Today’s blog post is inspired by the Daily Bitch, who helps me get through this difficult time.
During this difficult time, I will post my latest images.
During this difficult time, I’ve been facilitating five remote Coping and Healing groups each week and I’ll be adding a sixth one next Friday. In yesterday’s Coping and Healing group, I asked people who were experiencing this difficult time to use their sense of touch for a mindfulness exercise, focusing on something soft and comforting. I chose Harley’s favorite cat toy, pictured above.
I also suggested that people get through this difficult time by being especially kind to themselves.
Music helps me get through this difficult time. When I search YouTube for “Pat Metheny this difficult time,” I find this:
During this difficult time, it helps to believe that there are “Better Days Ahead.”
What are your thoughts and feelings about this difficult time?
During this difficult time, I am especially grateful for people like YOU.
For some unknown reason, I’m having this difficult time uploading and publishing this difficult time post. During this difficult time, I’ll just keep trying, while being especially kind to myself.
Yesterday, in a therapy group where I notice connections among people, I did a mindfulness exercise using these mindfulness cards:
Most of the people in the room took their time noticing the different cards and choosing one they felt a connection with. The two people who were left-handed (including me) randomly chose a mindfulness card without looking. I noticed that connection and then noticed the card I had randomly pulled:
Then, I noticed color connections between that card and my water bottle:
I notice, here and now, that I’ve used the word “connections” only twice before in a blog title. If you want to make connections with those older blog posts (both written in my first year of making connections on WordPress), you can connect to them here and here. I also notice that the first blog post that popped up in my “connections” search was Day 1002: What makes anxiety worse?Because I notice that connections often reduce anxiety, I wonder what connections WordPress noticed there.
I notice connections between the word “older” (which you may notice I used in my previous paragraph) and negative judgments. I’m especially noticing that connection two days before I turn 66.
I also notice connections between my reading the news and my anxiety getting worse, so I am careful to notice news items that help restore and reconnect my faith in humankind, including this one:
Quincy Police rescue tiny owl from roadside
QUINCY — It appears as if Quincy Police has its very own Dr. Dolittle.
Officer Tim Kaes helped a rescue a small saw-whet owl Tuesday night on Victory Road just before 7 p.m. This is the third owl that Kaes has helped rescue.
A person found the injured owl and flagged down a police cruiser, according to Quincy Police Sgt. Karyn Barkas. With animal control off for the night, the officer called in Kaes who Barkas said loves animals.
The owl was brought to the New England Wildlife Center in Weymouth for treatment.
New England Wildlife Center Executive Director Katrina Bergman said that Kaes had just brought in an injured hawk last week that was trapped in the Quincy Center MBTA station. She called Kaes the “slighted animal hero of the South Shore.”
Bergman said the saw-whet appeared to have been hit by a car and has a severe concussion. The small owl, common to the area, was in a bird head trauma protocol, similar to one for humans. If the animal survives its injuries it will be released back into the wild.
The Audobon Society says the bird gets its name from the call it makes, which is supposed to sound like a saw being sharpened against a whetstone. The bird is one of the smallest owl species.
I notice connections with people like Quincy officer Tim Kaes and phrases like “the slighted animal hero of the South Shore.” I notice connections between expressed appreciation and being less slighted, so I hope Tim Kaes notices and connects to that news article.
Do you notice connections in any of my other recent photos?
I notice connections between being near the water and feeling better.
What the hell! Did anybody else have a week where you asked yourself,
“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?
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.
Is making noise making things better or worse? Today, I’m making noise about the fact that some news columnists are speculating that how the USA opposition party is making noise might be hurting their chances in the upcoming midterm election.
Lately, I’ve been making noise in my therapy groups, inviting people to be making noise when we do a mindfulness exercise that focuses on listening. This is the noise I’m making when I introduce that exercise:
In this mindfulness exercise, we’re going to focus on the sense of hearing. After you hear the sound of the chime, do your best to listen to all the noises in the room. Feel free to make noise to make the exercise more interesting for other people.
That’s my attempt at making it safer for people to be making noise, since many of us can be self-conscious about the noises we’re making, especially when other people are listening.
I’ll be making noise soon with these Right & Wrong Buzzers:
Even though I’m often making noise about letting go of unhelpful concepts of wrong and right, I’ll be making noise to encourage people to change old habits of thinking (including the cognitive distortions described here).
It’s okay to be making noise or to be silent about the other images I captured yesterday.
Because the wind was making so much noise yesterday, I didn’t go for my usual walk. Instead, I was making noise by making ukulele chords for my latest original song “I’m Mad About You.”
With that song, I’m making noise about anger (especially towards politicians).
It’s time for me to be making noise about gratitude, so thanks to all who helped me create this “Making noise” post and — of course! — to YOU, for all the noises you’re making.
Yesterday, in honor of the first day of The Year of the Dog, I did a special mindfulness exercise in my therapy group. I asked people to focus on images and memories of dogs. Even though I’m a cat person, I found that mindfulness exercise very helpful, relaxing, and soothing.
Vivian, the Social Work intern who helps me facilitate that group, texted me this photo afterwards:
I texted back “Oooh! It’s the year of that!”
I plan to practice mindfulness and look at more great photos this year, because 2018 is going to be
calling administration at a third Boston-area hospital — where I spent much of my childhood and am returning to on Wednesday for a consult with a highly recommended cardiologist — since they sent me a letter over the weekend stating their erroneous assumption that I have no health insurance, and
when we breathe in, we think of something we want to take in from the universe and
when we breathe out, we think of something we want to let go of.
Today, I choose to breathe in hope and breathe out fear (which matters and helps).
Yesterday, it mattered to bring along Penny the Pen with me and boyfriend Michael (who matters a lot), as we went walking and then food-shopping at our local supermarket. Would it matter to you if I showed you some photos?
This song mattered to me, when I was growing up in the Northeastern USA:
Many thanks to Michael, to Vahan (previously appearing in this post, which mattered to me when I wrote it), to Mamas & Papas, to children & adults everywhere, to colorful flowers and other blossoming things, and to you, who matters on Monday and every other day of the week.
I’ve been feeling somewhat out of breath lately, but that could be for so many reasons, and
I’m a group therapist and creating a safe enough environment for participants is my job.
Last night, at the beginning of a therapy group, I gave people a few minutes to mindfully focus on a real or imagined place that was safe for them. Since I never ask group members to do anything I am not willing to do, I also got a chance to take a little mind vacation. Usually, when I do that specific mindfulness exercise, I build, in my imagination, a location that includes:
a tent that is open to a warm and soothing breeze,
colorful pillows, and
a cat, somewhere
… however, last night, in group, I visited a real place, from my memory:
When I went to Garden in the Woods last night in my mind, I found a bridge over a beautiful brook where, many years ago, I took some time to be mindfully present, in the moment, using all my senses.
If you were to take a few minutes, right now, and go to a safe place in your mind, where might it be? What might you see, hear, smell, touch, feel, and experience there?
Last night, the people at the therapy group described real places, imagined places, lots of different places, as their “safe place.” Somebody also named “this group” as a safe place, which was wonderful for me to hear.
Here are some photos I took yesterday, on my way to and from work, with safety on my mind:
Those are all real photos; none of them are imagined places or things. However, for that last picture, I did imagine a Cold-Gear Monster* eating the last of the tuna noodle casserole.
What music could safely fit today’s topic? Here’s something:
If listening to “Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats, found safely here on YouTube, isn’t safe enough for you, I have another musical suggestion. Last night, as I felt the first drops of precipitation on my walk back to my car:
… I heard this song by Pat Metheny (whom I’m seeing in Worcester, Massachusetts, which probably doesn’t have such great drivers either, in two days):
If it feels safe enough to go there now, you can find the YouTube video of the Pat Metheny Group‘s “Spring Ain’t Here,” here.
And I agree with Pat. Spring ain’t here.
Thanks to everybody everywhere who is doing their best to stay safe enough, today (and I hope hope hope that includes you, too).
* “Cold-Gear Monster” is the best name I can come up with, in the moment, as I am trying to remember the name of that friggin’ thing (which I love, by the way) that goes around your neck to keep out the cold but which is NOT a scarf. Any ideas for a better name?
You will relate to my (or anybody else’s) experience in some ways, but not in others, because my experience (like yours) has been unique.
But I’m going to let go of the past (that 200-day-old blog post) and be more in the moment, right now.
It’s the first day of November. I have lots of reactions to the month of November.
And they all make sense, on some level.
You may relate to some of my reactions but not to others, because of where you are.
Some of my reactions to November:
It’s autumn in New England, and I’m a wuss about the coming cold, so I’m still not happy about that.
At this point, though, I’ve let go of denial and am working on acceptance. That includes embracing the beauty of what is. For example, this past week, all the mindfulness exercises I did in therapy groups focused on leaves I gathered outside of work. (None of those leaf photos are mine, but those images remind me of the leaves we used, in mindfulness.)
November, to me, means November 22nd. November 22nd, 1963, was the day President John F. Kennedy was shot. For people who were conscious and aware on that day, that was a life-changing experience.
I was unconscious, on that day, because I was having my first heart surgery, at age 10, to get my first cardiac pacemaker.
That’s the punchline, for me, people.
This year, I am planning on experiencing November differently.
How? I’m making one conscious change.
I am taking November 22nd off from work, and spending that day in a way that’s helpful for me.
I haven’t figured out how I’ll be spending that day. I’ll be working on that, this November.