Posts Tagged With: expressing appreciation

Day 2331: I’m a fan

I’m a fan of:

What are you a fan of?

I’m also a fan of gratitude, as I hope you know.


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

Day 2077: Applause

Several times in therapy groups this week, there was spontaneous applause, as people supported each other’s perspectives and progress.

I remember attending an “Opening the Heart” weekend workshop many years ago, where each one of us received thunderous, sustained applause after introducing ourselves. I still vividly recall how that applause felt, after I had revealed myself and my vulnerabilities to many strangers.

How do you respond to applause?

Last night, I was surprised by the timing of the applause to my latest original song, “Shameless Appeals for Applause.”


I now shamelessly appeal for applause for my photos from yesterday:


No matter what kind of comment you leave below, you’re sure to get applause from me.

Gratitude is a kind of applause, so I’m now clapping for all those who helped me create today’s post and — of course! — YOU.


Categories: original song, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Day 1585: Excellence

If you came to this blog today looking for excellence, you’re in luck.


My social work intern, Justine …


… has shown excellence in individual and group psychotherapy this entire year. Justine is so excellent that I recently acknowledged her excellence with a list titled “Reasons Why Justine is Awesome.”  When we said goodbye yesterday, Justine demonstrated more excellence.





Justine shared the excellence of that ant quote during the therapy group we both facilitated yesterday. Because of that ant, we all sang this excellent song:

At that same excellent therapy group, as we were saying goodbye to Justine, we all acknowledged Justine’s excellence as well as the excellence of this helpful thought:

The pain of the loss is directly proportional to the importance of the connection.

Do you see excellence in my other photos from yesterday?












Please share the excellence of your own thoughts and feelings in a comment, below.

Thanks to Justine, our therapy group, Frank Sinatra,  Greg Stones, and everybody else who contributed to the excellence of today’s post. Also, thanks for the excellence of your visit to this blog, here and now.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 39 Comments

Day 1052: The coolest

I think my readers are the coolest.

Recently, two of them made the coolest comments:

Hey — you seem like a cool cat! That line of work must be very challenging. I admire your consistent, long-running posts, too 🙂 — cmblackwood

Miles Davis for me. He was so cool, if he was alive today global warming wouldn’t be a problem! — Paul S.

Also,  fellow WordPresser  coffeegrounded did the coolest thing: she honored me with the coolest award (even though I don’t do anything with cool WordPress awards besides appreciating them).

What’s the coolest thing somebody has done for you, lately?

I’m trying to decide what my coolest activity might be, today:

  1. Individual therapy, where I work.
  2. Group therapy, which is the coolest therapy (I believe) because “the more the merrier.”
  3. Getting fitted for a dental device for my sleep apnea, which will be much cooler ( I hope) than the C-Pap and Bi-Pap machines I’ve been using through some coolest and warmest months.
  4. Getting my teeth cleaned, pre-medicating with some cool oral antibiotics rather than the intravenous antibiotics I’ve had to use over many of the coolest years around here, in Massachusetts.
  5. Attending a board meeting of one of the coolest professional organizations of group therapists.

Which of these photos from yesterday is the coolest?

Personally, I think it’s the coolest to challenge habitual assumptions and ways of thinking — that’s why I wrote that prescription.

Which of these cool songs is the coolest, to you?

I think having several choices is the coolest.

Coolest thanks to cmblackwood, Paul S., coffeegrounded, Gwen Stefani, Alesso, West Side Story,  all those who help make my life the coolest, and  you — of course! — for being here, now (which is the coolest place to be).

Categories: gratitude, personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 38 Comments

Day 971: You just never know

On Thursday evening, a long-time participant in my Coping and Healing groups — after listening to what other members were sharing and discussing — offered this  helpful conclusion:

You just never know.

You just never know what somebody else intends to communicate, but I felt like I knew what that person meant.

You just never know:

  • what is going to happen next,
  • another person’s experience,
  • why people make the choices they do,
  • another person’s thoughts,
  • all the feelings somebody else is having,
  • how and why other people behave the ways they do,
  • what our leaders are thinking,
  • how everything that happens might have an effect,
  • how other people see you,
  • what it’s like to be another creature on this earth,
  • how to keep up with rapidly evolving technology,
  • how we’re all going to survive,
  • how to make meaning out of senseless cruelty,
  • how people go on after traumatic experiences,
  • what beauty you are going to encounter,
  • how kind strangers can be,
  • how much time we have in this world,
  • what the heck I’m going to blog about any given day, and
  • which images are going to capture my attention, as I make my way through this world.

For example,

… you just never know what I’m going to bring back from Scotland.

You just never know what’s going to show up outside a hospital gift shop.


You just never know what beautiful natural scenes exist close to where you are.

If you know anything about me from reading this blog, you probably know that I’ll be doing my darnedest to get outside for lunch on a Friday. You might also know, if you’re a long time and faithful reader,  that my Friday lunch choice, from the cafeteria where I work, is kick-ass macaroni and cheese (not pictured).

You just never know what people are going to say at a goodbye party, although that usually includes words of appreciation never before spoken. After I took that last picture above, I witnessed many others expressing love and hopes for my wonderful co-worker, Mary, who is retiring from our hospital-based practice.  Mary, when saying goodbye to me in front of everybody, mentioned Friday macaroni and cheese! You just never know how well somebody can get to know you, in only four years. I told people at that going-away party that if I didn’t know I would definitely see Mary after she leaves next week, I knew I’d be bursting into tears.

You just never know how many connections you’re going to make in one day.


You just never know what  amazing things you’re going to see when you’re spending time with somebody you love.


And you just never know when the inspiration for a blog post title is going to hit. Yesterday, on my drive home to spend Friday evening with my boyfriend Michael, I noticed something I’d  never known before, and I pulled over to the side of the road to photograph it:


You just never know when a local marching band is going to appear on a main street.

You just never know when auto-correct is going to slow you down — it just took me many attempts and minutes to write “Main Street” in that last paragraph without initial capitals.

You just never know when I’m going to give up fighting auto-correct.

You just never know what music I’m going to choose on a Saturday.

You just never know when a beloved friend is going to raise you up by inviting you to go to a musical, like my friend Barbara did yesterday. Six hours from now, know that Barbara  and I will be at a matinee of Kinky Boots, in Boston.

You just never know how others are going to comment on something you create. I guess we’ll find out, below!

Unknowing and knowing thanks to those who helped me create this post today and to you — of course! — for all you know.

Categories: gratitude, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 54 Comments

Day 844: Gifts

What gifts are in your life, right now? What are you grateful for, in the present?

I am grateful for the gifts of:

  • another day,
  • meaningful work,
  • freedom from pain and want, in this moment,
  • good weather,
  • nature,
  • my family and friends,
  • animals near and far,
  • attentive and competent medical treaters, where I work and where I live,
  • kindness, wherever and whenever I find it, and
  • blogging!

I have been given the incredible gift of people who regularly read this blog. Those readers might be noticing that I’ve given no photographic gifts to support this post, so far.

That’s because I took very few visual gifts away from my surroundings yesterday.


Perhaps I was focusing more on appreciating the gifts in every moment, rather than capturing those gifts on my iPhone.

However, I do have two photographic gifts to share with you. I took those gifts away from a therapy group last night, where the group members offered the gifts of

  • vulnerability,
  • courage,
  • hope,
  • personal pain,
  • empathy

… and so much more.

Inspired by them, I offered the gift of a new group activity, where people gave gifts, using the paper and markers in the group room.

I offered the gift of these guidelines:

  1. You can give gifts to anybody in the room, including yourself.
  2. You have the option of turning down any gift.
  3. When you give somebody else a gift, you can also accept that gift for yourself. 

Here’s a gift somebody gave me:

Here’s a gift I gave myself, after somebody gave us the gift of the term “Akashic Record”:

Because I’ve never had the gift of great handwriting, here’s what I inscribed in my personal Book of Life, last night:

Good stuff
More good stuff
It’s all good, even
the not good stuff.

Speaking of good stuff, here are some gifts in my immediate future:

  • another day at work, where I get the gift of witnessing people healing in therapy,
  • a get-away weekend in New Hampshire with Barbara (who has been giving me the gift of her friendship since we were both little kids), and
  • the return home, from a trip to Italy, of my 17-year old son, who is an amazing gift to me.

Here’s my Friday gift of music, from the gifted Elton John:

YouTube gave me that gift of “Your Song.”

Any gifts you’d like to leave below, in a comment?

The gift of gratitude to all those who gave me the gifts to create this post and to you — of course! — for the gifts you bring here, today.

Categories: gratitude, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , | 30 Comments

Day 743: Be nice to me

Exactly a week ago, I attended a meeting of doctors, nurses, and other treaters at the large hospital-based primary care practice where I work. We started the meeting by taking turns talking about anything we chose — work, personal life, whatever.  The person who went before me described something stressful going on her in life, and then said, “So, be nice to me.”

During my turn, I spoke about the therapy groups I offer for people with depression, anxiety, and stress, as well as my new in-the-moment responsiveness for patients expressing  need and distress during their doctor visits. To end my check-in, I mentioned how I’ve been dealing with personal medical issues and uncertainties recently, and I ended with the same request: “Be nice to me.”

It’s nice to ask for niceness from nice people around you, isn’t it?

The day after that meeting, I consulted with a new cardiologist — Dr. Landzberg at Boston Children’s Hospital — which I wrote about here. Yesterday, I heard from my long-time chief cardiologist at a different hospital, Dr. Deeb Salem, who is always nice to me. Dr. Salem nicely sent along to me Dr. Landzberg’s nice note about last week’s consult.

Before I reveal that, I’m going to request this:

Be nice to me.

Despite my dreams/hopes/wishes to the contrary, Dr. Landzberg agreed with my other cardiologists who believe that I will most likely need heart surgery to repair or replace my valve. When? That is unclear, at this point. Even though it would be nice to think surgery is in the distant future, it might be sooner than nicer/later. To determine the timing, I’ll be undergoing (with various degrees of niceness) lots of tests, including a test I’ve had once before, which was definitely not nice to me.  That test is a transesophogeal echocardiogram, which I shall not discuss in detail here, because I want to be nice to you. Instead, I shall offer this nicely short description: gag me with a spoon (or a medical device).

Here’s some nicer news: I asked Dr. Salem about my plans to visit California at the end of February with my son, and Dr. Salem nicely approved.

I received all that not-completely-nice news yesterday afternoon, when I was at work.  Earlier in the day, I had met with two nice people, in individual therapy, who were hurting emotionally. My main prescription to both of them was

Be nice to yourself

… because — as I’ve noticed in my many nice years on this earth —  people in pain can be the OPPOSITE of nice to themselves. That’s neither nice nor helpful.

Nicely inspired by that, I am ordering myself in this moment (and — why not? — every nicely subsequent moment) to

Be nice to me.

Nice. Feel free to nicely join me in that nice commitment to be nice to oneself, whenever possible.

I think it would be nice to share, at this point, some nice photos I took yesterday:


I don’t know if this is nice or not, but when I’m stuck in nice traffic I sometimes take photos to nicely pass the time. That bumper sticker nicely caught my eye on my drive in to work, because “Lax” is the abbreviation for the Los Angeles Airport, the February destination for me and my nice son (who will turn a nice 17 years old during my time in California).

Next nice photo?


The above is another nice prescription I offered one of my nice patients yesterday morning, as I invited him to gain some nice perspective on a worry that was not-so-nicely taking up a lot of time and space in his head. Hmmm. Maybe I could nicely give myself that same nice prescription, as a helpful reminder about future heart surgery.


That’s Mike, one of the very nice nurses who was at the meeting last Tuesday. Since that meeting, EVERY TIME MIKE WALKS BY ME OR MY OFFICE he says, “Be nice to Ann.” As a matter of fact, Mike is saying “Be nice to Ann” as I’m taking that freaking photo. Nice, Mike.

I’ll have to tell Mike how nice that makes me feel (even though we’ve only been nicely teasing each other about it, so far). I’ll take that nice action, today. Here’s another nice idea: why wait letting people you know you appreciate them?


That nice photo shows Mary, one of my incredibly nice co-workers (nicely appearing previously in this nice post) showing me a gift one of her artistic patients appreciatively and nicely drew for her. Isn’t that a wonderfully nice present for somebody who listens so nicely and so well?


There’s a nice, healing heart that previously appeared in this post, many months ago. That heart is nicely requesting that we take what we need. From the two nice choices there — understanding and strength — which one would you take? I also want to nicely remind you that this doesn’t have to be one-or-the-other: you could nicely take both, if you choose.

For my last photo in this nice post, here’s another nice heart for you:


Speaking of nice, here’s Nicely-Nicely Johnson from Guys and Dolls, singing a very nice song:

(YouTube has that very nice version of “Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat” here.)

You know, writing this nice post for my nice readers has brought some things home nicely to me, right now:

  1. If I’m nice to myself, I don’t really need everybody else to be nice to me all the time.
  2. We all have to deal with nice and not-nice things in our lives.
  3. If we’re too nice and too afraid to rock the boat, we might not make some very nice and important changes in this world.
  4. It’s still nice to be nice to each other, as best we can.

I would truly think it nice if you leave a comment — nice or not-so-nice.

Many thanks to all the nice people appearing in and contributing to this post and to you (of course!) for nicely visiting my blog today.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , | 57 Comments

Day 315: How to spin less

When I woke up this morning, I knew I wanted to write a post about ways to reduce stress.


Because I knew that would help me, people!

(Psssst! That’s always my first priority, when I write a post:  Helping myself. Not a bad place to start, I think.)

Anyway, I was thinking of possible titles for the post, but not loving any of them.

Then, I read this wonderful post, by findingmyinnercourage, named “The World Can Spin Without Me.”

That post gave me lots of gifts, including the title for this post.

So how can I reduce my spinning — my stress —  today?

  1. Notice what thoughts, behaviors, other people, etc. help me.
  2. Increase the presence of those.
  3. Notice what thoughts, behaviors, other people, etc. do not help me.
  4. Decrease the presence of those.
  5. Recognize that I may have trouble telling the difference, sometimes, between #1 and #3.-
  6. Forgive myself for that.
  7. Repeat Steps 1 – 6.

Voila!  A formula for spinning less.   Feel free to try that out today, and let me know how it goes (if you choose).

One more thing, before I leave for work, spin-lessly.*

I want to include an image. For that, I shall consult photos I have recently taken.

Here we go!


Another tip about how to spin less: Wait your turn, gracefully.

Thanks to graceful spinners of all kinds and to you — of course! — for reading today.


* A made-up word, meaning “with less spinning.”

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

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