Posts Tagged With: healing from trauma

Day 3562: Never seen

I’ve never seen

  • a Supreme Court like the one we now have in the USA,
  • the current level of wealth inequality,
  • so much misinformation deliberately disseminated on social media,
  • a storm like Ian,
  • a cat like Joan, and
  • a movie like Metropolis.

I assume you’ve never seen most — if not all — of today’s images.

I’ve never seen National GOE Day before but I’ve seen many people who have dealt with abuse and trauma, so I’m glad this days exists.

I’ve also never seen National Name Your Car Day, but I have seen people who have named their car, including my good friend Deb (“Oskah”) and me (“M.L. Carr”).

I’ve never seen this “Never Seen” video before.

I look forward to comments I’ve never seen before.

Thanks to all who helped me create this “never seen” post, including YOU.

Categories: definition, life in the USA, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Day 3262: Why do we care about celebrities?

This morning, I asked Google the question, “Why do we care about celebrities?” I found several online answers as I read this article and this one, too. As I expected, the articles cited empathy, the need to connect, and an antidote to loneliness. Both mentioned positive and negative aspects of caring about celebrities.

Personally, I’ve noticed my caring about celebrities ever since I cried uncontrollably at my school locker when Bobby Kennedy was shot in 1968. In retrospect, I think that sobbing was

  • a collective response to all the assassinations in the 60’s,
  • empathy for his children (I remember that being my main thought at the time), and
  • a “safer” and more distanced way to feel my grief about some personal losses, including my many hospitalizations, operations, and unexamined traumas due to my heart problems.

Since then, I have deeply cared about other celebrities, including Gene Kelly, the Beatles, Davy Jones, Mel Brooks, Pat Metheny, Bonnie Raitt, Jackie Chan, Prince, Clay Aiken, Stephen Sondheim, and many more. I have theories about why I’ve cared about each one of those people, who are all musical, funny and/or underdogs and who somehow speak to something in me. For example, I “figured out” my obsession with Jackie Chan — who often creatively uses common props at hand as he fights off many people with his martial arts and acrobatic skills — when I realized that I had an image of myself grabbing an I.V. pole when I was a kid in the hospital and fighting off people there to escape from the pain I experienced. Also, more simply, Gene Kelly looks like my my father, whom I miss every day. And Clay Aiken, who was an underdog on American Idol, has a clear, soaring tenor voice, as did my dad.

I am also thinking about this question because my son Aaron, my husband Michael, and I finished watching “The Beatles: Get Back” last night, and I was noticing (1) how the Beatles are so familiar to me that they feel like friends or family and (2) I couldn’t look at John Lennon without thoughts and feelings about his murder in 1980.

Do you see caring about celebrities in my images for today?

Do you care about St. Nicholas and other celebrities?

Here’s John Lennon and “Imagine.”

I am grateful for all those — celebrities and otherwise — whom I’ve cared about, including YOU.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Day 1416: Healing

I hope it is healing for you, dear readers, to read about my healing in this blog.

Yesterday, my healing included seeing friends, eating delicious food, watching Hamlet starring Benedict Cumberbatch at a local movie theater, and appreciating my outrageous good fortune of being alive for another day.

Here are some lines from Hamlet which I found healing last night:

There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.

Doubt truth to be a liar; but never doubt I love.

This above all; To thine own self be true.

One may smile, and smile, and still be a villain.

Listen to many; speak to a few.

When sorrows come, they come not single spies. But in battalions!

Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.

What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form, in moving, how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals!

If we are true to ourselves, we can not be false to anyone.

O God, I could be bound in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space – were it not that I have bad dreams.

Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice; Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgment.

Where love is great, the littlest doubts are fear; Where little fears grow great, great love grows there.

Tis the times’ plague, when madmen lead the blind.

the play’s the thing
Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King.

Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind.

Lord, we know what we are, but know not what we may be.

Brevity is the soul of wit.

Since  brevity is the soul of wit, I’ll be brief in sharing that  I am seeing battalions of doctors and other healing people in hospitals today.  I shall reserve my judgment until after I see them all.

Here are the rich gifts of  healing images from yesterday:












Some of those photos show Benedict Cumberbatch, before the play began, interacting with young people from many cultures about Hamlet, which I found very healing. The play — which was the thing — began with Hamlet listening to a song I always find healing.


For all who helped me create today’s post and for you — of course! — I have one more healing image from yesterday:


Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 40 Comments

Day 1191: You feel like you’re on thin ice, but you’re on solid ground

Recently, I wrote this on my whiteboard at work:

You feel like you’re on thin ice,

But you’re on solid ground.

I wrote that for somebody in a therapy session.

What I wrote also applies to myself and to several people I love.

Why do we feel like we’re on thin ice, when we’re on solid ground?

We all have our reasons to feel that way, but those reasons have to do with what we’ve experienced in THE PAST,  when we believed we were safe  on solid ground and the unexpected — or even traumatic — happened.

In the moment, we are all on solid ground, even if it doesn’t feel that way.

How do I know we’re all on solid ground?

Well, even though there are plenty of people out there who tell us, every day, that there are dangers all around us, nobody is claiming that all the solid ground  is about to

  • dissolve,
  • collapse,
  • blow up, or
  • otherwise give us nowhere to be.

I wonder if any of the photos I took yesterday will help us believe that we’re on solid ground, no matter how it feels?


I feel like I’m on thin ice (and snow), but  I’m on solid ground, April 5, 2016.

How are you feeling now? I hope you know you’re on solid ground here.

Thanks to all who feel like they’re on thin ice and to those who are on solid ground, including you!

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , | 32 Comments

Day 435: What Happened?

Last night, I woke up, thought of a post title, wrote the whole post in my head, and fell back asleep.

This isn’t it.

Today’s post is inspired by several things, including one of my favorite lines from one of my favorite movies, “Tootsie,” with Dustin Hoffman. The line is said by Bill Murray, in an (uncredited) appearance as the playwright who lives with Dustin’s character.  Here’s a YouTube video of Bill delivering several lines (including my favorite one) at a surprise birthday party:

(thanks to palecalo)

For those of you who can’t see that video for any reason, here’s the line, delivered by Jeff, the roommate/playwright:

Jeff: I don’t like it when people come up to me after my plays and say, “I really dug your message, man.” Or, “I really dug your play, man. I cried.”

I like it when people come up to me the next day, or a week later, and they say, “I saw your play. What happened?”

I was noticing, as I was writing the introductions to that scene, that “playwright” is spelled weirdly. That is, it’s spelled “playwright” instead of “playwrite.”

What happened?

Damned if I know. Spelling, sometimes, makes no intuitive sense to me.

Anyway, yesterday, at work, I had to make copies of the packet I use, when I’m orienting new people to my therapy groups.

What happened?

I ran out of packets, because more people have been interested in these groups, lately.

What happened?

None of the copy machines I usually use were working.

What happened?

I don’t know why I had so much trouble finding copiers that worked properly, yesterday. I wonder if this was related to the time change over the weekend.  People seemed to be working strangely; perhaps, losing an hour affected machines, too.

What happened?

Well, I’ll tell you something that DIDN’T happen.  In the past, when machines have broken down inexplicably, I’ve overreacted. I didn’t,  yesterday.

What happened?

I’ve done a lot of work on this, in therapy. I know that my overreactions, about machines breaking down, are related to my having lived most of my life dependent upon a machine.

What happened?

I’ve needed a cardiac pacemaker, since age 10, to survive.

Well, at this point, I think I have some idea what this post is about.

Even though people may sometimes ask the question

What Happened?

… as dazed and clueless as Bill Murray’s wished-for audience members, they still go on, as best they can.

While I may have cried out, or thought, silently

What Happened?

… without any answer forthcoming, at certain difficult times in my life (for example, when somebody left me, or caretakers weren’t there when I needed them), I survived.

And, sometimes, we do get an answer to that question.

For example, if anybody has wondered

What happened?

… to some puppets from Panama:


who appeared, previously, in this post, a few weeks ago …


… here’s the answer (for some of them):



Thanks to Bill Murray, “Tootsie,”  people who ask “What Happened?” (whether or not they get answers), and to you — of course! — for happening by here, today.

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

Day 117: Marcia Kind (and Strong)

This post is about my college roommate, Marcia.

It’s a weekend post, so my urge is to write a longer post, especially since it’s about somebody I love.

However, I am also really tired, since I didn’t get enough sleep last night.  (I am working on getting more sleep, but I seem to be one of Those People Who Can Function Without Enough Sleep.) (As opposed to Those People Who Can Function Without Enough Food.) (Perhaps the topic of a future post? Time will tell.*)

Because I am so tired as I am writing this, I am going to be kind to myself and  my readers and keep today’s post short(er).

This is what I most want you to know about Marcia, right now:

She is smart, kind, funny, strong, honest, and beautiful.  She helped me feel welcome and safe when I arrived at college, which was a new and scary experience for me.  She has always engaged with me in an authentic and loving way.

Here’s what — I think —  has gotten in the way of us being closer at times:  insecurity. (If you want to read a super-short post about how insecurity can get in the way of intimacy, see this post, called “Barriers to Connection.”)

I confess: I have compared myself to Marcia, at times,  and felt “inferior.”

Comparisons — when these comparisons are unhelpful —  are a “cognitive distortion.”  My personal definition of cognitive distortions, this morning?  It’s a human way of thinking that can get in the way of connecting with other people on this planet.  (That statement is based on more than 50 years of eager curiosity and observation.) (Your mileage — and experience — may vary.)

Anyway, I could write a lot more about cognitive distortions, and how comparisons can cause so much personal pain and disconnection …. but I won’t. Not today.

Today, I want to post (with her permission) an e-mail that Marcia wrote me, four days ago, on April 23:

Hi Ann:

I have been meaning to comment on a couple of things that really resonate for me in your blog. Much of what you advise makes me think of how my mom, the sanest, wisest person I’ve known so far, used to help us deal with life’s difficulties. These are strategies I still use, and our kids use, to get past the rough spots.

First, you wisely advise your reader to “let go of your investment in the outcome.” Mom used to always tell us that once you’ve done the very best you can to achieve something, or fix something, or change something, you’ve got to let go and accept that you’re not in control. Her most frequent suggested response to an apparent stone wall in our lives, a determined opponent, an unfair decision, an insurmountable handicap was to “put yourself in neutral” for awhile, take stock, coast, until the next appropriate gear decides to kick in. This, we knew, was the manual transmission version of “cool your jets.” It doesn’t mean stop or withdraw or give up or go back. It implies forward momentum, after all, but it doesn’t strain your engine!! We had a wonderful 1872 book of essays by a man named Charles Dudley Warner of Hartford, Connecticut called “My Summer in a Garden.” He advises us all to “Hoe while it is spring, and enjoy the best anticipations; it does not much matter if things do not turn out well.” I guess that pretty much sums it up!

You’ve also hit on another brilliant perspective of my mom’s. Things are not always what they seem to be. People are not always thinking, or feeling the things you fear that they are thinking or feeling. A good approach to a person who SEEMS to be your nemesis is, mom said, to “kill them with kindness.” Real kindness. There is no weapon more effective than sincere friendliness. It confuses your enemy.(if he is, in fact, your enemy) Everyone believes in his heart of hearts that he deserves to be treated well. You have the power to give people the thing they secretly long for. Call people by name when you talk to them. Everyone likes to hear their own name. It’s also a sweet way to let a difficult person know that you “know where they live.” It is curiously effective to harness a desire for vengeance and convert it to positive action. At first it’s hard work, but it never fails to give you the upper hand, or at least the moral high ground!

And…last comment for now…an ongoing belief of mine that is a subtext of your blog is that we have to let ourselves be “surprised by joy” every day. Wordsworth really “got away with words,” as my baby niece once said. No matter how dark the valley, how horrible the sadness, how irreparable the loss, at some level it fails to reach us. We struggle to absorb and fully realize the evil realities in life. Suddenly, as you often comment, the trees are blooming, and they are beautiful. Lots of people are still brave and funny and loving. As Emerson said, “I am constantly defeated, yet to victory I am born.”

Anyway, there’s a response of sorts to what you’re writing. I’m not just a free rider anymore! You remind me of Wordsworth, or Emerson, or, better yet, my Mom! I hope this finds you feeling that the universe has its arms around you. I also hope that you and the people of Boston are all breathing easier and reclaiming the right to live your lives with abandon.


That’s the end of our blog post for the day, ladies and gentlemen.

My thanks to you for reading. Also, thanks to Marcia, Wordsworth,  Emerson,  Charles Dudley Warner, and — last but not least — Marcia’s mom.


* This is a shout-out to another person I love, who I hope is reading this, too!

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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