Posts Tagged With: identity

Day 2375: Who you are, who you aren’t.

Who I am is a group therapist and “who you are, who you aren’t” came up in a therapy group yesterday.


Who I am is somebody who likes clarity, so “who you are, who you aren’t” is on the second-to-bottom line in that group-generated topic list, above.

Who I am NOT is somebody with great handwriting.

Who I am is also a human being who …

  •  wears socks with information about who I am,


  •  appreciates the kindness in others,


  •  notices sensitivity, acceptance, and emotions,


  •  tries to take a breath when feeling attacked,


  • thinks there are three great questions to ask oneself before responding to others,


  • usually validates others before moving on to next steps,


  • loves living near the ocean,


  • appreciates great home cooking,


  • has an unusual heart,


  • and shares, on this blog and elsewhere, information about living with a very unusual heart.


Who I am NOT is somebody who has been interviewed for a podcast before, but I will be that person after tonight.

Here‘s the Who with “Who Are You.”

If who you are is somebody who comments on blogs, please share any thoughts and feelings about “who you are, who you aren’t” below.

Who I am is a person who feels and expresses gratitude for those who help me create these daily posts and — of course! — for YOU (no matter who you are or aren’t).



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

Day 1960: I AM

I AM in New York City while I AM writing today’s blog.

I AM a fan of the Off Broadway one-man performance In & Of Itself by magician Derek DelGaudio, which has the subtitle “Identity is an illusion.”

I AM telling you that I, like every other audience member, needed to choose an identity before last night’s performance of In & Of Itself.


I AM happy that I chose that identity, but I AM more than just a blogger. I AM also a mother.




I AM a photographer.










I AM also a Social Worker, among many other things.

I AM curious about what you would say you are.

I AM sharing this interview of Derek DelGaudio by Stephen Colbert, which inspired me to see In & Of Itself last night.


I AM grateful to all who help me be a blogger every day, including you, no matter who or what you are.


… and I AM adding this, here and now.


Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

Day 477: Identity

In my work as a psychotherapist, I talk to people about their senses of identity and self-worth. Often, those things are intertwined.

People’s identity can include:

  • Family Roles (Parent, Sibling, Son/Daughter)
  • Functional Roles (Caretaker, Breadwinner, etc.)
  • Work-related Roles (Job title, retiree, pre-worker/student)
  • Social Roles (“Life of the party,” “Rebel,” Peacemaker”)

… and more.

I woke up thinking about Identity today because:

  1. For many years, a large part of my identity has been the work I do (notice that I referenced that in my very first sentence in this post).
  2. I am dealing with pneumonia right now, which is necessitating my staying out of work. Therefore,  I have a new and unfamiliar role, which I hesitate to name because of stigmatized words like … “Invalid.”  (I mean, look at THAT word — “invalid”! Isn’t that the very opposite of “valid” or “worthy”?)
  3. Another important part of my identity at work — supervisor/teacher — is about to end, because my wonderful Social Work intern is leaving next week.
  4. Today is my late mother’s birthday, so I am aware of a role that I used to fill — Daughter — that no longer exists.
  5. I’ve been writing blog posts (see here, here , and here) about a new identity — a Super Hero, no less, called “Super Recovery Woman.”

When I talk to people, in my treasured role as psychotherapist, I suggest that they look at the roles and labels they apply to themselves about who they are, as a way of understanding what affects their sense of self-worth.

Often these conversations turn to this very general role:

Human being

Here’s a saying that many people have found helpful:


(I found that image here)

In other words,  basing our sense of worth on what we do can be a problem, since that can fluctuate and change so much, from day to day.

Wouldn’t it be great to feel a sense of self worth just for being?  In other words, wouldn’t it be wonderful to wake up in the morning, knowing you are worthy, no matter what you can or cannot do that day?

I would like to ask my readers some questions, at this point in the post: Do people think I am intrinsically less worthy, because I am not working right now?

Would you be surprised if I were to tell you that I am struggling NOT to judge myself and my self-worth, because of this latest role change?

And here’s my last question: If you do NOT judge ME right now, might you still judge yourself, if your roles (or other aspects of your self-identity) were to change?

Here’s another part of my identity that I would like to own, at this point in this post:


As with any other role, there are certain norms and assumptions associated with my role of Blogger.  For the most part, these are norms and assumptions that I have had the luxury to choose and shape myself, since I started filling this role 476 days ago.

For example, Ann the Blogger:

  1. Blogs once a day.
  2. Tries to inform and amuse (if possible).
  3. Writes in the morning, soon after she awakes and before she goes to work (on weekdays).
  4. Includes photos, whenever possible, including those she has taken herself.

I don’t know how many norms of that role I am going to fulfill today. As always, I shall do the best I can, without trying to be perfect, and accepting where I am.

In order to fulfill  Blogging Norm #4, listed above, let’s see if I have any photos to show you that relate to today’s topic.

Hmmm, I believe I do.

These are all photos that relate to my Identity/Role as Observer.  (I hope they fit in with my role as Super Recovery Woman, too.*)

Shall we begin?


I observed this when I went for my dental appointment, last week. That window display is near the Boston Marathon route, and includes appropriate footwear.



This photo also relates to my role as  …. Mother.  Here’s what I want to point out, right now, about that shot:  (1) the thermostat on the wall has starred in a post of its own (see here) and (2) as usual, I did not ask anybody to pose; I merely observed and captured what was within my sight.

The final two images in this post relate to my role as Lover of Creatures (outside and inside):



Okay! I believe I have fulfilled enough roles, well enough, here today.

Thanks to imagination soup. net, to all those who do their best balancing many roles while maintaining a sense of self-worth, and — especially! — to those filling a much-appreciated role, right now: Reader of This Blog.

* I don’t believe that being totally bed- (or sofa-) ridden is good for me and my doctors agree. However, I find it difficult, in each moment, to judge a good-enough balance of rest and fresh air.


Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 69 Comments

Day 339: Group Ambivalence

I am a group therapist. I passionately believe in the healing power of groups.

Yesterday, I gave a presentation about group therapy, which went very well (as far as I can tell).  I am especially glad about this, because I skipped the “I SUCK!” step in preparing for it.  (See yesterday’s post, for more about that.)

When I talk about groups, I tend to do a good job, simply because I love doing them so very, very much.

And yet, I myself, have mixed feelings about joining groups. I think that’s okay, because that promotes my empathy for other people’s ambivalence about groups. (Yes, I belong to a group of human beings who are ambivalent about engaging with others in groups.)

Why are so many of us ambivalent about joining groups?  As usual, I can speak for my own experience, only.

Here are some thoughts I typically have, about joining a new group:

  • Will the other people understand me?
  • What about the differences I have from the other people?  Will those differences be valued?
  • Will I feel alone, in the presence of others, and might that not feel worse than feeling alone by myself?
  • Will I be judged?
  • Will I judge them?
  • Do I feel like I belong here?
  • Arrrghhh!  Maybe I should just forget it!
  • Or, perhaps …. I will learn a lot from this group.

I guess I could reduce all of those thoughts to this:  Should I stay or should I go?

Why am I writing about this, today?  Because yesterday, I not only gave a presentation about groups, I also joined a group, on Facebook, of people who have very, very unusual hearts like mine.* (If you want more details about what makes my heart so unusual, check out this blog post.)

And, already, all the thoughts I listed above (and more) have flitted through my head), like a bunch of butterflies.

Here are some other thoughts that are flitting around, right now:

  • These thoughts are familiar.
  • I’ve had these thoughts about being the member of many other groups.
  • I don’t have these thoughts, for the most part, when I am leading a group, because then I am in a different role.
  • I don’t have these thoughts, for the most part, about groups where I had no choice but to be a member.**

Hmmmm. I’m looking at that last point, right now, and thinking this:

I actually had no choice but to be a member of The Group of People with Hearts Like Mine. I was born into that group.

So maybe the question is this:  Do I want to think of myself as a member of that group?  Do I want to self-identify, that way?

I know this: I’ve always resisted labels. I have found labels reducing, somehow.

And perhaps that has to with being called a patient, so frequently, when I was so young. Maybe that’s a group I didn’t want to be a member of.

But maybe that label, “patient,” isn’t such a bad thing. Let’s see what images come up in Google, right now, for that word:





Not so bad, right?

Thanks to the LTGA (CCTGA) and Double Switch Facebook group, every person in the world who contributed to making this post today, to group members everywhere, and to you — of course! — for reading today.


*  I found out about this group thanks to a comment by Erin, in response to this post.

** These groups include my family, American citizens, women, left-handed people, Jewish people, people who grew up in my home town, etc. etc.

*** I found this image here.

**** I found this image here.

***** I found this image here.

****** I found this image here.

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

Day 162: What’s in a name?

Yesterday, I wrote about some VITs (Very Important Tigers) in my life.

Last night, I announced, “I’ve decided to watch the movie ‘Life of Pi’.” That movie had been on my To Do List, ever since I had seen some visually stunning excerpts on The Oscars/Academy Awards earlier this year. As I was heading upstairs towards the TV, I laughed/gasped, for a second, as I realized/remembered what I had sort-of-forgotten:

The movie’s co-star is …Image

… an adult Bengal tiger.

Geesh! Does EVERYTHING need to be connected?

The movie might have an opinion about that.

Anyway, I was very affected, touched, and moved by “Life of Pi.”

Although, not to take anything away from that amazing film, I’ve been having those same reactions lately to life in general.

I guess that means “Life of Pi” meets my late mother’s criteria for a good movie. Her highest praise for a movie was, always, “It’s very true to life.” (When I was an adolescent, I had some critical thoughts about my mother’s style of film criticism.) (Today, it seems, I’m following in her movie-critic footsteps, which I like.)

Oh, no! Here we are in the midst of yet another Year of Living Non-Judgmentally post where I’ve yet to make a connection to the Topic Du Jour. Namely, names.

Well, let’s take care of that, right now.

The topic of names has been on my To Do List of blog posts, because:

  • I have a first name that is often misspelled and a last name that is often misspelled AND mispronounced. (And I sometimes have feelings about that.)
  • In the past, I’ve done groups about people’s names, where all the participants had interesting, important stories about their names.
  • Names are a major part of our identity, and they’re also a way that people connect with each other.
  • My childhood friend, Deb, with whom I’ve reconnected, recently told me that her auto correct program changed my last name from “Koplow” to “Kookier,” which I loved.

Choosing today to finally write about names seemed somewhat random to me, until I remembered that the first part of “Life of Pi” is all about Pi’s first name, (including how he got teased at school relentlessly about his full name, Piscine).

Geeesh! Does EVERYTHING have to be connected?

Here’s where I am on the subject of my own name, right now:

  • I like my first name. I especially like the way it’s spelled, without an “e.” People often put an “e” on it, though. Not sure why that’s true. This might be another auto-correct thing and/or people knowing somebody else named “Anne.”
  • I don’t like my last name so much, because it can be a pain to have a name that 96% of the public gets wrong. However, I decided to keep it when I got married because, even though my ex-husband’s name would have been easier, that just didn’t seem like … my name.
  • More about my last name: It was shortened when my father’s family came to the United States. While the correct pronunciation is Cop-lo (like a “depressed policeman,” as my son told his friend, the other day), people sometimes emphasize the second syllable, which makes it sound like a fighting noise in a comic book: KO-PLOW!
  • In the past, I have sometimes had negative reactions when people spell or mispronounce either of my names. The negative reactions are related to this kind of thought: If I were important enough, people would pay attention to my name.
  • Lately, I’m seeing this differently. I’m thinking that everybody has a lot on their minds, that names can be tough to remember, and that I have a particularly difficult name.
  • Being more forgiving of other people’s use of my name is helping me be less anxious about being perfect with other people’s names (although I still try to do well with that).
  • While I have felt weird when people pronounce my last name like a comic book explosion — feeling ridiculous or even “teased” in that moment — lately I’ve been trying a new thought: Hey! Maybe that would be a cool name to have!

I’m in a less judgmental place about my name these days (which I’m enjoying).

However, I reserve the right to look fierce and bare my teeth (see photo, above) if somebody REALLY screws it up.

Thanks for reading (and feel free to tell a story about your name).

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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