Posts Tagged With: living in the moment

Day 2492: Time’s a-wastin’

“Time’s a-wastin'” is a phrase I used during my “Ted Talk” at my 45th college reunion yesterday.

Before I gave my talk, all the speakers at the event received an email explaining what would happen if we were a-wastin’ too much time during our 5-minute talks.

To help you keep track of the time, we will be holding up a sign for: FIVE minutes. Then SIX minutes. Then a buzzer at 7 mins.

I wrote to the organizers:

You can count on me to do what’s right.  Since I’ve got my speech pretty much memorized, please don’t rattle me with fingers or timers.

I also wrote this:

Mine is between 5 and 6 minutes. Okay?????

I was sure I wouldn’t be a-wastin’ people’s time by going over the limit because I had timed myself several times.

Because several people (including somebody with the same rare heart condition as mine) had asked me to record my speech, I left my phone running under my chair when I spoke, despite the no-taping request at the event.  I also recorded the speech for all of you, because  this blog was part of my “big finish” (as I’ve been spending much time discussing here, in previous posts).

Then I gave my speech, totally from memory.

When I checked the tape, I realized that I had slowly taken my time and taken up 10 minutes and 47 seconds!  So much for expectations.  I also realized that the organizers had respected my request and not held up signs or interrupted me with buzzers. If they had, it would have  upset me so much, I know, that all my preparation would have been wasted.

Because I always try to keep my promises, I wasted some time feeling bad about going SO MUCH over the limit.  I apologized to one of the organizers, and she said, “No worries.” (She said more, but I won’t be a-wastin’ your time with that.)

Without any further time-wastin’ ado, here is the “bootleg” of my speech yesterday:

 

 

In case any of that is difficult for you to hear, here’s the “5-minute” speech I had written:

I want to start out with a question to you. Raise your hand if you remember where you were on November 22, 1963. I’m different from all of you. I have no memory of that day because I was having heart surgery to get my first cardiac pacemaker. While you were being traumatized by the assassination of President Kennedy, my family and I were being traumatized by my unexpected surgery, by hospital rules preventing parents from staying with their kids, and by medical staff not knowing how to answer the questions of a confused and frightened l0-year-old girl like  “What is that coffin on the TV screen?” and “What is this giant thing sticking out of my body?”

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I’ll tell you how I got there. I was born with the rarest of congenital heart conditions. My heart is essentially backwards, with the ventricles, great vessels, and valves switched and doing jobs they weren’t designed to do. Plus, the electrical impulses that control a heart’s rhythm are completely blocked in mine, which means I need a pacemaker to survive. However, pacemakers hadn’t been invented yet.

Luckily, I did well enough until I was 9, when my heart rate got slower and slower. You can see it in photographs from that time: I look like a ghost child in a family of mortals. The doctors tried speeding up my heart with yucky medicine that made me sick. Pacemakers were too new, too untested, and way too big for children to be even mentioned as an option.

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Which brings us to November 1963. I was in the hospital for observation when my heart stopped and then started up again. That changed everything. The doctors told my parents they’d have to put in a pacemaker immediately, which would “stick out like a sore thumb.” When my mother expressed doubts about this new plan, the surgeon asked, “Do you want to lose your daughter?”

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They didn’t lose me, but I had to struggle not to lose myself, as the pacemakers kept breaking down in every conceivable way. Once, when we were back in the hospital because my pacemaker had failed just two weeks after the latest operation, the surgeon called another one of my doctors on the phone and said, “The Koplows are here with their lawyer” — as a joke. My father and I used our senses of humor to mix things up — that December I went into the operating room wearing a sign that said, “Do not open until Christmas.”

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Despite my many absences from school, I excelled academically, ran for class office,  read voraciously,  and appreciated the few benefits of being so different from my classmates, like getting out of gym class, which all my friends hated.  I read a book about Helen Keller who had also overcome physical differences with a palpable appreciation for being alive. Right then, I decided I wanted to go to Radcliffe, just like her.

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When I was at Harvard, pacemakers had improved enough that I needed far fewer visits to the hospital. And just as I had avoided gym class , I managed to graduate without passing the swimming test. That’s another way I’m different from you.

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Before, during, and after Harvard, I’ve lived my life with a deep sense of my own mortality — there’s no telling how long my very unusual heart will last. This makes me pretty impatient —time’s a-wastin’ and too precious to spend on small talk or on anything I don’t love. That’s why I changed careers until I found my soul’s best work as a wounded healer. I’m a group therapist who specializes in trauma.

And while I got enough personal training in trauma when I was young, I’ve had major heart-related crises in the latter part of my life. My poor, overworked tricuspid valve leaked badly, causing several bouts of endocarditis and also weakening my heart. Some doctors said I needed that leaky valve replaced, another doctor said that valve replacement would change the pressure in my heart to a catastrophic effect. Nobody seemed to know, because of the rarity of my condition.

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In May, 2016, I met with the experts on hearts like mine at the Mayo Clinic. They said, “You must have that valve replaced immediately.“ Because my only child — a son with a fabulously normal heart — was about to enter his first year at the University of Edinburgh and we had plans to spend August together in Scotland, I asked for an extension. Well, I made it to Scotland, made it through my son leaving the nest, and made it through open heart surgery to get a new mechanical valve, exactly three years ago today.

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So as I tell my story to you today, I wonder, perhaps along with you, what has allowed me to survive, so intact, through all this? What has helped me pick up the pieces, over and over again? As when I was a child — the love of my family and friends sustain me. Also, seven years ago I expanded my network of friends by starting a daily blog. Every morning, including today, I’ve written about my heart, my son, my passion for the healing power of groups, my song-writing, my cats, my hopes, my fears, this speech — whatever helps gird me and prepare me for the day ahead. The day after my heart valve surgery was the only day I needed a substitute blogger — my boyfriend Michael let my thousands of followers know I had survived the complicated procedure. Their comments included “Fantastic news! I’m in public but I’m dancing all the same,” and “She’s going to be alright guys’ is the best line ever!”

As a group therapist, I know that community is essential for survival. Perhaps because of all the traumas I’ve been through, I need a bigger group than most to keep me going. Thanks for being part of my group, here and now.

After I gave my speech, many people told me that they

  • were inspired,
  • thought I was very brave,
  • had an amazingly polished and effective delivery,
  • never knew any of this about me, even though we were good friends in college, and
  • were struggling with heart issues.

I guess people didn’t believe that I had been a-wastin’ time with my speech.

Let’s see if I was a-wastin’ time yesterday with the photos I took during the day:

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If you leave any comments, that will be time well spent for me.

Time’s a-wastin’, so I will express my gratitude to all those who help me make it through every day, including YOU.

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Categories: group therapy, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 38 Comments

Day 2198: Oh what fun

Oh what fun

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there is today,

If we see things in this way.

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Walking by the sea,

Writing bad poetry,

Swearing up a storm

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About how it’s getting warm.

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Noticing a new fruit

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and animals so cute,

Enjoying what’s almost funny

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And focusing less on money.

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Living for today

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in your own special way,

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Knowing you’re amazing

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Even when others are not praising,

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Deciding to just dance

 

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When ever there’s that chance.

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And singing along

To an “Oh what fun” song.

Expressing gratitude

For readers, songs, and food.

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

Day 1786: For now

“For now’ is something I often say, for perspective, for clarification, for hope, and for an invitation to live in the moment.

For now, Michael still hasn’t sent me those photos he took on Saturday.

For now, I’ll keep reminding him until he remembers to send them.

For now, I have only three new photos to share with you.

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For now, I’m placing a “Thank you” photo in the middle of a post, instead of at the end.

For now, I’m feeling some measure of peace despite all the chaos surrounding us.

For now, I’m sharing these two videos (playing, for now, here and here on YouTube):

 

For now, please express any thoughts and feelings you have for today’s post.

For now, I’m expressing gratitude for all who helped me create this post and — of course! — for you.

 

 

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

Day 1699: No worries

“No worries” is a phrase that originated in Australia. I have no worries, this morning, about …

  • writing my third blog post titled “no worries” in four and a half years of blogging,
  • linking to those previous blog posts here and here,
  • people with great expectations perhaps preferring my earlier posts to this one,
  • taking my time responding to others,
  • remembering to take my medication,
  • losing things,
  • being on vacation, and
  • snapping photos wherever and whenever I can.

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I have no worries that one of the excellent comedians shown above has a congenital heart condition and that we showed each other our open-heart surgery scars in public.  I also have no worries that two of the lovely people portrayed in the photos above are from Australia and say “no worries” instead of “you’re welcome.”

I have no worries about giving you more details in this blog post because

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the end of this post is nigh.

No worries about including this music today.

Thanks to all who help me create this daily blog and — of course! — to you, whether or not you respond “no worries” in a comment today.

 

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

Day 1588: When will the good times start?

If you’re like most people, you probably believe the good times will start when

  • you have more money,
  • your living situation improves,
  • you’re healthier,
  • you look more attractive,
  • the political situation changes,
  • more people agree with you,
  • your relationships get better,
  • your job gets better,
  • you’re doing more interesting things,
  • other people alter their behaviors,
  • you alter your behaviors, or
  • something else changes in the future.

Last night, the good times started when I got this fortune:

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Okay, everybody!  Let’s count to 3!

1 ….

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2…

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3.

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According to that good fortune I found last night, now that we’ve counted to 3, the good times have started!

How shall we celebrate these good times?

1…

2…

3.

 

When will the good comments start? 1… 2… 3. Let’s look below and see!

Finally, how shall I express good-time thanks to all who helped me create the good times in this post and — of course — to you?

1…

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2 …

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3.

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Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 41 Comments

Day 1458: We’re still alive

Yesterday, in a therapy group, somebody said, “We’re still alive.”  Since that phrase felt very alive to me, I wrote it on my white board, where it still is.

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I heard and wrote that shortly  before I found out that Carrie Fisher was no longer alive, when I  read this on Facebook: “We lost a Jedi.”

I still believe it’s important,  every day, to remember we’re still alive, because eventually every one of us will be still.

Here‘s the best song for this post —  Stephen Sondheim’s “I’m Still Here” from Carrie Fisher’s Postcards from the Edge:

 

I often sing that song when I walk around, still alive,  and see scenes like this:

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Which images are still alive, for you?

I’m very grateful we’re still alive as I thank all  who helped me create this post and you — of course —  for still being here.

Categories: in memoriam, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

Day 1401: What is the inspiration?

What is the inspiration for today’s blog post title?

It’s this card, which the inspiring Carla from cardiac rehab wrote for me, yesterday:

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That is the inspiration for me to share this definition for “inspiration.”

in·spi·ra·tion
ˌinspəˈrāSH(ə)n/
noun
1. the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.
“Helen had one of her flashes of inspiration”
synonyms: creativity, inventiveness, innovation, ingenuity, genius, imagination, originality
2. the drawing in of breath; inhalation.

As you draw in your next breath, pause a minute and think about this:

What is the inspiration for you?

That question is the inspiration for me to list some inspirations, here and now:

  1. My late parents.
  2. My son Aaron.
  3. My boyfriend Michael.
  4. My family.
  5. My friends.
  6. Other kind people I encounter, every day.
  7. My work.
  8. My patients.
  9. The beauty I see all around me.
  10. Music.
  11. Things that make me laugh.
  12. Bravery in others.
  13. Writing.
  14. My readers.
  15. Delicious and healthy food.
  16. Self care.
  17. Nature.
  18. Animals.
  19. My doctors.
  20. Hope for the future.
  21. Acceptance of what is.
  22. Faith in myself and others
  23. Learning new things.
  24. Home.
  25. Taking time to heal.
  26. My iPhone camera.

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One thing I photographed yesterday was the inspiration for Carla from Cardiac Rehab to talk, non-stop, for several minutes. Can I inspire you to guess what inspired her so?

Carla’s inspiration was …

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… Mort, the hedgehog, who is riding high in a surgical mask, who always wears that hat, who gets dressed up in various outfits,  and who, one morning, was all packed to go to Las Vegas but “he missed his flight.” Nevertheless, Mort is the still the inspiration for many inspiring people who attend cardiac rehab at Mount Auburn Hospital.

What is the inspiration for my musical selection this morning?  I just searched YouTube for “inspiration music” and found this:

I’m hoping this post is the inspiration for you to leave a comment, below.

For all the inspirations who helped me create today’s post and for you — of course! — here’s one more inspiration from yesterday:

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Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 35 Comments

Day 1374: The near future

Whenever you’ve had a harrowing experience, it helps to plan for the near future, especially if you focus on what you adore.

For example, exactly  two weeks ago today I had major heart surgery which was, honestly, pretty harrowing. So it’s helping me to plan for and focus on the near future, which includes:

  • My college roommate, Maria, whom I adore, flying in from Portland Oregon, which I adore,  to stay with me and my boyfriend Michael, whom I adore,  for eight days.
  • An appointment this afternoon with my Primary Care Physician, Dr. Laura Snydman, whom I adore.
  • Getting a ride to my doctor’s visit this afternoon from my sister, Ellen, whom I adore.
  • Seeing Mel Brooks, whom I adore, in person in a few weeks, accompanied by my neighbor Karen, whom I adore.
  • Attending a performance of “An American in Paris,” which I adore, the following week with my friend Barbara, whom I adore.

It also helps to look at the near past, especially when my progress is so encouraging, which I adore.  For example, last night — for the first time since my surgery — I went for a short walk outside alone, which I adored. Here’s what I saw:

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In your near future, you could plan to adore this post even more, as I show you other pictures from yesterday of things I adore:

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Here‘s the music I am listening to as I write this near-future post, which I adore:

Is there a comment in my near future, which I would adore?

I adore everybody and everything that helped me create this near-future post and also you — of course! — for including me in your near future.

Categories: heart surgery, personal growth, photojournalism, self-care | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Day 1255: Turn Yourself Around

Because I’m a psychotherapist, every time I turn myself around I encounter somebody wanting to turn themselves around, towards health and a better life.

Yesterday, I turned myself around at work and saw this:

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Later that day, during a turn-yourself-around therapy group, I turned myself around to describe how our lives turn around and around and around, while we grow and learn. (If you want to turn yourself around to learn more about that, turn yourself to the sixth blog post I turned out here — The Ascending Coil.)

Then, I turned myself around to meet my boyfriend Michael, and we turned ourselves around towards Norfolk, Massachusetts to attend a memorial service for his late mother.

When her five children, nephews, nieces, and grandchildren turned themselves around  to remember and honor her, I turned myself around to take a few photos:

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That’s Bobby, my boyfriend Michael’s nephew. When Bobby turned himself around to ask me if I was still blogging, I turned myself around to answer, “Every day.”

Would any of my other photos from yesterday help anybody turn themselves around?

 

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I am now going to turn myself around, towards YouTube, for some turn-yourself-around tunes for today (here and here):

 

 

Now I shall turn myself around to thank all those who helped me create this turn-yourself-around post and you — of course!! — for turning yourself around towards here, today.

Categories: blogging, group therapy, inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Day 1249: I love

I love

  • my son,
  • my boyfriend,
  • my sister,
  • my late parents,
  • my extended family,
  • my friends,
  • my ex-in-laws,
  • our cats,
  • group therapy,
  • blogging,
  • laughing,
  • making people laugh,
  • all human feelings,
  • wordplay,
  • singing,
  • dancing,
  • walking,
  • animals,
  • jazz,
  • books,
  • movies,
  • flowers,
  • bright colors,
  • nature,
  • Boston in the spring,
  • home,
  • travel,
  • Edinburgh,
  • the Fringe Festival,
  • Jane Austen,
  • Pat Metheny,
  • Mel Brooks,
  • Gene Kelly,
  • Fred Astaire,
  • Shakespeare,
  • the Beatles,
  • Robert Browning,
  • stand up comedy,
  • musicals,
  • Singin’ in the Rain,
  • The Band Wagon,
  • This is Spinal Tap,
  • Neal Young,
  • Stephen Stills,
  • Kind of Blue,
  • pasta,
  • chocolate,
  • salads,
  • going barefoot,
  • being in the moment,
  • my own heart,
  • other people’s hearts,
  • life,
  • love,
  • those who love others,
  • you,
  • happiness,
  • quality,
  • signs,
  • creativity,
  • openness,
  • starting lists,
  • finishing lists, even if they’re incomplete, and
  • taking photos.

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What do you love?

I love choosing music for this blog.

By the way, I also love comments.

Love to all who helped me create this post and to you — of course! — for being here today.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, staying healthy | Tags: , , , , | 30 Comments

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