Posts Tagged With: dealing with illness

Day 498: Life, death, etc.

I like today’s post title:  Life, death, etc.  Why?  Because it covers EVERYTHING, and I enjoy looking at the “big picture.”

Also, since I was young, I’ve known how awareness of mortality can help someone

  • be more in the moment
  • appreciate every little thing
  • set priorities
  • overcome obstacles
  • be authentic
  • develop values and be true to them
  • let go of fear and other “baggage”
  • get clarity
  • learn
  • grow, and
  • feel joy.

Of course, awareness of mortality can also help someone

  • freak out and
  • get paralyzed

… but, like everything else, those things pass.

All in all, I am quite grateful for “the gift of mortality.”

Why this title, today? I thought of it yesterday, while visiting one of my favorite places: Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

According to Wikipedia, Mount Auburn Cemetery was

founded in 1831 as “America’s first garden cemetery”

and

is credited as the beginning of the American public parks and gardens movement.

Here’s what I saw, yesterday, at Mt. Auburn Cemetery:

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One of the last things I noticed, before I left Mt. Auburn Cemetery yesterday, was this bench:

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Many years ago, when both my parents were still alive, I lived in an apartment very close by.  I remember sitting on the same bench, back then — reading, sunning, dreaming, feeling, thinking, etc.

Here are two views from that bench, yesterday:

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I love Mount Auburn Cemetery.

Today, I hope I was able to show you why.

I shall now ask myself a familiar question: Does this post feel complete?

It MUST be complete.  Didn’t I say, in my introduction, that the title had EVERYTHING?  And look at everything we covered, here!

However, I did leave out a lot of history, details, etc. about Mt. Auburn Cemetery. And many of my readers have told me that they don’t click on links within posts. So here’s one important fact, from that same Wikipedia page:

Mount Auburn’s collection of over 5,500 trees includes nearly 700 species and varieties.

Wow!  Imagine all the trees  I did NOT show you.  Well, as I  recover from recent physical ailments,  taking shorter walks than I usually do … I did the best I could.

One final Wikipedia fact about Mt. Auburn Cemetery:

The area is well known for its beautiful environs and is a favorite location for bird-watchers.

Hmmm. I didn’t see any bird-watchers, yesterday.   I’m sure they were there; I just didn’t notice them.

I know!  Let’s end this post with bird-watchers, in the here and now:

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Thanks to trees, flowers, people, benches, birds, cats, etc.  And thanks to you — of course! — for visiting today.

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

Day 484: The near future

Yesterday, my managers and I decided this: I won’t be returning to work for at least two more weeks. That is, I am committing completely to my not-so-secret identity of Super Recovery Woman,* as I continue to heal from pneumonia.

Looking ahead to that two weeks, I’m not sure what to expect.

But, that’s always true as we look into the near (and far) future, isn’t it?

As always, I will do my best to redirect my thoughts back to the present moment, as those thoughts go into the future and into the past.

In the here and now, I want to show you this:

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I saw that yesterday. That felt like a first to me: to be offered such a beautiful and large range of choices, to take what I need.

As I took that all in, I also noticed the older, incomplete set of choices, sticking out below and behind.

Do you see that, now?

For whatever reasons, I chose from that smaller set, as follows:

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Sometimes, even when we have limited options, we can still get what we need.

Thanks to kirstindudish.com; to all who offer hope, kindness, faith, strength, understanding, joy, peace, patience, healing, inspiration, courage, love, and other necessities; to those who accept those as best they can; and to you — of course! — for visiting with me today.


* I hereby offer a choice of  past posts about “Super Recovery Woman” — here, here, here, here, and here — to partake of, as you please.

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

Day 477: Identity

In my work as a psychotherapist, I talk to people about their senses of identity and self-worth. Often, those things are intertwined.

People’s identity can include:

  • Family Roles (Parent, Sibling, Son/Daughter)
  • Functional Roles (Caretaker, Breadwinner, etc.)
  • Work-related Roles (Job title, retiree, pre-worker/student)
  • Social Roles (“Life of the party,” “Rebel,” Peacemaker”)

… and more.

I woke up thinking about Identity today because:

  1. For many years, a large part of my identity has been the work I do (notice that I referenced that in my very first sentence in this post).
  2. I am dealing with pneumonia right now, which is necessitating my staying out of work. Therefore,  I have a new and unfamiliar role, which I hesitate to name because of stigmatized words like … “Invalid.”  (I mean, look at THAT word — “invalid”! Isn’t that the very opposite of “valid” or “worthy”?)
  3. Another important part of my identity at work — supervisor/teacher — is about to end, because my wonderful Social Work intern is leaving next week.
  4. Today is my late mother’s birthday, so I am aware of a role that I used to fill — Daughter — that no longer exists.
  5. I’ve been writing blog posts (see here, here , and here) about a new identity — a Super Hero, no less, called “Super Recovery Woman.”

When I talk to people, in my treasured role as psychotherapist, I suggest that they look at the roles and labels they apply to themselves about who they are, as a way of understanding what affects their sense of self-worth.

Often these conversations turn to this very general role:

Human being

Here’s a saying that many people have found helpful:

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(I found that image here)

In other words,  basing our sense of worth on what we do can be a problem, since that can fluctuate and change so much, from day to day.

Wouldn’t it be great to feel a sense of self worth just for being?  In other words, wouldn’t it be wonderful to wake up in the morning, knowing you are worthy, no matter what you can or cannot do that day?

I would like to ask my readers some questions, at this point in the post: Do people think I am intrinsically less worthy, because I am not working right now?

Would you be surprised if I were to tell you that I am struggling NOT to judge myself and my self-worth, because of this latest role change?

And here’s my last question: If you do NOT judge ME right now, might you still judge yourself, if your roles (or other aspects of your self-identity) were to change?

Here’s another part of my identity that I would like to own, at this point in this post:

Blogger.

As with any other role, there are certain norms and assumptions associated with my role of Blogger.  For the most part, these are norms and assumptions that I have had the luxury to choose and shape myself, since I started filling this role 476 days ago.

For example, Ann the Blogger:

  1. Blogs once a day.
  2. Tries to inform and amuse (if possible).
  3. Writes in the morning, soon after she awakes and before she goes to work (on weekdays).
  4. Includes photos, whenever possible, including those she has taken herself.

I don’t know how many norms of that role I am going to fulfill today. As always, I shall do the best I can, without trying to be perfect, and accepting where I am.

In order to fulfill  Blogging Norm #4, listed above, let’s see if I have any photos to show you that relate to today’s topic.

Hmmm, I believe I do.

These are all photos that relate to my Identity/Role as Observer.  (I hope they fit in with my role as Super Recovery Woman, too.*)

Shall we begin?

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I observed this when I went for my dental appointment, last week. That window display is near the Boston Marathon route, and includes appropriate footwear.

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This photo also relates to my role as  …. Mother.  Here’s what I want to point out, right now, about that shot:  (1) the thermostat on the wall has starred in a post of its own (see here) and (2) as usual, I did not ask anybody to pose; I merely observed and captured what was within my sight.

The final two images in this post relate to my role as Lover of Creatures (outside and inside):

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Okay! I believe I have fulfilled enough roles, well enough, here today.

Thanks to imagination soup. net, to all those who do their best balancing many roles while maintaining a sense of self-worth, and — especially! — to those filling a much-appreciated role, right now: Reader of This Blog.


* I don’t believe that being totally bed- (or sofa-) ridden is good for me and my doctors agree. However, I find it difficult, in each moment, to judge a good-enough balance of rest and fresh air.

 

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 68 Comments

Day 473: Depressed/Happy

Today’s title refers to another human dichotomy/continuum we all encounter. Examples of these:

Bad/Good.

Connected/Isolated.

Trusting/Not Trusting.

Difficult/Easy.

To battle our human tendency for all-or-nothing (or black-and-white) thinking, I find it helpful to identify dialectical experiences like these, recognizing they are much more than opposites —  they are also ranges of experiences. We are rarely just one OR the other. Instead, we are on a scale,  shifting up and down, as circumstances and our internal experiences change.

Yesterday’s dichotomy/range of experience (although it wasn’t in the title of the post, “M” words)  was Messy/Neat. Today’s is Depressed/Happy.

Since I often second-guess my writing (among other things), I’ve considered replacing the first word in today’s title with “Sad.”  I think the title is good enough, though.

So what did I want to tell you about “Depressed/Happy” today?

Well, we are in the middle of April, a month I SHOULD be happy, joyful, and ecstatic to encounter. Don’t you think so … considering how much I complain about winter?

However, I am not alone in encountering complicated reactions to April. As I’ve mentioned before, April has been called the “cruellest month  (by the poet T. S. Eliot in The Wasteland).

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(I found this image here)

What makes April — the rebirth of nature after the extended “death” of winter in these here parts* — so friggin’ cruel?

Well, when we are dealing with painful situations AND bad weather, at least we can hope that the advent of spring will bring some measure of relief, making things more bearable. However, once spring begins and beautiful days start to occur, what if we DON’T feel better?  Then, we no longer have the weather to blame;  and that can feel much, much worse.

Sure enough, statistics on suicide indicate that most suicides take place in spring.

springtime is usually referred to as “suicide season” because psychologists believe that spring “signifies rebirth or a change in circumstance for the better and when they find that nothing is getting better in their own lives.”[3]

— Wikipedia entry on “Seasonal effects on suicide.”

My beloved springtime: the cruellest season.

I’ve been dealing with my own depressed/happy range of feelings, since the advent of April.  Granted, many of my visits to the lower part of that continuum have to do with my personal encounters with illness and some losses/uncertainties at work.

Indeed, I have been experiencing something quite unusual for me: some actual moments of dread of the warmer weather.

Arrrghh!   Not THAT, Ann!  Not after this AWFUL winter.

I repeat, Arrghhh!!

I think I know what the remedies for my malady are, right now:

  • Getting outside, once I recover more from pneumonia.
  • Getting some required and appropriate springtime personal protective equipment. In other words, I need a few important pieces of seasonally appropriate clothes.   While I won’t need all the paraphernalia of winter protection, I still have to FIND ONE PAIR OF JEANS THAT FRIGGIN’ FIT ME (and a few other necessary items**).
  • Accepting what I am feeling, rather than focusing on what I SHOULD be feeling.

Here’s something I want to say about the other side of today’s continuum: Happy.

You may know that “Happy” is the title of a song that is EVERYWHERE right now, by Pharrell Williams.

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(I found this image here)

The song is a phenomenon.  It seems to be striking some sort of primal chord.  I have great respect for such explosions in popular culture — I think they’re important. I think they have something to show us, to teach us.

Perhaps you assume that I may now speculate a bit about the social relevance, importance, and learning opportunities inherent in Pharrell Williams’s mega-hit.

Nah.

However, I will tell you this: Earlier today, I discovered the site for his 24-hour video of this song, where you can find  a continual display of people singing and dancing “Happy”  throughout L.A. (as far as I can tell), synched to the time where you’re watching.

Since I’m not explaining this very well, you can check this out for yourself at 24hoursofhappy.com. I mean, why should I be alone in my visits there, people?

Just so you know, the song at that site has been playing the entire time I’ve been writing this post.

It makes me happy, to

  • hear that song and
  • see lots of people singing and dancing in public, since that has been (more and more, as I have travelled up the continuum of self-consciousness/confidence) my exercise of choice (before I got ill).

Now,***I can authentically write  that I am looking forward to getting out there, in the warming April weather, no matter how I’m feeling (or how capable I am of singing or dancing).

I just have one question:  What DOES it mean to feel like a room without a roof?

Well, I know this: It’s SOMEWHERE on the continuum of Depressed/Happy, that’s for sure.

Thanks to T. S. Eliot, to Pharrell Williams, to people who feel like a room without a roof, to those who feel like happiness is the truth, to my readers who know what happiness is to you, to everyone clapping along because that’s what they want to do, and to you — of course! — for dancing by here today.


* These here parts = The Northern Hemisphere

** Most importantly, I need things I can wear on my legs that are (1) professional and (2) comfortable. WHY IS THIS ALWAYS SO DIFFICULT? Granted, I have found the solution for the fall and winter months: all-cotton tights. What IS the solution for springtime?

*** Friday, 4/18/14, 4:13 AM Eastern

Categories: inspiration, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , | 41 Comments

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