Posts Tagged With: Jam’n Java Open Mic

Day 2568: Downs and Ups

Every day has downs and ups, for all of us.

My day included many downs and ups, including

  • worrying about performing a Steely Dan song and an original song at an Open Mic last night,
  • buying a ticket to see Jacob Collier at Boston’s House of Blues in May,
  • losing my lyrics sheet for my original song,
  • reconstructing the lyrics as best I could,
  • reconnecting at the Open Mic with Nat, who co-led groups and co-wrote a song with me last year,
  • feeling empathy for the little girl who cried when she forgot how to play “Jingle Bell Rock” on the electric guitar,
  • two people talking loudly during my introduction to and performance of my first song,
  • those people leaving before my second song,
  • forgetting a chord in “Pretzel Logic,”
  • making it through “Pretzel Logic” and my “country” song, “What’s Keeping Me Up is What’s Going Down,” and
  • cheering for the little girl who returned with her acoustic guitar and played a great “Jingle Bell Rock.”

What downs and ups do you see here?

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Here are the downs and ups of my Open Mic performance last night:

I keep writing new lyrics down for “What’s Keeping Me Up is What’s Going Down.” It’s time to put these up on WordPress:

What’s Keeping Me Up is What’s Going Down

by Ann Koplow

What’s keeping me up is what’s going down,

I’m sleepless and hopeless and wearing a frown.

Problems abound, no solutions to be found.

What’s keeping me up is what’s going down.

In my local and the global news

There’s no quick fix I can find to choose.

No matter what your state or views

There’s no relief, just a belief in booze.

What’s keeping me up is what’s going down.

I’m sleepless and hopeless and wearing a frown.

Problems abound, no solutions to be found.

What’s keeping me up is what’s going down.

As I turn to everyone I see

And I ask if they relate to me.

They haven’t got one moment free.

They seem crippled by anxiety.

What’s freaking me out is what’s rushing in.

I’m tired and helpless, no reason to grin.

Fighting with kin, politicians who spin.

What’s freaking me out is what’s rushing in.

As I try to end this song with hope,

Hope seems to be beyond my scope.

Is the answer just to smoke some dope?

When I’m stoned I’m just inclined to mope.

What’s freaking me out is what’s rushing in.

I’m tired and helpless, no reason to grin.

Fighting with kin, politicians who spin.

What’s freaking me out is what’s rushing in.

What’s keeping me up is what’s going down.

© Ann Koplow, 2019

Feel free to write down any thoughts and feelings about downs and ups in the comments section, below.

Now it’s time to get down with gratitude, which always cheers me up!

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Categories: group therapy, original song, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Day 2505: What are they thinking?

When I look at the news these days, I’m often thinking, “What are they thinking?”

I don’t know what they are thinking and I don’t know what the audience was thinking, last night, about my latest performance of my original song, “What Are Other People Thinking About You?”  

What are they thinking?  Can you tell?

One person expressed his thinking to me immediately after my performance, “That was a very precocious song.”

I expressed my thinking with this reply: “How can somebody of my age be precocious?”

He didn’t answer that question, so I have no idea what he was thinking about that. Instead, he asked if I was a teacher and said, “That was very brave.”

As I say in my song, “What are other people thinking about you?  Face it, we can never know for sure. So why not think they’re thinking that you’re gorgeous, talented, smart, and secure?”

What are you thinking about that and about this photo from yesterday?

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I’m thinking that my little yellow car is okay, because it started up fine all day. I don’t know what it was thinking when it refused to start up the night before.

I don’t know what my laptop and my iPhone are thinking, as they selectively share the photos I’m taking. I’m thinking it takes more work to get all my photos here these days, but it’s worth it.  Here are more photos from yesterday:

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I don’t know what that dog is thinking but I’m thinking that I love that sticker.

What are you thinking about this blog post?

I’m thinking that it’s time to express my gratitude to everybody who helps me create this daily blog, including YOU.

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Categories: group therapy, original song, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Day 2477: Can’t stop, won’t stop

I can’t stop, won’t stop

  • blogging,
  • letting go of the past,
  • having hope for the future,
  • enjoying the riches of the present moment,
  • writing original songs,
  • telling everybody about the healing power of groups, and
  • taking photos of what I see around me.

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I can’t stop, won’t stop posting videos of my performances even though I have — OMG! — only 18 subscribers to my YouTube channel. Here’s the latest video:

 

 Can’t stop, won’t stop singing about triggers until all the worst triggers go away.

Can’t stop, won’t stop expressing gratitude to all who help me keep going every day, including YOU.

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Categories: group therapy, original song, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Day 2464: Spoiler Alert!

Spoiler alert!

I’m working on a new original song, called “Spoiler Alert!”

Spoiler alert! If you don’t want to know any of the lyrics before I finish writing “Spoiler Alert!”  please leave this post immediately or scroll down rapidly past this following section:

Spoiler Alert!

by Ann Koplow

I hear a lot of people avoiding spoilers,

They want to be surprised, their future disguised, they’ve said.

Those who reveal what’s coming for real are annoyers.

They don’t want to know, so please do not show what’s ahead.

I’m going to say I’ll be giving away future happenings.

If that’s your pet peeve, you have the option to leave any time.

Spoiler alert!

You’ll encounter things that definitely will hurt.

You’ll be afraid of losing your shirt.

Some foolish words you’re going to blurt.

Spoiler alert!

Nice people will sometimes be curt.

Someone you love will treat you like dirt.

You’ll eat too much of a fattening dessert.

You may have encountered some of these spoilers already.

Since that’s probably the case, I’ll continue my pace to reveal

Future things to occur, I’m reasonably sure and steady,

More spoiler alerts — not all of them hurts —  now coming your way.

Spoilers from me!

You’ll get something unexpected for free.

Cats and kites will get stuck up in a tree

You’ll see something that you’re happy to see.

(to be continued)

©Ann Koplow, 2019

 

Spoiler alert!  I want to finish that song before the first Friday in September, when I’ll be singing at my usual Open Mic in Arlington, Massachusetts. If I don’t make it, here’s another spoiler: I’ll be alert enough to sing another one of my original songs.

Spoiler alert! One of my photos from yesterday inspired one of those lines in “Spoiler Alert.” Are you alert enough to find it?

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Spoiler alert!   There’s already a song titled “Spoiler Alert” by the incredible band They Might be Giants:

 

Spoiler alert!  Here are many thanks coming your way (and please don’t be afraid of being spoiled by my gratitude).

 

 

 

Categories: original song, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Day 2442: Everybody’s somebody’s _____

Last night, I sang my latest original song — “Everybody’s Somebody’s A–hole” — at the Jam’n Java Open Mic in Arlington, Massachusetts.

Everybody’s somebody’s

Everybody’s somebody’s …

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teammate,

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proud partner,

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ninja,

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angel,

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feartrigger, time off, safety, news, danger, clickbait, health, illness, stillness, trip, and

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talented local performer.

I’ve asked the coordinators of the Jam’n Java Open Mic if I could be a featured performer some day and they replied, “We usually book people who’ve had a show elsewhere.”

I’m working on it.

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Everybody’s somebody’s observer, so feel free to leave any observations in the comments section, below.

No matter what I am to anybody else, I’m always grateful to be your blogger, every day.

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Categories: blogging, group therapy, original song, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , | 10 Comments

Day 2351: Long story, short

Because I’m hosting a retreat for group therapists at our home today, I need to make a long story, short.

Yesterday, I had a long day in which I

  • visited the hospital’s gift shop,
  • facilitated a Coping and Healing therapy group,
  • did individual therapy,
  • responded on short notice to people in crisis,
  • said “au revoir” — feeling sad AND happy — to graduating social work intern (and my co-writer and co-performer of the song “Nobody’s Perfect”), wonderful Nat Shirley,
  • exchanged short horn-honks with another yellow Honda Fit like mine,
  • had a short conversation with the two lovely people riding in that Honda Fit, and
  • sang one short original song near the end of a long Open Mic night, all the while being my short self wearing a long skirt and long earrings.

Since pictures are worth a thousand words, sharing photos might be the best way to make a long story short.

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Amelia and Percy, my new Honda-Fit friends, told me a short story about how she thinks our cars are yellow and he thinks they’re lime green.

Here‘s me telling the long story, short, about how I left the house before I felt ready:

 

Please leave your long or short comments, below.

Long gratitude, short:

Categories: original song, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Day 2260: Cute

Happy groundhog day!  Isn’t this a cute photo of a groundhog?

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That’s my cute Facebook profile photo today, because Groundhog Day is my birthday!

Yesterday, I heard the word “cute” several times — when I listened to this recording of my latest open mic performance

 

… and when I showed my boyfriend Michael Malone the birthday card with original art created by my newest good friend Alice Malone (no relation between those two cute Malones).

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I think Alice Malone’s drawing of a tiger looking at ties is much more than cute.  Don’t you?

I don’t think it’s cute how there’s a delay between my taking photos on my iPhone and my ability to post them in my blog, especially when I deliberately take pictures of things  I think are cute.  However, I will share all my other new photos from yesterday and share those other cute photos when they turn up (probably tomorrow).

 

If you decide you want  a closer look at the cuteness in those photos, give a cute click on the photo of your choice.

While I am creating this blog post, a lot of cute people are distracting me (as I was distracted during my “cute” performance last night by a cute kid dancing in front of the audience)  by wishing me a happy birthday.

I’m going to make another cute try and see if I can access those other cute photos.

Here they are!

 

Here’s a cuter and closer look at Alice Malone’s website:

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Don’t let the perfect get in the way of the good!  That’s a cute and helpful saying.

I look forward to many cute comments, below.

Thanks to those who helped me create this cute post and to all who helped me make it to age 66!

 

 

 

Categories: celebrating, original song, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Day 2232: Who is your harshest critic?

For years, I would have answered the question, “Who is your harshest critic?” like so:

“It’s me.”

Many of the people I work with in therapy also say that they are their own harshest critics. Using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Narrative Therapy, and other proven techniques, we acknowledge the harm of that harsh criticism and reduce its toxicity.

There are times in my life when my answer to the question, “Who is your harshest critic?” would be, “It’s not me.”  I remember, decades ago, when I agonized over whether to leave my job as a writer at a technology company, which had not worked out as I expected.  I said many harshly critical things to myself  (including “you make terrible decisions!”  “what makes you think you’ll find a better job?”)  as I went through the  painful process of pros and cons about staying or leaving.  One of the obvious advantages of leaving was that I did not respect management at that company, so  I did end up resigning. Before I left,  one of the top managers said harsh things to me, including labeling me “a quitter” and somebody not capable of sticking to things that are challenging and difficult.  Once this man externalized my internal harsh criticism, I was able to recognize the unfairness in his reaction, stand up straight, look him in the eye, and say, “That’s not true. I’m leaving because I know I can be happier elsewhere.”

I’ll never forget how good that felt — to directly confront those harsh messages and say, “That’s not true.”

Since becoming a therapist, I’ve done a therapeutic exercise in groups where people write down their harsh internal criticisms and we externalize them.  Somebody in the group reads the harsh critical statement out loud, and the person gets a chance to respond back, sometimes being coached by others.  It’s always inspiring to witness people challenge their internalized harsh critics, replacing those old and toxic messages with more accepting and helpful ones.

Last night, when I performed my latest original song, “It’s Not Me,” about a toxically critical person, I became my harshest critic, again. For one thing, I went on immediately after the featured performer,  a 13-year-old prodigy “– The Mighty Quinn”  — who blew out the joint with his fiddle playing and his singing.  Here’s a photo of Quinn and his father:

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They were the proverbial tough act to follow.  I considered saying, “Let’s hear it for my opening act!” before I started performing, but I harshly criticized that and said something else instead.  As I started playing,  I realized that my ukulele was out of tune. I blanked on something I wanted to say,  and I didn’t like that I needed to use a cheat sheet to remember some of the chords and words.  After I finished,  I sat down, ignoring the applause and the positive comments from people in the audience, listening, instead,  to my harsh inner critic.

I then asked my new co-worker and friend, Alice (who is also a musician), whether she felt bad when her performances weren’t up to her own standards. She said many supportive things, including, “I think you’ll feel better when you watch the recording.”

And, when I watched the recording later, I did feel better. I let go of the role of my own harshest critic and, as always, it felt great! Here‘s the recording, which Alice made:

When I watch this, I use one of my helpful phrases: “It’s good enough AND I can make it better.”

In the past, I’ve been the harshest critic of my blog writing and my photographs, like these:

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For now,   I’m celebrating not being my own harshest critic.

Thanks to all who helped me create today’s post and — of course — to YOU, for your kind acceptance (of me and yourself) (I hope!)

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Categories: cognitive behavioral therapy, group therapy, original song, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 31 Comments

Day 2225: Who is it?

Who is it that just posted this on Facebook?

If it’s not me posting that I’ll be performing my latest original song “It’s Not Me” at the Jam’n Java Open Mic in Arlington’s Kickstand Cafe this Friday (January 4) while wearing my original t-shirt that says “It’s Not Me,” then who is it?

Who is it that just wrote another verse for “It’s Not Me”?

It’s not me who’s claiming

that our love was a sham.

It’s not me who’s blaming

all the things that I am.

© Ann Koplow, 2018

Who is it that took these photos yesterday?

 

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Who is it that will be disappointed if people don’t laugh at the improv section of “It’s Not Me” Friday night?  And who is it that learned how to balance a salt shaker on its side at college?

Who is it that’s sharing this music, here and now?

Who is it who saw The Who at The Boston Garden in the 1970s?

Who is it that’s expressing thanks to all who helped me create this post (including my son Aaron and The Who) and to you — Whoo hoo! —  who’s reading it?

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Categories: original song, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 32 Comments

Day 2204: What the hell happened?

What the hell!  Did anybody else have a week where you asked yourself,

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“What the hell happened?”

When you’re talking to somebody on the phone and they’re suddenly not there, do you ask yourself, “What the hell happened?  Did they hang up on me?  Was it something I said? Are they angry? Did their phone lose power? Is the signal week?  Should I call back? Are they calling me back?”

What the hell happened  in these photos?

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What the hell happened in the first photo above and the last one?  First photo: We did a mindfulness exercise in a therapy group last week where we focused on a piece of paper we crumpled  and then unfolded. Last photo: a group calling themselves “Gym Class” performed Lou Reed’s “Take a Walk on the Wild Side” at an open mic last night.

What the hell happened last night when I debuted my latest original song, “I Left the House Before I Felt Ready” at that same open mic?   See for yourself:

What the hell do you think will happen if you leave a comment?

What the hell happens at the end of my blog posts?

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Categories: original song, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

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