You Don’t Owe Anyone An Interaction

Have you ever beat yourself up over not responding to every message you received in a day?

Me too. I know how it goes. On one hand, you’re tired and overwhelmed. But on the other hand, there are emails! Texts! Calls! All demanding a response!

If we check in with ourselves, we can sense which messages require our attention. However, we have trouble heeding that inner knowing because it conflicts with what we’ve been taught …

If someone writes, we must write back.

If someone starts talking, we must converse.

If someone moves in for a hug, we must embrace.

It doesn’t matter if we feel uncomfortable, exhausted, or just plain unwilling. If we don’t do these things, then we’re unkind and rude. Right?

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Do You Know What Keeps You From Thriving?

Have you ever had a friend make you a generous offer that you couldn’t accept … even though you wanted to?

Have you secretly believed that it’s okay to extend help, but that receiving it is taboo?

Well, I have. This past week, I’ve been dealing with some health issues, and when my friend Laura found out, she offered to bring me chicken soup.

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My first thought was that that sounded like exactly what I needed. My next thought, however, was that I shouldn’t accept.

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The One Song that Changes Everything

Early in my life, I noticed a pattern.

Whenever I’d meet older adults, those in my parents’ demographic, our interactions would follow a predictable course. We’d exchange names, and then I’d look down, both because I was shy and because I knew what was coming next.

They would start singing.

At a conservative estimate, this happened about 70% of the time.

Of course, what they’d sing was the opening line to the chorus of, “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond. In case you’ve been living under a rock, it goes like this: “Sweet Caroline … bum bum BUM!”

The bum bum BUMs are instrumental, which I did not realize for many years, because until college I never actually heard a recording of the song. I just heard people singing that one line at me.

The song seemed to make people happy, but I had no idea how to respond. I mean, what is the appropriate reply to, “Bum bum BUM”?

I still haven’t figured it out, so I just smile.

Family visit, 2015

Family visit, 2015

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