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I had a friend who said to me once “Treat it like a buffet. Take what you like and leave the rest.” I was trying to make a decision about going forth with something I wasn’t altogether sure I needed. This friend, Joanne, saw something in me I had not seen: that I was holding on to anger over a failed marriage. She wanted me to see her chaplain friend to get help letting go. The rest of the story is I did see him and he was a great assist in helping me identify unhealthy attitudes and behaviors and correct them. He helped me move on.

It was Joanne’s great example of how to treat counseling that made me act on her advice.  It was such visual direction. 20150109_181557I have never forgotten how effective it was and how it can be used in many scenarios.

I’ve been thinking about it lately as I’ve watched a friend do this with a tough situation in her life. There are many things that don’t work for her, but she is able to rise above and choose from the situation the things she likes—and leave the rest. She is cautious, but upbeat. She moves on with anticipation of good in every day and I admire her tremendously for handling her difficulty with a buffet approach.

I see the ability to “take what you want and leave the rest” as many things: wisdom, focus, staying positive, and going forward when you might otherwise stay stuck in emotional mire. By using the buffet method, one can build on the good and not allow the bad to control.

I’m still applying the buffet method in my life. I’ve used it in work situations. I’ve used it in matters with my house. I’ve use it with social affiliations and friendships. I’ve use it with memories—what to keep and what to discard—but I admit that’s the hardest of all for me. The thing the buffet method effectively does is release one from pain and regret that haunt. It releases one from indecision and disappointments—great and small. It can even bring levity to a piece of life that could otherwise be a burden too heavy to bear.

So to Joanne, my dear friend of long ago and at a time of grief and transition, I say thank you. Thank you for being brave enough to call my hand on something I couldn’t see and was tripping me up. Thank you for explaining how to take advice. How to sort through and keep only the parts that helps you grow.

We never know when something we say will become a building block in someone’s life, do we? It pays to be cautious with words, but it can also pay to be bold. file561270689520


Photos courtesy of morgueFile