I was there, a few blocks from the Marathon finish line, with my son, on April 13  for ….

Dental appointments.

Dental appointments!  Geesh!  I’m assuming THAT was a surprise to read.

Dental appointments, which a lot of people might find a little traumatizing (and painful and even cruel, sometimes, too).

But I was happy to be there. (And my son had a good time, too, believe it or not.)

And that is amazing, especially for me.

Some background about why a trip to dentist might be scarier,  for me. (Which I am putting in italics, because it’s the most personal section of this post, and I’m assuming some readers might want to skip or skim it.)

I have some reasons to be more scared of dental appointments, than most people.  As I’ve also written about this year, I have an unusual heart which makes me prone to endocarditis. (I’ve  gotten endocarditis three times within the last 15 years, but have caught it early enough to prevent any damage to my heart.)  And a month ago (as I blogged about, of course), I thought I had endocarditis, again.  I didn’t.

Question: What do 10 out of 10 doctors say would cause endocarditis, in somebody like me?

Answer: Any chance for bacteria in my mouth to enter the bloodstream.

In other words, any time my gums bleed, I am at heightened risk to get endocarditis, which — unless somebody vigilantly catches this almost immediately — will cause heart damage.

So, you can probably understand why anything — like going to the dentist — that might make my gums bleed, for any reasons, might feel extremely dangerous to me.

By the way, my medical team and I work very hard to prevent the danger. These extreme measures include my getting my teeth cleaned every three months, after I get an intravenous hit of anti-biotics. 

Why — despite excellent reasons why a trip to the dentist would be especially awful, for me —  my trip to the dentist on April 13 was wonderful.

Here’s why.  My dentist, Dr. Luis Del Castillo, of 77 Beacon Street, Boston MA.

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He is — besides being an excellent dentist — one of the kindest people I have ever met.

Really. A kind dentist!  Go figure.

And, like kind people I have met everywhere, he likes to work with kind people.  Here is Stephane, one of the other wonderful people at his dental office:

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I met Stephane for the first time, that day.   She was incredibly welcoming and thoughtful, explaining everything to me and asking me, frequently, with the kindest voice, “Are you okay, Ann?”

The Kindness of Strangers kills me.

What I mean by that is this:  I am unbelievably touched when people who don’t know me seem authentically and beautifully kind.

It means a lot to me, because of my experiences as a child (in the hospital, in a time and place where parents couldn’t stay with their kids).

It means a lot, to a lot of people.

And I LOVED the way Dr. Del Castillo and Stephane interacted with each other, too, as they were working with me that day. I wrote a note about it, so I could remember it (and put it in my blog).

This was the interaction I noted:

Dr. Del Castillo (after successfully completing a procedure in my mouth, that was a little tricky):  YES!!!

Stephane (to me):  Have you ever seen anybody get that excited about dentistry?

Me:  No. That is one of the things I love about him.

I’m looking at my  line, above, and I’m noticing that I didn’t name — to Dr. Del Castillo in the moment — the other things I love about him, which are:  (1)  how kind he is and (2) how accessible he’s been to me, when I’ve been scared about something.

Dr. Del Castillo, if you’re reading this, I hope you know — at least, now —  those things I appreciate, so much, in you.

Because of the kind way Dr. Del Castillo and Stephane were acting with me — and with each other — that day, I knew I was going to put them in my blog.  I figured I would write about them within the next couple of days. Perhaps on April 16.

But then, other events ensued, delaying my writing about my wonderful experience at the dentist — until today.

Back to my point (and I did have one) about kindness.

When I am open to it, I see kindness around me.

It’s there. Sometimes it’s hidden, by the cruelty that can be around us, too.

Here’s something else I think:

Experiencing pain can make us kinder, to those around us.  Not always.  But it can happen, for sure.

I’ve seen that — in myself and in others.

I think I’m seeing that now, in Boston.

Evidence backing up my observation that people are being kinder in Boston, now.

I’m more distracted, right now, like most people in Boston. As a result, when I’m driving, it can take me a second to realize a light has changed.

Since April 15, when I’m sitting at a light and it changes, I notice my own distraction and step on the gas pedal  (and here’s the punchline) …. BEFORE I hear a car beep.

This reminds me of a joke I heard on a David Letterman show, many years ago.  It went something like this:

Scientists have identified the smallest measurable time span. It’s the amount of time between a light turning green and the guy behind you hitting his horn.

But people are not hitting their horns, now, IN BOSTON. For those of you who are familiar with that area of the U.S.,  THAT is headline news. (How come you’re not all over that, CNN?  Huh?)

That huge change, which I’m observing,  might just be evidence of something else. It might mean that everybody else — besides me — is more distracted.  So they’re forgetting to hit their horns.

I am observing that people in Boston, in general, are more distracted.  That is true.

But I’m also seeing more patience with each other’s distraction, here in Boston.

My final point, so I can finish this post.

On my walk, yesterday, between the hospital where I work and Fenway Park, near where I park my car each day, I saw this:

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A few moments after I took this picture, some guy stopped me, trying to sell me something.  I told him, kindly (I hope), that I wasn’t buying.

Then, he asked if he could give me a hug, and I said, yes.  After the hug, as I was walking away, he said, “I hope I didn’t offend you.”  I said, “You didn’t.”

Now, maybe he gave me a hug because I was wearing my badge, which identified me as a social worker in one of the Boston hospitals, which have been in the news lately. (I was too distracted to realize I was still wearing it, at that point.)

I don’t think so, though.  I don’t think he noticed that.

I think he gave me a hug because we were both in Boston.

Boston Strong AND …

Boston Kind.

That’s what I wanted to tell you, today.

Thanks for reading, wherever you are.

P.S.  As always, dear reader,  if you think it would help you or anybody else to re-blog or otherwise share any post I write here, please feel free to do so. Thanks!

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Day 111: Here and now? It’s safer than you fear.

That may seem like a really strange title for today’s blog post.

Especially since I’m writing this in Boston, less than a week after the Marathon bombings, which created wide-spread (and completely understandable) beliefs of “we’re not as safe as we thought.”  (At least that happened here, in the U.S.)

Especially since I’m writing this approximately 36 hours after “Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19” (as the media is now referring to him) was captured, hiding out in a boat, in Watertown, MA.  According to Google maps, he was hiding right behind the Arsenal Mall, where I’ve shopped for the last 30 years, a block away from places I frequently walk, and less than 2 and a half miles away from where this writer currently lives.

Okay, I want to ask myself  (and you) a question right now.  Why am I starting with time and place, in this post?  Why did I write those previous paragraphs, so specifically, about where and when?

Anxiety can heighten a sense of time and place.

I  state the place and time when I’m anxious, as a way to get a sense of how safe I am. It’s like I’m monitoring the environment and asking this: how close am I to  danger (by location and by time)?

I see that heightened anxiety, now, in people all around me.

I see that heightened anxiety in the people who are trying to make meaning of this new reality: My World After the Boston Bombings.

I see and hear people telling their stories, now, with those kinds of details — focusing on location and time. Details like these:  I live(d) in Boston, during this time.  Family members live(d) in Boston, during this time . Boston is/was familiar to me, during this time.

The punchline, that I hear in these stories, is this: Danger is closer than I thought.

Okay, I’m going to turn to the personal, now.

My Year of Living (What Seems to Be More) Dangerously.

I’ve been noticing, lately, that as I do this daily blog — The Year of Living Non-Judgmentally — I typically write in that state of heightened anxiety. That is, in many sentences I write (including many sentences in this blog post!), I state the place and time.  And I’ve been doing that all year.

That’s because I’m more anxious this year.

Why? Well,  I’m doing two new things:  (1) blogging and (2) working at a relatively new job for me. And the new, as we know, can make us more anxious.

However,  I’ve been remaining  anxious, even as I get more familiar with blogging and my job.

I don’t think I need to explain why blogging —  writing and sending personal information out into the world — might cause me some anxiety.   (Friends, Romans, Countrymen, Writers, Fellow Bloggers  —  you  probably have some understanding of this.)

But why does the work continue to make me so anxious?

Here’s why:  This year, I am doing work I love in a location that triggers old, anxiety-provoking memories in me. For the first time in my long  life, I am working at a hospital, and I  had some anxiety-provoking experiences  in the hospital, when I was a kid.

So, the hospital where I am now working, which is — rationally —   a very safe place for me, can FEEL more dangerous that it really is. Because I have so many memories from when I was a child — memories that color the way I see things in the present, that intensify my vision and my hearing as I walk around my now-safe hospital — as a result, I  can feel less safe than I really am.

How have I been dealing with that, this year?

My own process of helping myself feel safer.

I have been reminding myself — in the Here and Now — of the safer reality.

Whenever I can, each day I walk into work, I enter through the hospital’s main entrance. Then, I walk the 5 minutes to my office, looking around, taking in the sights and sounds, and reminding myself — with my internal thoughts and with the evidence of my eyes and ears — of all these things:

You are not a child now.  You are not a patient here.  You are an adult now.  You are on staff here.

You are in control, now.  You are not stuck here.  You can choose to leave, at any time.

Scary, awful things happened to you, but that was a long time ago (although it can feel like yesterday, sometimes).  

These things happened to you around the corner from here.  And this place may look, sound, and feels like that place.  But that was then, and this is now.  That was there, and this is here.

It’s different.

It may feel close to you,  in time and space.  But it’s further away than it feels.

There’s  distance between danger and you, Ann.

And those questions about who you can trust?  The people who work here may remind you of  some people who did scary things, but they are not the same people.

Those people who hurt you — whether it was by ignorance, fear,  or another one of their own limitations — those people can’t hurt you, right now.

It’s safer than you fear.

Those are the things I say to myself, as I walk through the hospital.

And here are some additional things I’ve been saying to myself, lately, as I walk outside the hospital:

Those people out there in the world, right now, who deliberately hurt others?  You may not understand them.  They may seem bigger and more powerful than other people. But they are the same size as other people.  

And there are others, in your life, who can help you stay safe. 

You are not alone.

It’s safer than you fear.

What I see in others, now

This week,  in Boston, I see people, all around me, doing things that remind me of my own personal process —   trying to figure out how safe they are.

As I wrote in yesterday’s post, it’s the PROXIMITY of danger that can make us feel less safe.   We feel less safe when something  happens — something terrible, something violent, something dangerous, something that shatters our sense of safety — closer than we expected.

And I see others, all around me, already, doing whatever they can to start the healing process.

I saw people in Watertown, MA, coming out of their houses immediately after the lock-down was lifted, cheering the law enforcement people leaving their neighborhoods.

As I walked around yesterday, I witnessed other people walking. I wondered if they were doing the same thing I was doing — experiencing the beauty that is erupting everywhere around us, in the neighborhood of recent, violent danger:

 

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And last night, I deliberately returned to my favorite diner (which — as I wrote about yesterday — appeared in almost every TV image during the capture of the suspect).

I went to that diner with people I adore.

 

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That’s Janet and Ray, whom I’ve known for about 30 years (the same amount of time I’ve known the Arsenal Mall, whatever the hell that means).

I was healing myself, by going back to the Deluxe Town Diner, in Watertown, MA., last night, with Janet and Ray.  I was connecting back with many old, safe memories of that place. With people I’ve known and trusted for a long time.

Janet, Ray, and I were integrating the new, awful information with the old,  as we spoke about the Proximity of Danger. We talked about how the capture took place so close to where we were — as we ate, laughed, and reconnected.

These are attempts to heal.  To figure out ways to feel safe enough to move forward .

That is what I see, every day, in the group and individual therapy work I do.  Whenever I witness people doing that — healing themselves, with the support of others — it moves me, beyond words.

It may be beyond words, but I do try to put that into words, in writing and in speech — here and elsewhere.

Here’s a phrase that came to me, many years ago, when I first starting doing the work I do:

All healing is mutual.

In other words, as we witness other people heal, we heal, also.

That is what I see and hear, all around me.

Thanks so much for reading, here and now.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Day 110: Arrrghh! I might still be in this guy’s movie

Writing this blog, this year, has turned out to be therapy for me. And I’ve especially needed This Writing Therapy, this past week, since I live — and work — in Boston.

Yesterday, I wrote about how weird, how awful, it was for me, that all the scenes on TV —  as they hunted for the Boston bombing suspect — were so friggin’ familiar.

And that surrealism continued throughout the day, after I published the post in the morning.  Every place the media went, every place they set up their cameras — all were super familiar to me.  I recognized everything.

And the climactic scene, last night, in Watertown?  Hovering in the background, as the news media people waited, was my favorite diner.

Deluxe Town Diner

The Deluxe Town Diner in Watertown. I’ve spent countless hours at that diner.

My favorite t-shirt, which I wear when it finally gets warm enough in these parts (like now!),  is from that diner.

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All the people I love in the world?  Most of them have been to that diner with me.

I am grieving for that diner, right now, in a way. I feel very sad, as I’m writing this —  for how that diner — and all those other familiar things —  have been tainted, in memory, by the violence in and around Boston this week.

But I’m also mad right now, as I’m writing this.

(Anger is part of grieving, too, which you may already know.)

Here’s why I’m angry, right now.  I thought this was over (for me).   Like most people, last night, I was relieved when they captured the guy, and he was alive. The media told us he was on his way to a Cambridge Hospital.   It was over.  The healing could begin.

And I woke up this morning, eager to write this blog post.  Eager to write about lots of things I’ve learned, from this experience.

I love when I’m in that place, of eagerness to learn.

I’ve blogged about something, several times this year (because it’s important for me to remember).   When I’m feeling bad — helpless, powerless, depressed — my own personal experience of  “traumatized” — I forget something. I forget that I will get through that bad period.

But I always do.   I  always move through the bad times and come out the other end, with lots of gifts.  Those gifts always include some sort of wisdom — things I’ve learned that I can apply to my journey through life.

This morning, when I woke up, I thought I was through the Bad Time — the time when things feel out of sync, unfamiliar, scary, overwhelming, confusing, shocking — of this Boston Trauma.

But I’m not.

Now, I’m reading that the media is reporting that the guy might be at the hospital where I work.

So when I go back to work on Monday (after missing work yesterday, because my home was on lock-down), I’m assuming that my world will look different.  The media will be there.  The police will be there.

When I was talking to people — staff and patients —  last week, at the hospital where I work, I could see that people were traumatized by the proximity of the pain of the explosions.  Some of these people had run in that Marathon.  Almost everybody knew somebody who was in the race or watching the race.

And, according to the media, several of the severely injured people from the bomb blasts were at the hospital where I work. Staff talked a lot about how we could help others — and ourselves — deal with the nearness of all this.

I am so angry at “the bombing suspect” (as the media calls him) right now. I’m so angry I can’t even go there — write about it —  right now.

I’m especially angry that I might still be in this guy’s movie.

I’m also angry at the media — the ones who are making this friggin’ movie.  I’m especially angry about the misinformation that the media puts out there. I’m angry about the mistakes they sent out over the airwaves — throughout this experience that overtook my home — without ever owning their mistakes.

Digression about Why I’m So Pissed at The News Media

As I wrote,  earlier this year  (regarding how Weather Forecasters Never Admit When They’re Wrong, here),  it drives me up the wall when people promote speculation as fact. I don’t like when people  say they’re sure about something, when they’re not sure. And I don’t like it when they don’t own their mistakes.

The more powerful the people are who promote Speculation as Fact — the more angry I get. I judge it as irresponsible – because it hurts more people.

That drives me up the wall because I, personally, am soooooo careful to  say: I Am Not Sure About This.  That is a value of mine — to own when I don’t know something. I don’t want to mislead people. I don’t want to use my power — my expertise — to give somebody the wrong information.

The 24-hour News Media?  That doesn’t seem to be a value of theirs, at all. And I can understand the forces that dicate their being that way — that viewers want to know what’s going on, that they don’t have time to fact check, etc. etc.  But it still drives … me … up … the …. wall.

End of This Digression

So, right now, I’m assuming that my place of employment — the location where I get to do work I love — might be crawling with the media on Monday, when I go back there. Lots of law enforcement around, too.

Can you picture it?  Imagine what that might be like?

I’m imagining this: Bright lights, armed people.

The volume — and the visuals — turned WAY UP.

Dear readers, I was so ready for my world to start looking normal again.

For me, it might still be Trauma Central, on Monday. Because this is how I am defining Trauma, right now. It’s when the familiar and the safe becomes strange and frightening. It’s when we have trouble seeing past that, to a return of normalcy.

Damn it!

Well, as my sister said to me this morning, if he is there,  he won’t be there for long.  That helped — to look ahead to when my personal healing can begin.

And it’s a relief to know, that for many people around me — the people who were “locked-down” yesterday, the people who recognized the locations on TV yesterday, the people for whom the Boston Marathon was a comforting touchstone, the people whose sense of reality was disturbed in any way by the bombings here on April 15 — the healing process DID begin, last night. It began with the capture of the suspect, last night, in Watertown, MA.

I felt that relief, last night, too.  And I guess — I know —  that I will feel it again.

And for the rest of this weekend, I can try to help that healing process along, before I might need to return to the Familiar/Unfamiliar at work on Monday.

I will use those things that help me,  this weekend.

I’ll be more in the moment. (I’m not at the hospital, now!)

I’ll listen to music I love.

I’ll walk around my no-longer-locked-down town, and take in all those beautiful flowering trees — the ones I wait all year to see.

I’ll connect to people I trust.

I’ll talk about it.

And I’ll write about it, here.

Thanks for reading, as I do.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Day 108: Kindness can make me cry, even harder

These days, lots of things have been making me cry.

I’m definitely a person who cries and laughs a lot, perhaps more than the “average person” (whoever that is). And, during 2013 (which I’ve designated as a year where I work on the process of letting go of judgment), I’ve been crying more than my own personal average (whatever that is).

There are lots of reasons why I’ve been crying more this year. Since Monday and the Boston Marathon, I’ve got more reasons.

I feel like I’m learning a lot this year. Some of these lessons are wonderful and hope-inspiring. Some of these lessons are terrible and painful.

I think I’m learning more this year — partly because I’m paying more attention. I’m paying more attention because I’m doing work I’m passionate about (group and individual therapy at a major Boston hospital), where listening and watching are really important.

I’m also doing these blog posts, once a day, and that process is causing me to pay more attention — within myself and outside, in the world.

So I’ve been paying more attention to things, some of which are more inherently painful. So it makes sense — doesn’t it? — that I’ve been crying more.

And one thing I’ve been noticing and learning lately:

Kindess can make me cry, even harder than cruelty does.

I noticed that, last week, when some of my co-workers were incredibly kind and supportive to me, as I was struggling personally.

I notice that when I read the amazing and kind comments that people leave here, on my blog. (Like the long one, left by an old high school acquaintance, at the end of this post.)

I noticed that this morning, right before I wrote this post, when I read this portion of an on-line article about people’s kindness to others in the aftermath of the Boston bombings.

In Michigan, Hamilton Elementary School students created a “finish line” by standing on either side of the hallway so their principal could finish the marathon interrupted by the cruel blasts.

“We felt bad that she couldn’t finish the 26.2 miles. So, we decided that we would help her finish,” fourth-grader Ryan Smalley told CNN affiliate WDIV.

The students cheered for Principal Pam Mathers as she dashed to the finish line, high-fiving the students along the way. Some teachers watched, tearfully.

“You know what? I may not have gotten the medal but I’ve gotten many many more rewards from you,” Mathers said Wednesday. “All of you are my medals.”

I see that in other people, too — that kindness can make them cry, even harder.

I see that in group work, when somebody receives authentic, kind, and encouraging words from other people in the group. Sometimes that person cries, pretty intensely.

How do I make meaning of that, right now?

Perhaps kindness can make us cry harder out of …. relief. Being surprised by kindness when we’re so aware of cruelty.

Perhaps kindness can make us cry harder out of …. grief. Being opened up to old losses in a new way.

Not sure I can figure it all out this morning.

But I wanted to share it, with you.

Thanks for reading.

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

Day 107: Has the external world changed? I haven’t.

Who knows if that title makes any sense, at all.

I am trying to figure out whether the external world has changed, that much, because of the bombings at the Boston Marathon, two days ago. It feels like it has, but that doesn’t mean that it has.

As I and others try to make meaning of this — so we can go on with our lives — I’m experiencing a debate about how safe it is out there.

On the one hand:

The world feels scarier.  Things are getting worse. It’s less safe than before. I am not going to go out into crowded places again.  I will avoid these kinds of public celebrations, since the people who are supposed to protect us didn’t do enough to prevent this from happening.

On the other hand:

Boston feels scarier, but this sort of thing happens, somewhere, a certain amount of the time. It just hasn’t happened this close to home before. If we change how we act because of fear, the people who do these kinds of things have won. 

This is how I’m seeing that “debate,” right now:

It’s the negotiating we do, as we move through life, trying to figure out how safe we are: How much we should venture out, away from what feels safer.

It’s natural to want to protect ourselves.  But how much do we need to do that?

Sometimes I say this to people, who have told me horrifying, trust-mangling stories of things that have happened to them,  “It’s amazing you ever leave home.  How do you do that?”

We figure out how to do that — to venture out there —  to a greater and lesser extent, every day.

Sometimes when we go out there, it feels like the “wrong” thing to do.  Too risky,  Maybe even  foolish, counter-intuitive, the opposite of self-preservation.

Sometimes when we stay in our homes, it feels like the “wrong” thing to do. Phobic. Cowardly. Crazy.

How can we be “smart” about this, and  do the right thing?

What the hell is the “right thing”, anyway?  And if we can’t figure out what the right thing is — when it comes to survival, for cripe’s sake — what the hell should we do?

There’s so much evidence for why any decision we make about safety is “wrong.”  There are so many arguments for both sides of the debate.

I notice that some people I know are more careful than I am about self-protection. They scan the environment for danger, more than I do.

They’ll point out when my shoelaces are untied. They’ll tell me to watch out for cars when I’m crossing the street.

When they do that, I sometimes have a negative reaction. I wonder: Am I taking good enough care of myself?  Do they think I’m not capable of doing that for myself?

Today, I’m thinking that some people are more careful than others, in that regard.  They negotiate that question of how safe it is differently than I do.

That doesn’t mean I’m foolish, though. It just means I’ve made different decisions. It means that I have a different “style” regarding How to Keep It Safe Enough.

Some people, who know me, tell me I’m “fearless.”  I find that so ironic, because I’m scared so much of the time.

I’ve learned to calibrate and adjust for my own fear. That’s what I’ve done, dear reader.  I have learned, as I’ve grown and aged, that the world is not as scary as I fear it is.  Even if sometimes — like today — it feels a lot more scary than it usually does.

I’ve decided to look for what is Not Scary — out there and within other people.  That makes me happier.

It’s riskier, perhaps.  It’s not wrong. It works for me.

It might take me a while to get back to my “base line” — the way I usually negotiate risk and fear — after the images I’ve seen of people being hurt and  the changes that I see, as I look around at my beloved Boston.

But I’ll get there.

And so will you, every time the world seems scarier.  And you’ll do it, the way you always do, in the way that works for you.  But with more experience and wisdom, every time.

Thanks for reading.  Take care of yourself, the way you know how.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Day 106: Beautiful, wounded Boston

All my love to all the people who have been traumatized, in any way, by the bombings at the Boston Marathon yesterday.

Boston.  I’ve lived here all my life. It’s so beautiful, especially during this time of the year.

Here’s a picture I took on Saturday, when my son and I were walking around the Public Gardens.

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We had just walked down Boylston Street, from the Finish Line, which was already set up for the race.  We were there, with so many people, at those very spots you’ve been seeing on your screens, over and over again.

It was safe then.

It’s changed now.  We’ve changed.

One thing I’m experiencing in myself and those around me (in Boston, in the U.S., and elsewhere) are people struggling to make meaning of this, to integrate what happened yesterday into their understanding of the world. Trying to incorporate this unexpected horror into a new understanding of now.

Because what happened here yesterday was new, wasn’t it?  At least for Boston.  And for the U.S., too.

Not for other places in the world, though.

Here’s a quote that’s sticking with me, right now:

At Massachusetts General Hospital, Alisdair Conn, chief of emergency services, said: “This is something I’ve never seen in my 25 years here … this amount of carnage in the civilian population. This is what we expect from war.”

And I saw some pictures, last night, that I will never forget.

Those pictures are available to the world.  Some of you, reading this, would have seen them, too.

I’m thinking about the people who were there, yesterday, on Boylston Street, and experienced those things directly.

I’m thinking about all the people, in the world,  who have experienced such things directly.

And I’m thinking of something else I noticed, this morning, on my computer screen. This headline:

It could happen anywhere.

That’s something we may always “know”, but some of us  know, now,  in a new way.

How do people heal from something like this?  How do they feel safe enough again?

I keep thinking  how my son and I walked down that stretch of Boylston Street on Saturday and all the pre-race celebrations we saw.  All the “normalcy,” the humanity, and the joy we witnessed that day.

That place will never look the same again.  It can’t.

Something I noticed yesterday: how quickly people reached out to others they thought may have been affected by the bomb blasts. I watched as I — and others who live here — received messages from all over: “Where are you?”  “Are you okay?”

I responded. I’m here. I’m okay.  Everybody I love is okay.

Untouched, physically.  Still alive. But changed, in some way.

I’m giving another presentation today — about the Power of Groups —  to the residents of the Boston hospital where I work.  This is a presentation that has caused me some fear and anxiety over the last week or so.

That feels so ironic — so strange — to me this morning.

Now, I’m just looking forward to connecting with others who live — and who have chosen to tend to others —  in Boston.  I’m hoping I can make enough room so people can get something they need this morning.  Something that helps.  A step towards a return to feeling safe enough.  A step towards knowing they can give enough to those they tend to.

And later in the day — and tomorrow,  Thursday, and into the weeks and months ahead — I will be facilitating groups for people who live, and receive their care, in Boston.

I remember being at  film school , at Boston University, the day  the Challenger space shuttle exploded. We all got the news right before we had to go into a class. I remember similar feelings of sadness, fear, and shock — and wondering how to integrate this new terrible knowledge into the now.

I remember sitting, that day,  in a classroom,  feeling alone — in my thoughts and feelings — in the presence of others, waiting for the teacher to come in.

And then the instructor, Thomas Ott, came in and sat down. He spoke to us. I think he asked us how we were. And then he waited.

I remember the somber look on his face. I remember the quiet tone of his voice.

I don’t remember what he said. But I remember, so clearly, how he made room for us, that day, to say what we needed to say.

I was so grateful.

Thank you, Thomas, for what you gave us, on that day in January 1986, in Boston.

It helped.

The Power of Groups.

Thanks, to you,  for being here.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

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