Posts Tagged With: flowering trees

Day 2325: If life seems hopeless

Yesterday, after I heard about the death of a patient who seemed hopeless at times but who often gave other people hope in my therapy groups, I noticed this sign:


If life seems hopeless,  look for

  •  hidden treasures,




  • signs of renewal,


  • neighbors,





  • beauty that lives on,


  • attainable and satisfying goals,


  • humor,


  • comfort,



  • inspiring stories,



  • and good conversations (here and here on YouTube).

Gratitude helps, every day, so hopeful thanks to all who helped me create today’s post and — of course! — to YOU.


Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Day 497: Beauty

My first choice for a title, this morning, was “Values,” but then I discovered I’ve already used that title in a previous post.

It’s time for “Beauty” to have the starring role.

When I’m open to it, I see beauty everywhere. Here are some recent examples, in the immediate vicinity:











Sometimes, I just have to point and click, to capture beauty.

I’ve heard that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  I’ve also seen less conventional instances of beauty, recently.

For me, beauty is often related to connection.  For example, yesterday I came upon this, connected to something that often happens to me:


Harley was in bed, inexplicably wearing one of my socks.

I also saw beauty in connection, here:


What’s that little girl doing? She’s on a zip-line, as I was a few months ago in Panama (here).

Two more images from yesterday, to end this post.  The first, at my son Aaron’s keyboard lesson:


The second, also connected to Aaron:


Boy, chinchillas are strange looking, aren’t they?

Thanks to springtime, blossomers and zip-liners everywhere, creatures conventionally and unconventionally beautiful, Harley the cat, Aaron the son, Tim Maurice the keyboard teacher, and to you the readers,  for observing all this with me, today.

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

Day 492: It’s just a walk away

As I recover — and am tender* with myself, through this healing process — I continue to go outside for short walks.

Observed yesterday:




















As you can see, for the most part I was looking up. There were some interesting sights near ground level, too:


That doorway has appeared in a previous blog post, here. I’m glad to see it survived the winter, so well.


Here’s another angle on those daffodils:


I have a theory about why I took this next photo:


I think I really miss doing my therapy groups at work, where people sit around in circles.

Can you see that group, way in the distance, from another perspective?



I like the way the sign in this next shot is preparing you for another sign just up ahead (peeking out, to the right):


Okay! I have to stop now and get ready for some doctor’s appointments, for me and for this guy, too:


We think there might be something wrong with one of Harley’s ears. Let’s take a closer look:


I can’t see anything. Can you?

We’ll see what the different doctors have to say.

I’m grateful we’re all still walking around.

Thanks to those who look and listen, to doctors and walkers everywhere, and to you, especially, for dropping by today.

* In her comment in response to this recent post of mine,  Val Boyko made this helpful observation: “Perhaps it is time to let go of ‘pneumonia’ in your thoughts and words, so your body can let go of it as well. Why not choose a new word to focus on that brings you towards wellness with each breath.” Inspired by that and other words of wisdom from her, I chose the word “tender” as my focus.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , | 55 Comments

Day 488: E for Effort

I have not ever received an “E” for Effort, in my educational experience.

I just googled “E for Effort.”

Here is Yahoo! Answers‘ explanation:

Is it A for effort or E for effort?

Best Answer
tichur answered four years ago
A for effort or E for effort has nothing to do with spelling. “Old school” grades got confused with a newer, less objective system. 

Old School 

E – Excellent 
VG – Very Good 
G – Good 
S – Satisfactory 
F – Fail 

Modern terminology 

A – superior 
B – Above average 
C – Average 
D – Below average 
F – Fail 

Effort grades have little to do with academic ones. Effort means earnest attempt to achieve. 

A for effort and E for effort mean the same thing…superior or excellent attempt to learn.
I want to thank tichur for the exemplary effort he put into that answer.

I will now elucidate the reasons for this title, this morning. As I experience recovery from pneumonia, everything seems like “too much” of an effort. Every exertion, exercise, etc. I extend equals exhaustion exceeding my expectations.

Eeeeek! Look at how many E’s I was able to use in that last sentence! And, I am NOT exhausted.


Expressing my emotions and experience helps, extraordinarily.

Eager for some images, experienced yesterday?

Would you give me an “A” or an “E” for my efforts, today?
Thanks to everyone everywhere effecting any extent of effort, to people who are old school or new school, and — especially! — to my exemplary, excellent, exacting, and extraordinary readers.
Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , | 33 Comments

Day 111: Here and now? It’s safer than you fear.

That may seem like a really strange title for today’s blog post.

Especially since I’m writing this in Boston, less than a week after the Marathon bombings, which created wide-spread (and completely understandable) beliefs of “we’re not as safe as we thought.”  (At least that happened here, in the U.S.)

Especially since I’m writing this approximately 36 hours after “Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19” (as the media is now referring to him) was captured, hiding out in a boat, in Watertown, MA.  According to Google maps, he was hiding right behind the Arsenal Mall, where I’ve shopped for the last 30 years, a block away from places I frequently walk, and less than 2 and a half miles away from where this writer currently lives.

Okay, I want to ask myself  (and you) a question right now.  Why am I starting with time and place, in this post?  Why did I write those previous paragraphs, so specifically, about where and when?

Anxiety can heighten a sense of time and place.

I  state the place and time when I’m anxious, as a way to get a sense of how safe I am. It’s like I’m monitoring the environment and asking this: how close am I to  danger (by location and by time)?

I see that heightened anxiety, now, in people all around me.

I see that heightened anxiety in the people who are trying to make meaning of this new reality: My World After the Boston Bombings.

I see and hear people telling their stories, now, with those kinds of details — focusing on location and time. Details like these:  I live(d) in Boston, during this time.  Family members live(d) in Boston, during this time . Boston is/was familiar to me, during this time.

The punchline, that I hear in these stories, is this: Danger is closer than I thought.

Okay, I’m going to turn to the personal, now.

My Year of Living (What Seems to Be More) Dangerously.

I’ve been noticing, lately, that as I do this daily blog — The Year of Living Non-Judgmentally — I typically write in that state of heightened anxiety. That is, in many sentences I write (including many sentences in this blog post!), I state the place and time.  And I’ve been doing that all year.

That’s because I’m more anxious this year.

Why? Well,  I’m doing two new things:  (1) blogging and (2) working at a relatively new job for me. And the new, as we know, can make us more anxious.

However,  I’ve been remaining  anxious, even as I get more familiar with blogging and my job.

I don’t think I need to explain why blogging —  writing and sending personal information out into the world — might cause me some anxiety.   (Friends, Romans, Countrymen, Writers, Fellow Bloggers  —  you  probably have some understanding of this.)

But why does the work continue to make me so anxious?

Here’s why:  This year, I am doing work I love in a location that triggers old, anxiety-provoking memories in me. For the first time in my long  life, I am working at a hospital, and I  had some anxiety-provoking experiences  in the hospital, when I was a kid.

So, the hospital where I am now working, which is — rationally —   a very safe place for me, can FEEL more dangerous that it really is. Because I have so many memories from when I was a child — memories that color the way I see things in the present, that intensify my vision and my hearing as I walk around my now-safe hospital — as a result, I  can feel less safe than I really am.

How have I been dealing with that, this year?

My own process of helping myself feel safer.

I have been reminding myself — in the Here and Now — of the safer reality.

Whenever I can, each day I walk into work, I enter through the hospital’s main entrance. Then, I walk the 5 minutes to my office, looking around, taking in the sights and sounds, and reminding myself — with my internal thoughts and with the evidence of my eyes and ears — of all these things:

You are not a child now.  You are not a patient here.  You are an adult now.  You are on staff here.

You are in control, now.  You are not stuck here.  You can choose to leave, at any time.

Scary, awful things happened to you, but that was a long time ago (although it can feel like yesterday, sometimes).  

These things happened to you around the corner from here.  And this place may look, sound, and feels like that place.  But that was then, and this is now.  That was there, and this is here.

It’s different.

It may feel close to you,  in time and space.  But it’s further away than it feels.

There’s  distance between danger and you, Ann.

And those questions about who you can trust?  The people who work here may remind you of  some people who did scary things, but they are not the same people.

Those people who hurt you — whether it was by ignorance, fear,  or another one of their own limitations — those people can’t hurt you, right now.

It’s safer than you fear.

Those are the things I say to myself, as I walk through the hospital.

And here are some additional things I’ve been saying to myself, lately, as I walk outside the hospital:

Those people out there in the world, right now, who deliberately hurt others?  You may not understand them.  They may seem bigger and more powerful than other people. But they are the same size as other people.  

And there are others, in your life, who can help you stay safe. 

You are not alone.

It’s safer than you fear.

What I see in others, now

This week,  in Boston, I see people, all around me, doing things that remind me of my own personal process —   trying to figure out how safe they are.

As I wrote in yesterday’s post, it’s the PROXIMITY of danger that can make us feel less safe.   We feel less safe when something  happens — something terrible, something violent, something dangerous, something that shatters our sense of safety — closer than we expected.

And I see others, all around me, already, doing whatever they can to start the healing process.

I saw people in Watertown, MA, coming out of their houses immediately after the lock-down was lifted, cheering the law enforcement people leaving their neighborhoods.

As I walked around yesterday, I witnessed other people walking. I wondered if they were doing the same thing I was doing — experiencing the beauty that is erupting everywhere around us, in the neighborhood of recent, violent danger:











And last night, I deliberately returned to my favorite diner (which — as I wrote about yesterday — appeared in almost every TV image during the capture of the suspect).

I went to that diner with people I adore.



That’s Janet and Ray, whom I’ve known for about 30 years (the same amount of time I’ve known the Arsenal Mall, whatever the hell that means).

I was healing myself, by going back to the Deluxe Town Diner, in Watertown, MA., last night, with Janet and Ray.  I was connecting back with many old, safe memories of that place. With people I’ve known and trusted for a long time.

Janet, Ray, and I were integrating the new, awful information with the old,  as we spoke about the Proximity of Danger. We talked about how the capture took place so close to where we were — as we ate, laughed, and reconnected.

These are attempts to heal.  To figure out ways to feel safe enough to move forward .

That is what I see, every day, in the group and individual therapy work I do.  Whenever I witness people doing that — healing themselves, with the support of others — it moves me, beyond words.

It may be beyond words, but I do try to put that into words, in writing and in speech — here and elsewhere.

Here’s a phrase that came to me, many years ago, when I first starting doing the work I do:

All healing is mutual.

In other words, as we witness other people heal, we heal, also.

That is what I see and hear, all around me.

Thanks so much for reading, here and now.

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

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