Serenity – Believing in yourself

There are times in life when it is easy to believe in yourself everything seems to be going your way. Home life is good, finances are solid, job is good, children/spouse/extended family all sailing smoothly through life. Of course, one could question if all this really produces serenity. And then there is reality. Serenity is a state of mind. It is a choice. It is a goal. It is something we all crave as move away from pain and toward pleasure. So why do we find it so challenging? I believe that the primary reason we find serenity so challenging is precisely because serenity is a state of mind, choice, goal and something we crave as pleasurable.

All too often we want our “feel good” to last indefinitely. And while I do believe that it is possible to live in a state of nearly perpetual serenity, I don’t believe that most of us can achieve that in this lifetime. More importantly, I don’t think that we need to and if that is our goal we most likely will miss the mark. No I think that we drift in and drift out of serenity and it is in the moments in between that we come to know serenity for all that it is. A delicious feeling of acceptance, sometimes joyful, but not always. Sometimes serenity arrives in the midst of great turmoil, stress and anxiety. The trick is being open to the possibility of that arrival… and trust me that can be a challenge. But when serenity shows up, embrace it and let go of it. It will stay, it will go, it will come back, it will visit you often if you let it. It will visit you often if you let it. But the tighter you try to hold onto serenity, the more elusive it will be. It will visit you less frequently if you become possessive or clingy and could decide to stop coming around all together until you begin to give it the freedom to come and go as it pleases.

What does this have to do with believing in yourself? Everything. It takes a belief in yourself to develop sufficient openness for serenity to come calling. You must know in your heart that you can cultivate enough love for yourself to summon serenity. For some that comes easily, for others it requires work and perhaps a leap of faith. What have you got to lose? You may find that with that new-found belief in yourself that you to are OccasionallySerene.

Posted in Acceptance, Fear, Inspirational, Love, Pain, Serenity | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

If you could create anything, anytime, and have it be real?

What could you do…If you could create anything, anytime and have it be real?

Often times we spend a great deal of time and energy and wishing, imagining and fantasizing about what it would be like if we could have this or that. You know what I am talking about, new car, new house, new job, bigger TV, smaller camera, more jewelry, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah! The truth is that you very nearly can. That may sound crazy but between the reality that everything in the world has never been closer to “in reach” to the average person coupled with the idea that the human brain has a difficult time differentiating between your fantasies and reality as measured by brain waves, chemical reactions, and some people’s reality, puts the ability to create anything you want, anytime you want it and it is almost real or it is.

Sounds like the Holodeck of the Starship Enterprise, but the fact is that as we continue to imagine the impossible and strive to overcome that construct we have created things that a century ago would have been considered preposterous. Airships that carry hundreds half way across the world in a matter of hours instead of weeks, contraptions that magnify the exceedingly and infinitesimally small to a size that can be seen and understood by the human eye, machines that transport sounds and images instantaneously to other machines. At one time or another in the not too distant past all of things did not exist and today they are real. They are, because someone like you dared to dream it and make it so.

What could you do…If you could create anything, anytime and have it be real?

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A new year, a new start, a new career

Well it’s been months since I’ve been able to sit and write. Many reasons, two seasons and big changes. As 2010 winds down I find myself in that place that so many others have in the past two years. Unemployment is looming. While I cannot say that I am pleased to be searching for career opportunities, I can say that I am ready to embrace it.

This is referred to as Career Transition. It is one of those phrases that gingerly describes a tough time. But transition it is. This is something that you embrace or you spin your wheels until you can accept. I have moved to embrace. While I cannot say that I am enjoying this, the transition gives me an opportunity to evaluate, reflect and reinvent.

It is true that this door is closing, and that is ok, another will open. The challenge is to be ready for that door to open. To have done the work, and have the confidence to move through that door and be ready to capitalize on the opportunities that present themselves. The whole thing has little to do with luck and everything to do with effort, resolve, openness and most importantly my ability to not make all it about me even though at times I so desperately want it to be all about me and my career needs. My best efforts and my feelings of greatest serenity are attached to my efforts to help others.

So this Holiday season as I let go of my current career I seek to find the next and that will come with networking, helping others find their next career, keeping my eyes open for that next door and being greatful for all that I have.

Please let me know how I can help you.

Posted in Acceptance, Change, Inspirational, Serenity | 2 Comments

Living Life in America or Why I choose not to complain

Living life in America, is one of the greatest blessings there is. Someone once said, “Being born in America is like winning the lottery.” Sorry that I cannot properly attribute this quote, but these words ring true.

There are few places in this world where you have the freedom to fail or succeed in quite the way that you can here. It is said that the streets are paved with gold and for many they are. While today’s headlines reflect the hard economic times this country currently faces, these will pass. Will we return to the type of unbridled economic expansion that we have seen over the past century? Who knows?

What you should be aware of, and what every legal and illegal immigrant already knows, is that this is the land of opportunity. It’s not a guarantee. Nothing in this life is. But if you work hard, if you work smart, if you are willing to take some risks along the way, America can provide you with the opportunity to realize your dreams.

What’s the catch? You have to be present. You have to show up for life. You have to decide what is important and pursue that. Some define success monetarily, some define success spiritually, some define success in terms of freedom, some define success in terms of acquisition, some define success in terms of accomplishment, others in giving.

Bloom where your planted.

<Unfortunately some people do not even bother to define success but instead bemoan what they do not have. They don't accept responsibility for their life or their decisions, they just say that life is unfair. You know what, life is unfair. My wife likes to say "bloom where you are planted." This is excellent advice. It means that you must work to achieve your best, even if you don’t get or have much to begin with. You can't control others, you can't control the weather, you can't control anything but your own actions and reactions. Remember this the next time you think you want to say that life is unfair. When you arrived in America whether by birth or migration, no one promised you fairness, no one promised you a job, or a nice house, or a fat retirement plan. This life comes with no gaurantee. The promise of America is that you have opportunity, freedom created by the rule of law, the capacity to practice your religion of choice or no religion at all. As well as the freedom to speak your mind, and reap the benefits and consequences of your thoughts, words and actions. We are ,however, also becoming a nation of narcissistic complainers. We will gripe about anything and everything. We choose to define ourselves in ways that segment and separate us from others and we fragment our energy through mindless diversions and the promise of achieving and attaining more through multi-tasking. Maybe we have just lost our path. Where does this path we are on lead us? I don't know the answer, but I am certain that over-consumption (which we are free to do) runs on a tangent to the path, but is not the path.

The freedoms bestowed upon us come with a cost, one that we have typically forgotten about – responsibility. I consider it my responsibility to define my success, and make my fortune, whatever I may decide that to be. I do not consider circumstance to be good luck or bad luck, it just happens to be. I make a conscience effort to not complain about my circumstances. It does me no good. It wastes energy and only serves to annoy those around me. I was not always this way. In fact I spent a significant part of my life blind and ignorant to the good fortune I was born to and found plenty to complain about. You see, I did win the lottery, life's lottery. I was born in America. I work hard, good things happen to me, not so good things happen to me. I try to stay present enough to make good choices, take responsibility for my actions and be kind to those I encounter. Because of this, I am a success by the yardstick I use to measure myself and this is why I choose not to complain.

What could you do if you could?

Posted in Complaining, Inspirational, Life's Lottery, Present Moment, Responsibility, Success, Transformation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What could you do if… you could accept praise?

Why is it that accepting praise is so often difficult? What is it about our society and culture that makes it a challenge for us to simply say “thank you” when another offers us some positive feedback?

Watch a young child. Give that child some praise and watch that child beam with pleasure for being recognized. This is a healthy state. This is as life should be. Wait a few years, maybe a decade, and there is a strong possibility that the very same young person that beamed with pride at being recognized for a job well done may now seek to side step similar reinforcement.

Now conduct your own research. In the course of your day, choose 5 people and find something to praise them for. It does not have to be a monumental achievement to have effect, but it should be sincere. I have done this and typically 3 out of 5 people have a hard time accepting genuine praise.

It is understandable but regretable. We are a society obsessed with perfection. It is unobtainable, unrealistic, and not a healthy pursuit. And yet we still seek perfection. When I am gone, no one will remember the great perfection that I or you have achieved. What we will be remembered for is the way that we walked through our life, head held high, compassionate to those we interacted with, humble, generous, accepting of the feedback offered by others – both praise and that meant to help us in constructive ways. The humble acceptance of praise enriches not only you, it enriches the person who stopped to notice and comment on your praiseworthy accomplishment.

Give it a try. The next time someone acknowledges your success or effort. Look that person in the eye and say “thank you.” In short order not only will you be feeling better, you will have worked some magic. Your simple and humble acceptance of genuine praise creates a conduit for more positive energy in our world. this happens because your acceptance and acknowledgement creates positive reinforcement for the person who offers the praise. And just like that, the positive energy is doubled.

What could you do if… you could accept praise?

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Work of art or art work?

Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.
– Eleanor Roosevelt

As a culture we place so much emphasis on appearances. And in some way that is important. You only have once chance at first impressions. But it is also true that “you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.” So in today’s world, how do we shift to seeing the inner beauty? The works of art shaped and painted over the course of a lifetime.

Do we value the qualities that make make someone truly beautiful? They say that “beauty is skin deep.” Sometimes this is true, sometimes not. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” another of those descriptive sayings that we use often, but often don’t think about the meaning.

I like what I think Eleanor is getting at. Masterpieces take time to create. They are timeless and they are priceless. While gray hair and grooves don’t make us masterpieces in and of themselves, they represent the passage of time and the opportunity to experience life, to have faced the many opportunities that allow us to grow and mature. It is the metamorphosis that only time and a full life can bestow upon us.

Beauty on the other hand, has traditionally been an accident of birth and more recently, for sale by the plastic surgeon. Now don’t get me wrong, I like beauty. I married a beautiful person, and here is the important part, while she is not old enough to qualify as a masterpiece, the brushwork is there. Everyday we have the opportunity to add a few strokes here, mix some pigment differently for over there. The question is, do you? Do you experience and live your life in ways that enrich others? Or just yourself?

Do you take the time to evaluate that canvas? Do you hand the brush to another and trust them to make their mark on your canvas? I think that having children, has a way of accelerating the masterpiece process. Not for all, and for some not ever, and it’s also not the only route. But you have to let life happen. Acceptance is key. When I say acceptance, I don’t mean roll over and take it. I mean that there are things that we can change and things that we cannot. Knowing the difference and accepting that, is what serenity is all about. You have too achieve some semblance of letting go, particularly on the little things. And so much of what we cling to are little things.

It’s the same in the day to day hustle and grind. We often place too much emphasis on instant gratification, and the latest fad or trends rather than the effort required to build the foundation for a life that transcends our far too short attention span. I always loved this quote form The Lion King, “Simba, you are more than you have become.” This is unfortunately true at an ever increasing rate. There are fewer and fewer people putting the effort into developing that “work of art”, we have become a society focused on beauty and beauty at all costs. But we really are more than we have become.

Will you choose to paint your future? or, find someone else who promises to do it for you?

What could you if you could? – You can!

Posted in Change, Inspirational, Time, Transformation | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

What could you? If you could forgive yourself, your partner, your children, your parents, your friends, your siblings, your enemy?

Forgiveness feels good like rays of sunshine settling deep in your soul.

Forgiveness, so simple and yet so complex, so elusive. When we forgive, we heal. Forgiveness after all is about the pain and/or anger of being hurt and our desire to hold on to that or let go of it. Thinking about forgiveness and the emotions that arise around situations that require us to forgive others or ourselves is not the kind of reflection that most of us consider regularly.

How do we forgive others when we can find it so difficult to forgive ourselves? Stepping into the confessional of the blogosphere, makes it easier to acknowledge the self loathing attached with prior mistakes, bad decisions and willful misconduct. It does not erase them and it does not make them ok, but I can become ok with that which is in the past.

The ability to find forgiveness for one’s self is a critical ingredient to forgiving others. It is difficult, sometimes the pain attached to not forgiving ourselves is just such an integral part of our “story” that we just cannot give that identity up. Without forgiveness there can be no healing, no growth. You are on a treadmill and you are doing nothing. This is not where I want to be, how about you? I don’t know exactly why I did not learn to forgive myself, or perhaps, I unlearned forgiveness, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that at some point I woke to the fact that my biggest enemy, biggest critic, biggest bully, was within me. I was meaner to myself than anybody else could ever be. And I don’t really know why and you know what? I don’t really care why because I do not have to continue that behavior.

So really, I do still get mad at myself when I do something that I think was stupid. Yes, I call myself silly names, and think bad thoughts, and then I let them go. This is critical, because without doing that, you cannot really forgive anyone else. That empathy, that understanding has to be extended to you, before you can truly extend it to another. Without self forgiveness, grudges and resentment are nurtured. That is not to say that if you forgive yourself you won’t resent others or that you won’t hold a grudge, but you really can’t let go for another if you can’t experience that release for yourself. That resentment, is more hurtful to you than it is to the person you resent. Many years ago, I heard an expression that really sums it all up. “so and so is living rent free in your head.” When you resent someone, when you cannot forgive them, you allow that person to live rent free in your head. I try to not let that happen anymore, after all if I am going to have tenants, I should expect rent.

Now in today’s world who are you really going to extend the privilege of rent free accommodations? So when I say forgiveness, I am not talking about being a doormat. Forgiving someone does not excuse their behavior. It does not mean that you condone it. It does not mean that you will tolerate it in the future. It does however mean, letting go of the power that you have bestowed in another to effect your mood, your quality of life, your happiness. It does mean that you take responsibility for what you have the ability to control, which is only your own response to any situation. If you have the slightest feeling of vindictiveness or malice, you have not forgiven. You have not begun the healing process.

There are at least two types of forgiveness. The two that I have to work with are when my forgiveness is asked for, which is most commonly experienced in the form of an apology and the other is when I forgive someone who has not apologized. Make no mistake, in both circumstances, the forgiveness is all about my healing, not yours. And you know what, sometimes I am so mad, feel so abused, that I am not ready to forgive when forgiveness is sought. That person is not demonstrating a sufficient amount of regret or remorse for me to let them off the hook. What a mistake that is. The truth is when someone asks for forgiveness they do so because they do acknowledge the error in whatever it is they have done. They do wish to repair the relationship, my not being ready to accept a sincere apology is always about my anger, my hurt feelings, my grief and my need to continue to wallow in those emotions. And, oh, if I can force you to feel bad at the same time, even better. Not proud of it, but there it is, and you know what it is true for all of us. Now I am often able to catch myself. I do not hold on to resentment for years, months, weeks or usually even days anymore. Most times I am able to catch those thought patterns and turn them off. For any of you who have ever been on the receiving end, please accept my apology. But just so you know, I have already forgiven myself for all past transgressions.

Now I have been known to call someone on an insincere apology. Maybe it is a character flaw. But I don’t want to hear the words “I am sorry,” if you are not. I will tell you that. I try not to say “I am sorry” unless I mean it. The words become hollow if used without sincerity. Some people find saying “I am sorry” very difficult. For some acknowledging their regret is too difficult. Others too readily accept blame and say “I am sorry” at the drop of a hat. This is also problematic. These apologies frequently do not come across as sincere.

At the end of the day, if you are not forgiving yourself, how can you forgive others? How can you find and embrace the divinity in yourself if you cannot forgive yourself? If we relearn to forgive ourselves, it opens a whole world to us, an interior world, of peace. That will be the beginning of the journey that will allow you to forgive others and heal.

What could you? If you could forgive yourself, your partner, your children, your parents, your friends, your siblings, your enemy?

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When I decided to leave my last job three years ago, I had no idea how my life would change. The economy had not officially gone into a tailspin. That would occur over the next 13 months as I was looking for my next opportunity. I was ready for a change. I needed a change. And, as they say, be careful what you ask for.

Now I had already begun to make some changes in my life. I was meditating, had recently started a yoga practice and was forced by my doctor to seriously consider what I was eating or risk metabolic syndrome which I understand is frequently the precursor to diabetes. However, I was not really prepared for the impact of voluntarily leaving the company that had become my home away from home over the previous 12 years.

To be sure there were a host of good reasons to make the transition. There was a toxic culture in the organization and one that I no doubt participated in – though I would have never believed that at the time. At the company I was approached about a role change, one that had the potential to be more lucrative, but not in a career direction that I was interested in pursuing. I firmly believe in choices. And while still passionate about the business, I had lost the influence that I once had internally.

So I left. I left on good terms. I spoke fairly regularly with the CEO and referred a number of opportunities their way. But change was not happening professionally for me. Personally, I was out networking, or trying to. It is more of a challenge when you are an introvert. I was getting fitter, trimmer, and being more introspective than I had been in some time. But change was not happening for me professionally. I did a week-long cleanse fast and that felt good. I became a vegetarian slowly, and that felt good. First giving up red meat, than pork a few months later, than all four-legged critters a few weeks later, then all poultry by New Years and finally seafood. I dropped 40 lbs and have that kept that off two years later.

These changes were difficult at times for my family. But, my wife and daughter are two of the most wonderfully supportive ladies that ever were. Not to say that there was never a cross word, but hey I was imposing some pretty radical changes on myself and there was spillover. Did not matter, the unconditional love was there and it helped. But still change was not happening professionally for me. One thing I learned, and I really already knew this is, that I don’t get to dictate how fast change will happen. I don’t get to dictate what the change will actually be and I don’t get to dictate… you get the picture.

I learned incredible things about myself. Things that I kinda, sorta knew but pushed down deep inside because I did not want to feel these things. I did not want to feel vulnerable. One of my favorite things to say was “I have one feeling you can’t hurt it.” and “You are the reason that I don’t like people” another favorite to create distance between myself and others. You know what. I inflicted more damage to myself with these ideas. I embraced them, I was known to most people by these and similar ideas. In the end, I am a very sensitive person. I don’t have to wear those feelings on my sleeve, but I do acknowledge them at least to myself, to my family and over time I will with the world at large.

Okay, now we are also starting to see some professional change, I am now doing a little consulting, but seven months into my search for a new career and still not the professional change that I want. Wow, you means this change stuff is not just going to happen, when, how and where I want it to? What did I sign myself up for?

Twice, maybe three times my wife came home to find me curled up in a fetal position as I questioned my sanity at making such an incredibly stupid decision. She helped me forgive myself, reminded me that things would work out and it was exactly what I needed at that moment. Thank You my dear. At the end of tunnel, I went back to work, doing something I enjoy, working for a great CEO and the professional change came.

Meanwhile, much change has taken place personally. The man who said and meant “I never tasted an animal that I did not like” is now a vegetarian. The guy who created a grand canyon of distance between himself and his own feelings is now experiencing them, and being more generous of spirit with others. The person who could happily say that “sarcasm is just one more service that I offer” now routinely looks for the silver lining.

And with all that change, came one great big gift. I learned that I was not such a bad person. Oh sure, I slip and slide. I get upset and rant, I from time to time over react, can be lazy and must refrain from cursing the world when change does not happen on my timetable. But today, I am also, Occasionally Serene.

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What could you do? If you could retake the words said in anger?

Anger in full bloom

Anger. We all experience it. Anger can be subtle and seductive in its ability to hijack your present mind. It has the ability to cause us to fly into a rage. That rage if unchecked will damage not only ourselves, but those around us that we love, as well as innocent bystanders. They say that “time heals all wounds” and on some level that is true, but not completely. Some people hold their anger inside, it simmers, and from time to time, it boils over. Angry words are spoken, action may be taken, but the underlying issues are usually still right there under the surface.

What is it about us that when we get hurt, we can lose control of the rational side of our being? I know that it is not really that simple. Anger is a developmental milestone in a child and is the beginning of the ability to assert some independence. But as we mature (hopefully), anger becomes increasingly an ineffective strategy. Why don’t we just let it out? Vent to anybody who will listen. Express ourselves in a way that makes the child inside us feel heard, feel better about being hurt. There are many reasons. Chief among them would be that this type of behavior only serves to replicate that anger in another. It is also most often directed at the ones we love the most.

The pain that can be inflicted by a few carelessly chosen words said in anger is one thing The misery that is created when we consciously to choose to hurt another is quite different. In the first situation we are not intentionally hurting that other person, but the pain that we may inflict is real none the less. In the second scenario, the words said in anger are intentional, even if they are said in an impulsive rage. What is interesting is that they do more damage to the individual uttering them. The words said to intentionally hurt another live in us, they feed on us and if left unchecked consume us.

Why do we get angry? What purpose does it serve? Is it more effective than dealing with issues in a rational detached way? How do I feel after a bout of anger? Does anger really hurt me more than the person or thing that I am angry at? Do I like it when others point their anger at me? All good questions and here is my take on the answers.

Why do we get angry?
The two most common reasons that we experience anger are a loss of control. I don’t like the way you are doing this. You are not listening to me. I don’t want to do what you are asking and am uncomfortable saying so. You get the point. The other common reason that we get angry is that you hurt my feelings. I don’t like what you said, or did not say. This is in most instances related to a loss of control.

What purpose does it serve?
I am sure that somewhere in our pre-historic past anger was a very useful emotion. Particularly before the advent of a robust language to communicate subtleties. In today’s world anger does have a positive and useful application. However, that positive and useful application diminishes with frequent use. Think about the it, when people who rarely if ever show their anger, express themselves angrily, it makes an impression. In fact anger used as an accent can serve to reinforce the importance of a topic. But it must be out of character for the person using it for it to be truly effective. Otherwise if this is a normal part of the communication strategy, it loses effect on the audience.

Is it more effective than dealing with issues in a rational detached way?
Some might say yes. I would disagree except as described as above. Remember being yelled at as a child – sorry mom and dad – sorry daughter. It does not feel good, even when you are flat-out wrong. Ok, yes, it made an impression, but that is not the way that I want to teach daughter, and it was not what my parents wanted me to learn. And in the interest of full disclosure I for sure was frustrating to my parents and the control they were seeking to impose was in my best short and long-term interest, but the truth is rarely had the desired impact. As I am sure is true with daughter today.

How do I feel after a bout of anger?
Well if I am honest, for a few minutes I feel good. I made you pay for making mad. I gave it to you good, because you hurt my feelings, because I am unable to control you or this moment. And then, remorse. I don’t like hurting others. I cannot control others, only myself. My anger does not make you want to be around me, it does not make you want to do what I want you to do, it might make you submit to me. Not good, persuasion is a far more effective tool. Sometimes we are cruel when we are angry, and this makes us all feel horrible – whether we want to admit it or not.

Does anger really hurt me more than the person or thing that I am angry at?
Wow, you bet it does. Whether you can feel it or not, that anger is a violence that you inflict on yourself, first, last and in-between. When you understand the true impact that your anger has on others, it comes around all over again. I regret every instance that I have gotten angry. I regret that I was not able to express more effectively, I regret that hurt myself (release of a host of wonderful hormones and chemicals), I regret that I most likely hurt the person that I was angry at or, and this is really silly, I regret getting at some inanimate object that did not behave as I wanted it to. Yep, some major league hissy fits in my past and not just as a child.

Do I like it when others point their anger at me?
Uhmm, yeah, sure I do.

The thing is that once those words are said, they are out there. Once you have been mean or cruel, which in my mind are subtle forms of anger mixed with a strong measure of insecurity, you can say you are sorry, but you can’t unring that bell. It also says something about how you really feel about the person. Now this is the important part. You can retake the words said in anger. Do it now! Talk to the people in your life that you are angry at, have been angry at. You will feel better. Chances are that they will too. Use the discomfort of apologizing as a springboard to move to a more positive form of communicating. Not only will you feel better, people will enjoy your company far more.

What could you do? If you could retake the words said in anger?

Posted in Anger, failure, Inspirational, Pain | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Repeat after me, in the shade of the Repeat Tree

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree

Do you know one of those people who has the annoying habit of repeating themselves? I don’t mean that friend who tells you the same story every other time you see him. I mean the guy who says the same thing three times in the span of 5 minutes. And, for good measure, probably reiterates this two more times before you are done talking. How do you deal with that? Do you avoid that person? Do you cut them off and say “Hey I heard you the first four times you said that?” How do you avoid doing a slash and burn on the relationship?

So, now I have a confession to make. I am that guy. Yep, I did not even realize that I was doing it until about 8 years ago. I had a few people tell me –THANK YOU – that I was losing people in conversation. I don’t mean that I would literally say the same thing repeatedly, but I would deliver the same message repeatedly in short conversations. Boy, talk about a way to get people to mentally check out. This tactic will unfortunately work every time.

You know I owe a lot to the three people who told me I was doing this. Fortunately for me I had already learned the lesson about shooting the messenger and I was able to gratefully acknowledge this and thank my friends for pointing it out. I also asked them to please help me change this incredibly annoying habit. I gave them permission to point it out, in a kind way, when I would fall back into this pattern. In the beginning, I would have good days and not so good days.

Truth is I catch myself all the time. I still do it. I usually recognize it somewhere around the third offense. There is an expression, and it seems true. “The apple does not fall far from the tree.” I sometimes like to add “Unless it hits a root and takes a good long roll.” In this instance, no roots in sight and I had decades to root my repeat tree. To all of you that have ever had to sit under the shade of my Repeat Tree, forgive me, please.

Today I hope that the it is a shadow of the mighty shade tree that it once was. It has been pruned over the years, and like a healthy tree, pruning supports new growth. Recently it seems that the Repeat Tree has had some of its old growth bloom. The times today are stressful. One thing that I learned years ago was that while we have the capacity to change, to choose to behave differently, it is hard to eradicate behavior. Stress causes us to relapse. The key is to identify that relapse and take corrective action.

However, much like my father, a wonderful man, that I strive to emulate in most ways, save this one, I can’t help but fall into “lecture” mode when I don’t like what is going on. My wife and daughter will whole heartedly tell you that the Repeat Tree needs pruning. You know what? It does. I am thankful that there are people in my life that will give me this feedback. You know they love you and they care.

So what could you do? If you could?

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