1 : spinal column, spine
2 : something that resembles a backbone: such as
a : a chief mountain ridge, range, or system
b : the foundation or most substantial or sturdiest part of something
c : the longest chain of atoms or groups of atoms in a usually long molecule (such as a polymer or protein)
d : the primary high-speed hardware and transmission lines of a telecommunications network (such as the Internet)
3 : firm and resolute character
I hope I’m exhibiting firm and resolute character as I send you this blog post over the primary high-speed hardware and transmission lines of the internet.
Do you see any backbone in my other photos today?
There are several “Backbone” songs on YouTube, including this one:
Feel free to show some backbone in a comment, below.
Gratitude is a backbone of this daily blog, so thanks to all who helped me create today’s post and — of course! — to YOU.
I hope you have room for some roomy associations with “room” today.
I’m leaving room to tell you that I’ve written three previous posts about “room” — here,here, and here. Perhaps you’ll have room in your day to read them.
Yesterday, in two separate rooms at work, there was room for me to facilitate group therapy. In every therapy group, no matter what room it’s in, I always make room for a mindfulness exercise. In the first group, people asked to focus on something they noticed in that room:
After the mindfulness exercise, we had room to talk about the idiom “Elephant in the Room.”
an English metaphorical idiom for an obvious truth that is either being ignored or going unaddressed. The idiomatic expression also applies to an obvious problem or risk no one wants to discuss.
Later, we made room to express roomy thoughts, feelings, or images about this roomy topic:
I had room, in that group room, to write and share that one of my core values is making room for myself and others to grow and learn.
Before I ended the group in that room, I asked if there were any elephants in the room. I hope people felt room to be honest when they all said there were no elephants in the room, besides the little origami one.
I had room in my head for that wonderful dancing memory in that room, last night, because I knew that tonight I’d be going to see “So You Think You Can Dance” in a great room in downtown Boston.
I assume I’ll have room in tomorrow’s post to write about that.
I shall now make room for other photos I had room to store on my iPhone, yesterday:
Speaking of storage room, I’ve been getting a message that my laptop hard drive is running out of room.
Everywhere in my life, I’m making room for the philosophy in this book about decluttering rooms:
Make room for the important things in your life by throwing away everything you do not love.
I hope you know there’s room for any thoughts or feelings you have about this roomy post, below.
There’s always room for gratitude, so thanks to therapy groups, people who leave room for dancing, Fred Astaire, Marie Kondo, the driver who left room for that “I love science” bumper sticker, everybody who had room for Mama’s vegetable soup at work, those who celebrate Diwali, elephants everywhere, and you — of course! — for making room, here and now.
That’s an important topic, isn’t it? How to change minds. I’m certain that — at this very moment — advertisers, politicians, and many others are trying their best to figure out how to change minds.
Yesterday, in a therapy group, we changed our minds several times about which activity to choose, based on the issues people brought into the group room and the resulting 45-minute group discussion.
I had some trouble deciding whether to choose the mind-changing group activity of:
Creating a t-shirt with an important, personal slogan or
Answering the question that somebody in the group had raised: “What does it take to change people’s minds?”
Because I change my mind many times before making decisions, I decided to combine both of those mind-changing activities, as you can see:
Before you change your mind about me, I want to explain that ‘Killing It” is an idiom — in these changing times — for having a passionate commitment (about changing things or about anything else). My changing mind is also noticing, here and now, that I included “songs” twice as I was designing my personal mind-changing t-shirt. Do you agree with me that songs and music are particularly important for changing people’s minds?
Do coincidences change people’s minds? I’m noticing that the last word on my t-shirt and the first word in that “The Times They Are a-Changin’” video have no changes at all. That is, my t-shirt ends and that Bob Dylan video starts with the same mind-changing word — “Quest.”
In my quest to change minds in a helpful way at work and elsewhere, I sometimes use words and I sometimes use images. Here are some mind-changing images from yesterday, when I considered (among other things):
changing the number of rooms where I offer group therapy and
how teachers at my son’s high school change minds, every day.
Did any of those photos (or anything else in this post) change your mind about anything that’s important to you?
If you express your mind in a comment below, you may change minds, too.
Mind-changing thanks to Bob Dylan, to my son’s teachers, to every person, place and thing I encountered yesterday that changed my mind, and to you — of course! — for your beautifully changing mind, today.
Here’s just the inspiration for today’s post title, taken after a day at work when I was speeding around doing so much that I could have easily gotten a ticket from a pedestrian patrol officer, if there were such a thing:
Maybe it’s just me, but I wonder if it’s just or fair for any one car to accumulate so many tickets.
That photo may be just the ticket, but is today’s topic “Just the ticket” just the ticket for me to create a just and righteous post for you this morning?
Or am I just giving myself a one-way ticket to nowhere?
How could my ticketed title relate to the stories I heard and the lessons learned in therapy sessions yesterday?
It’s not like anybody needed a ticket to get into those individual and group therapy sessions.
Also, how does “Just the Ticket” relate to the other photos I had time to take yesterday?
Hmmm. I suppose that truck — up on the sidewalk to make a delivery near Fenway Park in Boston — deserves to get a parking ticket. Also, I might pay for a ticket to see lots of bold characters in one play.
That photo could also be ticket-related, since clothes on sale have tickets attached to them.
Hearts are just the tickers, I mean tickets, for keeping us all alive. I hope that — for one of my non-ticketed patients yesterday — using a jeweled, ticker-shaped “worry box” will allow her put to her worries away at night and get some sleep.
“Learning” was just the ticket for a discussion topic at one of the non-ticketed therapy groups I facilitated yesterday.
I should probably buy a ticket to a hand-writing improvement seminar (and perhaps an art class, too). Here’s what I wrote on one side of that flower:
The flower doesn’t have to learn how to grow.
And on the other side:
Certain things we learn get in the way of growth and we have to unlearn them.
When I saw the moon during my walk away from work last night, I thought, “There’s a spectacular full moon coming up soon. Thank goodness I don’t need a ticket to view that. ”
I don’t know how and when I took that photo, but isn’t it just the ticket for a post like this one?
I don’t know what was going on at Fenway Park last night. It was definitely not a baseball game, but something was playing on the Jumbotron. I’m assuming that
people needed to have tickets to get in there and
I deserve a ticket for using the word “Jumbotron. “
I wonder if the person who posted that sign on their car has the authority to give out tickets to people who park too close?
Okay! I managed to come up with tickets for each of those photos. Isn’t that just the ticket?
Now, are you — my non-ticketed reader — ready for a one-way ticket to a ticket-related tune?
I’m going to start this post, in the present moment, by bringing in the past.
Yesterday, in a therapy group, after every person had checked in, uninterrupted, somebody identified this common theme:
How the past comes into the present and affects us, in many ways
which I wrote up on my whiteboard as
past –> present
… as you can see in this photo.
Speaking for myself, I know that the past has been affecting my present in many ways, including:
I have trouble wearing my CPAP mask, at night, to help me sleep, because of memories of the many anesthesia masks I encountered in the hospital, as a child.
I had trouble, last night, at the So You Think You Can Dance concert, as I was trying to see, when the person sitting behind me tapped me on the back and said, “Could you please not lean forward?” I’m not sure why this bothered me so much, but I’m sure it’s related to my past. I dealt with it by moving over to a nearby seat, which was empty.
I have trouble doing a portion of my job that I find so difficult (probably because of past associations) that I have (over-)dramatically announced to my managers: “it’s killing me.” My managers and I are trying to figure out ways for this NOT to kill me.
Why am I writing about these past –> present things, here and now?
As a way to understand them. As a way to get some sense of control over them.
Why am I writing in incomplete sentences today?
Because I’m anxious, I think.
Why am I anxious?
Because I’m getting my teeth cleaned today.
Why is getting my teeth cleaned so anxiety-provoking?
Because I have gotten endocarditis — a very serious heart infection — three times before, and the doctors think this has been caused, each time, by bacteria that exist in everybody’s mouths.
Why have i gotten endocarditis three times, because of bacteria that everybody has in their mouths?
Because I have a very unusual heart — with a leaky valve (among other unusual things) — that makes me prone to endocarditis.
I can’t control or change the past. What can I control, here and now?
My fear, by reminding myself that
I have gotten my teeth cleaned hundreds, if not thousands, of times and
I have only gotten endocarditis three times and
I have never gotten endocarditis since my doctors and I instituted my current method of teeth cleaning, which involves getting intravenous antibiotic before the cleaning and getting my teeth cleaned once every three or four months.
Ahhhh. The above list is an example of how bringing past–> present can help.
What other aspects of the past to I want to bring into the present, in this post, before I end it?
I’m going to bring the past–> present again, by acknowledging that some people who read these posts have told me they do NOT watch the music videos I include here. No pressure to watch that one either, but it IS particularly awesome (I think).
Here’s another example of past–>present, with the pictures I took yesterday, as I went from voting –> work –> So You Think You Can Dance:
Why did I take those photos? Do you have any guesses, about any of them?
Thanks to Zack, Valerie, and the other amazing dancers from Season 11 of So You Think You Can Dance, to all those I encounter (including people who tap me on the back and ask me to sit back in my seat) who help me learn, and to anybody else who brings their past into their present in any way — including you!
During the past three days, attending a group psychotherapy conference, I witnessed people doing their best to let go of old patterns of judgment that get in the way of love — love of self and love of others.
But isn’t love ALSO a kind of judgment? Isn’t love just an extreme form of … like?
When we say, “I like this” and “I don’t like this” … isn’t that the essence of judgment? For example, when I’ve done mindfulness exercises with people, I’ve asked people to observe their likes and dislikes — of a piece of music, a painting, a shell, etc. — to let go of those likes and dislikes as much as possible, and just be present with the object.
But it’s our nature to judge, isn’t it?
I know it’s my nature, for sure, no matter what the title of this blog.
For example, I really liked this sock that Suzanne — another conference attendee — showed me yesterday:
When I told, Suzanne, yesterday, that I wanted to include that sock she’s knitting in this blog, she immediately put it on, with pride.
Which reminds me of one of the most helpful moments of the three-day weekend — this exchange between me and a group leader:
Me: I know that a typical pattern for me, in a group, is to engage quickly (opening my arms wide — in a Ta-Da! gesture) and then, at some point, to withdraw (drawing myself in, and looking down).
Group Leader: Why not try pride, instead of shame?
But in order to have pride (or love) — for ourselves and others — don’t we need to make some judgment about worth? And by making a judgment, can’t we easily flip into the other side of that: judging ourselves and others negatively?
I don’t know if I’m going to figure this all out today, before I leave for work, but I would like to tell you about some other highlights, from the conference:
Standing in a crowded room, alone, observing others interacting socially, and truly believing it was okay for me to just stand there, without having anybody by my side to talk to.
Dancing with an old friend, in a hallway, as his cell phone was playing “Dance with Me,” and not caring what other people might think.
Meeting somebody new, and learning from her that it was okay (and even beautiful) to take up space, even if you might feel stigmatized for your difference and your status within the group.
Being reminded you don’t have to see and hear everything, in order to learn.
Realizing, again, that it’s okay to be messy:
Thanks to Suzanne, Joe, and all the other teachers and learners at the NSGP annual conference; to Orleans (not the Little River Band) for “Dance With Me”; to people who do their best to let go of old and unhelpful patterns; to those who experience love, pride, and other human emotions; and to you — of course! — for visiting today.
This post was inspired by this (inaccurate) thought of mine, this morning:
I have no idea what I’m going to blog about today
… which reminded me of a psychologist I met, about 18 years ago, at a hospital psychiatric unit, where I did my first year of training as a therapist. Let’s call him … “Dr. Him.”
I would characterize Dr. Him as “hard to read.” I had trouble finding emotional clues in his face or in his body language, to get a sense of what he was thinking. In ways, he was the very model of a modern psychotherapist.*
When I find somebody difficult to read, I project — or “mind read” — even more with that person. And I know I’m not alone in that. All year, at my training, I observed many people trying to figure out what Dr. Him was thinking.
Dr. Him didn’t say very much in the therapy groups at the hospital. But when he spoke, people listened.
There was a certain “catch-phrase” Dr. Him would use, in therapy groups. If somebody started a sentence with “I have no idea” (examples: I have no idea why I’m here/what I want/why I did that/where I’m going), Dr. Him would reply:
You must have some idea.
And each time, the person had more to say.
Personally, I usually avoid catch-phrases, because I don’t want my responses to seem rote, or rehearsed. But catch-phrases stick, don’t they?
I wanted to tell you a couple more stories about Dr. Him, today. In both of these stories, he has less of a starring — that is, more of a supporting — role.
During that first-year internship, I felt pretty insecure in my new role as therapist. And when I feel insecure, I tend to project judgment onto certain people.
When I was having self-judgmental thoughts, such as
You don’t know what you’re doing! What makes you think you can be a good therapist?
… I could imagine other people having those same thoughts about me, too. For me, during that year, Dr. Him was usually “it.”
I recognized that I didn’t know what Dr. Him was really thinking, and I would tell myself to stop having those thoughts and projections. How did I tell myself to stop?
Maybe I imagined a stop sign, like this one, from my trip last month, to Panama:
(Although I don’t speak Spanish, so my memory is probably less than accurate, there.)
No matter how I tried to stop them, those pervasive negative messages kept coming back, during that internship.
One morning, when I was getting ready to leave my home and go to the hospital, the judgments were particularly loud and strong. That morning, I really believed the self-doubts. And, I imagined Dr. Him judging me, too.
As a result, I felt exhausted. Almost paralyzed. And I remember staring at myself in the mirror and talking to myself, like so:
You’re afraid of screwing up, Ann. That’s what it is. Okay, try this! Today, your GOAL is to screw up, to make mistakes. If you make a mistake, you’ve met your goal!
That freed me up, in ways I found astonishing. The judgmental thoughts — and projections — fell away. And I left the house, eager to meet the day.
Here’s my second story, about Dr Him:
At the last staff meeting of anybody’s internship, people would give feedback, as a way of saying goodbye. I have several memories of my last staff meeting, at that psychiatric unit, but these stand out:
I was afraid, as time was running short, that I would NOT get my feedback.
I got my feedback, at the very end of the meeting.
Several people said positive things, as they said goodbye to me.
Dr. Him said, “You’re an intern? I consider you a colleague.”
I was going to write, “I have no idea what image to use for this post …”
…. but I did have some idea.
Thanks to Dr. Him, to people who try to stop unhelpful thoughts (as best they can), and to you — of course! — for stopping by, today.