Posts Tagged With: Letting go of fears

Day 905: Michael from Boston

Many blog posts ago, I expressed a wish to perform  a new rendition of Joni Mitchell’s “Michael from Mountains,” dedicated to my boyfriend, Michael.

Michael is not from mountains. He’s from the Hyde Park section of Boston.

Here are the lyrics to “Michael from Boston” (as adapted by Ann from WordPress):

Michael wakes up from a sleep
He takes me up streets for a coffee run
Sidewalk potholes are so steep
With birdies that cheep, bunnies having fun
There’s kitties and puppies and possum-y pet toys
That lie on the lawn
in colored arrangements I snap with my camera
At dusk and at dawn

Michael from Boston
Go where you will go to
Know that I will know you
Someday I may know you very well

Michael brings me to a park
It’s light and it’s dark with the clouds up high
Kids on zip lines and on swings
Like puppets on strings hanging in the sky

He cooks us great suppers in second floor kitchens
They’re yummy and bold.
And Michael will hold me
To keep away cold when the winters come by
Michael from Boston
Go where you will go to
Know that I will know you
Someday I may know you very well

Michael leads me up the stairs
He wants me to care and he knows I do
Cats come crying at the door
And he feeds them more with a dish or two
There’s rain in the window
There’s sun in the paintings that smile on the wall
I want to hear all
But his accent’s so thick that I never do

Michael from Boston
Go where you will go to
Know that I will know you
Someday I will know you very well.

.

While I’ve snapped pictures, over my blogging years,  to illustrate almost every point in that song, Ann from WordPress  likes to show  photos she’s taken since her last post. I hope the following photos will reflect aspects of Michael, Boston, and/or those song lyrics.
                                                     

What do you  — from mountains, Boston, WordPress, or wherever — think of all this?

Now, I need to record that song with the new lyrics. Not sure how good my voice is going to sound this early in the morning. Also, who knows if I’ll get all those new words right?

Well, Ann from WordPress is having trouble recording a video of “Michael from Boston” because I’m getting no sound on my iPhone from Apple.

Because of the help and support of Michael and other kind people from Boston, I am not panicking about technical difficulties these days. However, I’ll need to restart my iPhone to try to fix this. So, I shall post this now and add a performance video later.

Okay! Still no sounds from my iPhone, but the YouTube video has sound, so here it is:

Many thanks to Michael and others from Boston, to Joni from Canada, and to you — of course! — no matter where you’re from.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, taking a risk | Tags: , , | 32 Comments

Day 702: Associations

I don’t know about you, but I have the kind of mind, heart, and soul where I make a lot of associations, as I make my way through space and time.

Yesterday, I encountered several challenging, overwhelming, and difficult-to-resolve situations at work and elsewhere, and my associations with that included:

I just made associations with most of the cognitive distortions I listed, above, by doing a WordPress search through my past posts for the name of each distortion, and then linking to it. However, there was one cognitive distortion with which WordPress had no associations,* so that one is different (and, perhaps, guilty by association). My association with that is that it’s probably time for me to define that one link-less distortion here:

Overgeneralization.
We come to a general conclusion based on a single incident or a single piece of evidence. If something bad happens only once, you expect it to happen over and over again. Example: seeing one incident of rejection as part of a never-ending pattern of defeat and failure.

My association with that?  That sounds about right.

In the past, when I’ve been making unhelpful associations, I sometimes write down my associations freely, without judgment or restraint,  in order to move my thoughts, feelings, and experience into a different place.

My association with that?  I need a starting point, for those associations.

So what should I associate with, today?

How about a photo I took yesterday?

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Here are my associations with that:

I take photos, sometimes, when I’m stuck in traffic or waiting, as a way to pass the time, reduce anxiety, and gather ideas and images for this daily blog. That truck shows batteries, which reminds me of pacemaker batteries, which I’ve been dependent upon to stay alive for the past 52 years. I can’t make out or recognize all of the images on the back of that truck, but I assume they might have something to do with NASCAR racers. I can’t read the whole slogan on the bottom, but I see the words “past” and “Built to last.”  “Built to last” reminds me of my current fears about my health and makes me think about human fragility and vulnerability.

I don’t know what those associations did for you, but I would like to move on to associations with another image:

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 I think those images, on the side of that truck, are supposed to be reassuring, but they are reminding me, in the moment, of two things I’m having some worries and concerns about: (1) my possibly needing heart surgery in the near future (left) and (2) the challenges I’m having with the masks on my C-PAP machine (right) and how I got a call from the C-PAP machine people yesterday wanting to Repossess the machine,  since I haven’t been using it 70% of the time, which was a requirement I didn’t even know about until last week, but maybe that’s for the best, because I ‘m going to try a different kind of sleep treatment (a dental device) instead.

I don’t know what those associations did for you, but I would like to move on to associations with a different photo:

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Last night, on my drive home after my challenging day, I passed by something that made me laugh out loud, despite everything I was thinking, feeling, and experiencing, so I turned around and circled back to take a photo of it. I could ask you your associations with that photo, to see if you might guess what I saw, but why should I waste your time? My iPhone couldn’t capture it, obviously, but that was a bright, illuminated snowman up a tree, above, which made me — at least momentarily — happy.

I guess you had to be there.

What associations might I make now, in this post, to link with some musical association?

(YouTube video of The Association, associating with The Smothers Brothers, found here, if you care to make that association.)

Do you have any associations with that or with anything else in this associating post, today?  If you do, I hope you consider joining the association of people who comment on this blog.

Thanks to everybody, everywhere, who makes associations of any kind (including you, with whom I am always pleased to associate).


* It turns out that WordPress had no associations with that cognitive distortion because I typed “overgeneralizing” instead of “overgeneralization.” My association with that?  Nobody’s perfect.

Categories: blogging, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 31 Comments

Day 650: Today’s fears (and safety and dreams)

I fear I’m going to start this post by checking how many times I’ve used “fear” in previous blog titles.

Anybody brave enough to guess that number?

The number is  …..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sixteen.  (And those posts are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, herehere, and here).

Does anybody here fear numbers?

My 16-year-old son (who does not read this blog, these days) does NOT fear numbers, as illustrated by this story when he was three (almost four) years old (from NoteBookLand):

Aaron’s pre-school teacher, Alyssa, said that when the kids at school were asked what they were thankful for, some said, “my parents,” or “my toys,” or “my house,” or “my kitty.” Aaron said, “I’m thankful for numbers, because I can count with them.”

When I was looking for that early Aaron story, I found this much earlier one, which I do not fear to share with you, here:

Aaron and Dada were telling stories at bedtime. Aaron told a story where Aaron was having a dream about a dinosaur and his Dada told him that dinosaurs really weren’t there. Then Aaron told another story about a dinosaur who was having a dream about Aaron and who woke up scared from his dream, and the Daddy Dinosaur told the dinosaur to not be afraid, because no Aarons were really there.

 

As a psychotherapist, I often encourage people (especially those who have encountered frightening things in their lives) to think about how safe they are, in the moment. People — when they take a breath and observe all the realities of their senses —  often find that the present moment is actually safer than they are thinking and feeling.

I fear it is sometimes difficult to take one’s own advice.  That is, I have been fearing some not-really-dangerous things lately, including:

  • running out of storage space,
  • machines breaking,
  • losing things,
  • interpersonal miscommunication, and
  • making mistakes.

Also, I fear, I have NOT been scared of some news-worthy dangers, including:

  • Ebola (and other diseases),
  • financial scams, and
  • murderous people.

I fear that sort of thing happens, when I stop listening to the news. (When I stop listening to the news, I definitely feel safer.)

 

If you fear generalizations about human beings, beware of the next sentence.

Being vigilant about danger can help us survive, so it makes sense for our minds to be fear-focused (although we might get confused about what we should be fearing, which can be scary).

 

This time of the year, there’s plenty to fear, all around:

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Do any of those things scare you?  Do any of them help you feel safer?

If any of them did scare you, what else might help you feel safer, in the moment?

For me, music always helps.

(“Not While I’m Around” from Stephen Sondheim‘s Sweeney Todd, sung by Barbra Streisand, found here on YouTube.)

Here’s a live version of that song, by Jamie Cullum:

 

Last night, I had a dream. Do you fear dreams? I do not fear other people’s dreams; indeed, I welcome them into individual and group therapy. However, I may fear my own dreams (which may be why I sometimes fear going to sleep).

My dream last night was not scary, although there was a moment in the dream where I was afraid of something.

I fear I am not being clear or detailed enough, right now, about my dream. Here it is:

I was outside, talking to people who were standing and walking around in some sort of public gathering place. At times, I was having conversations with individuals — some of whom seemed to be in charge of things. At other times, I would address many people at the same time, as though I was imparting some wisdom.  At one point, I had a revelation. I thought, “in order to help bring about helpful growth in people and in society, I just need to make very small changes, like these:  (1) changing one letter in certain words and (2) increasing numbers I use, just by making them one larger. That’s all I need to do and … I can do that!” As I had this epiphany, I could see things very clearly and I heard a person standing near me describe their own sense of deja vu. I thought, “This is all telling me that I am having a true and helpful thought.”  I felt happy, safe, and joyful.

Then, I had my moment of doubt and fear, as I thought: “If I tell people this, will they think I am too self-important? Will they think I am delusional?”

When I woke up after that dream, I felt good. I wasn’t sure I was going share that dream with anyone but, I suppose, I am now telling it — in a way — to the world.

As I was writing the dream down for this post, here were my associations to that dream:

  • I work with people individually and in groups. That was happening in the dream.
  • When I act like an expert, I fear that I will be seen as wrong and/or as seeing myself as too important. That was happening in the dream.
  • I do believe that creating small changes can lead to bigger and important change. That was happening in the dream.
  • In my work, I invite people to tell their stories differently, as a way of creating more self-esteem and moving towards life goals. That is my association to changing one letter in a word, in the dream.
  • In my blog, I increase the number in the title by one, every day.

Those are my associations with that dream. When I work in therapy with other people’s dreams, I ask this question:

If that were your dream, what might it mean?

I hope you feel safe enough here to respond to that question, or to share any dreams of your own.

Here is ONE MORE three-year-old Aaron story, about change:

Aaron, Mama, and Dada were driving by a restaurant which was all boarded up with wood. When they were talking about how the restaurant was being changed, Aaron said, “Yes, that restaurant is changing. It’s changing into a …. tree!”

Is there any fear about how I might end this post? The endings, here, are almost always gratitude.

Thanks to everybody who helped make this post possible and to you — of course! — for any fears, safety, or anything in-between, that you bring here today.

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

Day 589: One Thing

`12On August 12, 2014, as I prepare for a trip to the United Kingdom, I would like to focus on one thing.

Here’s a quote about One Thing, from the movie City Slickers:

(found here on YouTube)

Focusing on one thing, and letting go of all distractions, allows one to be mindful and more present in the moment. That can reduce anxiety.

Does it matter what that One Thing is?

What do you think?

Because I tend to have lots of things on my mind, at any one time, here’s a list of possible One Things for me, today:

  • It’s the anniversary of my mother’s death, six years ago.
  • Robin Williams, whose genius and life-force seemed huge and unstoppable, is no longer with us.
  • Traveling can bring up fears and anxieties, for me.
  • I have too much to do at work, as usual.

Geesh!  Having a list, like that, of MORE than one thing … kind of defeats my purpose, doesn’t it?

What to do?

Well, listening to music often helps me focus on one thing.  But what one musical thing should I choose, today?

I see that One Direction, a UK group, has a song called “One Thing.” However, I don’t know that song, so I’m going to do what I usually do. That is, I’m going to share, with you, the one tune that’s playing in my head, right now.

If you play that YouTube video until the end, you’ll find out why that one tune was on my mind.

What else did I want to tell you this morning, about the concept of One Thing?

I decided, over the weekend, that — in order to make things easy on me and my son, while we are attending the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland — I may choose to show only one photo, each day, in my blog posts.

That’s very different from what I usually do, though. And breaking old habits is very difficult.

To practice for this possible new habit, today I’d like to show you only one photo, which I took yesterday.

But how to decide which one photo to show?  As usual, I took several photos yesterday, not knowing what my blogging topic would be today.

And here’s one thing you should know about me:  I love multiple possibilities, choices, and options.

I know! I’ll practice limiting my photographic choices today,but I’ll still show you more than one thing I took yesterday.

After all, I MAY show you more than one photo daily, from Scotland. It just helps me to know I have the option to include only One Thing.

I now choose these four shots from yesterday (in order of appearance):

IMG_7945 IMG_7948 IMG_7949 IMG_7951

 

I would like to end this post with one thing from Robin Williams.

My first choice, for that, would be an amazing  stand-up routine I spent a long time searching for, just last week, so I could share it with my son:  “Come Inside My Mind” from his 1979 album Reality … What a Concept.

I can’t include that here, right now. But one thing I can share is his final words from Reality … What a Concept (see Robin Williams Wikiquotes):

There was an old, crazy dude who used to live a long time ago. His name was Lord Buckley. And he said, a long time ago, he said, “People–they’re kinda like flowers, and it’s been a privilege walking in your garden.” My love goes with you.

Many thanks today, to one and all.

Categories: in memoriam, inspiration, Nostalgia, personal growth, tribute | Tags: , , , , , , , | 33 Comments

Day 496: Fun with Phobias (Part III*)

Several months ago, I wrote two posts about phobias (here and here), which I defined like so:

…  personal, inexplicable, exaggerated, and illogical fears I’m feeling …. in the present.

When I thought of “Fun with Phobias” in February, I knew it was a personal blogging goldmine (or “cash cow,” as people say in the marketing biz). That is, this was a topic I could use repeatedly, getting new value from it with minimal effort.

And yet, while I returned to that blogging golden cow the very next day, I have not used it since.

In the therapy biz, here’s a question people often ask:

Why now?

That is, why am I returning to this topic, on this particular day, after a hiatus of many months? As usual, I have a multi-part answer:

  • A friend recently used the word “fearless” to describe me. I took issue with that label, and we discussed how I (and he, too) actually do this:

Image

  • I have lots of seemingly unrelated photos I want to show you, and — since I am capable of feeling fear about almost everything — this topic should provide an easy way to introduce whatever-the-hell pictures I want.
  • It’s Mother’s Day, and Mom-o-phobia is something some people may have felt or experienced, at least for moments (although I’m not experiencing that now, in any way).

While I could, at this point, indulge in some Intro-Blog-o-Phobia (the fear of writing a not-good-enough beginning for a post) … instead, let’s proceed to phobias with photos.

Okay!

1.  Miss-o-Phobia.

The fear of missing things — including people, experiences, and objects (in the past, present, and future).

For example, I saw this penguin, a week or so ago:

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Then, a few days ago, I took another picture at the same location, to show how a tree there had blossomed:

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And, while I noticed changes to the tree … what did I totally miss?  Changes to the penguin.

Eeeeek!

These days, I might also experience Miss-o-Phobia about:

  • Co-workers.
  • The groups and individuals I do psychotherapy with (when my health is better).
  • My mother.
  • My father.
  • Anything or anybody not in my immediate vicinity, at the present moment.

Eeeeek!

2.  Ticket-o-Phobia.

Two meanings: (a) the fear of forgetting, losing, or otherwise not-having-on-hand a necessary ticket (for a trip or an event) and (b) the fear of getting a parking ticket.

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Note: The latter manifestation of this phobia is often co-morbid* with Quarterlessness-o-phobia, the fear of not having the correct change.

Eeeek!

3.  New-o-phobia.

The fear of experiencing something or somebody never encountered before.

I experienced this feeling yesterday, on my way to meet somebody new:

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Wait! Who is that?

Guesses, anybody?

Time’s up!

That’s The Culture Monk, a blogger I admire, a/k/a Kenneth Justice.  Kenneth has been taking his show on the road, with his “Drinking in the Culture Tour,” and I went to see him at a coffee house in Cambridge, MA.

It was great to hang with Kenneth for an hour, and talk about many things, including the past, present, and future of blogging and (not surprisingly) fear (eeeek!).

I told Kenneth, when I met him, that he wasn’t as intimidating as I had feared.  Instead, he was instantly easy to talk to (which I also knew, on some level, from reading his blog).

As usual, my fears of the new — once I faced them — were unfounded.

And, as I was reminding myself on my way to meet him, Kenneth was NOT new to me. I have been meeting up with him, here in the blog-o-sphere, for quite a while.

Whenever you encounter something new, familiarity is also there somewhere (although you might miss it).

Speaking of that, those who are familiar with ME may have noticed, in that last photo, somebody else I admire: Jackie Chan*** (in the lower left).

Yes, Jackie Chan was NOT new to me yesterday and … neither was The Culture Monk.

So, maybe the old saying is true:

There is nothing new under the sun.

Which gives me a GREAT excuse to end this post with some other photos, recently taken under the sun.

In order of appearance:

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IMG_4094

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Happy Mother’s Day!

Thanks to everything and everybody who helped me write this post, including fears, Susan Jeffers, parents, work, Kenneth Justice, Jackie Chan, the sun, the Dalai Lama,  and … you!


* The number in the post title is a roman numeral meaning “3,” although I could easily have written 110 previous posts about this topic.

** “Co-morbid” in the therapy biz means “occurring at the same time.” Despite the way it looks, it has nothing to do with death. (Eeeek!)

*** I’ve blogged about Jackie Chan before: here, here, here, and here.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism, quiz | Tags: , , , , , | 28 Comments

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