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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The Only Life You Can Save.

“… determined to do

the only thing you could do–

determined to save

the only life you could save.”

– Mary Oliver, “The Journey”

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Something happened to friends of mine this past week. I won’t go into detail, because it is not my story to tell. The short version is: People I love are being unjustly excluded. And I’m angry about it.

Writing that last sentence is a big deal for me. See, for a long time I was convinced that feeling anger meant that I was a ‘bad’ person, lacking in compassion. And I wanted so much to be (and to be seen as) ‘good’. So whenever anger arose, I tried hard to make it go away.

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