Posts Tagged With: taking risks

Day 2425: Here we go again!!

Yesterday morning, after publishing Day 2424: Missing, I heard that I am going to get another go at performing my Fringe show Group “Therapy” with Ann.

Here I go again, doing two groups on a Thursday, which is how it goes for me back home at work in Boston.

It may seem like a risk to do two shows in one day with very little time to convince people to attend my show — among the thousands of shows and performances at Scotland’s Festival Fringe — but here we go again!!

When I go again today, I may sing different songs, like “I Left The House Before I Felt Ready” or “Hidden Thoughts.” Here I go again, having trouble making decisions. If necessary, I can always go again to the “coin flip” app on my phone.

Here we go again — with the rest of my photos from yesterday.

Here at the Bar Bados Fringe venue last night, my son, Aaron Fairbanks (a/k/a as “The Jail Mailman”) and one of our long-time favorite comedians, Tom Joyce, did their show — The Mail Room — again.

Here we go again with a video that Aaron’s proud mother recorded at last night’s performance of “The Mail Room.”

Here I go again, apologizing for the mistakes I made recording that. Here I go again, letting go of worry, perfectionism, fear, and self-judgment before my two performances today.

Here we go again with yet another request for comments, below.

Here we go again with gratitude, for all who help me go again, every day!!!

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, theater, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

Day 1201: Balls

Yesterday, in therapy, there was a lot of talk about balls, including:

You’ve had that ball for too long.

You’ve been holding that ball for over a year. It gets really heavy, doesn’t it?

You’ve got too many balls in the air at the same time.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t juggle more than three balls at the same time.

Throw that ball to somebody else.

Put the ball in somebody else’s court, as soon as possible.

Put down the ball!

Those balls weren’t actual balls. They were metaphorical balls of

  • guilt,
  • shame,
  • self-judgment,
  • responsibility, and
  • worry.

I also drew two things on my white board, yesterday, that looked like balls:



Those  aren’t  actual balls, either. The first one is a pill somebody wanted to take, whenever necessary.  The second one is a button somebody else wanted to wear.

I could ask what associations you have with “balls,” but I don’t have the balls to do that.

It takes balls to write and share poetry, as several people did in a therapy group last night. Here’s the poem I wrote:

Absence of Pain

I always thought that if

I wrote a book

It might be called

“Absence of Pain.”

Pain is something that can


It is all around us and

within us too.

But absence of pain is as


even if we don’t notice it.

How to describe the absence

of anything

including absence of pain?

It’s a precious thing

always there

if not in the present moment

then as a memory

of the past

or a hope for the


What helps sustain it?




Self care

The serenity prayer


Allies human and non-human



Absence of worry, shame, guilt, and judgment





The Ocean








I got a round of applause for writing and reading a poem, as did everybody else in the group.

Do you see any balls in the rest of the photos I took yesterday?





Here are some songs about balls:


Great balls of fire! Earlier this week, our feline ball-and-chain Oscar created a ball of confusion on my Facebook page by creating and posting this while I was away at work:


I hope you can see that entire ballsy Facebook post from Oscar, which went on for over 50 lines of semi-colons.

I wonder what balls my readers will throw into the comment court, below?

Balls of thanks to all who helped me create this post and to you — of course! — for reading this ballsy blog today.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

Day 1156: Someday I’ll look back on this and ….

Someday I’ll look back on this post and …. what?

  • Laugh?
  • Cry?
  • Have other emotions?
  • Be proud?
  • Wish I’d written something else?
  • Be content with it?
  • Remember exactly what was happening when I wrote it?

Someday I’ll look back on this cartoon …


… and remember how I found it, yesterday, in a copy of The New Yorker.

Now that I’ve returned to work after my winter vacation and I’m telling people about my  try-out for “The Voice” (among other adventures), I have yet to say …

Someday I’ll look back on this and laugh.

Why?  Because I’m already laughing.

Some day I’ll look back on this whole experience with “The Voice” and remember how it inspired me to:

  • take risks,
  • build my confidence,
  • improve my singing, and
  • express more of myself.

Someday you’ll look back on this post and remember some photo I snapped yesterday at work. I wonder which one it will be?












Someday, I’ll look back on “Whip It” by Devo, inspired by those last two photos.

Today’s the day!

Today, I look back on all this and thank my co-worker Susan (who has great stuff at her desk and also sends me more great stuff through interoffice mail) and you — of course! — for looking back on my blog, here and now.

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

Day 656: What matters to you?

What matters to you?

What matters to me often includes giving some context and history to my writing. For example, over a year and a half ago, I wrote a post with a somewhat similar title to today’s.

Day 133: Maybe anxiety means that something really matters to you.

As a matter of fact, I was anxious yesterday, because I was doing something that really mattered to me (and to other people, too).  Yesterday, I attended a work retreat, where over one hundred doctors, nurses, social workers, medical assistants, and other dedicated employees at a major Boston teaching hospital spent the whole day together off-site, brainstorming and identifying specific ways to make patient care better.

Here’s one of the slides from the excellent opening speech at the retreat, about how much it matters to have a true patient-focus in practice.


That slide is inviting providers to shift from a focus on problems and complaints  to what really and truly matters to those they serve.

Because of my life-long experiences as a patient in the medical system,  moving this way — from a focus on the weaknesses of patients and the needs of providers, to a focus on the strengths and needs of those who require health care — all matters to me, very deeply.

It matters to me so much,  that I overcame anxiety about speaking my mind in front of over one hundred doctors, nurses, social workers, medical assistants, and other dedicated employees, several times throughout the day.

As a matter of fact, when one of the facilitators at the retreat asked us the first audience-directed question:

What matters to you, to help us start working together today?

I was the first one, in that enormous, packed room, to raise my hand and answer:


Throughout the day,  I continued to ask myself the question “What matters to you?” and I maintained the courage to voice those answers out loud. What gave me the courage?  Realizing that my experience, thoughts, and feelings mattered

  • to me and
  • to others.

As I was driving home at the end of the day, thinking about all I had witnessed and learned at the retreat, I stopped the car and walked back a ways, to take this photo:


Apparently, that mattered to me, too.

Somebody who matters a great deal to me — my 16-year-old son, Aaron — is taking the PSATs  at his school this morning. I think it matters that he eat some friggin’ thing before that test, so it matters to me that he just agreed to eat some of this:


Music also matters to me, so I’m wondering if it matters which song I include in this post.

Because your feedback matters to me, I was going to ask for requests, but then I posted some videos of “Money Don’t Matter 2 Night” by Prince (which were then removed from YouTube).  Does it matter if I have music in this post?

Thanks to all those who matter to each other, including you, of course!

Categories: inspiration, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , | 30 Comments

Day 629: The Eureka Moment!

My 40th year college reunion has been going on this weekend.

I’ve attended only two events, so far. One of the events I missed, unfortunately, was a panel discussion called The Eureka Moment! 

Here are excerpts of an email I got, a few months ago, about The Eureka Moment!:

Dear Class of 1974,

We are putting together an unusual panel for one of the symposia at our Reunion and we need your help!

We’re calling it The Eureka Moment! It will consist of twelve to fifteen short talks by classmates in a format that is a cross between a mini TED talk (without visual aids) and Moth radio (“True stories told live”).

We are writing to invite you to submit your Eureka Moment!

Please submit your story idea by June 20, 2014.

The Eureka Moment! is an epiphany that changed your life, whether it’s meeting a special person, overcoming a challenge, or experiencing a life-changing event. It could have happened long ago or very recently; it could be funny, sad, or poignant; a big experience or a small one. The only rule is that the moment must spark a change in your outlook or approach to life. Sometimes the realization that you experienced the Eureka Moment! comes long after the moment occurred.

Your talk should be no more than 5 minutes, and we encourage you to rehearse on your own in advance. You can speak with notes, but please no off-the-cuff remarks.

Everyone has had a Eureka Moment! and the panel is open to anyone in our Class. We will have a selection process, so we can’t promise your story will be chosen. We will read whatever you submit with great interest.

When I received that email, I thought:

Eureka!  I would be a valuable addition to that panel. Don’t I write about Eureka Moments! in my blog, almost every day?  Also, I have (and I help people to have) Eureka Moments in my work as a group and individual psychotherapist, all the time!

I also had these thoughts, too:

I don’t know if I should bother applying. Even though I think I’ve had lots of valuable, worth-sharing Eureka Moments! … maybe the selection committee won’t agree! After all, there are many Very Important People in my class, whom they’ll probably choose over me. My application probably won’t be good enough. Also, how in the hell will I pick just one Eureka Moment, out of all the ones I’ve had in my life?! AND, if I apply and they don’t pick me, then I’ll have to deal with more Rejection, Schmejection (something I wrote about here and here) (and here, here, here, here, here, here, and here, too, apparently).

Eureka!  I just realized that most of the negative and fearful thinking I had, above, are more examples of Fortune Telling, Mind Reading, Comparisons and several others of the  thirteen cognitive distortions that don’t help me (or anybody else, I believe).

When those negative thoughts appeared, back in June,  I used antidotes to those cognitive distortions — including

… and other helpful ways to counter that negative thinking, and I  applied for The Eureka Moment! panel discussion.


A few weeks ago, I got a rejection schmejection letter from the selection committee, which I felt bad about, for a few moments. However, I moved past that, pretty quickly, because I knew that:

  • I was a day late with my submission,
  • My submission was way too general, probably, for consideration, and
  • My good friend Lawry (appearing in previous blog posts here, here, and here) applied and was rejected schmejected, also.

Here’s a photo of Lawry, taken by my 16-year-old son Aaron, at a reunion event we all attended last night:


I hope it’s okay with Lawry that I included that photo. If it’s not, I’m sure I’ll hear about it, since — Eureka!! — Lawry is very good at direct communication AND he reads all my blog posts.

Now, you may have noticed, if you’ve been reading this post carefully, that I did NOT attend The Eureka Moment! panel discussion, at my 40th college reunion. You might be thinking: that’s an example of sour grapes!


(image found here)

I don’t think it was sour grapes, on my part. Circumstances got in the way of my attending The Eureka Moment! … but I’m not sure I can prove that to you, right now.

Instead, I’ll just  end this post by showing you a few more typical Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally  Eureka Moments!




Eureka!! It’s time for me to end this post.

Thanks to my son, to Lawry, to everybody who planned and/or is attending my 40th college reunion, to people and places that contributed to the creation of this post, to those who are doing their best to let go of unhelpful thoughts, and to you — of course! — for having any Eureka Moments! of your own, today.

Categories: friendship, inspiration, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , | 23 Comments

Day 431: Why yesterday’s post was so short

Yesterday’s post was shorter than my CBN — Current Blogging Norm.

I’ve written short posts before — like Day 28: Losing the investment in the outcome, Day 68: Barriers to Connection,  Day 85: You’ll figure it out,  and, especially, Day 95: A startlingly brief post (which is, essentially, one line: “We are neither as unimportant or as important as we fear.”) — but not for a while.

Why was yesterday’s post — What I learned at the group therapy conference” — so short? Confidentiality created safety there, so there wasn’t much I could write.  Also, before composing that post, I wrote an email where I took some risks, so I had less time and energy to spare.

Don’t get me wrong: I think brief posts are fine.  Many of the posts I learn from, in the Blog-o-sphere, are short and sweet. Like this, this, and this, which I read here on WordPress, this morning.

And there are many famous sayings about the advantages of brief communications:

“Brevity is the soul of wit.”
― William ShakespeareHamlet


“I have only made this letter longer because I have not had the time to make it shorter.”
(Letter 16, 1657)”
― Blaise PascalThe Provincial Letters


“It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what others say in a whole book.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche


“The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending; and to have the two as close together as possible.”
― George Burns


“Be sincere, Be brief, Be seated.”
― Franklin D. Roosevelt


“Like all sweet dreams, it will be brief, but brevity makes sweetness, doesn’t it?”
― Stephen King11/22/63


“Writing is 1 percent inspiration, and 99 percent elimination.”
― Louise Brooks


“A novel is just a story that hasn’t yet discovered a way to be brief.”
― George Saunders


(thanks to Goodread, for the quotes and the images)

Here’s the soul of irony: This post can NOT be brief, now that I’ve included so many quotes about brevity.

So what else do I want to write, before this becomes a novel? How can I make the beginning and the ending of this “sermon” as close as possible?

While it may be too late for the latter, here are some final thoughts, for today:

That email I sent yesterday was one where I took some risks. I:

  1. wrote to somebody I admire,
  2. was authentic, and
  3. asked for help.

For me, that might be the very definition of a risky email.  I haven’t heard back, as of this writing.  Now, I’m waiting, to see if I get a response.

If I don’t, am I still glad I sent the email?


Look what I did, right there, dear readers.   I was sincere, brief, and seated.

Thanks to President Roosevelt, to the other admirable advocates of brevity in this post (including A Small Act of Kindness,, and Find Your Middle Ground),  and to you, for reading today.

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

Day 141: I am singing differently this year

I’ve been working on my singing, lately.

I love to sing and have since I was a little kid.

I remember playing records of musicals — including “West Side Story”, “Oklahoma,” “South Pacific,” and “Guys and Dolls” — in the basement of my house,  pretending I was in those musical numbers. I danced and sang across the basement floor. Nobody saw me doing that (except for my cat, Tuffy).  It was one of my favorite and most joyful things to do, during some difficult times as I was growing up.

I also took singing lessons, starting when I was a kid.  The main thing I remember about that teacher, Mr Payette, was that he had some strong opinions about what was good and not good about my voice. He told me that the main thing that made my voice special was that I could sing really, really high. I was a Super Soprano — I could hit B flat over high C.   I remember him laughing, with delight, when my voice would keep going — up and up  — as he played the scales.

He also characterized my voice as thin, with not a lot of power. He told me that if I wanted to pursue singing, that I should only sing songs that highlighted my strength — the high notes.

So I sang mostly sweet, pretty songs, that had a high range, with not a lot of dynamic changes.  Songs like “Those Were the Days,”  by Mary Hopkins:

I loved singing these songs, but I never stretched beyond them, into something more dangerous or bold.

I remember something else  Mr Payette said to me, during my singing lessons. He told me to make sure that I never, ever hit a note wrong, when performing. That would be disastrous, he said, because …

you could sing every other note beautifully and perfectly, but if you hit one note imperfectly, THAT’S what the audience will remember.

I can remember him saying those words, so vividly. That really stuck.

I liked working with Mr. Payette. I think he was a good guy.

But I have been working on letting go some of those lessons he taught me. Because for most of my life, I’ve been kind of a timid singer. I’ve focused more on the imperfections in my voice. I’ve thought of my voice as weak. I’ve thought that there were only certain types of songs that I could sing. I’ve thought of myself as a “stiff” singer, not able to show the full range of human emotions.

I’m realizing that those ideas about my singing were formed when I was a kid, and they may be …. rather outdated.

When I was a kid, I DID have limits as a singer, especially as an interpreter of lyrics. I mean, I couldn’t give the lyrics of songs a full-bodied interpretation back then. Geesh! I didn’t even know what some of those lyrics meant.

I didn’t have the experience to give life to all those words about love and loss.

However I’ve been realizing lately that I’m not a kid any more, when it comes to song.  Now that I’m an adult, I can sing like one.

I don’t have to be timid — holding back for fear of making that one mistake that people will remember. I don’t have to imagine the audience forgetting everything else I may have sung, no matter how beautiful it was, if I sing one note imperfectly.

Now, I DO understand lyrics. And I can channel this understanding — and  the full range of human emotions —  into songs.

Also, about two months, ago, I made a real change in how I sang.  It started when I suddenly made room– through song — for a certain powerful emotion.


About two weeks ago, when I was angry at somebody, and was considering trying my new anger technique of Screaming As Loud As I Could In the Car,  I tried something different, instead.

I made up an anger song — which included some rather rude words — and sang THAT in my car, as loudly as I could.

Man, it was fun singing that song.  It helped me let go of the anger.  And — holy moly!  Did my voice sound different!   It sounded clear and really strong, in  all registers. No matter what notes I was hitting in The Anger Song —  high notes, low notes, in-between notes —  everything sounded good  — and different — to my ears.

Since then, I’ve been singing differently.  I’m singing with feeling. I’m not holding back. I’m not afraid of the imperfect notes.

I’m thinking I’d like to keep singing more, this year. I may take some chances — maybe go to an open mic night and sing a solo. That’s always been a dream of mine, as yet unfulfilled.

Maybe I’ll sing, in front of an audience, a full-bodied, adult song, with complicated lyrics, and trust in my ability to deliver that song.  Maybe I’ll have faith that I can translate my ability to communicate passion and conviction — while using my regular speaking voice — into the musical realm.

I’m hoping that before This Year of Living Non-Judgmentally is over, that I will overcome some fears about singing in front of other people and do something new and spectacular.

No matter what, though I’m really lovin’ the different ways I’ve been singing lately.

Thanks for hearing  My Bloggy Song here, today. And I hope you let your full voice out, too, in any ways you can.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

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