Posts Tagged With: communication

Day 1596: Reconnecting…

Every time I communicate with my son Aaron in Scotland by phone, there’s reconnecting. Here’s some reconnecting from last night…

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That’s Oscar, me, and Aaron reconnecting.

I’m now reconnecting to beliefs I have about connecting. Every time people communicate by phone, computer, or in person, there’s connecting, disconnecting, and reconnecting. It takes work to connect with others, but there’s no work I’d rather do.

Any evidence of reconnecting in these other photos?

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I’m reconnecting with the reason I took that last picture yesterday. I knew that tomorrow, tomorrow was today and today is the day I’m reconnecting with my son in Boston!

Thanks to the pictures in this post, I’m reconnecting with two songs from my past (here and here):

I’m looking forward to reconnecting with my readers in the comments section, below.

Finally, I’m reconnecting with my gratitude to all who helped me create today’s post and to YOU — of course! — for connecting with me here.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Day 301: Bearing up

Yesterday, I met my old friend Lawry in Harvard Square, Cambridge, for brunch, with some members of his family.

It was great to see everybody.  I loved talking to Lawry, his wife, his daughter, his sister, his brother, and his brother’s wife.

It was particularly special for me to spend time with them, because I had been feeling some anxiety, over the weekend, about my health (and some about the Boston Red Sox, too).

And it was wonderful to be back in Harvard Square. (See “What’s the problem?” and “Random Images (paired)“, two earlier posts, for more adventures in Harvard Square.)

Here’s a little photo essay, about my time in Harvard Square yesterday.

A Little Photo Essay

by Ann

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On my way to meet Lawry and his family for brunch, I saw this amazing tree.  I had to stop and take a picture. Thank you, tree.

It was another beautiful autumn day. Those of us who live in the Greater Boston area have been remarking, this year, about how friggin’ great the fall weather has been.  Those of us who dread the onset of winter in the Greater Boston area have been wondering whether this is a good or bad omen about how painful it’s going to be, too soon. (Actually, I can only speak for my own thoughts about this.)

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Moments after  I took that first shot of the tree,  I had to stop and take the above photo. Why?  It’s a sign about a group, people!

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Here’s a closer shot of the sign (and some of the flags) that you can see in the background of the previous photo.

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As I said, it was a beautiful day. Look at those trees and that sky.

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Another sign in front of the church. I snapped this, as a is Note To Self:  “Ann, make sure you sing more (especially as the cold and dark descend)!”

After I took that photo, I stopped dilly-dallying, and focused on getting to brunch with Lawry and his family.

I didn’t have any photos of Lawry or his family members to show you today, because I was too focused on interacting with each of them, in the moment. Right now, I wish I had some visual proof of how great they all are, but you’ll just have to take my word for it.

After brunch, I went to Urban Outfitters because I needed a scarf and gloves — that is, gear for winter,  coming too soon to a location near me.

And …  I DID find a great scarf and some colorful gloves there, which definitely cheered me up. (My philosophy: If I’m going to be cold, I might as well look cool.)

While I was shopping  in the store, I couldn’t help but notice this:

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I had never seen anything quite like THAT.  I’ve noticed lots of children — and adults — wearing animal hats in these parts, but a full-bear winter coat?  I was very intrigued, but assumed it was most likely just for display. (I mean, it’s almost Halloween, for heaven’s sake.)

However, when I was in line to pay for my merchandise, I noticed that the people in front of me — a woman and her son —  had just bought one of those bear coats, which was being stuffed into a bag. I blurted out, “Wow!  You got one of those!  Can I see it?”

The woman paused, but then kindly took it out of the bag, to show me. She told me it was for her son, Asa, who was a student at Boston College. “Will you try it on for me?” I asked Asa, as I told them both about this blog.

This was Asa’s reply:

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How cool is THAT?

Now it’s a day later, and I’m still feeling better.

Many thanks to Asa and his mother, Lawry and his family, Christ Church Cambridge, Urban Outfitters, all things that make life bearable, and to you, of course, for reading today.

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

Day 299: Why haven’t I published anything (outside of here)?

This morning, I am posing questions about where I am in my life, right now.

I have enough expertise and skill to be a published author. Why haven’t I made that happen, so far in my life?

What’s gotten in the way of that?

Here are some things I can think of:

  1. Doubts about my (previously mentioned) expertise and skill.
  2. My ability to think of a kashmillion things I would rather be doing other than writing something for publication.
  3. Concern (and perhaps some other feelings) that other people would  have the control to accept or reject something that was important to me (and what makes THEM such friggin’ experts, anyway?!??)
  4. My short attention span. (Look!  It’s a baby wolf!)

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Where was I?

Oh, yes. I was asking the question:

Why haven’t I published anything, so far in my life?

Oh, I wanted to state the obvious, at this point.  I’m not counting what I’ve published here, at WordPress. Because if I did, I’ve published almost 300 times.

I’m discounting that.

Hmmmm. I’m wondering if I’m discounting anything else?

Because, recent data suggests that I can forget things that I’ve done.  By “recent data,” I am referring to my blog post, two days ago, where I forgot that I had actually taken a photo of Carl Yastrzemski, when I was at the 1st game of the World Series, at Boston’s Friendly Fenway Park.

So, let’s see. have I published anything, outside of  these blog posts?

Hmmm. I guess you could say I have.

About 20 years ago, when I was in Social Work school, I wrote a paper about how people with disabilities were portrayed in the media. I interviewed people from a local chapter of (I believe) the National Spinal Cord Injury Association, and they asked if they could publish a version of my paper in their national publication. Which they did.

And in years past, if you Googled my name, that article appeared. But I can’t find it now, to check my facts (and support my bragging).

So maybe I’ll see if I can find that article, later.

But in the meantime, it’s a beautiful day!

Which means, I would like to wrap this post up.

Before I do, here’s what feels left undone.

I want to ask  myself another question:

Do I WANT to publish (or do I just think I SHOULD publish)?  (Psssst!  The word “should” can indicate a cognitive distortion.)

Hold on, I’m thinking ….

Here’s the answer.

I do want to publish, if it’s something:

  1. I feel passionately about, and
  2. I think would be helpful to share with others.

So what might that topic be?

I’m interested in communication of all kinds, verbal and nonverbal. Maybe I should write a paper on something like this:

The people in the following image (from a national TV broadcast) are having an experience that most would consider joyful:

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That is, they are attending a World Series Game, where their home team is leading by a score of 8-1, one strike away from victory.  What emotions are they communicating, non-verbally? What are the factors influencing those non-verbal communications, from the stand-point of those sending AND receiving the communications?

That’s definitely an interesting topic.

However, I can think of another topic, that’s probably a better fit for the two criteria I listed above: The therapy groups that I have created and facilitate, where I work.

So I would like to take steps to publish, about those.

One last thing, before I end this post: I believe it helps, once you have identified a goal, to make a commitment for action, ideally witnessed by others.

Therefore, I hereby commit, to my group of WordPress readers, that I will take a measurable step, by the end of this year, to publish about those therapy groups.

Okay!

Thanks to  Dan Shaughnessy (the author of “One Strike Away: The Story of the 1986 Red Sox”), thatcutesite.com,  baby wolves (and other distractions), the National Spinal Cord Injury Association, verbal and non-verbal communicators everywhere, and to you — of course! — for witnessing today.

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

Day 267: Other people’s experience

One of the first “complex” thoughts I can remember having, when I was small, was wondering about other people’s experience.

What would it be like to be her? Or him? Or that person, over there?

If I could magically be transported into another person’s experience, what would the differences be ?  Would it be startlingly different?  Similar?

And I realized, back then, I’ll never know, for sure.

But I’m still curious.

And I’m conscious of that inescapable limitation — of never really knowing another person’s experience — and how it naturally colors everything I perceive.

I’m grateful that I get to witness, every day, people doing the best they can — despite those limitations — to understand somebody else well enough, in order to connect in some way.

Each day, I witness that urge to connect with other people, with other creatures, with some experience of beauty, and with attempts to make meaning.

I experience that here, in the blogosphere, and there, in the non-blogosphere.

Connections.

They help, I think.

Whether it’s connecting because of a beloved local sports figure:

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Or, connecting because of a shared moment of whimsy:

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It helps.

I have no idea who placed that bird on that plant outside my office, but I’m so glad that person is out there (having his or her own experience).

Thanks to Carl Yastrzemski, to fans of all kinds, and to you, for experiencing this post today.

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

Day 260: DOA (Dread of Anger)

This is a question I’ve been asking myself lately:

Why do I have so much dread about the possibility of other people getting angry at me?

It really doesn’t make sense.

How can I figure this out?

Let’s start with a definition of the word “dread”:

dread (drd)
v. dread·ed, dread·ing, dreads
v.tr.
1. To be in terror of.
2. To anticipate with alarm, distaste, or reluctance: dreaded the long drive home.
3. Archaic To hold in awe or reverence.
v.intr.
To be very afraid.
n.
1. Profound fear; terror.
2. Fearful or distasteful anticipation. See Synonyms at fear.
3. An object of fear, awe, or reverence.
4. Archaic Awe; reverence.
adj.
1. Causing terror or fear: a dread disease.
2. Inspiring awe: the dread presence of the headmaster.
[Middle English dreden, short for adreden, from Old English adrdan, from ondrdan, to advise against, fear : ond-, and-, against; see un-2 + rdan, to advise; see ar- in Indo-European roots.]

When I use the word “dread,” I’m usually thinking of definition #2 (“to anticipate with alarm, distaste, or reluctance”) rather than definition #1 (“to be in terror of”).

But maybe all definitions apply, because sometimes I CAN feel terror about other people’s anger.

And that doesn’t really make sense, because — unlike a lot of other people I know — I’ve never (in person) witnessed the traumatic results of violent anger against another human being.

I’m very lucky, that way.

So why so much dread about other people’s anger?

Here’s a piece of data: I don’t feel that Dread Of Anger all the time.

As a matter of fact, I like telling people in therapy that all of their feelings — including anger — are welcome. And, when people have gotten angry in therapy, I have authentically experienced those times as helpful for all involved.

Hmmmmm.

I don’t know if I’m going to figure this out today. And I’m going to have to leave for work, very soon.

I’m still baffled by my Dread of Anger.

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(If you’re baffled by that photo, see here.)

However, at least I took a first step, this morning, by posing the puzzle in public.

Thanks to Andy Rooney, to other people who have posed (or are otherwise dealing with) puzzles, and to you, for reading today.

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

Day 256: Worst nightmares (Friday the 13th)

Today is Friday the 13th.

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Eeeeeeeeeek!!!!!

So it’s time for …..

Random Thoughts about Worst Nightmares

Eeeeeeeeeeekk!!!!!!

When I woke up this morning, I felt cold.

Here’s the data on the recent weather in these parts: the temperature was in the 70’s on Monday, the 80’s on Tuesday, the 90’s on Wednesday, the 80’s yesterday, and (let me check) it’s going to be in the 70’s today.

When I’m in a therapy session — individual or group — people often hesitate to name their worst nightmares. They express a fear that if they share those, they will upset or alienate other people in the room. Often, when people describe an old nightmare, it’s part of the process of letting go of that.

When somebody is feeling bad, often a helpful question is: “What’s your worst nightmare right now?” (Also known as, “What’s the worst that could happen?”) When people allow themselves to express their worst fear, they often realize that dreaded future occurrence is unlikely. And, even if the worst fear is a distinct possibility, people usually realize they have survived worse.

In a previous blog post, I described a worst nightmare I used to have. In that recurring dream, I’d be trying to call somebody on the phone. Because of problems with my vision (and other obstacles), I could not reach the person by phone, no matter how I tried.

Here’s a nightmare I’ve only had once.

When I was a little girl, I had to have several surgeries, to implant cardiac pacemakers .

Before this particular surgery, my father, the nurses, and I had prepared a joke for the surgeons. It must have been the fall or early winter, because this was the joke: The nurses and I had put a sign on my body that said, “Do Not Open Until Christmas.”

The surgeon, in a very surgeon-like way, said, “Very funny,” when he saw the sign, and took it off my body.

Then, as usual, the anesthesiologist put a mask on my face

Somebody said, “Count backwards from 100.”

And I started to count.

I looked up at the doctors, wearing their own masks, looking down at me.

As I was looking up at them, that image started to change.

It reminded me of getting closer and closer to a photo in a newspaper, or an image on a television set.

Sort of like this:

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It was more like a black-and-white image, though. And as I kept staring at it, the dots that made up that image got bigger and bigger.

Finally, I fell into one big, black dot.

And everything was black.

And I heard a voice. It wasn’t a nice voice. It was a cold, unfriendly voice.

It did not wish me well.

It said this:

That person you were before — the one that was joking with the doctors — is not real. This is the only thing that is real. And you will always come back to this.

Then, thank goodness, I woke up.

It was only a dream.

Sometimes, that’s the way a story ends.

Like here:

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And like here, today.

Thanks for being there, dear readers.

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

Day 196: Why I’m Anxious Today (E-mail, anybody?)

Why am I anxious today?

Oh, so many reasons, and so little little time to list them, this morning.

1. Technology, for cripe’s sake.

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I am all for trying new things — with a brave, adventurous, and confident spirit, whenever I can muster it — but technology is proceeding at a rate that seems to be leaving me in a confused dust, too much of the time.

And I am a quick learner, people. Others remark on how quick I am. “Wow! What a quick learner you are, Ann!” they are likely to say, without undo prompting from me. And yet, I am in a constant state of dizziness regarding what I have to learn JUST TO KEEP UP these days.

An example might help here, I suppose. (Although I am imagining that you just might be filling in with your own examples, at this point.)

E-mail!

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Ah, e-mail! How do I fear thee … let me count the ways.

  1. There’s way too much of it.
  2. I have trouble keeping track of it.
  3. Just when I think I’ve grasped the rudimentary necessities for E-mail Survival, a new version of my e-mail service comes along — WITHOUT MY CHOICE OR CONSENT — which screws up my already tentative grip on it.
  4. It’s designed to destroy my life. That might sound dramatic, but here’s one example: In the handy-dandy, instant access clickable group of icons for each of my e-mails, THE FLAG ICON IS RIGHT NEXT TO THE GARBAGE ICON. So what’s the inevitable result, if your hand is slightly unsteady, because of too-much-e-mail-induced anxiety? Just this: When I see an e-mail I need to flag NOW, just to keep it bobbing above the sea of other important but less important e-mails, I am just as likely to erroneously stick it in the garbage can. And vice versa.
  5. Arrrrghhhhh!

(pant, pant, pant)

Now where was I? Oh, yes, I started a list of things that were making me anxious today, and technology was #1. Okay! Time to move on.

2. Isn’t technology enough of a reason, people?

Thanks for reading today. (And if you have any hints about how to help me reduce my anxiety, I am all ears and eager to hear.)

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

Day 191: Compliments

Sometimes, when I wake up in the morning, this is the question on my mind:

What should I blog about today?

Mind you, this is a different use of the word “should” than the self-bullying, cognitive-distortion-y  SHOULD.  (See here for one post on that unhelpful kind of “should”, and see here for a complete list of those pesky cognitive distortions.)

Actually, here’s a more accurate — and more civil-sounding — translation of that Thought Upon Arising:

What might I blog about today?

After I ask myself that question, my thoughts roam about, to and fro, here and there, into the future and into the past, inside the room and outside into the universe — as our human thoughts do (unless we are practicing being more in the moment).

And eventually, my mind comes to rest on a topic, like a butterfly choosing one flower in the midst of a meadow.

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I want to mention a few things at this point:

  1. I had a lot more luck finding a pictorial representation for today’s butterfly simile than I did for yesterday’s, which involved lobster sauce,
  2. I apologize to my friend, Megan, who is a little phobic about butterflies, and
  3. The butterfly is, again, a great metaphor for the Mind of Ann, which likes to flit around (as, for example, within this list).

So, without further ado, the flower/topic du jour, for Day 191 in the Year of Living Non-Judgmentally, is ….

Compliments! (Not a big surprise, I guess, if you still remembered the title.)

Some reasons why my mind lit upon this particular topic, this morning:

  1. In a therapy group I did at work yesterday, that was the topic the group eventually chose to work on.
  2. My experience — within myself and observing others — is this: people have complicated reactions to compliments and compliments are sometimes difficult to accept.
  3. Many new, lovely readers discovered my blog yesterday and wrote complimentary comments.
  4. I am approaching my second-year anniversary at work , which means it’s time for my annual review, and last year’s review was quite complimentary, which had a big effect on me.

What else would I like to write about this topic, before I end this post for the day?

Here are some things that stand out for me, right now, about compliments (including some things people said yesterday, in the group):

Fears about compliments include the following:

People are just being nice.

If people really knew me, they would change their mind.

Compliments can feel like pressure, as if there are now expectations for my behavior, which I’m not sure I can always satisfy.

If I believe and accept these compliments, I will become conceited and act inappropriately.

Other thoughts about compliments I’ve heard (from myself and others) include:

I LOVE them!!!

I don’t know what to say, and I often discount, dismiss, or deflect them.

I wish I got more of them, from the people who really matter.

It’s weird to get them now, when I didn’t hear them at all when I was growing up.

In conclusion, I’m going to quote something somebody said at group yesterday:

Compliments make me anxious, but that’s not a bad thing.

One more thing!  If you don’t know what to say in response to a compliment, here’s a no-fail, two-word solution:

Thank you.*

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* for reading today, etc.

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

Day 172: Direct communication

What are the words that are difficult to say to somebody else?

Often, it’s when we fear that the other person will have a negative reaction, like disappointment.

Here’s why this issue is on my mind this morning:  Somebody at work had made a difficult decision she needed to tell me about. She was afraid I would be disappointed by what she had to say, so she put off telling me, waiting for the “right time.”

The right time hadn’t come yet.

I asked her about it last night, and found out that way.

That is my least favorite way of finding out something difficult.

So when she answered my question with the disappointing news, I felt stunned. The wind got knocked out of me.  I was direct about THAT, by the way. And she and I talked things through. And it’s all okay.

I’ve been on both sides of this situation: being disappointed and disappointing somebody else. (As you have, too, I assume.)

And, I totally relate to the wish to not disappoint somebody. I’ve also experienced reluctance and procrastination about telling somebody something difficult.

However, I am going to make a strong pitch, right now, for direct communication, the sooner the better.

If we have something difficult to tell somebody, if we fear disappointment as a reaction, let’s try this:

  1. Recognize and let go of beliefs that this will damage or destroy the relationship.
  2. Remember that other people are not as fragile as you fear.
  3. Tell yourself you’ve made a difficult decision, and you’ve done the best you can.
  4. Realize that, whatever happens, you’ll learn something.
  5. Take a deep breath.
  6. Say it.

Let’s see if I can practice this — role model it — right now.

(Internal process of preparation.)

(Deep breath.)

I have nothing more to say this morning.

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

Day 156: Taking in what’s out there

There are certain things that are difficult for me to take in, for whatever reason.

I’m working on being more open to perceiving them, and allowing them in.

I could write about many things, in this regard, but i’m going to focus on one.

The love that’s out there.

I have trouble “reading” it, sometimes.  I’m afraid of it. Afraid of needing it. Afraid I’ll see it when it isn’t there, and then be disappointed and bereft. Afraid of losing it, once I see it and believe it.

Sometimes, when I’m feeling good, I see love everywhere. In everything.

I see it when I take a detour, walking to work:

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In the bunny in the backyard:

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In the faces of people “on my team“:

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In people I’ve just met:

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In people I’ve known, for a long, long time:

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I see it in messages people leave for others:

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And in messages I leave to myself:

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What makes all that love so difficult to take in?

Disappointment.  Anger. Pain.

That’s been my experience.

At the same time, in my work, I try to make it very, very clear that I invite — that I whole-heartedly welcome —  those very things: people’s disappointment, anger, and pain.

I think that’s essential, for healing. To believe that those things are finally welcomed by somebody. To feel those things. And to clear the way, leaving room for everything that’s out there.

Including those things that are so hard to see, sometimes.

I guess this post is done, for today.  Thanks for reading, everybody.

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

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