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And the Clock Keeps Ticking…

by Ruth Gordon, LCSW

I know, that’s a pretty ominous title, but it was the best I could come up with. Worry not, this is not a treatise on doom and gloom.

What I have been thinking about is that, so often, we decide not to do something because, “I’m too old” or “I’ve never done it before”. The trouble with this attitude is that whether we stretch ourselves or not; whether or not we explore our enthusiasms, the time will pass. If we watch life from the sidelines we are stuck with: “Should ‘uv, would ‘uv, could ‘uv”. Who wants that?

Learning something new isn’t all about being the best (compared to another), it’s about being the best “us” that each of us can be. Does it really matter if you try to learn a skill and enjoy it, even while feeling kind of ham-fisted? There really is no great big jury in the sky that’s going to give you between 1 and 5 stars like a restaurant critic. I know you know that, but, I’ll bet, sometimes you forget.

Of course this leads me back to my usual mantra of, “know yourself”. What would you like to try? What do you find interesting or intriguing? If you can come up with nothing then I think you’re not digging deep enough.

Years ago I took a course at the New England Conservatory of Music on the music of Aretha Franklin. Was this related to anything I would find useful at work or in social circles? No, probably not. But, you know what? I had a great time

It isn’t necessarily the smartest, most talented or timely who get ahead. Believe me, without people skills, unless you’ve invented the automobile (hello there Henry Ford) you will be missing one of the most potent forces in human life –your connections to others. Temporary or permanent, intense or superficial our relationships are what fill up life with hope and a feeling of fitting comfortably into the human race.

First, of course, you must be comfortable in your own skin. Recently I was at a conference with a large group of incredibly talented artists. An astonishing number (to me) appeared to put their creativity into their work, which was simply spectacular, while, seemingly, entirely ignoring their personal care and the “face” they showed to the world. In spite of their talent, many looked worn out, when they had every reason to carry themselves with pride.

Knowing your assets is not arrogant, it is sensible. It’s hard to get through life happily if you fail to feel a well-deserved pride in work well done. Acknowledging our strengths teaches those who learn from us to be aware of theirs. Focusing attention on the things that work encourages us and others to keep going as we attempt to deal with things in our lives that are not ideal. There is no benefit, in my opinion, in underestimating our real strengths.

Why would anyone offer up their insecurities to the world at large? Does it make any sense to walk around with a “kick me” sign on your chest? I think not. It’s far wiser, and, I believe, and more practical to reveal ourselves to a select number of people with whom we, at least, have some sort of relationship. There’s a lot to be said for “Put your best foot forward”.

Corny as it sounds, every day really is a new start. Be bold. Listen to yourself. Even if someone else, should you ask, is discouraging, go for the gold (not the brass) ring. If an unsolicited opinion is offered, please do consider the source.

Through better and worse, time moves on. We’re pretty resilient, we humans. We navigate the landscape that accompanies our joys and sorrows, knowing that everything passes. It takes courage to believe in love and loyalty and principle, knowing that our beliefs will be challenged and will fluctuate depending on events over which we, often, have no control.

What, however, is the alternative? When we wall ourselves off through addiction or doubt or any other vehicle, a part of us dies.

Many of you know the story of our little dog, Violet, who was found tied in a tree after some boys took a baseball bat to her. The pain and resultant deformities she has endured were enough to bring anyone to their knees. Violet, however, is feisty and bossy; she has allowed us to love and dote on her (though she had few reasons to trust humans) and (sort of) hangs out regularly with our other dogs. If 9 ½ lb. Violet can take such a leap of faith, any of us can as well.

This time will pass. It is hard for me to believe that this is the end of my 5th year of writing this monthly newsletter. I can’t imagine what I will have to say next month or those after, but, I’m pretty sure I won’t be silent.

Make time your friend. Use it to enhance the life you want to be living. Don’t let it slip, like sand, through your fingers. Figure out the route you want to take, and if you need to change course, you will. Be proud and confident and see what comes your way.

PS My son got married yesterday and we have a strong, beautiful and resourceful woman who is now a part of our family. She is truly the sun after the storm.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

Steve Jobs

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Ruth Gordon is licensed clinical social worker in both Massachusetts and Florida. For more information, please visit her listing on the Therapist Directory. This article may not be reprinted, reproduced, or retransmitted in whole or in part without the express written consent of the author.

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