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March 2021


Do you remember the first time someone paid you a compliment? Maybe, maybe not. But I would lay money down that you remember the first time someone told you something negative about yourself. This is, in fact, human nature. According to an article in Psychology Today, “Bad emotions, bad parents, and bad feedback have more impact than good ones. Bad impressions and bad stereotypes are quicker to form and more resistant to disconfirmation than good ones.” Sigh. As well, it turns out we spend more time thinking about and processing negative words and events than positive. So are we doomed to a life believing that Negative Nancy voice in our head? Here’s my story.

If you know me, you know there are not many minutes of the day that I am not singing. I was in choir from the age of nine and love the swell of many voices coming together, breathing life and emotion into music. Truthfully, when I was younger, I never worried about whether I could sing or not. I just loved it. Fast forward to high school – grade 12. My family was living in Toronto and our high school was pretty fantastic. Canadian favorites, the Bare Naked Ladies, went to school with my siblings! My brother also had a pretty amazing band with rockstar status and for one school talent show, they asked me to sing back-up. It was Meatloaf’s hit, Two out of Three Ain’t Bad. You know the one, lol. I didn’t hesitate as I often joined in when they would practice. So here we are at rehearsals. We do our run through and after we finish I make my way up the aisle to head out to the lockers and I hear voices. Girl voices. Not so nice girl voices. And they are talking about me.

“She’s horrible! Like she is totally going to ruin this for the band.” and then one of them is singing, howling really, and pretending to be me, and the rest are giggling at her impersonation. And me? I am devastated. Embarrassed. And believing every word of it. Of course, I can’t sing. What was I thinking? I cried the short walk home and that night told my brother I was out. He prodded and I finally admitted to the details of the scene from rehearsal.

“Okay, first, she is a jealous b****. And second, she’s ugly.” Which made us both laugh. “You are like a haunting voice coming in and out of the song and making it all just so perfect. You HAVE to sing.” Scott said a few more things to boost my spirits and the other members of the band insisted they couldn’t do it without me. So we did. And we brought the house down. No, no, it wasn’t the background vocals, lol, the lead singer is phenomenally gifted. I will always be grateful to my brother for putting a salve on my heart that day. But truthfully, I never recovered. I still like to sing, LOVE to sing, but I don’t tell people I can sing or that I am a singer. SIGH. The power of words.

There is a link between suicide and negative self-talk. Luke, as much as he feigned bravado, hated himself. He thought he was weak, he thought he was fat, he thought he was a burden. Every negative event that had happened to him clearly added tenfold to his inner voice that screamed “loser”. John often brings up a time Luke was in a tough situation and he went up to his room and literally ripped up every picture of himself; like he was trying to rip himself out of this world by tearing up his photographs. And who does that? Who hates themselves that much that they can’t even look at themselves in a picture?

“The negative thought processes that led these people to an action as desperate and as hopeless as suicide proves that very often one’s worst enemy lives inside him or her.”

So where does this critical voice come from? It is a culmination of every unkind word, or comment, or event in a person’s life. People with anxiety or depression struggle even more to find balance between the good and the bad and therein lies one of the biggest issues for those suffering with mental health issues.

” People with depression and anxiety frequently experience destructive and dysfunctional self-talk; the internal chatter they hear may be incessant and overly critical. Overwhelmed by the negativity, they can wallow in painful rumination, attacking themselves ceaselessly.” – Psychology Today

Therapy is the best course of action to help these individuals recognize and combat this negative self-talk cycle. But is that the only thing we can do? I am inspired by the following quote from an article in the New York TImes around the power of negative self talk,

“As Professor Baumeister noted in his study, “Many good events can overcome the psychological effects of a bad one.” In fact, the authors quote a ratio of five goods for every one bad.”

So here’s what I need you to know: Five goods for every one bad? That is a data point I can get behind! Now that you know the power of your words to fight evil… and suicide… might I suggest we get complimenting and connecting with others? Not meaningless compliments, but intentional words to lift the spirits and self-talk of those around us. I may not call myself a singer, but I am one heck of a cheerleader, lol. So I am going to start a campaign – Have I told you lately…. where I reach out and let someone know something about them that really impresses me. Something maybe they have forgotten about themselves or take for granted. Let’s try and get that 5 to 1 ratio going so when someone struggling does have a bad day, they have something positive to pull up. What if by doing this we save someone from suicide? Just one someone will make it worth it. I hope you will join me. Xxx

PS – I think we need an adult chorus with a rock band to back us up. Keith Lewis…. let’s do this. 🙂 Xxx

I need you to know

If the World Was Ending You’d Come Over, Right?

You know this song. It was all over the radio for awhile and I don’t know what it made you think about, but as soon as I heard it, right smack dab in the middle of this Covid Catastrophe, I launched into End of the World mode. What WOULD happen if an asteroid was plummeting to the planet Earth, or a nuclear war broke out, or heaven forbid… some freak virus starting killing people all over the planet and there was no cure? I know, I know… never gonna happen. 😉

Still, my mind starting playing things out. John and I are obviously going to be together. But what about Logan? He loves this young miss he is dating (we love her, too) and as much as I know he adores his parents, wouldn’t he want to be with his lady? If you have seen them together you know nothing could separate them, not even the end of the world. So I picture Logan calling us, frantic and apologetic that he can’t get to us and get his girl to her family before the shit hits the fan. And we are all crying, but John and I get it – we have been those same lovestruck young people, and isn’t our child’s happiness all we aim for? So we say our I love yous and then we say a few more just to make sure he knows it. I tell him we will see him on the other side and he scoffs, scientist that he is, and we laugh, and then we hang up. Cue my shattering heart.

Our next calls would be to home, of course. There isn’t enough time to get to Canada. I can’t even think hard about how these conversations would go because it is too sad for me right now. We haven’t seen our family in fifteen months and so to think of what I might say, even in an imaginary circumstance, is a little too painful. It gives my heart some comfort to picture the Deans altogether watching the sunset over the lake; The Inwoods at the house with little sweet Abby dancing around. We love you all!

What I’d really love to happen next is that all our friends, after saying their own goodbyes to their loved ones far away, would somehow make their way to our house. After twenty years, these people have been here for every important event in the Inwood journey- birthdays, New Year’s celebrations, getting our green cards, Christmas Eve blasts, and so, so many summer shindigs and soirees. We have laughed and cried and laughed some more over the years, and wouldn’t it be perfect if that is how we finished it off? No Alabama! lol We would fire up the grill, and share some food, and drink waaay too much. Mike would come up with some excellent t-shirt slogan and Sue would make sure the music and the moves never stopped. All my young lovelies would come over, late, of course, lol, but wanting to slide into oblivion with the one and only Barry. The party would be epic and Jay would make sure we heard that exact comment on repeat. 🙂 And just before the end, we would pull out the blankets, like we have so many times before, and spread them out in the backyard under the stars. And we would giggle and hold hands and probably shed a tear or two. I can see all of us there… an endless blend of arms and legs… and hearts. I love you, people, I would start to say, and John would make some joke about Patty always having to make a speech, but he won’t get to finish.

Crazy times lead to crazy thoughts I know. But what the Covid quarantine has done is help me realize who I truly can’t live without. I hope this blog has inspired you to think about who the important people are in your life. Maybe we promise ourselves to reach out more often, say I love you more, and when the time comes, HUG like there is no tomorrow. And if you read this and you are one of my crew, I have just one question for you – If the world was ending, you’d come over, right? Xxx

I need you to know