Mirror Mirror on the Wall by Dark N Brutal

There are times when the worst reflection I see is the one clouded by Fear and the unknown.  I call mine ‘the beast’.  Beast has had a lot to say lately.  But I’ve been doing my best to talk back.  In fact, beyond the first step of even turning to face Beast at all has been second step…talking back.  In fact, I’ve been talking back a lot.  Come to find out there’s nothing wrong about being rude to your beast.

Having been quite unsuccessful in quitting my smokes for longer than a month, I’ve got a game plan this time that goes beyond me and my own strength.  I’ve been through the quitting process so many times before I’ve got a finger on both the nature and composition of the lies Beast is going to tell me.  But as strong as I want to present myself as being, Beast knows my Fear.  His trick is to get me to see me as he does, little, shivering and weak.  And when that happens?  Then he smells blood and doubles down even harder.   Addictions don’t go easy.  For his part, Beast is all in.  He’s in a fight for his life too.

Two of us enter.  One of us leaves.


Already in the early stages of this Battle Royale, I have been walking around with Omni-max imagery I planted a long time ago, deep in my imagination.  It surrounds me with all 5-senses firing on what it feels like as I walk across the tennis court towards the service line.  I’ve got my Old Navy ball cap on.  I can feel the sun on my shoulders as I tap the side of my Nikes with my racquet.  I look across the net.  I note my opponent, but I’m concentrating on what I’m going to do.  Deep breath.


I hear the sound of the ball as I bounce it three times.  I feel my fingers finding their line as I grip my racquet and toss for the Serve.

There is little that thrills me like a pulse-pounding serve-and-volley exchange that seemingly goes on forever. Each return, digging deeper than before.  Each stroke informed by coaches who’ve made sure I’ve watched myself play.  Experience whittles away each and every unnecessary movement down to the pure stroke.

I play.

Sometimes I won game.  Other times I lose the match.  Without fail, for all my practice and sweat, the best tennis I’ve ever played in my life has been against better players.  But not once, not once in my life did any of that occur without me first approaching the Service Line and beginning again.

What makes my current fight worthy is knowing it isn’t just about me this time.  Not once have I ever attained anything of deep and lasting value without the help of others.  Tired of falling down, I’m getting up one more time in order to begin the process of reclaiming my life from cigarettes once and for all.

That’s what we do.  We get up.  And if we’re really lucky, we get up smarter than we were when we fell.

Case in point: This time I’ve got a formal 8-week program (thank you American Cancer Society).  And just like when I needed to work on my net game, I’ve got a coach named Cathy who is certified in all forms of addiction and recovery (thank you Cathy).  But all things are not mental.  There are stick-and-stones at work here too which is why I’ve got my doctor on-board (thank you Dr. H).  I was lied to by those who raised me.  There is no extra-credit badge for doing it alone.  And unlike the past attempts, this time I’m sharing all my beasty boy conversations with Rick.  After all this time, who knows my bu#^$%i^ better than he does, right?  I’m depending on him for that.

But for all that, the last part comes down to me and my fingers.  My fingers and what I do with them.  I remember when I had to relearn how to hold a pencil.  I remember my hands clenched on the parallel bars the first time I stood up in defiance of the ‘experts’ who said I’d never walk again.  I can point to the night of my latest birthday when I said, “enough” and claimed control over my work life.  My martyr days are over.  For weeks now, I’ve been slowly recalibrating my body away from 3-hours a night back to the 7-hours I know I need if I’m going to live long and do anything at all, much less prosper.  So now, every night, I pay myself first.  It is not open for negotiation.  It’s what I choose.

I go the doctor for my physical this week.  We’re doing the whole shootin’ match.  We’re going to be looking at everything (inside and out). It’s time.  Next month I celebrate 30-years with the guy I love.  Time flies. I want more of it.

In closing, let me share something I read from someone who doesn’t know me.  But Ms. Martha Beck shared it nonetheless and I’ve added what she wrote to everything anyone who ever loved me has ever whispered in my ear.  In fact, there have been more than just a few moments lately when I’ve been getting this image of all those people – living and dead – linking their arms together and circling around me as I go forward down here.  Yeah, yeah, I know.  Barb tells me all the time: “We are not alone”.

One of my heroes on this earth has recently left us here.  With fingers portraying only what a Vulcan could know, I am comforted in my humanity when I hear his simple benediction.  “Live Long and Prosper”.

I go not alone.  Neither do you and that’s the Joy of the trip.  We are not alone.

See you on the other side of what comes next…

Your Own Best Friend Illustration by Ciara Phelan

“In the 1970s, when the phrase “be your own best friend” made its way into the zeitgeist, I was mildly confused: I thought friendship involved, you know, more than one person. Then I grew up and realized that most of us are more than one person. As we figure out how we fit in socially and learn how to tailor our behavior to various situations, we end up with several—often wildly dissimilar—versions of ourselves.

For a long time, my own being housed a bustling community of judges, critics and doomsday prophets who conspired to put me through hell. One day I realized that if I wrote down all the negative things I said to myself and showed the resulting document to the police, they’d issue a restraining order against me on my own behalf. But then I figured out that if I could become my own worst enemy, I could also become my own best friend. I developed a method for doing exactly that, and now I’m going to share it with you.

My method for self-befriending centers on empathic listening. It requires that a friendly aspect of your psyche converse with the part that most needs support.

Paradoxically, this process begins with exaggerating the divisions between yourselves. So let’s imagine two versions of you. First, make a list of the qualities you possess when things are at their best—when your gas tank is full, the babysitter shows up on time, and that yogurt is having its intended effect. Is this version of you cheerful, kind, patient? Write it down? This is a description of your Best Friend Self, or BFS.

Now get very honest, and make a list of qualities you exhibit on your worst day. How do you behave when your last frayed nerve finally snaps? Are you whiny and self-pitying? Angry and bitter? Limp and heavily sedated? Let’s call this part of you the Train Wreck Self (TWS). For my money, the very definition of self-help is sending in your BFS to befriend your TWS.

Now, that may sound simple, but maybe people, even at their best, don’t really know how to be a friend. I’ve found that many of my clients think friendship means letting yourself be treated abominably in exchange for approval from people who roughly resemble your parents. Not even close. True friendship is about kindness and reciprocity, support and authentic love.

As you read through the following friendship facts, I invite you to speak aloud the statements that follow them. (If you’re in court or walking a tightrope, you can just think them.) Don’t rush. If you can say these things to yourself and mean them, you can be your own pal.
Friendship Fact:Real friends delight in your happiness.
Say to Yourself: “I want to help you have great adventures, rest when you’re tired and make every experience better.”

Friendship Fact: Real friends care about what’s happening to you.
Say to Yourself: “What’s going on with you? How do you feel about it? I want to hear everything!”

Friendship Fact: Real friends don’t try to live your life for you.
Say to Yourself: “I really care when you’re hurting, but I know you’ll be all right in the end. I have faith in you.”

Friendship Fact: If you’re in dangerous territory, real friends will tell you.
Say to Yourself: “Is your gut saying that something doesn’t feel right? Respect that. I do.”

Friendship Fact: Real friends like just being with you; they don’t need you to entertain them.
Say to yourself: “You don’t have to earn my friendship. Just be yourself.”

As you can see, true friends are basically talking Labrador retrievers who can drive you to the airport. Their love for you is easy and constant. If you’ve never had a friend like this, it’s time to become one. This is how.

Never-Fail Self-Befriending Exercise

First, choose an accessory (a ring, a scarf, a party hat) that will be worn only by your BFS. I mean it—go get this item right now. When you put it on, you’ll be in best-friend mode, speaking from your most enlightened perspective. When you take it off, you’re going to shift to your Train Wreck Self. It may sound crazy, but it could help to switch physical conditions: While embodying your BFS, you’ll sit in a certain chair; while being your TWS, you’ll be in the fetal position under the bed, or whatever.

Now you’re going to have a conversation with yourself—this time in writing (it’s much more powerful that way). Yes, I know this also sounds nutty. Do it anyway. Trust me. First you’ll put on your BFS accessory, go to your BFS chair and write the words scripted as follows. Then you’ll take off the BFS regalia, assume your TWS position and respond with whatever comes to mind. Make sure you don’t suppress or censor your TWS; real friends can handle each other’s truth. Ready? Here we go.

As your BFS, write: “How’s it going?”
As your TWS, let it rip: If you’re having a boring, frustrating or horrible day, go nuts. Whine, fuss and fume to your heart’s content. Throw a verbal tantrum. Get it all out.

BFS: “I hear you, and you get to feel whatever you’re feeling right now. Go into more detail. Why do you feel this way?”
TWS: Write whatever comes up. You may repeat yourself, or you may find that your rant is changing, going to new levels of honesty and vulnerability. Just let it flow.

Now repeat the last BFS question over and over until your TWS has said absolutely everything it wants to say. Then move on:

BFS: “So, my friend, what do you want in this situation?”
TWS: Write whatever comes up. Sit with the question until you can find a genuine desire inside yourself.
BFS: “And what’s the best thing I can do to help you feel better right now?”
TWS: Sit with the question until you can find something doable: making a cup of tea, listening to music that calms or inspires you, burning an effigy of your boss.

Once your TWS has arrived at an actionable step, put on your BFS attire and take that step. Unfailingly. Friends do things for each other, and on good days your BFS may take your mood from okay to great. On bad days, it may inch you from despair to slight relief. No matter what’s going on, one thing is always certain: Friendship makes things better.

I’ve used this method of self-befriending for years. Gradually, it taught me to trust myself—my Best Friend Self, anyway—and that was how I learned to trust the world. I began to recognize real friendship when it was offered and learned to reciprocate. Every day, my Train Wreck Self still asks for things she wants—it’s impossible to predict her demands—and every day, my Best Friend Self tries to get them for her. It’s not always easy, but it always makes things better. And that will do, at least until I get a Labrador retriever.”

Welcome back and thank-you, Ms. Beck.  I don’t know about you, but my beast is really pissed, but that’s OK.  I think I’m going to be just fine.  Be careful out there.




Leonard Nemoy by Matt Sayles (AP)

“Leonard Nimoy, known for his iconic character Mr. Spock on “Star Trek,” has died, ABC News has confirmed via the actor’s granddaughter and his agent Bob Gersh. He was 83.

“He was a remarkable man, well known not only for his acting and directing, but also for his photography, contemporary art collection, and for his extremely generous philanthropic contributions and support of the arts,” Gersh said via a statement to ABC. “A private memorial service is being planned by the family. He will be missed by all.”

Nimoy, who played first officer to William Shatner’s Captain Kirk on the Starship Enterprise in TV and movies, died Friday morning in Bel-Air, California, his granddaughter Madeleine Nimoy confirmed.

His son Adam told the Associated Press that he died of end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The actor revealed he was struggling with the ailment in 2014, according to the New York Times. Nimoy had been a smoker, which contributed to the ailment, before he gave up the habit years ago.

“I quit smoking 30 yrs ago. Not soon enough. I have COPD … Smokers, please understand. If you quit after you’re diagnosed with lung damage it’s too late. Grandpa says learn my lesson. Quit now. LLAP,” Nimoy tweeted in separate posts last year.

Earlier this week, Nimoy tweeted for the last time, writing, “A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP,” signing the tweet with his iconic phrase “Live Long and Prosper.”

Leonard Nemoy Final Tweet


“I loved him like a brother. We will all miss his humor, his talent, and his capacity to love,” his “Star Trek” co-star William Shatner said in a tweet.

Flowers will be placed on his star in on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 10:30 a.m. PT, officials said.


“Nimoy — a United States Army veteran, who was born in Boston, Massachusetts — first began acting at the age of 8 locally, then in the early 1950’s, staring in TV runs, such as “The Silent Service,” “Broken Arrow” and “Dragnet.” But it was his debut as Mr. Spock in the 1960’s “Star Trek” that made him a cult legend.

He first brought Mr. Spock to the screen in 1966 for the original “Star Trek” pilot, a character he played on TV until 1969. He would go on to star in eight movies and build a cult following as the half human, half Vulcan famous for his hand gesture that meant “Live Long and Prosper.”

After a long and successful career since the beginning of “Trek,” Nimoy had brought back his famous role in 2009’s reboot “Star Trek,” and the recent sequel “Star Trek Into Darkness” in 2013. Zachary Quinto played a younger version of Spock.

In an interview with StarTrek.com, Nimoy expressed his gratitude to reboot director J.J. Abrams for bringing him back to honor him in the new series.

“I think he’s done a great thing for Star Trek. I’m very grateful to him. We all owe him a lot. When someone comes along like he has done and picks it up and elevates it, we should be grateful. So when J.J. calls me, I take the call,” he said.

But Nimoy was more than just an actor — starring as of late as a voice in 2011’s “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” and as Dr. William Bell in another cult classic series “Fringe.” Nimoy began his career as an acting teacher in his early 20’s in Hollywood, and more recently the author of his autobiographies, “I Am Not Spock” in 1975 and “I Am Spock” in 1995.

In addition to his over 130 acting credits, Nimoy had a dozen directing credits, including the 1987 hit “3 Men and a Baby,” starring Tom Selleck and Ted Danson and a couple “Star Trek” movies. Nimoy also starred as himself in hits like “Futurama,” “Ancient Mysteries” and “In Search of…” as a host in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.

Somewhere in the middle of all his success, Nimoy went back to school and earned a master’s degree in Spanish from Antioch University Austin in his 40’s, then later an honorary doctorate, according to the Times.

Nimoy was married twice – once to actoress Sandra Zober from 1954 to 1987 and most recently to Susan Bay from 1989 till his death. He is father to Julie and Adam Nimoy. His son, 58, followed in his famous father’s footsteps, directing episodes on “NYPD Blue,” “Gilmore Girls” and “The Practice.”

Nimoy is survived by his wife Susan Bay and his two children, Adam and Julie.”



Mirror, Mirror On The Wall Illustration by DarkNBrutal – Digital Art / Drawings & Paintings / Other©2009-2015 DarkNBrutal  :  http://darknbrutal.deviantart.com/art/Mirror-Mirror-on-the-wall-132928279; ServeAndVolley: http://www.optimumtennis.net/tennis-volley-exercises.htm; Your Own Best Friend Illustration by Ciara Phelan in the article by Martha Beck: Be Your Own Best Friend; Be Your Own Best Friend by Martha Beck: http://www.oprah.com/omagazine/Martha-Beck-Be-Your-Own-Best-Friend

Martha Beck’s latest book is The Martha Beck Collection: Essays for Creating Your Right Life, Volume One (Martha Beck Inc.). From the January 2015 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine

Read more: http://www.oprah.com/omagazine/Martha-Beck-Be-Your-Own-Best-Friend#ixzz3TAFaZZRX

Leonard Nemoy by Matt Sayles (AP): http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/star-trek-star-leonard-nimoy-dies-83/story?id=29274628; NASA International Space Station astronaut Terry Virts salutes as tribute to Leonard Nemoy somewhere over Cape Cod: http://www.nasa.gov/content/astronaut-salutes-nimoy-from-orbit/#.VPNzVPnF8Ro

NASA International Space Station astronaut Terry Virts salutes as tribute to Leonard Nemoy somewhere over Cape Cod

— ## —

About dan4kent

Born and raised in the Midwest, Dan lives in the Chicagoland area. With a grown son from a previous marriage, he has since built a committed relationship of 34 years with his partner Rick, the Love of his Life. Having written his whole life, he blogged the past 7-years because he has to write…he can’t help it. Know the feeling? There’s ‘good‘ to be found in all of it. “If all I do is leave someone (or something) better than I found them, then I’ve done my part. Thanks for letting me grace your screen, if only for a little while.”
This entry was posted in Life, Life Lessons, Love and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to LLAP

  1. purplemary54 says:

    I’m trying to get my mother to quit. I know, I know. The person quitting has to really want to quit, and do all the hard work. But I think if I look into some of the resources out there (and thanks, Dan, for reminding me about some of them), I can get her the tools she needs to take the final step from wanting to doing.

    Now I’ve been calling TWS my “3AM voice” for years. It’s the one that comes to me when I can’t sleep (and most of the rest of the time), and tells me terrible, terrible things. I’m learning to shut that voice up with distraction (TV, books, whatever) and meditation. It’s going okay so far, but I’m still not always successful. But I think the point is to keep trying.

    Good luck with quitting. And an early happy anniversary. You deserve it. 🙂

    • dan4kent says:

      My dear PM – Quiet praise for your steady drumbeat with mom. As for TWS and for what it’s worth, i too worked hard at drowning out the bad. Beck reminds me it’s about starting a conversation between both poles so they inform each other in some solutions. Im going to read her again tonight. Radical stuff, but then again, so are you! LLAP.

  2. Most people my age (60s) have quit years ago but it was a struggle. When I was young it was very “in” and “cool” to smoke. I don’t know why I didn’t. Maybe it was because it ages you and makes your voice raspy — not good traits for a woman. I remember a friend of mine said after a really nice dinner, “I could smoke a cigarette right now.” She had given them up at least a decade earlier but she still got the desire at certain times. After a great dinner with coffee was one of those. May your journey be fruitful.

    • dan4kent says:

      Dear Kate. Thanks for your take on my beast. I didn’t start till my mid 30’s…so I’m playing catch up. But I am playing and that’s good thing. LLAP

What do you think? Let me know.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s