Posts Tagged With: change

Day 253: September

Now that we’re into the month of September to the extent that it’s hitting people that we’re really into September, here’s what I’m noticing:

  • The topic of “perfectionism” keeps coming up, in therapy groups and elsewhere.
  • People (at least in the Northeast section of the U.S.) seem more confused than usual about what to expect from the outside environment.
  • People (at least in the Northeast section of the U.S.) seem more confused than usual about what to expect from themselves.

Those are some things I’m observing. (Although, as I often hear people say, “Maybe it’s just me.”)

How about a photo to end this post?

The first thing I do, when I decide to use a photo, is to check my iPhone, to see if there are any photos I’ve taken that I haven’t used in a blog post yet.

Nope, nope, nope, nope. (Perhaps I’ll have to go to Google Images, this morning.)

Wait! Here’s one I took several weeks ago:

Image

Why do I think this is a great photo for this post?

  • There’s a specific reference to the month of September.
  • There’s a mistake within the photo.
  • This reminds me that mistakes can make people smile (not just annoy them).
  • The sign, despite the mistake, still got the job done.
  • And, last but not least, the sign shows that all things, especially inconveniences, will come to an end.

Thanks for reading, today!

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

Day 164: Unfreezing

When I was a kid, I had lots of scary experiences in the hospital, all by myself, because my parents weren’t allowed to be with me.

I remember listening to the beeping sounds of heart monitors, in the darkest part of the night, feeling frozen.

I’m writing this blog post from a cot in a hospital room, next to my amazing 15-year-old son, who is recovering quite nicely from a procedure, this afternoon, to correct a “spontaneous pneumothorax.”

Earlier, this was the view from his hospital room as day turned to night:

Image

ImageImage

It’s the darkest part of the night, right now. The only sounds I hear in this room are reassuring ones, including those of my son’s undisturbed sleep.

Each moment I’m with him now, I’m unfreezing.

Thanks, so much, for witnessing this.

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

Day 158: The Ascending Coil (revisited)

The first week I blogged here, back in January, I shared the introduction of a book I’m working on, which described a wonderful, useful way to look at your healing journey through life.

The Ascending Coil

I can use the word “wonderful” with all due modesty, because it’s not my idea.  Carl Jung came up with this soulful and true metaphor, which matches so many people’s experience of learning and growth.

This is what Jung said: While we may expect ourselves to learn and proceed through life in a linear fashion, like this:

grwthL

The human experience is more like this:

SlinkyRetro_L5

 

(And  yes, that is  a picture of a Slinky!!) (Which I’m thrilled to have found this morning on-line, especially since several people I work with have bought Slinkies,  to remind themselves of this concept.)

Look at that beautiful Slinky.  THAT is how we grow. We move around in circles, learning similar lessons over and over again.

Of couse, that kind of path can feel discouraging at times … like we’re moving backwards. Like we’re relearning things we should  know already.

But here’s the good news. We’re always moving up.  Each time we go around, we have new wisdom and experience. Even when we move back around into periods of pain, confusion, or hopelessness, we will turn another corner and continue to move forward.

We can’t fall back. We can’t unlearn.  It’s impossible.

It make take us several go-rounds to learn something “well enough” to change, but we’re always building, in some way, on what we’ve experienced.

Why did I want to revisit this ascending coil, this morning?

Because when I woke up this morning, facing some difficult challenges — some new opportunities that scare me, I had this thought, which helped tremendously:

Today, I am more equipped than I’ve ever been in my life, to tackle what’s ahead of me.  Because, no matter what I’m doing, I’m further along, on this mortal coil.

Thanks for reading, wherever you are, today.

 

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Day 154: Worry, losing, and finding things.

Jonathan Hilton, a blogger I follow and really appreciate here, recently did a great post about worrying. What I found most helpful about that post were the numbers he quoted about worry.

Here were his Worry Mathematics: After subtracting (1) future-oriented worries about things that never happen, (2) past-oriented worries about things we can’t change, (3) needless worries about our health, and (4) petty miscellaneous worries, the post concluded that 92% of what we worry about is wasted energy.

92% of worry is needless, said Jonathan.

I’ve said, to people, that worry never does any good, but I certainly believe that 8% of time spent worrying is “legitimate” (involving financial and other survival issues). However, as Jonathan pointed out, worry is different from concern. As he wrote “Worrying has never fed a child or ended any trouble.”

In any case, I know that seeing such a low number, in Jonathan’s post — plus his specific dismissing of different types of worry — has stuck with me, in a helpful way. I’m doing an even better job, since I read his post, of letting go of worry (which is an old and well-practiced habit for me).

Here are some other things that are helping me let go of worry, these days:

  • Having faith in my own process.
  • Assuming the best, instead of the worst.
  • Letting go of concern about what other people are thinking.
  • Being more present in the moment.

My sense is, though, that I’ve probably written about all of the above, before. And I’m not sure how helpful such general, oft-cited statements might be, for you.

So I’d like to write a little about some specific improvements I’ve noticed lately — related to letting go of worry — in a particular area.

Losing things.

My mind seems to have an infinite capacity to lose track of objects.

That’s an old and familiar story, for me. My mother used to say that I would lose my head if it wasn’t attached.

However, there are many things that are NOT attached to me, and most of those I lose, regularly. These include my keys, my cell phone, directions to places I need to be NOW, sales receipts, the one ingredient that I just bought at the supermarket that I need for cooking, the nail or screw I need to put something together, that one piece of vital information I need for something incredibly time-sensitive and important, and so on and so forth.

And I lose things in such creative ways! I’ve oft stated that my brain seems to want to make my life more interesting, exciting, and challenging, misplacing necessary objects at exactly the wrong time. If something is really important, I tend to carry it around with me and then — BAM! — just when I’m ready to leave the house, it’s gone. Then, when I’m looking for it, it’s clear that I’ve hidden it, with clever and unmatched skill.

It’s like I’m the best magician possible, making things disappear, even when I think I’m paying close attention.

George Carlin, one of my Comedy Heroes, did a classic piece on Losing Things, which I first heard many years ago, and still quote:

THAT routine never gets old, I have to say. I just watched it again, and LLOLed (Literary Laughed Out Loud), the whole way through.

He was so great.

Anyway, I haven’t lost track of my point: Here’s how things have changed, lately, for me.

Now that I’m worrying less, being more mindful, and having more faith in myself and my capabilities, I’ve gotten a lot better at finding things.

I’m still losing these important things, mind you. But when the cell phone, keys, directions, and banana guacamole are gone, right when I need them most, I don’t berate myself. Instead, I accept, with forgiveness and humor, my human tendency to Do That Losing Thang. Then, my mind is clear from self-judgment and regret, and I can usually find what I lost, pretty quickly.

It’s like I’m accepting and even loving the quirky way my mind works. Which is wonderful. I’m also letting go of anxiety about being late (which losing things might worsen). And I’m having faith that the lost things are there, waiting to be found. (As my friend Eleanor said to me recently, when I described losing and finding my keys, “You knew they were still on the planet.”) And, even if things do seem to be lost forever, I’ve been realizing that I can survive without them.

As a result, I’ve been finding things much more quickly. And I’m on time, more frequently.

So, dear readers, I’m going to wrap up this post … to give myself time, if needed, to find my keys, cell phone, lunch, and my head — in whatever places I might hide them — before I leave for work.

Thanks to Jonathan Hilton, George Carlin, Eleanor, and you, for finding your way here today.

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

Day 153: Do I Dare to Tweet a Tweet?

Yes.

A few days ago, I wrote a post called “To Tweet or Not to Tweet (is that the question?),” where the “real” topics included aging, resistance to change, fear of the new, embracing life, dealing with illness, and the d-word (death).

However, Twitter was definitely in there.  And several of the much-appreciated comments I got on that post (including a few from fellow blogger Charmin) have kept Twitter On My Mind.

And then, in another peep of synchronicity, Twitter sent me a friendly, freakishly timed e-mail saying, “Hello, Ann!  We haven’t seen you in a while!”

Because I did sign up for Twitter a while ago.  (My memory is that my son was interested at that time, and we had some kind of mass, household sign-up).

And I have Tweeted twice before, I realized this morning.

The first tweet, quite a while ago, was something related to “Top Chef.” (I confess: I  love me some reality shows where the contestants — or in this case, “cheftestants” — are good at and passionate about what they do.) (Note to self: possible future blog post topics: (1) Reality Shows, (2) Passion and Skill, (3) Made-Up Words and What They Do To Our Souls.)

The second tweet was A Celebrity Tweet. I had tweeted my guitar hero, Pat Metheny, thanking him for the music he’s given us.  (I expressed that intense gratitude to him in person, too, many years ago, at this building:

IMG_0696

which used to be a Tower Records.) ( I re-encountered that building, in April, when I felt ready to walk down Boylston Street, after the Boston Marathon bombings.)

Today, I did a Tweet With A New Attitude.  The new attitude was less tentative, less Twitter Toe In The Water. (That idiom — putting your toe in the water to indicate trying something carefully, reminds me of a FABULOUS blog I encountered here recently: Toemail, where people send in wonderful pictures that include a toe somewhere in the scene.)

This time, I jumped in with both feet.  I sent a Tweet, Intentionally, to reach people.  (The content of the tweet doesn’t matter. Suffice to say: it was goofy. I love me some goofy.)

Whenever I do that:  try to reach people — whether it’s through blogging, speaking, tweeting, writing, mailing, calling, at my work, or in my dreams — it can be hopeful, exciting, rewarding, frustrating, and scary, too.

What are my fears about doing this?

I don’t have messages that are important enough, that justify asking for people’s attention . I don’t want to “bother” them, in the midst of all the other things they need to pay attention to.

And, I can experience shame, too, when I act  like I AM important enough (to send messages, bother people, etc.).

(And here’s another one, that my friend Joe just reminded me about, in his explanation of not accepting my invitation to join Twitter. If I send a message, will kind and thoughtful people be concerned about my reaction, if they decide to set a limit and not to engage in this way?)

But these are all things I’m working on this year, dear readers.

And I guess I’m making progress, because I’m Bothering People here in the Blog-o-Sphere, every single day! (And who knows how often I’ll be bothering people through Twitter?)

Thanks for reading, for not being bothered, and for spending your valuable, important time with me.

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

Day 150: The A-word

This post is dedicated to my friends Rob and Gene.

The very first week of this blog, I wrote about a word that I hesitated naming.   That was the P-word, which was Procrastination.    I hesitated to speak its name, because that can be a loaded, self-critical and unhelpful word for a human process I see everywhere — in myself and in others, too.

Yesterday, I wrote about another word, that I felt the urge to not-name, also.  That was the D-word.  And THAT was a word that a lot of people try to avoid.

Death. (Eeeek!)

Phew.  So much for the D-word, in THIS post.  (I’m definitely on board with Death Avoidance today, people.) (Although, earlier today I was worrying about some deadlines.  And take a look at THAT word. Dead-lines!  Geesh! Is that word supposed to motivate us or paralyze us with fear?!)

Anyway, moving on, to today’s  Word-That-Might-Not-Be-Named.

I would like to present, ladies and gentlemen, the A-word.

Anger.

Not quite as scary as death.  But still difficult for me (and a lot of other people, I believe) to talk about.  And to deal with.

This is what I’m noticing about anger, these days:

  •  Most people (including me) don’t have good role models for How To Experience and Express Anger Effectively.
  • Anger is an emotion that a lot of people disown and dislike in themselves and in others.
  • Anger is just another human emotion, like sadness, joy, and fear.  Everybody reading this blog has all those emotions. (If Mr. Spock is reading this blog, he knows that he has them, too.)
  • Anger is the human reaction to injustice and to fundamental needs not being met.
  • Anger has a lot of energy, to help us change that which is unjust and not serving us well.
  • Anger, the way it is expressed out in the world,  is tied up with hatred and violence (which can be very confusing and frightening).

I’m not sure what the “solution” is …. to the “problem” of anger in the world (and in ourselves).

My belief is that the first step is accepting anger as human — as something useful and maybe even beautiful. Then, maybe we can  do better at figuring out more effective ways to express and use that Energy of Anger.

I think this is a tough topic, people. I’m not surprised that I procrastinated writing about this, until Day 150.  (Even death was easier to broach, apparently!)

As always, I am curious and eager to hear your thoughts about this.  And thanks so much, for reading today!

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Day 145: Positioning and Payments

Yesterday, I wrote about my attempts to remember an important Message to Self, whenever I’m feeling down, depressed, or discouraged, which involved storing this message in a special place.

Today, I moved the Box With The Message, so it can be closer at hand.

photo (53)

I don’t want to lose track of it.

I needed to pay some bills today.  I just finished scheduling some on-line payments.

One of these bills — my electric bill — is going to be late, as usual.  Arrghh! I know why this is.  It’s because my way of remembering to pay bills is outmoded.

This is the out-dated process of bill-paying I use:

  1. I have it in my head that I should pay all my bills on the 23rd of each month. 
  2. Starting around the 18th, I start to ask myself whether it’s time to pay my bills.
  3. I don’t actually pay my bills, I just ask myself that question every day.
  4. On the 23rd, I remember that this technique is based on a time in my life that — if I mailed all my bills on the 23rd — they would all get paid in time.
  5. I delay doing anything about this for a day or two, because I now pay most bills on-line, and the Big Bills are all due by the 1st.
  6. Around the 25th of the month, I schedule the on-line bill payments.
  7. I feel guilty and stoopid, because — as always — I am late with the electric bill, which is actually due in the middle of the month.

Well!  That was cathartic (if embarrassing) — to actually write down my Out-Moded and Not Particularly Effective Process for Paying My Bills.

I think I want to make a change in my life, people.

This is what I am proposing:  when a bill comes in the mail,  I will immediately rip open the bill and schedule the payment on-line.

Wow!  That would sure save me a lot of wasted steps, time, and anxious energy.

And now that I’ve committed to doing that, here, I can feel a change coming on.

I will keep you posted.

Thanks for reading (and witnessing my process of change).

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Day 143: Disorientation and learning

First things first.  I am writing this post this morning having gotten LOTS of sleep.

As regular readers of my blog may know, my getting lots of sleep is  …. unusual.  (See yesterday’s post, for example.)

Anything unusual can be disorienting, even if it’s a good thing. Don’t you agree?

For example, this is what happened yesterday, regarding my sleep:

While I don’t like to nap (and usually avoid naps), I fell asleep at about 4 PM yesterday after I got home from work. (I leave work early, on Wednesdays.)

Then something really weird happened.

I woke up, after the nap, at 5:45 …. and I was convinced that it was 5:45 IN THE MORNING.

Why did I think it was 5:45 AM?  Many reasons: I often wake up at that time, in the morning.  The light felt similar to me. It was quiet in the house.

I thought that my son was asleep and my bf was downstairs, awake. (My bf has weird sleeping hours. He was an overnight cook, for many years.)

I went downstairs, to blog.  My bf came into the kitchen to talk to me.  So far … this all seemed like 5:45 AM.

Then he said something that told me it was 5:45 PM.

5:45 AT NIGHT?!?!?

I was very disoriented.

And it took me a while to adjust to that reality.  I felt physically LOUSY.   I also felt ….

Crab

crab-by.

(I’ll take any excuse to insert a photo of a beautiful animal.)

But this is what I learned from this disorienting experience:

  • I  need to continue to figure out ways to get more and better sleep. (I’m working on it, people!)
  • I must be loving this blog, because I was HAPPY that it was 5:45 AM and it was time to prepare for it.
  • I must be loving  my job,    because (etc. etc. etc.)

As the cliche goes …

It’s all good.

Thanks so much for reading, everybody.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Day 132: What I learned on my spring vacation.

This post is dedicated to my late mother and to my son.

What I learned on my spring vacation:

1.  Take the time you need.

2.  Trust in your natural impulses to heal, learn, and grow.

3.  Pay attention to everything.

4.  Choose next steps that will benefit you (and those you love).

5.  Everybody makes mistakes, including your iPhone.

6.  You get lots of chances to do it better the next time.

7.  Everything is changing and growing (even if you can’t see it).

This reminds me of another Emo Philips joke:

I was walking down the street and I thought, ‘My gosh, that’s Jimmy Peterson. I haven’t seen him since 3rd grade!’

So I go up to him, slap  him on the back and say, “How are you doing, you old moron? You drunken reprobate!” And I knock him down, and he starts crying, “Mommy!  Mommy!”

And I realized:  Wait a second. If that’s Jimmy Peterson … he would have grown up too.

.

8.  You promote whatever you perceive — and acknowledge — in others.

9.  Trust the wisdom of those who love you.

10.  Embrace all your feelings — they will give you “juice.”

And last, but not least:

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11.  If you’re going to assume  ….

.

.

…  assume the best.

Thanks for reading, everybody.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Day 26: What we can and cannot change

I expect that I’ll be posting on this topic throughout the year.  It’s a biggie, isn’t it?

Often when this really important issue comes up, I’ll say, “You know …. it’s the serenity prayer.”  I said that at a group session last week and everybody nodded. Then somebody asked me, “Exactly how does the serenity prayer go again?”  After I bumbled around for a little while (still spacier than usual because I was SICK, people), tossing words out like “control” “wisdom” “difference” “patience” —  I gave up, left the group room, went back to my office (just down the hallway), and got the notebook where I write down things that help and things that don’t help.  I knew I had written down the serenity prayer under “Things that Help” because …. it helps.

After I returned to the group, I read aloud what I had written in my notebook:

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.  

Man, that just blows my mind — how simple and profound that is.  I think I have trouble remembering it because it seems so …. perfect.  When I try to quote it from memory (and my memory can be so imperfect), I just want to stop trying to approximate it, and get to the Real Deal.

As we ended up discussing in the group that night, Part 3 of that Perfect Prayer is  REALLY tricky.  “The wisdom to know the difference.”  I don’t think I’ll ever reach and stay at THAT level of wisdom. I mean, I don’t think I’ll every attain a Personal Development Nirvana, where I’ll immediately know, in the moment, what I can change and what I can’t change. It seems like those are lessons I have to keep learning, again and again.

And even when I name “guidelines” about what we can and can’t change, I have to keep re-learning those, too.

For example, here’s something I often name as “something we can’t change.”

Other people.

Realizing that, over and over again, does seem to help. Now, that doesn’t mean losing faith in other people’s ability to change.  Geesh, if I didn’t believe in THAT, I couldn’t do the work I do.   And I’m not saying that we don’t have an effect on each other.

(Wow, this IS tricky.)

But we can’t make other people change, as much as we might (1) yearn for that change, (2) think we need that change,  and (3) believe they need that change.

This brings to mind another profound, ancient piece of wisdom:

Q:  How many therapists does it take to change a lightbulb?

A: One, but the lightbulb has to really want to change.

Yep.

Just some final thoughts before I end today’s post.  Acceptance of where other people are — and letting go of that need for other people to change — seems to help. That doesn’t mean tolerating a bad situation and letting go of your own needs.  It also really helps to clearly state the effect that other people’s behavior has on you, and to express your needs and wishes, and even name consequences, at times.  (I’ll write about “I-statements” in a future post, I’m sure, which is a handy-dandy prescription for more effective interpersonal communication.)

But, what other people think and do? Not in my realm of control.

And I’m still working on the wisdom to know THAT difference.  Like right now, writing this.

Thanks, dear reader.

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