Posts Tagged With: Irvin Yalom

Day 2767: Staring at the Sun

Staring at the Sun: Overcoming the Terror of Death is a book I’ve stared at many times.

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Yesterday, when I was staring at my son in the midday sun …

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… I got the very sad, unexpected, and darkening news that my long-time friend Eleanor had passed away.

Eleanor, who was described in an online memorial as “sunshine, determination, kindness, humor, a keen mind and a really great friend” brought the sun into my life for over 45 years.  Here’s a portion of her obituary:

Eleanor was a caring and giving person, made up of pure love and light, and left nothing but warmth and care with everyone who knew her. She had a contagious smile and strong will. She was the sun on a dark day, the cool breeze on a hot day. The twinkle in her eyes could warm the darkest, most inner part of anyone’s soul. We now have another angel on our side to help us fight for peace, which is what she always wanted. May her spirit continue to guide us through this life, and always remind us to live and lead with our heart. There will be a private ceremony. To make donations in Eleanor’s honor please consider Project Bread, http://www.projectbread.org/, the Kestrel Land Trust https://www.kestreltrust.org/, or the Equal Justice Institute https://eji.org/.

Eleanor last commented on this blog on Mother’s Day:

Eleanor
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY ANN!
And this mother thanks you for all your posts over the years – what I look forward to each day to amuse me, inspire me, make me ponder, and just enjoy.
Peace and love to you

Eleanor was a caring and loving friend who gave me advice, cards, tickets to wonderful events,  rides to appointments when I was dealing with health issues,  and — during rain and shine —  her fabulous company (described here, here, herehere, here, here, here, here, and here,). We talked about cats, haircuts, food, work, politics, children, husbands, other people, social justice, the present, the past, the future, love, and everything else under the sun.

Whenever I asked her if I could put her picture in my blog, she’d say, “Some day.  Not yet.” I can picture the sunshine of her kind, curious, and loving face, right now.

Eleanor gave me these avocado socks …

… and I believe that the last time I saw her we had avocado toast, dining under the sun at a cafe near the shore.  There was such synchronicity and connection between us, we often finished each other’s sentences.

I took many photos yesterday, staring at the sun and the new reality that my long-time friend Eleanor had passed on.

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That last photo of a couple staring at the sun makes me think about Eleanor’s husband, Ira, who sent me the email yesterday about her passing.  May her memory be a comfort to him, her two children, and all who loved her.

As always, I’m staring at gratitude for all I have, here and now.

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Categories: in memoriam, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 37 Comments

Day 2721: Despair

In all the two thousand, seven hundred and twenty-one days I have been blogging, I have never once used the word “despair.”

Today, the news causes me to despair.

What should I do with despair?  I shall turn to others who have written about despair before:

“Because I remember, I despair.  Because I remember, I have the duty to reject despair.” — Elie Weisel

“The opposite of hope is despair, and when we despair, it is because we feel that there are no choices.” — Warren G. Bennis

“It is not despair, for despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not.” — J.R.R. Tolkien

“Never despair, but if you do, work on in despair.” — Edmund Burke

“The most common form of despair is not being who you are. ” — Søren Kierkegaard

“Despair is is the price one pays for self-awareness.  Look deeply into life, and you’ll always find despair.” — Irvin Yalom

“Despair is the fleeting fury of a hopeless soul.” — Immanuel Kant

“Despair is the suicide of the heart.” —  Jean Paul Richter

“Human life begins on the other side of despair.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

“Life, which creates despair, is stronger than despair.” — Alain Grandbois

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it–always.”
Mahatma Gandhi

“But what we call our despair is often only the painful eagerness of unfed hope.” —  George Eliot

“Action is the antidote to despair.”  — Joan Baez

I was beginning to despair that all the quotes today would be from men, until I found those last two.

Do you see despair in any of my photos from yesterday?

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Here is “Despair” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs:

 

I believe gratitude is an antidote to despair, so thanks to all who help me create this blog, day after day.

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Categories: life during the pandemic, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Day 1839: Use of self

Psychotherapists (like myself) use the term “use of self,” which includes thoughtful self-disclosure, transparency, and sharing aspects of one’s personal self for therapeutic connection.

I’ll use this quote from the Amazon description of the book  The Use of Self in Therapy.

One of the most powerful factors in therapy is that it involves the intensive relationship between two (or more) human beings. The issues of transparency and self-disclosure therefore become important concerns for therapists; how can they use themselves effectively in their work without transgressing on professional regulations?

I’m going to use myself in the following example of use of self.

Yesterday, I was asked by a doctor to meet with a Spanish-speaking patient whose mother had recently died in the hospital.  The meeting included the tearful patient, a hospital interpreter, a social work intern who was observing me, and myself. The patient told me, through the interpreter, that she felt guilty about the death of her mother and also that her doctor had previously suggested she see a therapist for treatment of  depression. I assumed that this patient would resist the idea of seeing a therapist for many reasons, including a culture-based stigma about mental health treatment.  As we discussed the realities of therapy, I told her she might be surprised how many people saw therapists for helpful support.   I decided to self-disclose. “I see a therapist,” I told her. Immediately, the intern revealed, “I see a therapist, too.” The interpreter said  — in Spanish and then in English — “I do, also.” All four of us laughed, as I observed that the patient was the only one in the room who was NOT seeing a therapist.

Is there use of self in these photos?

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When our world turns upside down, using our selves and our shared humanity can help us stop and connect.

Here‘s James Brown’s use of self in song:

I look forward to my readers’ use of self in the comment section, below.

Speaking for myself, use of self always includes thanking all the selves that help me express myself and — of course! — YOU.

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Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Day 1250: Rippling

What ripples does the word “rippling” create in your mind?

This description of rippling, from Irvin Yalom‘s rippling book Staring at the Sun: Overcoming the Terror of Deathhas been rippling for me since I read it last week:

How does that concept of rippling ripple for you?

I wonder what ripples these photos of mine will create?






That last photo is rippling for me, right now, because it reminds me of these lyrics  I might sing tonight at an Open Mic:

They’ve given you a number and taken away your name.

Are those words rippling through your memory? Here’s how they ripple through this song:

I wonder how reactions to this post will ripple through today’s comment section.

Rippling thanks to all those who helped me create this post and to you — of course!  — for all the ripples you are creating in your life.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Day 1241: How ’bout them apples?

How ’bout that title?  Do you know what it’s ’bout?

How ’bout a definition from the Urban Dictionary?

How bout them apples?

Rur. What do you think of that? (Often used to express admiration; bout is short for about.)

Tom: I got first prize! Mary: Well! How bout them apples? Joe got a job as a newspaper reporter. How do you like them apples?

How ’bout these apples?

IMG_2371 How ’bout that sign on the elevator of the hotel where my sister and I are staying in Rochester, Minnesota?

I’ve only got ’bout ten minutes this morning before I have to leave for ’bout eight hours of medical tests and doctor consults at the famous Mayo Clinic.

How ’bout that saying that an apple a day keeps them doctors away? Because I eat ’bout one pink lady apple per day, I’m ’bout to give up on that idea.

How ’bout them pictures I took yesterday?

 

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How ’bout them …

  • quotes from “Staring at the Sun: Overcoming the Terror of Death” by Irvin Yalom,
  • giant corn,
  • Minnesota sunsets, and
  •  other images.

How ’bout this post?

How ’bout a bout of thanks to my sister Ellen (for accompanying me on this bout of cardiac consultations) and another bout of thanks to every other helpful person ’bout me, including you (of course!).

 

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 36 Comments

Day 787: Relief

I’ve had two intense days, so far, at my group psychotherapy conference in San Francisco. It’s been quite a relief to share thoughts, feelings, and authentic connections with so many kind, wise, and experienced people. And — as is true, for me, with any intense experience — it’s also been a relief when each day’s been over.

This morning, I’m going back into San Francisco for my third and final day at the conference. I’ll be seeing one of my group therapy heroes — Irvin Yalom — speak. Then, I’ll go to a workshop and a panel discussion.  I’ll be driving in to the city by myself, so it will be a relief once I get there.

Speaking of relief, here’s some visual relief I saw on my travels, yesterday:

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Because relief can be so important (especially during times of stress), I’m going to repeat the first image in this post, which I saw on the beautiful ferry ride from Oakland to San Francisco early yesterday morning:

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Ahhhh!  What a relief!

Since I’m flying back to cold and icy Boston tomorrow, it’s important for me to be aware of those things that provide relief for me.  Here’s a quick “relief” list, off the top of my relieved head:

  • people I love,
  • people who love me,
  • cats (who I experience as loving creatures),
  • beautiful scenery,
  • the moon and the stars,
  • speaking my mind,
  • balancing my needs with other people’s needs,
  • writing blog posts,
  • doing work I love and believe in,
  • taking care of my basic needs, including having enough water, nourishing food, and sleep,
  • accepting all the different parts of me,
  • accepting the beautiful differences in other people,
  • a good cry, sometimes,
  • having all my feelings,
  • recognizing my fears about the future, letting them go, and then refocusing on the present moment,
  • recognizing any regrets about the past, letting those go, and then refocusing on the present moment,
  • staying in touch with my self-worth (which does not change, no matter what is going on, inside of me and outside of me),
  • forgiving inevitable human mistakes (from myself and others),
  • letting go of any need to be perfect or to be immediately good at anything new,
  • connections with other people,
  • down time for myself to be alone, and
  • music.

What music might provide relief here, today?

This is the first “Relief” song that popped into my head:

… but that’s an old Alka Seltzer commercial (on YouTube here) and I don’t how much of a relief it is.

Since most of my photos today are from a ferry, it’s a relief for me to find “Ferry Cross the Mersey” as performed by my favorite musician, Pat Metheny (here on YouTube):

For those of you who like music with lyrics, here’s the original by Gerry and Pacemakers (found here on YouTube):

What gives you relief? I’d be relieved to hear from you, in any way.

Thanks to Irvin Yalom, to my friend Lawry (pictured above), to Pat Metheny, to Pacemakers of all kinds, to people attending the group psychotherapy conference in San Francisco, to ferries everywhere, to all those who can be kind as best they can, and to you — of course! — for getting whatever relief there is today.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , | 39 Comments

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