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As the old saw goes, “A stitch in time saves nine…”

My father used to say that, and it makes sense. If you take care of a problem immediately, you will likely save undue time, effort and trouble later.

It’s like a homespun way of asserting that being proactive beats procrastination any day.

Have your air conditioner checked before it peters out in the middle of a sweltering summer or a subarctic winter. Check your oil before your engine seizes up, leaving you stranded at the side of the road in rush hour traffic.

If something is not right in your personal life, speak up. You might not need to “forever hold your peace,” but speaking now is infinitely better than bottling up your feelings until they turn into resentment and anger.

Take care of yourself. Stop kicking the can down the road when it comes to your well-being.

Do you really need a crisis of any kind? Sure, crises can be calls to action, but a little vigilance goes a long way – and small, preemptive measures can help you correct course in the present.

Take action. Show up at the gym. Throw on your running shoes and go outside.

Politely decline an invitation to some event you have no interest in attending. Call your mother. Show appreciation for the kindness of others.

Call somebody on their bullshit, or they will continue to lie to you because they think you believe them. Do you really have time for that?

By taking small and positive actions, you will reap dividends of peace of mind and of clarity.

Say no when you want to say no.

Extract yourself from toxic situations, people and conversations.

Say yes to the simple steps that lead to a life free from drama, fear, worry and anxiety.

By you I mean me.

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As we slouch into 2021, I have so far resisted the urge to participate in my usual self-imposed orgy of navel gazing…

I don’t know if I can hold out much longer, but I hope to take a different tack this year by being kind to myself instead of running down what I did wrong or failed to do altogether.

Should I enumerate all of the times I have been disingenuous this year? Did I fail to show compassion to others? Was I greedy? Was I selfish? Was I arrogant? Did I talk more than listen? Did I procrastinate?

Yes on all counts.

But given the duality of humanity, I don’t think I’m putting together a laundry list of personal shortcomings in my journal this year.

Have I been kind? Have I loved? Have I laughed with others? Have I hugged (Damn you, COVID-19)? Have I been sincere? Generous? Gracious? Of service?

Were my intentions understood more than they were misunderstood?

The longer I live, the more I realize that I have been lucky – and this is coming from a man who has been through the proverbial wringer more times than he would like to admit.

To any thinking person, the choices I have made resulted in the obvious outcomes, positive and negative. The old saw from the bygone commercial, “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature” is a bit erroneous.

We can’t fool mother nature. And as much as our magical thinking would like it to be true, there is no skirting of universal laws. If you think this is not so, give it a bit more time.

You’ll see.

Cause and effect, y’all.

Come on, 2021. Happy New Year to all.

Be nice.

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That moment when you’ve had enough…

That moment when you say “to hell with this” to a situation and begin at last to correct course…

That moment when the pain of the status quo becomes so unbearable that you put the steps in motion to rise above it at any cost…

That deep realization that “insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting a different result…”

The knowledge that “what got you here won’t get you there…”

That nagging and persistent feeling that you were made for more than this…

The acceptance that your challenges are uniquely yours, and the only person who can pull you out of them is you…

The quiet assurance that you can overcome…

The confidence that others have risen from much more difficult circumstances…

The upward thrust of action…

The moving toward…

The leap of faith…

options | The Relationship Architect

Can being a generalist be better than specializing?

That’s a good question. Being a specialist makes sense in some ways because you are laser-like in your precision when it comes to your area of expertise. But it must also be true that we become so caught up in our respective niches that we fail to see the options.

There are blogs about blogging – and presumably there are blogs about petunias. And many hard-at-it bloggers extol the virtues of a niche.

If there was some one thing I would blog about as a niche, it would be personal development. I am drawn to this because we are all on paths that could culminate in a zenith of self-aware bliss. Of course, another outcome could be the train wreck of nihilism.

But could I really add to this conversation? You bet. Anyone drawing breath can do the same. We all have something to bring to the human party, and we all come to it in varied ways and with diverse perspectives. And we all have a platform – a group of friends, perhaps, to share our views with.

Hell, some crash the party looking for free drinks or company with nothing to give in return. But at least they showed up.

But there has to be such a thing as too many options.

All my life, I would thrill to what I perceived as an endless supply of available options. I would love to be able to explain the excitement that welled up (and still does, for that matter – only in smaller doses) in the face of such intangibles. And it seemed (and still seems, although I am keenly aware of the inexorable march of time) like anything was possible – as if one could order and consume every existential item on the menu.

You might be able to order everything on the menu, but there’s no way you could finish it in one sitting. Let’s say this “one sitting” is your life. You now have all of these options sitting in front of you. It doesn’t matter to the restaurant owner what you do with them. In point of fact, the lion’s share of that stuff will wind up in the trash.

But you paid for it.

What is old?

Photo Work: Brendan Wright

I’m 56, so I guess that depends. To a teenager, I’d be ancient.

I don’t feel much different than I ever have, and God knows I act like the perennial 12-year-old – albeit with the weight of decidedly adult stresses and the consequences of the decisions I have made over decades bearing down on me – contributing to what might be a low-level but persistent depression called dysthymia.

But is that it, really? Dysthymia is defined as a mild, chronic depression – less severe and with fewer symptoms than major depression. And it can continue for years.

If you know me, you’d hopefully see a positive and upbeat person. That’s true, too. We humans are complicated. Every new day brings a chance for new vistas of opportunity and renewed hope.

If I were to experience a sea change in my finances, I suspect I’d be even more upbeat. It’s not money that is the root of all evil, after all – just the love of money…

My mother’s first husband, I have been told, had something to say about this – a riff on the old quote about having been poor and having been rich, and rich was better: “I’d rather cry myself to sleep on a silk pillow,”

I always found that to be amusing.

But a good friend of mine told me that he went to a high school reunion, and many of his peers who had made the “right” decisions – perhaps pursuing “The American Dream” by finishing college, dutifully working a solid career path, marrying and raising a family, saving for retirement and buying a home – perhaps enjoying the finer things in life – looked old, played out and decidedly unhappy.

Why?

Of course, many others are completely happy and fulfilled.

Still others peaked in high school. You know the ones.

I have zig-zagged my way across the country, worked jobs that make no sense on a linear resume, and have lived in major cities and rural areas. I have been addicted to drugs and alcohol, and I need to get over my fear about giving voice to this, because there is a lot of ground to cover.

I was a single parent for many years and have been sober for nearly six years.

But for more than a decade, I have been fortunate enough to be engaged in the things I love, namely writing and music. Sure, the paychecks could be vastly improved – but I am happy to be writing, playing and singing.

Without a doubt, I am most grateful for the relationship I enjoy with my twins – a son and daughter, now 26. I don’t know if I could have gone on if not for the absolution they seem to have granted me. They love me and I them, forever and always.

So far, I have none of the aches and pains that many other men complain about after 30. I am as inflexible as I have always been, and I have been doing my part to make sure I exercise and stretch. I hope I have been given some sort of cosmic dispensation; that because I am attempting to take care of myself, the universe is responding in kind.

My reflection in the mirror – this 56-year-old man looking back at me – betrays a still-youthful twinkle in the eye, the corners of his mouth ready to curl upward into a smile – the laugh lines growing deeper with each passing day.