Posts Tagged With: letting go of dread

Day 3271: How to wake up without dread

This morning I woke up without dread, and I don’t dread telling you that I’m not sure how that happened. After so many dreadful and dread-filled times, dread was not there today when I opened my eyes.

Even though I can’t really explain in this blog post how to wake up without dread, I can speculate why this happened this morning. Perhaps it’s because:

  • I’m reading “Radical Acceptance” by Tara Brach,
  • I’m realizing AGAIN that dread, worry, guilt, and shame do not help,
  • I feel ready for the Open Mic on Friday because I figured out how to play a favorite Sondheim song on the ukulele,
  • I listened to my year-end round-up of music on Spotify and music always helps,
  • I connected with so many wonderful people on-line and in person yesterday and wonderful people always help,
  • I went outside for several walks and walking outside always helps,
  • I expressed vulnerability,
  • I reached out for help and support,
  • my subconscious is finally figuring out, after almost 69 years on this planet, that I have so many blessings, here and now.

Do you see any tips on how to wake up without dread in my images for today?

Actually, now that I’m looking at that Daily Bitch Calendar, dread is creeping back in.

I let go of dread many times this year by listening to “Don’t Break the Rules” from the Broadway musical Catch Me If You Can.

These lyrics help me let go of dread:

I guess the constitution, boys, to some is too complex.

They think our founding fathers fought so they could forge some checks.

Perhaps I can wake up without dread if I believe that justice is coming someday.

Gratitude definitely helps me wake up without dread, so thanks to all who are visiting here at some point after waking up, including you!

Categories: life in the USA, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Day 1068: Dread

Now that you’ve read the dread title of this post, do you dread reading it?

Do you dread posts that link to previous posts that might be dreadfully relevant? (e.g., here,  here, here, here, and  here)

I dread:

  • hurting other people’s feelings,
  • rejection,
  • making a fool of myself,
  • mistakes,
  • death,
  • taxes,
  • losing things,
  • harsh judgments,
  • miscommunication,
  • isolation,
  • illness,
  • violence, and
  • forgetting to express what’s important, including something a patient brought into therapy yesterday:


Isn’t that dreadfully clever?  It’s so great, I dread comparing that to any other definition of dread, like this one:


anticipate with great apprehension or fear.
“Jane was dreading the party”
synonyms: fear, be afraid of, worry about, be anxious about, have forebodings about

great fear or apprehension.
“the thought of returning to New Jersey filled her with dread”
synonyms: fear, apprehension, trepidation, anxiety, worry, concern, foreboding, disquiet, unease, angst

a person with dreadlocks.

greatly feared; dreadful.
“he was stricken with the dread disease and died”
synonyms: awful, frightful, terrible, horrible, dreadful

Obviously, the person who wrote that online definition dreads the state of New Jersey.

Do you dread seeing any of my other photos from yesterday?





Because I dread posting photos that are too confusing, I’ll explain that last one: Yesterday I facilitated a therapy group where we focused on the topic of “sensitivity” and I drew that personal sensitivity scale (with my dreadful handwriting).

Here and now, I do NOT dread:

  • any thoughts, feelings, or other reactions you might share, below, about this post,
  • going into work,
  • weekends,
  • taking a healing breath,
  • focusing on the current moment, and
  • thanking you for reading this!

Categories: definition, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , | 56 Comments

Day 899: Waiting for the other ____ to drop

Rather than have you wait for the point of this post to drop, I’ll start by telling you that I hear this phrase a lot, in therapy sessions:

I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I’m pretty sure I’ve already dropped a previous post or two about the topic of

Waiting for the other shoe to drop.

If that’s true, I’ll drop some links to those posts after I drop this post on WordPress.  (Pssst! Here,  here, and here).

Here’s my main drop, for today:

People often express dread about what might be coming next, whether their current experience is particularly negative OR positive.

Waiting for other points of this post to drop?

  • Many positive things have been happening to me lately — including a successful workshop about my therapy groups, good recovery from my surgery in May, positive feedback at work, meeting up with fellow blogger Mark Bialczak last weekend — and yet, two days ago, I was waiting for some other shoe to drop,  as nervous as a cat.

  • Oscar’s not particularly nervous, but our other cat, Harley, usually is. Perhaps Harley’s waiting for another shoe to drop, on him.


  • Maybe when things go unexpectedly well OR poorly, we prepare ourselves for the unknown future by being on alert for the next whatever to drop, thinking that will help us deal with it.
  • Waiting for the next anything to drop drops us out of the present moment, in which there are lots of wonderful things dropping all around us, including …


…  kids, cones, clouds, cats, hats, peace, pizza, pups, people, watches, and — yes! — real (not imaginary) shoes.

What else have you noticed, dropping in this post?

Lately, I’ve been  waiting for other things to drop, including:

  • My 900th consecutive daily post, here at WordPress and
  • My 2000th follower, who dropped in last night.

No need to wait for the other music to drop. Here it is:

My bf Michael just dropped a couple of guesses on me before he identified “Pressure Drop” by Toots and the Maytals. He also dropped the observation that there’s a cool version of “Pressure Drop” by the Clash:

Waiting for my gratitude to drop? Many thanks to every kid, cone, cloud, cat, hat, peace sign, pizza, pup, person, watch, and shoe contributing to my dropping this post.  Also, special thanks to you — of course! — for picking things up, here and now.

Categories: blogging, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , | 38 Comments

Day 377: Free-floating, re-sticking anxiety (The _ Metaphor)

I know that one way to engage readers, or  listeners, is to ask them a question.

I don’t think I’ve asked my readers, before today, to answer a specific question. But I need help, right now, in completing the title of this post.

Here’s the deal.

Today, I wanted to write about this phenomenon: How anxiety (or dread, or whatever-we-want-to-call-it) can attach to something and — once that issue is resolved — re-attach to something else.

I notice that in myself, and others.

Here’s a personal example. I have a dread of other people’s anger (which I wrote about here and here). Why do I dread that? Probably because I believe, deep down, that if I anger somebody, I will lose them forever. Rationally, I may know that is not true; but my stubborn subconscious still believes it.

As a result, I get anxious if I believe that somebody is displeased or angry with me.  And because I’m human and I personalize things (see here for the cognitive distortion of personalization, among other human distortions), I can see anger or displeasure in a whole range of reactions from innocent bystanders.  That is, somebody else might be distracted or upset about something THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ME, but my first thought is this:

I’ve done something wrong. They’re pissed off at me.

For the past 50 years or so, I have worked very hard at not having that reaction.   However, because of that automatic response, I usually am thinking that SOMEBODY is mad at me.

This “habit” has resulted in various people in my life getting this message from me (in person, over the phone, and — as communication technology has advanced — through email, text, and social media):

Are you mad at me?

Sometimes, that question is more sophisticated; that is, the language sounds more adult. For example:

Because you have not responded to my messages, I’m wondering if it’s possible that I have somehow offended you.  If so, I apologize. Our connection is important to me, and I hope there is some way we can resume it.*

And, ladies and gentlemen, in the vast majority of times that I have asked this question (primitively or sophisticatedly), this has been the answer:

No. I’m not mad at you.

However, despite all this evidence to the contrary, if you asked me, at any particular moment, this question:

Ann, do you suspect that somebody is mad at you?

If I were being honest, my answer would be:


And I could provide the name of somebody, as proof.

For example, right now, as I’m writing this post, I worry that a friend of mine is mad at me.

What is this based on?

Nothing. Everything. Believe me, I can come up with reasons.

Will I ask this person if they’re mad at me?

Yes, I will, eventually. What do I think will happen?  Past evidence predicts they will reply, as above.

No. I’m not mad at you.

And if they ARE mad at me?  Past evidence predicts we will work it out, and re-connect.

What else does past evidence predict?

Once that worry is resolved, I will — too soon — start believing that somebody else is mad at me.

WHY, oh WHY, do I do that?

As I mentioned previously in this post, I have some theories about that. However, these days, I am focusing on changing behaviors and thoughts without completely understanding the Why’s.

That reminds me of another metaphor I used, with a client, last year. A nurse, who was having some confusing negative emotions, told me, “I really want to understand WHY I’m feeling this way.”  And I replied, “I understand that you want to know why.  However, maybe you could start healing before that.” Then, I used this analogy: “You know how when somebody comes into the Emergency Room with a bleeding wound, you start treating it immediately, even if you don’t know the cause?  Sure, you could treat it better if you knew more. However, even with limited knowledge, you still do everything you can, to stop that bleeding and start the healing.”

And, that metaphor was effective.

So where was I, before the Emergency Room metaphor?

Oh, yes. I want to reduce my free-floating anxiety, especially regarding my Dread of Anger.

So, what helps with that — or any other helpful, healing change?

Communicating, through writing or speech.   Reducing the power of the old habit with the power of words — which includes coming up with metaphors (such as those I’ve written about here, here,  here, and here).

Which leads me back to beginning of this post. Today, I would like to come up with a good-enough metaphor for  free-floating, re-sticking anxiety — whether it’s worry about somebody else’s anger, or anything else.

Before I started writing, I tried to think of something — animal, vegetable, or mineral — that sticks, becomes unstuck, floats away, and then re-sticks to something else.

Here were the candidates I came up with:

1.  Barnacles.

download (11)

According to Wikipedia (which is where that photo lives), a barnacle is designed to stick, but it does so permanently.  So that didn’t really fit what I was trying to convey.

2. Sea anemones.


According to Wikipedia, again (where that image lives):

Anemones tend to stay in the same spot until conditions become unsuitable (prolonged dryness, for example), or a predator attacks them. In that case anemones can release themselves from the substrate and use flexing motions to swim to a new location. Most sea anemones attach temporarily to submerged objects; a few thrust themselves into the sand or live in burrows; a few are parasitic on other marine organisms [8] and some have symbiotic relationships with hermit crabs.

Hmmm. I think anemones are a better metaphor than barnacles. However, I don’t love it, because:

  1. I have trouble spelling “anemone.”
  2. The word “parasitic” skeeves me out.
  3. I am very distracted by the implications of the “symbiotic relationships with hermit crabs.”


At this point, I believe that a better metaphor –that is,  better than anemones or barnacles — exists, somewhere.

Which leads me to my question: Can you think of a good metaphor for free-floating, re-sticking anxiety?

I hope you’re not mad at me for asking  — or for taking this long to get around to it.

Thanks to creatures who live (or have lived) in the sea, to anyone who gets anxious, mad, or insecure, and — of course! — to everybody  reading this, right now (whether you answer my question, or not).


* Somebody got this message from me, fairly recently.

** This image lives on a post by a fellow WordPress blogger, sajeevkmenon. I wonder if Sajeev will get mad at me for using that picture? Or for screwing up his (or her) name?

Categories: inspiration, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 45 Comments

Day 334: Dread vs. Reality

Last night, I went for a walk with my boyfriend, Michael.

Michael and I talk a lot while we walk around and look at our surroundings.

To me, this is proof that

  1. We both are quite coordinated.
  2. We both have interesting things to say.

Here’s something we talked about last night:

How dread of something is worse than the reality.

We both had plenty of examples to support that thesis.

Last night, one proof of that theory was this:

It was friggin’ cold outside.

And if you have read many of my blog posts, you know how I feel about THAT. My posts show that I have been dreading the advent of the cold since ….. hmmmmm …… SEPTEMBER?

That’s right. And now that it’s almost December (tomorrow is December 1), that means that I have been dreading the cold for three months.

A quarter of the year.   That’s a full season, right there.

I’ve been having a season of dread — the season of MY discontent.*

Now, the cold is here, and I am experiencing RELIEF.

Why?  A lot of my dread is based on false assumptions.

During my season of dread, I was assuming that once the weather turned cold:

  • I would stay indoors all the time,
  • I wouldn’t go on walks, and
  • I wouldn’t see beauty around me.

Not true.

I was amazed to remember and realize, last night, that I still go on walks during the winter, probably as much as I do any other time of the year.

I had forgotten about that, during my season of dread.

I had forgotten about that, even though:

  1. have a very good memory** and
  2. I have lived through many cold winters.

However, during my season of dread, I still forgot these important facts.

I believe this proves that dread is NOT good for the memory.  I hope I remember better, next year (whatever I name that year).

As usual, I want to end this post with some images. However, I didn’t take any photos last night. (I guess the conversation was too interesting.) (Or, I’m not THAT coordinated.) Therefore, I will turn to Google, for some images of the kind of beauty we saw last night (and which I expect to see more of, soon):



And while we didn’t see anything quite as amazing as this:


… I think that captures my feelings, right now.

Thanks to William Shakespeare, those who dread, those who wonder, and — of course!  — those who read this blog.


* This is a reference to Shakespeare’s Richard III, He, apparently, had opinions about the seasons, too.

** I know this is bragging, but Lumosity tells me that I am in the 99.9th percentile in memory, not only compared to my age group, but to EVERY OTHER FRIGGIN’ AGE GROUP.***

*** Yes, I checked.

**** I found this image here.

***** I found this image here.

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

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

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