Posts Tagged With: cats

Day 1941: Threads

Three days ago, I facilitated a retreat for the board of directors of a professional group psychotherapy association. During that retreat, I invited people to identify “threads,” defined as the important issues that

  • run through the history of the association,
  • keep coming up during retreats and other discussions about the association, and
  • connect people to the association.

As I was thinking about threads in preparation for that retreat, I noticed threads everywhere, including on this pair of gloves.


Here are some threads from the retreat:



At the end of the retreat, everybody there had taken ownership of some threads that were important to them. The threads I chose  included resolving conflict and making the organization more accessible to current and future members.  As I become President of the organization on July 1, I hope to help people develop  the threads that are important to them and weave them together into a strong and healthy tapestry.

Today, I’m thinking about the threads that run through this blog. Five of the strongest threads are love, group work,  hearts, food, and cats.

Another thread is photography.





Another strong thread in this blog is music, but I need to leave now to get to physical therapy on time.  Perhaps I’ll add that thread later.

What threads are important to you?

Gratitude is another strong thread in this blog, so …


Categories: group psychotherapy, group therapy, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Day 1909: Reasons Not to Read This Blog

While I appreciate every reader who visits this blog, here are some reasons not to read it.


  • You dislike cats and/or dogs.






  • Water views make you squeamish.


  • You avoid puns.


  • You are in therapy with me. If that is the case, there might be Too Much Information in this blog, which could interfere with the important work we are doing together.  If you are in individual and/or group therapy with me, I strongly recommend we have a conversation about this.



  • You find gratitude annoying.



Warmest thanks to all who help me create this daily blog and — of course! — to YOU.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 36 Comments

Day 1770: What are you afraid of?

What are you afraid of?

Within the last week, I’ve heard about people who are afraid of

  • the dark,
  • heights,
  •  war,
  • people who abuse positions of power,
  • the media,
  • molesters,
  • being seen as a molester,
  • the police,
  • world leaders,
  • science,
  • ignorance,
  • doctors,
  • dentists,
  • infections,
  • sickness,
  • aging
  • death,
  • taxes,
  • failure,
  • success,
  • school,
  • working too much,
  • working too little,
  • making mistakes,
  • driving,
  • bicyclists,
  • loss,
  • certain thoughts,
  • certain feelings,
  • feeling too good,
  • going outside,
  • staying inside,
  • action,
  • inaction,
  • the weather,
  • being alone,
  • crowds,
  • social events,
  • marriage,
  • divorce,
  • becoming less attractive,
  • becoming an adult,
  • men,
  • women,
  • cats,
  • dogs,
  • mice,
  • bugs,
  • snakes,
  • phones,
  • cotton balls, and
  • peaches.

Is anyone afraid of any of these photos?










I’m afraid that one major emotion is missing from that Time special edition cover.   Are they afraid of anger?

Here‘s how to let go of pain/fear/anger in 60 seconds.


Are you afraid of leaving a comment?  I hope not.

What am I afraid of?  Heights, the dark, the cold,  and forgetting to express gratitude to all who help me create these posts and — of course! — to YOU.




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

Day 1768: Difficult conversations

Yesterday, in a therapy group, people had a conversation about difficult conversations.


What makes a conversation difficult?  Have you been having difficult conversations lately? What helps you start and make it through difficult conversations?

If I notice an elephant in the room, I feel the pressure to name it and invite difficult conversations.  While that might make a mess, I trust that cleaning up that mess together will promote growth.

Are there any difficult conversations in my other photos from yesterday?











With the conversation in that last photo,  it’s not difficult to choose today’s video. Here  are Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake having a conversation about Toto‘s Africa at  summer camp:


Feel free to start any conversation, difficult or otherwise, in the comment section below.

It’s not difficult to express gratitude to all who helped me with the conversations in this post and — of course! — to YOU.


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

Day 1662: Pictures taken before disaster strikes

Have you ever been invited to go to a website of pictures taken before disaster strikes? Have you taken the bait to click and look? If so, that’s not a disaster — that’s just the human trait to focus on disaster and catastrophe.

Some of the photos in today’s post ARE pictures taken before disaster strikes.














In yesterday’s therapy group, we discussed how our expectations — including disasters — often don’t turn into reality.  Immediately after that group, I received a call about disaster striking unexpectedly.  When we had extricated our cat Harley from the crawlspace where he was hiding during the move two days before …


… somebody knocked loose an HVAC pipe, which caused significant water damage to the kitchen below.

When I talked to people about that disaster striking, the responses included:

  • “OMG!”
  • “That stinks”
  • “Is your heart okay?”
  • “We were going to remodel the kitchen anyway.”

Considering that the last response was from the person who bought our old place, I guess we’re all going to survive this latest disaster.

Here are more pictures taken immediately before disaster strikes (warning: some disturbing photos included):


For some musical relief from disasters, here‘s  “Pictures at an Exhibition.”

I now expect some comments. I wonder how that will turn out.

Non-disastrous thanks to all who helped me share the words, pictures, and music in today’s post and — of course! — to you, no matter what you expected.

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

Day 1564: Did you know …

Did you know …

  • I sometimes get the title for my daily post from something I photograph the day before?


  • Some cats are not fans of other cats?






  • T.J. Maxx has merged with HomeGoods?




  • Fuzzy furniture is a thing?


  • Whales are a thing, too?




  • The best way to find out if you can trust somebody?


  • I am nervous, but not afraid?


  • What it’s like in a perfect world?



  • How I feel about all of us, here and now?


  • How grateful I am to all those who helped me create this post and– of course! —  to you?



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

Day 1444: A relaxed mind …

How would you complete this sentence?

A relaxed mind …

Here are ways that I would complete that sentence.  A relaxed mind …

  • has been difficult for me to attain since my recent open heart surgery and the U.S. presidential election,
  • is something I invite  in my therapy groups,
  • is an unusual mind in today’s busy, noisy, and rushed environment,
  • is a helpful break from anxiety, worry, and  fear, as well as cognitive distortions including fortune telling, catastrophizing, mind reading, and shoulds.

Here’s how a teabag would complete that sentence:



Do any of my other photos from yesterday complete that sentence?















Here‘s music for a relaxed mind:


A relaxed mind is one that is capable of expressing gratitude.


Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 35 Comments

Day 1424: Fantastic Thanks and Where to Find Them

On Thanksgiving Day 2016, you can find fantastic thanks here for …


  • our inner rock stars,


  • good radio stations,


  • signs beyond my understanding,
  • Boston,








  • great movies,


  • the future,


  • achieving the impossible,
  • Wonder Women,


  • Batman,
  • the freedom to be myself,


  • helpful directions,
  • popcorn,
  • butter,


  • most people,
  • fortunes,
  • schools,
  • my son Aaron,


  • my boyfriend Michael,


  • my sister Ellen,
  • friends,
  • cats,


  • trust,


  • my late parents,


  • time,
  • my very unusual heart,
  • my medical team,
  • delicious food,

  • YOU, my amazing readers!!!
Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Thanksgiving | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 33 Comments

Day 161: Tales of Tigers

Tiger Tale # 1

When I was a little kid, my parents went away on a trip. They brought home, as a gift for me, a Steiff puppet, that looked a lot like this:


I was apparently unfamiliar with the fine points of animal classification at that age, because I named it “Tiger,” despite the telltale lack of stripes on its fuzzy little body. Tiger became my favorite toy. I slept with Tiger and often carried him around with me. As we say in the psychology business, Tiger was a transitional — or comfort — object. Or, as one might say in any business, I loved Tiger very much.

One of my main memories of Tiger is — of course — a scary one (since those are one type of memory that tends to stick). My family and the family of my mother’s best friend were visiting New York City. I was carrying Tiger with me, and Richie — the son of my mother’s friend, who was a little younger than I — grabbed Tiger away from me, yelled, “I’m throwing this off the top of the Empire State Building,” and ran away. I remember being so scared and upset, in that moment, standing frozen and alone, both Tiger and Richie gone.

I can’t remember details about what happened next, except for vague memories of Richie catching some hell about that. And I know that Tiger was returned to me, because here he is:


Two things you might note about Tiger today. (1) He is hangin’, these days, with his own transitional object and (2) the top of his head is particularly fuzzy. The latter is due to his needing corrective surgery years ago, after being placed on the top of a lamp, so he could listen to a little girl practice piano.

Tiger Tale # 2.

When I was 10 years old, and had my first major heart surgery at Children’s Hospital, I know I didn’t have my comfort object, Tiger, with me. People probably thought I might lose him. Or maybe there were other rules about that. I know there were rules, during those days, that prevented my parents from being with me there, outside of normal visiting hours. (Things have changed, quite a bit, regarding parents and children and hospitals, since 1963.)

My mother told me a story, later, about sitting at my bedside, soon after that surgery, during regular visiting hours. I had fallen asleep. Suddenly, I stiffened. As my mother described it, “You went stiff as a board. Then, you yelled, ‘I have a tiger in me! A tiger!!'”

My mother was freaked out and frightened by that, I know. Again, I don’t remember the details that followed.

That tale has always stuck with me. My assumptions about that — then and now — include these: I was in pain. I felt like violence had been done to me (and my world). I was probably scared and angry.

One thing I’m noticing now: Just like with my Steiff puppet, I used the word “tiger” not-exactly-correctly, to name something important to me.

As I’m revisiting this story today, I’m glad I didn’t yell out the name of another ferocious thing with fangs and claws — like Bear, Beast, or Monster. Instead, I used the name of something I already loved.

In a lot of ways, I’m still making sense of that moment.

For example, this is a book I’ve been reading lately:


I bought this book, years ago, because of the title. Since then, it’s been recommended by several people, as an effective way to work with people dealing with PTSD symptoms. I’ve resisted reading it, until now. (Also, I CANNOT hold on to the first word in the title of that book. Whenever I mention it to somebody — a healer, or somebody who wants to heal — I can never remember the verb. In my mind, I struggle: “Taming the Tiger?” “Turning the Tiger?” “Stirring the Tiger?” And I look it up, every time, to discover that first word, anew.)

The time is here for me to look more closely at that tiger. And even wake it, in some way.

Something that helps me feel braver and more ready: I’ve always loved cats, of all kinds. Big ones. Little ones. Wild ones. Tame ones.

Including this tiger-striped one, who watches me as I write:


Thanks to all, for reading today.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Day 137: Ghosts and Bravery

When I was a little kid, I was afraid of ghosts.

I remember, very vividly, sitting stock-still, wide awake — when my mother, father, and sister were all asleep — listening for ghosts.

The ghosts that I was listening for —  among all the noises one hears in the middle of the night — were malevolent.  I feared they meant my family — and me — harm.

(By the way, I had no idea what I was going to write about when I woke up this morning. However, I know I’m writing about the “right thing” now.  How do I know that?  I’m crying,  and I don’t know where this post is going. )

I would sit up in my bed for — how long? It felt like hours, listening for these malevolent ghosts during the night.

Over the years, I’ve talked about these memories with a therapist or two.  I’ve been puzzled by why I was doing that, as a child.

I remember a therapist or two saying, “That sounds like you believed that you and your family were in danger, and you wanted to protect them.”

I remember thinking, in response to these therapists  (and I’m still thinking now): “That’s weird. Why did I think we were in danger?  And why did I think that I — a little girl who was sick a lot, during that time — had the power to protect us? Who did I think I was?  And who did I think was endangering us?”

Again, I’m crying, so I think I’m “on to something” right now.

And I’m not sure what it is, but I’ll do my best to get closer to something helpful, before I end this post, drive my son to school, and go on into work.

The thought, “Who do you think you are?” is one that comes into my mind whenever I think I’m too powerful.  It’s a painful thought, because it’s associated with shame.

Another thing that’s striking me, right now, is how brave and caring I apparently was, as a little kid.  I’ve never had that thought before today, as I’m writing this post for you.

Before today, whenever I’ve thought about that little girl, sitting up in bed, scared of ghosts, wanting to protect her family, these were the thoughts:

 How weird you were. That doesn’t make sense.  What were you thinking?  

But I’m seeing and telling the story, very differently, today.

Here’s something else that is helping me do that.

Yesterday, at work, I had the privilege of facilitating a group where one of the members — a beautiful, intelligent, passionate, caring, emotional woman, who had experienced painful experiences, illnesses, and set-backs in her life — talked about (1) things that made her anxious and (2) ways she “beat herself up.”  Eventually, she told us about some scary experiences she had, as a kid.  And the group, spontaneously and authentically,  told her how much they supported and admired her.

And I wrote the word “bravery” on the white board I have in my office. And I invited everybody in that group yesterday — each of them people who had dealt with crippling anxiety at some point in their lives — to think about how they could see themselves as having been brave in the midst of fear.

In the group, I said something to the beautiful, passionate, crying woman — who had taken the risk of revealing painful memories of her childhood to people she had only met a few times previously.   “I can’t imagine a more vivid picture of bravery than the one you painted for us today. A little girl standing —  scared but unmoving —  between a violent person and a beloved family member.”

And I wasn’t sure whether that was the right thing to say, because I wasn’t sure how she would hear it or take it in.  (But based on what I saw in the faces of all the group members, yesterday,  it looked like it was okay.)

I realize — as I am writing this blog post to you —  I am telling myself the same exact thing I was trying to communicate to that beautiful, passionate, feeling-filled woman yesterday.

I’m picturing my 10-year-old self, frozen with fear at night, listening for malevolent forces in my home, not sure what I might do, but fixated on protecting my family, who were unaware of danger, sleeping peacefully.

And, right now I’m letting in, for myself, what I said to that woman in group yesterday.

I couldn’t imagine a more vivid picture of bravery than that: a little girl, scared and unmoving, trying to protect family members she loved from harm.

I have some surprising new thoughts, this morning:

  • Maybe ghosts do exist in some way. And maybe, just like  “clichés” tell us, they are related to the spirits of people who have passed on from this world.
  • Maybe there are signals, to us, in this world, to help keep us on the “right” track. (And here’s some current “proof” and data for THAT. This beautiful creature, who lives with us, and likes to sit on laps, laptops, and other things,  just improved this post with an editing change:Image.)
  • Maybe, just maybe, ever since I was a little kid,  I’ve been a person who passionately wishes to do well in this world.
  • And maybe part of what I was trying to protect my family from were my own “bad feelings” that I  must have had as a kid (but don’t remember feeling).  That is, maybe I was trying to protect myself and them from the rage and fear that any young kid would have naturally felt — having to leave my family and stay in a place (the hospital) filled with pain and people who appeared not to care about me at all.

Phew!  This was a surprising post. (And I’m not sure if it all makes sense.)

But it felt so important, as I was writing it, that I ended up not driving my son to school this morning — he walked instead. (That, however, resulted in my son and I exchanging many “gifts” before he left,  including both of us — in our own ways — expressing love and trying several new things.)

But now it’s time for me to conclude, this morning.

Thanks for reading, and for taking whatever you need from this, wherever you are.

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

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