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Category: Life Insights

The Aunch

I refer to it as the “aunch.”

It isn’t a friend of mine. In fact, it’s my worst enemy.

The aunch purposely sits in front of me, blocking my view of life. A wonderful life. A blessed life. Quite frankly, a better life than I deserve. It looks directly at me, smirking like an arrogant bully on a playground. It knows when I’m trying to look past it, and mirrors my movements to block my sight. I want to punch it right in the smirk, but it absorbs all impact. And it actually smiles more when I get angry or violent towards it. I have a tough time getting rid of it.

There are three places I usually get the aunch:

  • When I’m all alone in my bathroom, drying off after a shower. It’s just me and my reflection in the mirror. There’s the aunch, auditing my life and taking a big yellow highlighter and marking all the things I did wrong during the day.
  • When I’m all alone in my car, usually in traffic, often at a red light, which always takes forever. My car stereo can’t block out the aunch. Even when my favorite rock song is blasting, I’m singing loudly and off-key, the aunch still sits there in the passenger seat, fogging up my windshield so I can’t enjoy the ride.
  • When I’m finishing up the workday. So much accomplished, so many people helped, and there’s the aunch waiting for me. Arms folded like a disappointed parent, finger tapping on its elbow, inflating itself to block my path so I have to acknowledge it as I head home.

I’ve had to deal with the aunch since I was a teenager. And I’m wagering a lot of us have an aunch lurking around. If that’s the case for you, I support you. I know how tough it is to eliminate that nagging, dragging, slagging force of unhappiness in your life. It’s been a horrible weight for me to carry for the past 25 years or so, and if you are also saddled with this burdensome weight, keep in mind that you’re not alone. We are in it together.

Pause for a moment and re-read that last sentence. No, really. I mean it because what’s coming up is important.

Those five words, we are in it together, is like a kidney punch for the aunch. It doesn’t like having to pester groups of people; it likes to isolate one person at a time and block their path to happiness. When you can picture in your mind standing up straight, with me right alongside you, facing the aunch, it’s not as big a force as it was when it was just you one on one. I don’t know about you, but it gives me hope. Knowing that I’m not alone gives me the same feeling as when I flip on the defroster in my car. The anxiety I get from having to drive with a foggy, opaque windshield suddenly dissolves when everything becomes crystal clear. I believe we need to fight the aunch with trusted friends. Now I can’t be there in person with all of you, so what I would like you to do is to write down (with pen and paper, mind you, no technology screens) a few trusted friends that you can battle the aunch with. It knows who your friends are, and is deliberately whispering in your ear to disregard them, to not allow them to be your friend, because it wants to isolate you.

But sometimes we have to battle the aunch without our friends around. That’s a tough task. Those three situations I listed above? My battleground with unhappiness. I haven’t conquered this fight, but I’m working on some ways to turn the aunch’s yell down to an inaudible whisper. For what it’s worth, here’s something that’s been helpful to me so far:

When I’m faced with the aunch by myself, I picture in my mind big soap bubbles. It always brings a smile to my face as I watch a little child blowing them from their little soap bubble wand on a warm sunny afternoon in a park. Those floating bubbles are my thoughts; happy ones, sad ones, remorseful ones, future ones, dream ones, angry ones. You get the picture. I take a close look at those bubble thoughts. I know what kind of impact they have on my mood. So I poke those negative bubble thoughts with my finger and watch them pop. The happy, dream, future thoughts are the keepers. I like watching them float around. And the funny thing is, the aunch doesn’t seem to have the ability to pop those bubbles. They’re mine to pop. So I choose to keep those remaining thought bubbles floating around me.

The sooner we can figure out how to quiet the aunch, the better our experiences in life will be. My hope for you is that you will be able to believe, especially when you’re all alone in your car, or drying off from a shower, or hip-deep in busy with your family or with your work, that you are not alone in your sadness, you have friends who want to walk with you from unhappiness to a place of joy, and that we are in it together.

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The Old Me

I’m not a frequent journaler, but every now and then I’ll unearth something I wrote in the past which e-brakes my progress during the workday, and I’ll have to process it. I recently found a digital pile of random snippets of my thoughts and words, and was rather shocked at who I used to be like…and who I am now.

I used to be afraid to talk to girls. I can start up a friendly conversation with anyone.

I was afraid of people in public. I am quietly entertained by observing people in public.

I went to the gym primarily to make myself as big as possible so no one would try to hurt me. I go to the gym to keep in shape now that I’m in my 40s.

I never shared any of my tech knowledge at work. I volunteer at the local public library to help others learn basic tech skills.

I never let the other driver in when it came time to merge into one lane. I ease up on the accelerator to allow a smooth merging process.

I rarely said no to a request, either professionally or personally. I have no problem telling someone “not now” or “no thank you” and giving them honest reasons why.

I equated my identity with the things I owned, hence I accumulated a lot of things. I have a small amount of things, and have streamlined my tech gear, my music gear, and my wardrobe.

I didn’t like who I was on the inside. I’m okay with myself.

May your path today lead you to read words from your past, reflect on who you were, grieve how things were back then, then give thanks for who you are today and the life you currently have.

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Embracing the Quiet

Quiet can be unfamiliar. With a life dominated by noise, distractions, and chaos we don’t remember what it sounds like.

Quiet can feel tense, like a close-up shot in a suspenseful movie where we don’t know if the person is going to get attacked by surprise.

Quiet can be awkward. We may avoid the quiet so we don’t have to confront our own thoughts.

Quiet can be lonely, where you realize no one is there to keep you company.

I like the quiet because my brain can process what has happened during the day without other stimuli demanding attention.

I like the quiet because I don’t have to expend energy tracking someone’s voice in a crowded room.

I like the quiet because, eventually, a bunch of interesting thoughts pop into my head which never happen with noise surrounding me.

I like the quiet because it’s a valuable commodity in today’s society.

May we all embrace the quiet in our day…

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Five Counterintuitive Actions for the New Year

Consider the following for the upcoming new year and watch your life improve:

  • Frequent a locally-owned restaurant enough times where the folks behind the counter not only remember your name, they remember what you order. Tip them well.


  • When you receive a coupon in the mail for $10 off an oil change from a national chain, throw it away. Instead, go to a local town mechanic; someone who will not only change your oil, but take the time to get to know your vehicle, shoot straight with you about fixes you need now, in the near future, or in the long-term. Tip them well.


  • Look for a grocery store checkout clerk who asks how you are doing and actually stops what they’re doing to listen to your response. Go back to them even if it’s a long line.


  • Frequent a downtown bar or microbrewery and not only be nice to the waiter or waitress, but tip them well enough so they’ll remember you and what you drink when you come in the future. Enjoy looking like a big shot when you meet your friends there.


  • Stop when you see a youngster manning a lemonade stand on the side of the road. Fork over a $10 bill for a cup. Watch them lose their mind with excitement.


May 2017 be a year where we surprise the people we encounter with friendliness, patience, gratitude, and generosity. I guarantee the ROI on your kind actions will be more than you think.


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