Feel the (False) Guilt and Do It Anyway.

You know what’s difficult?

Questioning the ‘should dictator’ in your head.
Standing up for yourself and your needs.
Deciding not to let guilt boss you around.

If you dare to do these things, then you’re my hero. Seriously.

It’s hard to be “selfish” enough for your own good. I’m quoting my own judgmental inner voice here. Whenever I consider making positive changes on my own behalf, she screeches, “But isn’t that SELFISH?!”

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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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Set Down The Strings.

I have this counterproductive dance I do with my long-distance loved ones.

Here’s how it goes: when I don’t expect to see faraway friends and family anytime soon, I’m pretty good at keeping in touch. I make calls, write cards, and send care packages.

But when I do expect to see people soon – say, in the weeks just before a family vacation – I slack off. I don’t call, and I hold back from sharing. My justification for this is that I’m saving up the best discussion topics for in-person interaction.

Family

My sweet family, Thanksgiving 2015 – we’ve been taking group-shot selfies since way before they were cool.

Alas, this saving up mentality doesn’t deliver on its promises.

I don’t feel close to my loved ones when I’m hoarding information. Rather, I feel close to beloved people when I’m sharing my stories, trusting that there will always be more to tell.

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