Posts Tagged With: childhood hospital experiences

Day 1294: Alone/Connected

When I was a little kid, I spent a lot of time in hospitals, because of my unusual heart.  Because hospitals didn’t have the heart they have now, they did not allow my parents to spend the night with me.  As a result, I  was frightened and alone, during a time I especially needed to feel connected and protected.

As I’ve grown, I’ve known, intellectually, that I am not alone. But the feelings from childhood persist.

As I’m typing this post now, alone, I’m realizing that I am probably less alone, here and now, than I’ve ever been in my life because of friends, family, doctors, and connections through WordPress.

And yet, it’s so easy for all those people to vanish from my consciousness, leaving  behind that old childhood “knowledge”  of being alone.

Whenever I experience a hospital stay — as I did last week — those feelings of aloneness get retriggered.  Like many other people,  when I feel vulnerable, sick, and in unfamiliar surroundings, I can be much more aware of my aloneness than of  my connectedness with others.  There is something about being alone in a hospital room, listening to the sounds of machines that measure your breathing and pulse, that can bring on a stark sense of isolation.

And yet, even in the hospital, there are always moments when I KNOW I am not alone. Those moments of connectedness include my time on WordPress, every day.

Thanks to my readers, for always reminding me that I am NOT alone.

Yesterday, I felt well enough to go for a walk alone.

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When I took every picture yesterday, I felt connected, even when I was alone.

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Is there one picture, alone, that stands out for you, as THE image for today’s post?

Originally, I thought I was going to include one musical number, alone:

 

But my own photos inspired  me to connect  to this number

 

and this one:

 

Thanks to all those who helped me connect and feel less alone today, including you!!!

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

Day 1006: It Takes Two

It took two earbuds, yesterday morning, to deliver to my two ears a great Stephen Sondheim song — “It Takes Two.”

It takes two exceptional actor/singers — Chip Zien and Joanna Gleason — from the original Broadway production of Sondheim’s Into the Woods to sing “It Takes Two” in that YouTube video.

It takes two things very dear to my heart — seen on October 2 — to create the first  “It Takes Two” image of today’s post:

It takes two happy moments for me to tell you that’s my wonderful friend  (and ex-co-worker) Mary next to my new yellow car.

It takes two — I and my iPhone camera — to notice and capture pictures I think relate to my blog posts, every day.


  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  

As I’m typing this post with my two hands, it takes about two moments for me to come up with more than two associations for “It Takes Two.”

  • It takes two parents to help our son Aaron negotiate the college application process, so I’ve asked Aaron’s father, Leon, to meet with us today after 2 PM, to discuss all that.
  • It takes two days for me to come up with all the wonderful things I can say about my son Aaron, so I’m probably going to spend two hours today at the keyboard creating a “Parent Brag Sheet for College Recommendations.”
  • It takes two people, or more,  in a therapy office to come up with effective ideas for dealing with anxiety, depression, and many other challenges to people’s mental health.
  • It takes two cardiologists — Drs. Deeb Salem and Mark Estes — to give me the level of care I need for my very unusual heart.
  • It takes two doctors — my Primary Care Physician and a sleep specialist — to help me figure out how the heck to treat my mild sleep apnea.
  • It takes two sleep machines for me to conclude that I really dislike wearing a medical machine at night.
  • It takes approximately two minutes for me to attempt to explain why I dislike wearing medical machines at night. That experience is way too close to too many memories I have of being attached to medical machines before the age of 12, when it took two parents to take me and leave me at Children’s Hospital to receive more than two pacemakers between the ages of 10 and 12,  to keep me alive.
  •  It takes two months to reschedule an appointment with the sleep specialist at Tufts Medical Center, so I’m too grateful that I’m finally seeing seeing him, in not too much more than 2 x 2 days.
  • It took two tickets to Boston’s Symphony Hall last night to get me and my boyfriend Michael in to see Mozart’s Requiem  — which I sang 2 x 2 decades ago with the MIT Chorus.  Musical scholars think it took two people to write Mozart’s RequiemMozart and Franz Sussmayr to complete it after Mozart’s untimely death at age 35.

It takes two people (at least) to create a legitimate Wikipedia page, and it takes two sentences from the Wikipedia entry about Mozart’s Requiem to show that it takes two of several different instruments to play the Requiem:

The Requiem is scored for 2 basset horns in F, 2 bassoons, 2 trumpets in D, 3 trombones (alto, tenor & bass), timpani (2 drums), violins, viola and basso continuo (cello, double bass, and organ). The vocal forces include soprano, contralto, tenor, and bass soloists and an SATB mixed choir.

When I sang the Requiem with the MIT Chorus  two years after I had graduated from a college not too far from MIT,  I was an “S” in the SATB (Soprano Alto Tenor Bass) mixed chorus.

Yesterday, it took two people to have this conversation about the Requiem:

Me: Perhaps the best music ever written — Mozart’s Requiem — is playing at Symphony Hall tonight.  Do you want to go?

Michael (after a pause):  Sure, baby.

It takes two words from my boyfriend to make me really, really happy, sometimes.

It takes two seconds for me to decide to share this part of the Requiem (which everybody agrees was written only by Mozart).

It apparently takes two musical numbers for me to successfully complete this post.

It takes way more than two people to help me create every post I write here. Thanks to all of them and to you — of course! — for taking the time to read this.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 48 Comments

Day 838: It fills the space

I remember a therapy session at work, yesterday, when we were talking about comparing your problems to other people’s problems.   Somebody quoted how Victor Frankl wrote that any problem will fill the available space, like a gas.

I just looked up the exact quote, from Man’s Search for Meaning, and here it is:

To draw an analogy: a man’s suffering is similar to the behavior of a gas. If a certain quantity of gas is pumped into an empty chamber, it will fill the chamber completely and evenly, no matter how big the chamber. Thus suffering completely fills the human soul and conscious mind, no matter whether the suffering is great or little. Therefore the “size” of human suffering is absolutely relative.

I really appreciated that person filling my office with Victor Frankl’s life-filling thoughts.

I remember, also yesterday, how my ears, mind, heart, and soul were filled with this Stephen Sondheim song, from Evening Primrose:

That song — “I Remember” — is sung by a girl who’s been trapped, from a very young age, inside a department store.

I loved Evening Primrose when I saw it, on television, when I was a kid. What fills my mind now is how I may have related to that girl, since I filled some of my days and nights trapped — not in a department store, but in a Children’s Hospital.

Like that girl, I am filled with appreciation for all those wonderful things that fill the world.

As usual, what filled my ears, eyes, mind, and soul, yesterday — including the beautiful lyrics from “I Remember” — affected how my iPhone was filled with images and  how I fill this post, today:

                  

      

That “Work Zone” sign  is filling that last photo so much, you might miss the first flowering tree I’ve seen in Boston, this spring.

Feel free to fill the space of a comment here with anything that’s filling you, now, about this post.

I shall now fill the space of this post with my gratitude for my patients, for Victor Frankl, for Stephen Sondheim, for Judy Butterfield, for the sky, for the trees, for everything I experienced yesterday,  and for you.

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

Day 812: Faces

Here are some thoughts about faces I am facing right now:

  • Human beings are hard-wired to notice faces and facial expressions,
  • In this blog, I avoid showing my face in photos and videos,
  • When I  am not in the presence of people, I can easily imagine them with negative expressions on their faces,
  • When I was a kid, I was freaked out by an episode of The Outer Limits TV show, with aliens that looked like giant ants with angry faces,
  • When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time In the hospital, where doctors and nurses wore surgical masks when they were about to operate on me, so I couldn’t see adults’ faces at times that were particularly scary,
  • When I was participating in a two-day group therapy experience in California last month, I became frightened when the light in the room changed and I couldn’t see the faces of the other people,
  • Several times, I’ve watched the video of me singing The Lion Sleeps Tonight (posted  in my blog yesterday), looking at people’s faces and interpreting their reactions differently,
  • The media seems to focus on conventionally beautiful faces and on faces with “ugly” expressions,  and
  • When I am feeling safe and secure, I find faces of all kinds very beautiful.

Here are some faces I noticed yesterday, as my boyfriend Michael and I were facing food shopping at our local supermarket:

              

  

Here’s a song about a face,  performed by mop-topped faces:

If “I’ve Just Seen a Face” by the Beatles is not showing its face here, you can find it on YouTube, along with this version of that tune performed by Paul McCartney and a face he loved:

I look forward to facing any thoughts, feelings, and/or suggestions about other Face songs  from you, in a comment facing below.

Now I need to go face the beginning of my work week!

Many thanks to all the faces I’ve seen in my life, to The Beatles, to Paul and Linda McCartney, to musicians and others who’ve put so many smiles on my face over the years, and to you — of course! — for spending Face Time with me, here and now.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , | 44 Comments

Day 389: Company

It’s time for a Random Thoughts post!

For your amusement and edification,1 I shall now free-associate about the word “company.”

“Company” is a musical by Stephen Sondheim.

I love musicals. My favorite musical-ist (to coin a word) is Stephen Sondheim.

I especially love the musical “Company.”

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“Company” is special to me, for many reasons:

  1. I find the music, lyrics, the book — and everything else about “Company” — very smart.
  2. Despite critics saying that Sondheim musicals are too cerebral, cold, or (insert any other critical word here), I find his work emotional, illuminating, and all-around excellent — for the mind, heart, and soul.
  3. When I was in my 20’s, I tried out for a local production of “Company,” and got to sing my heart — and brains — out during several months of rehearsals and performances.
  4. In many ways, Sondheim has made my life worth living.

Company is something I seek, but also need to balance with alone time.

Connecting with others is very important to me, and something I love to do.

Sometimes, when company is there, I am yearning to be alone.

When I was a little kid in the hospital, I would wait, with every fiber of my being, for visiting hours to begin, so my mother and other people in my life could come and visit me.

Sometimes I feel alone in the company of others.

When I feel less safe and secure (due to external and/or internal conditions), it is especially difficult to tolerate being alone.

Lately (as described here and here), I’ve been using the GPS-type app, Waze, for company, when I drive to and from work.  Other helpful company — here in the Blog-o-sphere —  have helped me realize that Waze might not be the best company for that situation.

A couple of days ago, to replace Waze during drive-time, I returned to the company of an old musical friend, Pat Metheny:

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I had a little trouble deciding which video to include here, but I can never resist this tune (and it reflects my recent experience — listening to the album Pat made with Anna Maria Jopek):

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If you don’t have time to watch or listen to that live version (although I hope you do get to check it out, at some point, especially Pat soloing, starting around 4:30) …. here’s a different, short piece from the Pat Metheny and Anna Maria Jopek album, Upojenie:

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In many ways, Pat Metheny has helped make my life worth living.

Thanks to Stephen Sondheim, to Pat Metheny, to all those connections that have helped so much,  and to you — of course! — for visiting today.


  1. At least that is my intent.

  2. I found that at The Stephen Sondheim Reference Guide.

  3. I chose this video, made by the University of Rhode Island about their production of Company, because it suited my purposes and intent for this blog post. Also, Note This: When I use footnote superscripts, I can’t put them on the same line with a video that’s imbedded within a post.  So this footnote needs to be hanging out there, alone, on the line, without any company … even if it looks weird.

  4. I found that image here.

  5.  Thanks to waltermigratore, and to that lonely superscript number “5”, hanging out in space above.

  6. Thanks to alleviate1. You know what? That last hanging-out-in-mid-air superscript probably doesn’t feel quite alone, having two others just like it, in the same post.

Categories: inspiration, Nostalgia, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

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