Posts Tagged With: letting go of assumptions

Day 573: Why? Because I thought it was _____.

Yesterday, I wrote a post about the death of a woman I work with. Why?  Because I thought it was appropriate, the right thing to do, and healing.

Actually, I could probably use the same answers to the Why? about any post I’ve written here.

I didn’t get a lot of sleep Friday night, so my mind was working strangely, yesterday, when I went for my Saturday morning walk.

I took lots of photos on yesterday’s walk.  Why?  Because I thought it was appropriate, the right thing to do, healing, and fun.

Now, I have a quiz for you, this morning.

Why do I have a quiz for you? What do you think?

Here’s the first part of the quiz:

Immediately after I took one of the following thirty-two pictures, somebody asked me, “Why did you take that photo?”

Which photo do you think that was?

(1)  IMG_7380  (2) IMG_7381

(3)IMG_7382(4) IMG_7384  (5) IMG_7390



(8) IMG_7398  (9)  IMG_7404



(11) IMG_7412  (12) IMG_7415



(14)  IMG_7420 (15) IMG_7421



(18)  IMG_7425  (19) IMG_7427

(20) IMG_7428  (21) IMG_7429



(23) IMG_7431  (24) IMG_7434


(26)  IMG_7438  (27) IMG_7440




IMG_7442(30)  IMG_7443  (31)  IMG_7444


Wow!  I sure took a lot of photos, yesterday. And yet, only once did somebody ask, “Why did you take that photo?”

So …. do you have any guesses about which photo that was?

Okay!  Here’s the second part of the quiz. In response to that question yesterday, I said, “Because I think it’s  _____.”

Granted, that was a very short reply, from me. I hope that didn’t seem rude, to the person who asked. What she didn’t know was this: I was in a rush, to meet my son at the end of his piano lesson.

I’m leaving the last word in my reply blank, so you can guess that, too.

Any questions? Any answers?

Before I end this post, I want to tell you these things:

  • I am curious about any responses you want to share.
  • I’m wondering if anybody is going to guess, correctly, what happened to me, yesterday.
  • That would be difficult to do.
  • Your answers are as good as mine, at this point (I believe).
  • This song came on, while I was walking and taking photos, yesterday.

        (found on YouTube here)

  • “Hearing “Michael from Mountains” reminded me I had committed (in this post) to rewrite the words to “Michael from Boston.”
  • I rewrote the words when I got home, tried to find the guitar part online, and found this, instead.

(found on YouTube here)

Why did I rewrite the words to that song and look for the guitar part online?

Because I thought those were the next steps towards a personal goal: To record myself singing “Michael from Boston.”


Don’t you think you have enough questions to answer, at this point?

Thanks to all my readers, to the person who asked me that question yesterday, to Joni Mitchell, to my boyfriend Michael, to laotsu77 (for posting such a great instrumental back-up for the song and making my life much easier), and  — of course! — to you. Why? Because I thought it was wonderful for you to stop by, today.

Categories: humor, inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism, quiz | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 46 Comments

Day 501: Small change

Readers may think the title of this post –“Small change” — relates to a fear I blogged about last week:

Quarterlessness-o-phobia, the fear of not having the correct change.

It doesn’t.

Two days ago, in Random Numbers, I speculated I might be returning to work today.

I’m not.

There has been a small change in that plan.  The revised Estimated Time of (Work) Arrival is Monday.

Regular readers might assume THAT change is related to a change in my recovery rate, from illness.

It’s not.

It has to do with red tape.

Readers unfamiliar with the term “red tape” might now be picturing something like this:


(I found that image here)

I’d like to make a small change in that image, like so:


(image found here)


Red tape is an idiom that refers to excessive regulation or rigid conformity to formal rules that is considered redundant or bureaucratic and hinders or prevents action or decision-making. It is usually applied to governmentscorporations, and other large organizations.

Wikipedia entry for “red tape”

I need to have a meeting with Employee Health, at work, before I can return.

The language of that Wikipedia definition is somewhat judgmental, especially


rigid conformity


hinders or prevents

With that language, plus the image I chose above, you might well assume that my facial expression — and feeling — is down, right now.

Actually, I’m neither down nor up.  To the best of my ability, I am letting go of anxiety, expectations, and my own assumptions about changes ahead.

Here’s a wish, for myself:

I wish, when I return to work, that all changes — both within and beyond my control — will appear small and manageable.

I like that wish. However, let’s make a small change in that, too:

I wish, from now on, that all changes — both within and beyond my control — will appear small and manageable. 

I love that wish. I wish I had my magic wand with me, to give that wish more power.

I don’t.  The wand is at work.  I’ll have to wait until Monday to see it again.

Hold on!  I’d like to make a small change in my wish assumptions, here.  Maybe the image of that wand …


… is enough.

Before I end this post, I’d like to show you recent photos of change, nearby. Nine days ago, I showed you this:


Yesterday, I took a photo at the same spot:


We could judge those changes.  We could miss what’s no longer there.

We could see what’s there, with new eyes.

Yesterday, with a  small change in location …


… I saw new things.

Thanks to those who change their perspectives in any way,  to tape of any color, to magic wands, to people at work, and to you — of course! — for reading today.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , | 29 Comments

Day 463: Surprises

I am surprised by how difficult it is for me, this morning, to start this post.

I am surprised that the word surprise has appeared in only one post title before:  Day 174: Surprised by joy.

I am surprised that the word “joy” in that previous is title is not capitalized.

I like surprises, in a way that surprises me, considering how many unpleasant surprises I encountered when I was a kid.

I am very careful about surprising other people, because of my experience of unpleasant surprises.


Not surprisingly, I have more surprises to share from my recent weekend in New York City, with my friend Jeanette.

During the weekend, Jeanette unsurprisingly wanted to go to some cool clothing stores. On Sunday, we went to one with a name that escapes me now. That doesn’t surprise me, since I didn’t take a picture of it.

However, I did take some photos from inside the store:


At that store that shall be nameless (for now)*, I was surprised by how they covered up the faces of the mannequins. I got over that surprise, very quickly.

See the red chair, in the lower right corner of that photo?  I was NOT surprised that chair was not for sitting. I was surprised there were comfortable places to sit, near by.

As I was sitting and waiting for Jeanette, I wasn’t surprised when two people joined me there. However, I was surprised when one of them struck some exquisite, dance-like poses. When I asked if I could take her picture,  she looked surprised and pleased, and obliged:


I wanted to get a better view, to try to capture the surprising grace I had just witnessed, in a clothing store, so I got up from my seat, to get a better perspective.


Like most human beings, I make immediate assumptions about people. So, I was surprised to hear:

  • They are both from Brazil.
  • Alice (seated) is (or was) Livia’s director in Brazil.
  • Their being in NYC that day was related to the YAGP — Youth América Grand Prix — festival.
  • Livia is 19 years old and a student at the school of the Washington Ballet.

I’m not sure I got all that information right. I hope Livia and Alice both read this blog, and help me make any necessary corrections.**

I am not surprised that getting the facts correct is important to me, considering all the surprises I encountered when I was growing up.

I seem to have come full circle in this post. You may think I’m about to end it.


Soon after Jeanette and I left the store,  we bid each other “Adieu,” parting ways for the weekend. I quickly took this snapshot, in the direction I was heading:


It’s no surprise I took another shot, immediately, to get a different view.


I was surprised, later, to see what was missing there.  What happened to that friggin’ shoe??!??***

Thanks to Jeanette, Livia, and Alice, and thanks to the store with the name I’m surprised I cannot remember even one syllable of, right now,  despite Jeanette and I discussing how non-intuitive it was, many times over the weekend. And thanks to you, for your surprising (or non-surprising) visit here, today.

* I won’t be surprised if somebody reading this blog is able to supply the name of that store.

** At this point, Livia has read the blog and made some corrections.

*** See here (and here, too) about other missing shoes over the weekend.  Surprised?


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

Day 388: What was your intent?

I have (at least) two reasons for choosing today’s blog post title.

That is, I want to answer that question in my title — “What was your intent?” — regarding …. my choice of a title, today.

Okay!  Let’s start our engines, blog post riders! 1

Here’s some advice:

When somebody does or says something that you find confusing — when you do not know what to do (or say) in response to somebody else’s behavior — ask them this simple question, “What was your intent (in saying or doing such and such)?”

I have used this technique, and it can be quite effective.  Other people have told me they have found it effective, too.

In other words, I recommend asking that question.

Now, my wish might be that, at this point in our relationship — Me as Writer, You as Reader — that you might respond, “Yes, Ann!  We believe you!  We will do what you suggest!”

But that’s not realistic, is it?

So let me explain my recommendation, further:

As human beings, we tend to mind-read. Here’s the definition of mind reading, from this list of  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) distortions:

Mind reading.
Without individuals saying so, we know what they are thinking and why they act the way they do. For example, you assume that somebody is having a critical thought about you, you don’t check this out, and this affects your actions and feelings towards them.

So, asking “What was your intent?” is one way to apply the following “antidote“to a very human — but often unhelpful — thought process:

 Reality testing.  Ask people questions to find out if your thoughts and concerns are realistic or true. This is a particularly effective response to the distortion of mind-reading.

Speaking for myself, I tend to NOT ask this question — in many instances where it could help improve interpersonal communication.

Instead of asking

What was your intent?

… I project my own experience and make assumptions about what the other person meant when they said or did something.

For example, last night, my boyfriend, Michael, and I had a “discussion” (translation: we got mad at each other, briefly). And in the course of this discussion, we both were “mind reading”  — making assumptions about each other’s intentions.  And we figured that out, and we’re fine.

Here are clues that you — or somebody else — might be mind reading, too. If you have these thoughts:

I don’t understand why this person did or said this!  This makes no sense to me!  If I were in that situation, I would NEVER do that!

And then, in an attempt to make meaning of what seems inexplicable, you then think:

This person must be trying to hurt me!

This person must not care about me!

This person must be a _____! 2

This is all evidence that Mind Reading might be in the house.

So just stop doing that, people! It’s not good for you!  It’s not good for your relationships!!

As if changing, like that, could be THAT easy. (But wouldn’t that be nice?)

However, here’s something you CAN do, in this situation.  Ask the other person this question:

What was your intent (in speaking or acting that way)?

And then, have an open mind to what the other person replies.  (Which is easier said than done, especially if you’re angry.)

I also want to say this:  in abusive relationships, this would not be an effective antidote. That is, some people’s intentions might be to hurt you (even though they won’t admit it). Actually, in this case, it doesn’t matter what the other person’s intention is — if they are hurting you consistently, get out of the house!

Boy, I sure am giving a lot of advice today. I’m not very comfortable giving advice, usually.

But I did today.

What was my intent, in doing that?

I thought it might be helpful.

Okay, so what remains for me to do, before I end this blog post? In other words, it’s time for the …

The Tying-Up-Loose-Ends Portion of Today’s Blog Post

In my opening sentence, I said I had at least two reasons for writing about this topic today. I’m not sure whether I’ve explored different reasons.  Perhaps I have.

One thing I DO know: I promised fellow blogger Mark Bialczak, in the Comments Section of yesterday’s post, that I would explain this photo:


which I included in Day 386: Clues.

Mark wrote:

And the what-was-it from yesterday’s post. Are you going to share the elusive message down the line, or was it just a brain-teaser like that little game the put on the table at Cracker’s Barrel restaurants where you try to leave just one golf tee standing?

I don’t want to mind read here, but we, as humans, do that.  I think Mark was asking:

What was your intent?

I responded to Mark, in the comments section, like so:

What elusive message is it, to which you refer, Mark? I’m not being coy, I’m just losing track of all the hints and clues I’ve been putting out there in blog posts lately. If you ask directly for me to clear something up, I will do it, most happily.

In other words, I was asking:

What was your intent?

Mark wrote back:

OK, you put the shot of your one-socked foot on the floor with a kitty in the corner and asked what it meant. I’d love to know what you were going for with that one, Ann.

In other words …. Oh, you know.  He was asking: What was my intent in posting that photo?

This was my response:

I am going to attempt to answer your question in the blog I write today (Day 388). Thanks, as always.

Notice the stall — what some people might call “procrastination.”  That is, I didn’t answer his question when I first read it, last night. Instead, I waited until this morning. I waited until right now — this moment — to answer.

Sometimes, it’s difficult for me to answer that question: What was your intent?  Sometimes my intentions are complicated. Sometimes, I have multiple intentions. Sometimes, my intentions are both conscious and subconscious.

Confused?  You’re not alone.

But I will do my best, right now, in explaining what my intentions were, in posting that photo:

  1. I wanted to show another “mystery”3 — that is, when I sleep with socks on my feet, one of those socks often comes off during the night.
  2. I wanted to let people know that I am so engrossed in writing this blog, every day, that I can go downstairs to write, unaware that I have one sock on and one sock off.
  3. It’s so friggin’ cold out, here, that I soon realize that I have one sock off, as one foot starts to freeze.
  4. I am having this experience, frequently, as evidenced by the fact that the sock in this photo is brown, while the sock I mentioned in the previous blog post — Day  385: Wicked Pisser — was …. (drum roll): PURPLE!

Confused? Too Much Information?  It’s Mark’s fault!! (Hint: this would be a reference to another cognitive distortion:  Blaming.)

If it’s anybody’s fault, it’s my fault, because my intentions are often complicated. But, really, it’s nobody’s fault.

Maybe, to be clear and simple,  I should ask myself my own question, one more time. This time, I’ll ask it — not just about that photo or those particular blog posts — but about my writing this blog, in general.

What was (or is) your intent?

Simply and honestly?

To heal.

Okay!  That concludes our blog post for today.

Thanks to Michael, Mark, people who have questioned their own or other people’s intents, and to you — of course!! — for reading today.

  1.  Apparently I’m still using car metaphors.  By the way, if you read this blog regularly, the other driver who was involved in my minor fender bender still has not filed a claim (as far as I know).  I have theories about why that might be. If she were here, I could ask her, “What is your intent?” But she isn’t. So I’ll just have to guess.

  2. This would be the cognitive distortion of Name Calling — which we do to ourselves and to others, too, especially when we’re upset. I sometimes use the word “jerk” (to myself), when I’m mad at somebody.  Sometimes I use stronger language (to myself).   Here’s what I think we’re often saying, when we call somebody a “jerk” or “a _______”: “This person is NOT who I thought s/he was. Maybe they’re not a good match for me. Maybe I shouldn’t be with them.” And, dear readers, sometimes that is true. But often, it’s not. Confused? You’re not alone.

  3. Mysteries have been a theme of my recent blog posts. What has been my intent, in doing this?  Arrrghh!  Will these questions never end?

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

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