Posts Tagged With: healing

Day 2053: Peace & Quiet

In an Iceland hotel, instead of demanding “Do Not Disturb,” one politely asks for “Peace & Quiet.”

I think we all deserve some Peace & Quiet these days, especially with all the noise in the news.

Do you see any Peace and/or Quiet in my other photos from yesterday?

I’m off for another day of Peace, Quiet, & Dramatic Scenery in Iceland.

Peace, Quiet, & Thanks to all who helped me create today’s blog post and — of course! — to you.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Day 1859: That was then, this is now

January was then,  February is now.

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That was February 1st when I took those photos, this is now February 2nd, Groundhog Day, and my 65th birthday.

For those of us who are still recovering from the past, this is now the time to tell ourselves: “That was then, this is now.”  The then is still with us, but the now offers the gifts of opportunity, healing, and hope.

That was then when I watched and listened to The Monkees This is now “That Was Then, This is Now.”

 

That was my blog post for the day.  This is now my gratitude for all who have helped me get through the then and the now, including the Monkees, The New Yorker, Roz Chast,  and YOU.

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

Day 1858: Falling

Ever since I’ve been on anticoagulant medication  (for most of the time I’ve been writing this blog), I’ve been afraid of falling, so I take great care not to fall.

Yesterday, despite my efforts not to fall, I felt myself falling on my walk to work.  I tried not to fall, but you can’t fight city hall and sometimes you can’t fight a fall.

As I was falling and I saw the cold, hard sidewalk rushing up to meet me, I thought,

  • Ooops!
  • I didn’t expect this.
  • I hope I won’t bruise too much.
  • I’m probably going to feel this for a while.
  • I bet this looks interesting to other people.

After falling, I stayed down, checking myself.  I was glad I hadn’t hit my head or my Implantable Cardiac Device (ICD). I didn’t think I had broken anything. I couldn’t see any bruising.  People in cars rolled down their windows and asked, “Are you all right?” I replied, “I THINK so.”   A woman walking behind me asked if I was okay and she helped me get up off the sidewalk.   She said, “Did you slip on the ice?”  We looked around and didn’t see any ice.  I said, “I think I just caught my toe on something.”  Everybody else I told about falling yesterday asked, “Did you slip on the ice?”  I could have easily fallen into a white lie and said, “Yes,” but lying is not one of my fallings.

An hour before the falling, I had called to make an appointment to see a doctor about the ongoing pain around my ICD, so I had the relief of knowing I would see a doctor later that day.  And because I naturally fall into trying to look at the bright side, I thought, “Well, maybe the pain from this fall will distract me from the other pain.”

And it did.  As the morning went on, my falling resulted in increasing pain in my shoulder. It hurt to draw this on the whiteboard in my Wednesday morning group:

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Because many members of the group had many obligations and worries falling on them, I suggested that they draw a protective circle around themselves and write down the things that were bothering them outside the circle.  I invited them to include the realities of the present moment inside the circle with them.

Inside my circle, I wrote “warmth,” “safety,” and “pain” among other things.  Outside the circle, I wrote “falling,”” “hard sidewalks,” and “pain” among other things.

Since falling, I’ve seen a doctor and had an X-ray.  There are no breaks or dislocations. I’m using ice and Extra Strength Tylenol to ease the pains from my falling.

I’m falling into a prediction that I’ll be feeling pain on my birthday tomorrow but I’ll also be feeling joy for having the strength to get up, again, after falling.

Here’s a song I heard somebody singing at The Voice try-outs last Saturday:

 

While you listen to Alicia Keys singin’ “Fallin’,” here are more photos I took after falling:

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Gotta go ice my shoulder and go to work. Plan for the day: Avoid Falling.

As usual, I’m falling into gratitude for all who helped me create today’s post and — of course! — for YOU.

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Categories: group therapy, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 33 Comments

Day 1738: Sharing dreams

Yesterday, I was asked to facilitate a group for staff, in addition to my usual Tuesday “Coping and Healing” group.  As usual, I was honored to provide a safe-enough space for people to express themselves and to connect with others in a healing way.

In both of the groups, people discussed the tragic events in the news. In one of the groups, the members decided to share and comment on each other’s recent dreams.  Whenever I work with dreams in a group, I encourage people to respond to other people’s dreams  with “If it were my dream, it might mean ….”  People’s dreams included sacrifice, animals, losing a baby, wandering in an enormous house, being chased, and communicating with dead relatives.  I mentioned that I’d recently dreamed that I was friends with Stephen Colbert.

If it were your dream, what might those dreams mean to you? What dreams have you been having lately?

I snapped only four photos yesterday, two consciously and the other two unconsciously.

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During dark times, try sharing your dreams.

Somebody is sharing dreams on YouTube:

 

Many thanks to you for sharing these dreams with me, here and now.

 

Categories: group therapy, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 31 Comments

Day 1656: Holding on

I’m holding on to many things as we pack up to move, including

  • my sense of humor,
  • things I find valuable,
  • my job,
  • creatures I love,
  • my thoughts,
  • my feelings,
  • my sanity, and
  • my iPhone, so I can be put on hold and also take pictures of my holdings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Before I started writing today’s blog post, I got a little ferklempt at the end of this excerpt from last night’s Jimmy Kimmel Show (which is holding on here at YouTube):

 

As always, I’m holding on to gratitude for all those who helped me create today’s post and — of course! — for you, who keep me holding on.

 

 

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

Day 737: Home

Today, I’m returning to Boston Children’s Hospital,* where I spent many days and nights away from home, between the ages of 8 and 27.

People’s feelings and thoughts about home are shaped by many things. My experience of home was highlighted and shadowed by many experiences at a place that was NOT home for me — the hospital.

Here are my in-the-moment associations with “home”:

  • Home is where the heart is (something my late mother used to say).
  • I sometimes have a lot of feelings — including fear, sadness,  and anxiety — when I have to leave home. These feelings can be out-of-proportion to the current situation and — I believe — influenced by my experiences of home and the hospital, when I was a little kid.
  • Between the ages of 8 and 13, being away from home at the hospital was particularly difficult for me, because I had to undergo many scary procedures and surgeries, and — in the 1960’s — Children’s Hospital did not allow parents to stay with their children outside of regular visiting hours.
  • When I would arrive at the hospital, in the 1960’s, for yet another stay, I would immediately make myself feel more at home by spending hours on the pay phone, talking to my friends, feeding the phone with a pile of quarters (supplied by my parents).
  • Because of my many experiences at the hospital — dealing with a range of different nurses, doctors, and other big people — I am very skilled, to this day, at homing in on who is kind, empathic, and trustworthy and who is not.
  • Home = safety, wherever we can find it.

I love that I’m home, as I’m writing this blog post today.

Here are some photos of home:

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A penny for your thoughts about this post, so far?

Here’s one of my favorite “home” songs:

Pat Metheny‘s music (including “Letter from Home” found here on YouTube) has made hospitals feel more like home to me, many times.

When I was home with my family in the 1960’s, Burt Bacharach brought many songs into the home, including this one:

“A House is Not a Home” is making a home here, on YouTube.

What’s your favorite “Home” song?

While I may have some feelings of anxiety and sadness right now, as I prepare to leave home for Children’s Hospital,* it helps to tell myself this:

I am no longer a child. I am an adult now, with control, power, resources, supports, and skills I did not have back in the days when Children’s Hospital was my home-away-from-home.

In my usual free-associative way, I am now thinking about the word “homework” and how — as a psychotherapist — I like to give people homework.  Here are some of my associations with “homework” as I’m writing this at home:

  • When I give my patients/clients homework and they don’t do it, I tell them, “That wasn’t the right homework” and we try something else.
  • When I was in therapy decades ago, working on difficult memories from my hospitalizations, I came up with a particularly helpful homework assignment for myself: to draw a map of the 5th Floor of the Fegan Building of Boston Children’s Hospital, and to illustrate — with pictures and words —  vivid experiences that happened to me there, in many rooms and locations on that floor.  One thing I drew on that map of the Cardiology Unit at Children’s Hospital from the 1960’s: the nurses’ station, where I spent a lot of time, talking to as many kind adults as I could find there. Another thing I remember drawing on that map, which helped so much in my personal healing: the pay phone with a pile of quarters, located in the hallway off the elevator between the regular hospital rooms and the Intensive Care Unit, where children, including me, recovered from surgery.

In my free-associating style, writing that previous paragraph inspires me to share this movie clip with you, now:

(“E.T. phone home” clip is here, on YouTube.)

I may have felt like an alien, at times in my life, but it always helps me to phone home. Every morning, that’s what I do, here on WordPress.

Thanks to all who do their best to make homes in the world, including you, of course.


* This morning, I’m going back to Children’s Hospital for an outpatient appointment with a new cardiologist. I should be home, soon.

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

Day 316: Letting Go of Anger

I really had no clue what I was going to write about today.

Actually, that’s not true. As usual, I had too many clues and was having more trouble, than usual, deciding what to choose.

Then I read this wonderful post, called “They Could Not Forget,” by Louise Gallagher. At the end, she writes:

The war is over. In loving memory of my father and those who fought beside him, I let go of anger. It is time for me to make peace.

Louise’s post gave me lots of gifts, including the title of this one.

So, what do I want to write today, about Letting Go of Anger?

Here are my beliefs/observations about anger, at this point in my life:

  1. Anger is a human feeling, just like joy, sadness, and fear.
  2. Anger is a reaction to not getting needs met, including the need to feel respected and valuable.
  3. As with any other feeling, it’s helpful to let anger flow through you — without squelching it, trying to extend it, re-directing it to an inappropriate target, or otherwise screwing it up.
  4. Most people don’t have good role models for experiencing or expressing anger, so we often screw it up.
  5. In my culture, anger is more accepted in men than it is in women.
  6. Personally, when I was a kid, I had some experiences that would make ANYBODY angry; however, I didn’t express that anger.
  7. There are many, many reasons why I didn’t express anger back then. Maybe there wasn’t enough room for my anger. Maybe it wasn’t the right time. Maybe I and other people around me could not have borne it.
  8. I don’t know all the reasons why I didn’t express anger when I was a kid.  And I don’t need to know.  I can do my best, in the moment, to let go of anger, now.  Like Louise.

I love lists. Does it show?

So my commitment to myself — and to any others bearing witness — is this:

I will do my best to let go of anger. I will not expect perfection in that, or in anything else.

I need one more thing, before I publish this.

I love images. Does it show?

First, I will check to see if any recent photos of mine will fit the bill.

Okay!  I took this photo yesterday, revisiting the same place I pictured in my blog two days ago (here).

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That’s the place I was, when I was a kid, where I felt anger and fear.

Re-visiting there, taking photos, lingering,  breathing nearby, writing about it, showing this to you — all those things are helping me let go of those old feelings.

I am honoring my commitment.

Thanks to Louise Gallagher, Children’s Hospitals everywhere, people doing their best with anger, witnesses to healing, and to you — of course! — for reading today.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , | 15 Comments

Day 306: Parade day!!!!

That’s a quote I just read on a friend’s Facebook page:

Parade day!!!!

And, immediately, because I’m in Boston, I knew what that meant.

Today, Boston will honor their baseball team, the Red Sox, for winning the World Series, with a parade, all around town.

Here’s the parade route (thanks to boston.com):

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The parade stretches over two of my favorite types of places: land AND water.

Here’s a view, from an earlier post, of part of that parade route (photo taken from the Longfellow Bridge):

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Here are some quotes about today’s parade, from bostonglobe.com:

The path down Boylston Street will provide a poignant backdrop to the parade and pay tribute to a team whose stunning success came to symbolize the city’s resilience and resolve in the aftermath of the April 15 Boston Marathon bombings, which killed three people and wounded more than 260.

Outside Sólás, an Irish pub near the finish line, Peter Fiscina, 66, who lost friends in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center towers, said Thursday evening that he feels that the parade will help the city heal.

“I think it’s good for Boston,” said Fiscina, 66, of of Staten Island, N.Y.

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Across the street at Marathon Sports, where mannequins sported Boston Strong shirts in the display window, assistant manager Dana Jamieson said it felt strange to be celebrating in the same area that was a scene of devastation in April, but the parade will “help put a sense of community back for the residents of Boston.”

Michael Parillo, who also works at Marathon Sports, welcomed the celebration and said that in many ways, the team’s victory has made the slogan “Boston Strong” as much about triumph as tragedy.

“It’s becoming more of an icon for the whole city, not just what happened that day,” he said earlier in the day.

After the bombings, in April, I returned to Boylston, for my own healing walk down that familiar street. (Here‘s my post about that.)

I wasn’t sure, when I woke up today, whether I was going to go to the parade.

Why the uncertainty?

  1. My sister — the person I most wanted to go with — cannot go, unfortunately.
  2. Going alone, into something like this, with lots of crowds and unexpected possibilities, can be daunting and even scary.

Writing down that short list, above, however, reminds me of this:

I’ve gone, alone, into similar situations before and …. LOVED them!

Okay! Case closed.

It’s time for a song!

I’m Off to See the Red Sox

by Ann

(Sung to the music of “We’re off to See the Wizard*)

I’m off to see the Red Sox

Those wonderful Red Sox of ours,

You’ll find they are a whiz of a team

If ever a team there was,

If ever, oh ever, a team there was,

Those Red Sox of ours are one, because

Because, because, because, because, because,

Because of the wonderful things it does!**

I’m off to see the Red Sox,

Those wonderful Red Sox of ours.

Thanks to the Boston Globe,  Harold Arlen and Herbert Stothart***, all the Boston teams (sport-related and otherwise),  paraders everywhere, and to you — of course! — for reading today.

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* Here’s the original song:

** Did I follow the rules of grammar here?  What do YOU think?

*** The lyricist and composer for “The Wizard of Oz.”

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Day 301: Bearing up

Yesterday, I met my old friend Lawry in Harvard Square, Cambridge, for brunch, with some members of his family.

It was great to see everybody.  I loved talking to Lawry, his wife, his daughter, his sister, his brother, and his brother’s wife.

It was particularly special for me to spend time with them, because I had been feeling some anxiety, over the weekend, about my health (and some about the Boston Red Sox, too).

And it was wonderful to be back in Harvard Square. (See “What’s the problem?” and “Random Images (paired)“, two earlier posts, for more adventures in Harvard Square.)

Here’s a little photo essay, about my time in Harvard Square yesterday.

A Little Photo Essay

by Ann

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On my way to meet Lawry and his family for brunch, I saw this amazing tree.  I had to stop and take a picture. Thank you, tree.

It was another beautiful autumn day. Those of us who live in the Greater Boston area have been remarking, this year, about how friggin’ great the fall weather has been.  Those of us who dread the onset of winter in the Greater Boston area have been wondering whether this is a good or bad omen about how painful it’s going to be, too soon. (Actually, I can only speak for my own thoughts about this.)

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Moments after  I took that first shot of the tree,  I had to stop and take the above photo. Why?  It’s a sign about a group, people!

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Here’s a closer shot of the sign (and some of the flags) that you can see in the background of the previous photo.

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As I said, it was a beautiful day. Look at those trees and that sky.

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Another sign in front of the church. I snapped this, as a is Note To Self:  “Ann, make sure you sing more (especially as the cold and dark descend)!”

After I took that photo, I stopped dilly-dallying, and focused on getting to brunch with Lawry and his family.

I didn’t have any photos of Lawry or his family members to show you today, because I was too focused on interacting with each of them, in the moment. Right now, I wish I had some visual proof of how great they all are, but you’ll just have to take my word for it.

After brunch, I went to Urban Outfitters because I needed a scarf and gloves — that is, gear for winter,  coming too soon to a location near me.

And …  I DID find a great scarf and some colorful gloves there, which definitely cheered me up. (My philosophy: If I’m going to be cold, I might as well look cool.)

While I was shopping  in the store, I couldn’t help but notice this:

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I had never seen anything quite like THAT.  I’ve noticed lots of children — and adults — wearing animal hats in these parts, but a full-bear winter coat?  I was very intrigued, but assumed it was most likely just for display. (I mean, it’s almost Halloween, for heaven’s sake.)

However, when I was in line to pay for my merchandise, I noticed that the people in front of me — a woman and her son —  had just bought one of those bear coats, which was being stuffed into a bag. I blurted out, “Wow!  You got one of those!  Can I see it?”

The woman paused, but then kindly took it out of the bag, to show me. She told me it was for her son, Asa, who was a student at Boston College. “Will you try it on for me?” I asked Asa, as I told them both about this blog.

This was Asa’s reply:

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How cool is THAT?

Now it’s a day later, and I’m still feeling better.

Many thanks to Asa and his mother, Lawry and his family, Christ Church Cambridge, Urban Outfitters, all things that make life bearable, and to you, of course, for reading today.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Day 300: Metaphors of the heart

Dear readers,

I am a psychotherapist, and I learn new things, every time I meet with people.

Here’s something I’ve learned, many times:

Metaphors help people describe and understand what is going on with them.

On Friday, at work, somebody reported that her mood shifts had gotten less extreme.  As many people do, she made a gesture with her hand, to “draw” her experience of varying moods.

Usually, when people do that, they indicate this kind of graph:

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This woman, however, used the term “heartbeat strip,” and from her description and gestures, I knew she was describing the an electrocardiogram (abbreviated ECG or EKG):

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She said, “Before, my moods were like this …” and she indicated an EKG that was very dramatic. It looked something like this:

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Lately, she said, her mood shifts had been more even, and she indicated a “normal” EKG:

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(Her description was much shorter than that image, above, from ndsu.edu.)

I found this metaphor amazing , and not just because (1) I had never heard it before and (2) it related to other issues I’ve been thinking about, lately.

I thought it was truly wonderful.

I expressed my appreciation for that metaphor, to the person in my office. And then I added something.

I said, “People often think that any mood shifts are a problem.  However, without ups and downs, people would be  …. flat-lining.” And it was my turn to gesture, like this:

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And, we agreed, that would be very bad.

I told this person that I planned to use her metaphor in the future, saying, “I’ll give you credit, if you want.”

She said I didn’t need to, especially since I had added something of my own.  We  agreed we made a good team,  creating that metaphor together.

And then we moved on, to other matters of the heart.

Thanks to all the people who have taught me so much, in so many therapy sessions. And thanks to you, for visiting today.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

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