Posts Tagged With: bragging

Day 994: Five adjectives

Yesterday, my wonderful, young, talented, kind, and intelligent son, Aaron, and I went for a long, interesting, meandering, delightful, and warm walk and had a delicious, nutritious,  mid-day, reasonable, and shared meal together.  I don’t have any colorful, observational, spontaneous, amateur, and stored photos of that long, interesting, meandering, delightful, and warm time we spent together, because I had left my large, modern, precious, annoying,  and cellular phone behind.

During this delicious, nutritious, mid-day, reasonable, and shared meal, my wonderful, young, talented, kind, and intelligent son and I had a memorable, discursive, funny, important, and educational conversation, which included this:

Me: Somebody at my high school reunion last night used the adjective “intense” about me.  I didn’t think I come across as intense. I think I’d prefer “deep.”  What do you think about those adjectives for me?

Aaron:  I wouldn’t use either of those to describe you.

Me:  Really?  What adjective would you use?

Aaron (thinking):

Me:  Resilient?

Aaron (smiling and still thinking):

Me: Will you ever answer this?

Aaron:  Probably not.

Me:  Maybe I’ll ask you that question on my deathbed. Maybe I’ll say, “Aaron, NOW will you give me an adjective?”  You know what you’d probably say,” Yes, now I will.  It’s ‘dying.'”

Aaron (smiling and thinking):

Me: You know what?  Maybe I should write a sketch about that for your new cable-access show.

Aaron: I was thinking the same thing.

Much later,  Aaron handed me this:


Here are more colorful, observational, spontaneous, amateur, and stored photos I took yesterday:

IMG_5048 IMG_5050 IMG_5052 IMG_5056 IMG_5058


Here‘s a recurring, favorite, beautiful, charming, and adorable song:

What adjectives might you use in an adorable, beautiful, delightful, exciting, and appreciated comment?

Authentic, hasty, meaningful, intense, and good thanks to Aaron, to my high school reunion classmates, to adjectives, to Mad Magazine, to the Waltham Massachusetts Market Basket, to  “A You’re Adorable”  and — of course! — to you.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 40 Comments

Day 310: Idiom Challenge # 1

This is the beginning of my post, where I explain the title.


In this post:

  1. I intend to challenge some idioms I’ve internalized, and
  2. I am including a number in the title (#1) because I like numbers, I like indicating beginnings, and I like leaving room for the continuation of a process.


Idiom #1: Don’t Change Horses in the Middle of a Stream.

Meaning (according to

To make major changes in an activity that has already begun; to choose someone or something else after it is too late. (Alludes to someone trying to move from one horse to another while crossing a stream.) I’m already baking a cherry pie. I can’t bake an apple pie. It’s too late to change horses in the middle of the stream. The house is half-built. It’s too late to hire a different architect. You can’t change horses in midstream. Jane: I’ve written a rough draft of my research paper, but the topic doesn’t interest me as much as I thought. Maybe I ought to pick a different one. Jill: Don’t change horses in midstream.

Looking at the last example in that definition: I’m not convinced that Jane should listen to Jill. Isn’t Jane the expert on her own experience? And wouldn’t it be better, for all involved, if Jane wrote about something that interested her?

Before I continue challenging this idiom, let me insert some results of a Google Image search:


(thanks to (and by the way, I am not familiar with that Tower of Power tune)



(thanks to for a full page of horse quotes!)

It’s interesting that both images I’ve chosen are related to music. (I love music.)

I got a little distracted, I have to say, by some of the other Google Images that came up for this idiom ….

Hold on …. refocusing ….

… And back to my intention: to challenge this internalized idiom! (And thanks to James Taylor for starting the challenging.)

Here we go:

I’m sorry, but I don’t find this a helpful warning. I just don’t.  It tells me to be afraid of change, of taking control, of doing something different. For heaven’s sake,  we are ALWAYS mid-stream, aren’t we?  And if I never change horses, then I’ll never get a chance to do something different, change direction, ride in a new way, and pursue new goals.


Idiom #2:  Don’t toot your own horn.

Meaning?  Let’s go to, again:

To brag. Gary sure likes to toot his own horn. “I hate to blow my own horn,” said Bill, “but I am always right.”

I’m not sure what happened to Jill and Jane, our previous Idiom Players.  Maybe Jane is busy re-writing her paper, and Jill has gone off in a huff, after Jane politely and firmly told her to keep her opinions to herself.

In any case, this time we get Gary and Bill.  And the implication, as usual, is that bragging is risky, if not down-right obnoxious. (See here, for one of several posts I’ve written about bragging, this year.)

Let’s see what Google Images has to show, about this:


(Thanks to  eslculips,com, for the image and further explanation of this idiom. )


(thanks to, a site that looks at proverbs from around the world)

Again, my second image has started arguing with this idiom, for me.

Let’s see what else I can come up with, to challenge it …

Hey!  How about this poem from Marianne Williamson? I’ve quoted this poem previously this year (see this post), but I can’t imagine a better way to go:

Our Deepest Fear
By Marianne Williamson
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us.

We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.

Your playing small
Does not serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine,
As children do.
We were born to make manifest
The glory of God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us;
It’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we’re liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

Thanks to Marianne Williamson, for that glorious challenge.

And before I end this post, I just wanted to say one more thing:

Tower of Power, who created that song, “Don’t Change Horses in the Middle of the Stream”?

Man, those guys sure toot their own horns, and I’m so glad they do!

Thanks for listening, reading, and all of it, today.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Day 269: Why yesterday was a good day.

Last week, I wrote about bad days and good days (including how our internal experience can greatly affect how we judge those).

Yesterday, by any criteria, was a good day.

Here are some of the reasons why this was true:

Reason # 1.

Something I had been hoping for and working towards, at work, came true.

Specifically: I will be able to reach out, more directly, to people who might benefit from the therapy groups I offer.

While I can’t foretell the future, I believe this will have many good effects on the groups.

Reason #2.

Something I had been hoping for and working towards, here in the blogosphere, came true.

Specifically: A particular country came up in my readership statistics.

While my readership for this blog this year has been expanding in amazing and gratifying ways, one country has been conspicuously absent.



I hear a lot of great things about Iceland, from people who have visited that country.

And I would like to visit Iceland, some day.

As I would like to visit many, many other countries.

And this might sound like bragging, but many, many other countries have shown up in my WordPress readership statistics, during this Year of Living Non-Judgmentally.

But not Iceland.  And I’ve been noticing that, for months.

And as I’ve written about before (like here and here), we can tend to notice what’s missing, and give that more importance than what we already have.

So while I’ve enjoyed looking at my growing readership statistics,  sometimes I would wonder, Where’s Iceland?

And I don’t mean to slight the other countries, who have been showing up, day after day.  I have welcomed each new country, with joy and appreciation.

But, as time has gone on, Iceland’s absence has loomed larger.

Sometimes, this thought would pop up:

Is Iceland too cool for me?

And I would dismiss that thought as silly (not to mention an example of several types of cognitive distortions).

Nevertheless, I continued to notice. And I’ve even remarked on The Absence of Iceland, to others.

So, I was particularly thrilled, yesterday, when Iceland finally showed up — on the very same day as Good News #1, above!

Reason #3.

I had a breakthrough therapy session, yesterday.

Specifically: I asked some questions, that I had never asked before.

I was brave.

Reason #4.

I felt so good — and brave — last night, that I decided to bite the bullet and finally commit to watching a TV Show that people I love have been talking about, for quite a while.

And, people have been talking about this show much more, lately, because the show is about to end, this Sunday.


I watched many episodes of that show, last night.

My hope is to catch up, so I can join some people I love on Sunday, as they watch the final episode.

If I make that goal, great!   If I don’t, c’est la vie.

Either way, I’m going to fortune-tell here, and predict that Sunday is going to be another good day.

I’ll let you know, next week.

Thanks to Iceland, the rest of the world, and to you — of course — for reading today.

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


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.


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.


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.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

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