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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In Which I Dare To … Dress Better.

It’s funny how, without meaning to, we can get stuck seeing ourselves a certain way.

Until recently, I’d feel bemused (and even confused) whenever someone complimented me on my appearance or clothing choices. I’d smile and say thank you, but still, a voice inside would say, Oh, if only they knew …

Sure, I might appear to be a grown woman wearing a nice dress, but inside of me lived a shy, vulnerable girl who chose to wear prairie dresses and cameos in homage to her early literary hero, Laura Ingalls Wilder. Lest you think I exaggerate, I will include photographic evidence.

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Grandparents’ Day in elementary school

As you’d expect, I got teased about my clothes a lot; even my good friends thought they were weird. I hardly ever felt like I was wearing the ‘right’ thing, or that I was ‘cool’.

By contrast, my husband Jonathan remembers looking around his middle school, wondering at his peers’ collective obsession with being ‘the cool people’. Then he had this epiphany: “Wait a minute … I am the cool people!” I wish I could have gone through life with this same assurance, but then, I’m guessing that this realization came easier for him. After all, he never wore a sunbonnet to school.

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