Creative Writing: Pittsburgh

It is early afternoon, and we are sitting in our warm home on a cold fall day as my husband reads out loud the names of the 11 victims of a violent crime in Pittsburgh last week.

Jerry Rabinowitz, a physician who always wore a bowtie; two brothers Cecil and David; a 97-year old holocaust survivor whose first name was Rose; Bernice and Sylvan Simon, a couple in their eighties; and then, there was Richard, and Joyce, and Daniel and Irwing and Melvin.

Something breaks deep within my heart as I hear each name fill the air: Jerry, Cecil, David, Rose, Bernice, Sylvan, Richard, Joyce, Daniel, Irwing and Melvin. I feel like I ought to stand up to somehow show my respect.

I am aware that there are children, and nephews and moms and dads and grandchildren and bosses and employees and clients and patients and neighbors wrapped up in each one of these precious names. And even though I did not know Jerry, Cecil, David, Rose, Bernice, Sylvan, Richard, Joyce, Daniel, Irwing or Melvin, I am deeply affected by their death, feeling outrage and grief.  

I stare at the leaves dancing off the trees into the yard and think of how they lived their whole cycle of life, and they are ending their days in beauty. But Rose, she survived the Holocaust only to still be murdered in the name of hatred. And Jerry, Cecil, David, Bernice, Sylvan, Richard, Joyce, Daniel, Irwing and Melvin, they did not get to live out their cycle of life.

My heart is heavy. I find myself tempted to abandon joy and just feel sorry for the sad state of our world. But then I read and re-read and re-re-read my sweet daughter-in-law Christine’s conclusion in the face of this atrocity, “I don’t really have words for what it is to have something so hateful happen in the city I love so much. All I know is that I will continue to love my neighbor and my God so that I can show my children how not to be filled with hate or fear others.”

I exhale all the grief and despair. Then I inhale deeply, thanking God for giving her such insight and strength. I will take my place next to Christine.  

How do you start coaching yourself, Part 3

In my first post about coaching yourself, I talked about the five components of self-coaching: Building awareness, Acceptance, Practice, Interrupting thoughts, actions, and feelings and Learning. Then I expanded a bit on the first three.

In the second post, we concentrated on practicing all kinds of things.

Today, we’ll finish this series with the last two components: Interrupting the cycle and learning.

4. Interrupting the Cycle

Cycles always run their courses. They always do unless you interrupt them.

You know how when you accidentally stub your toe, you have a learned response to it? It probably is a mixture of expletives and “You’re so stupid, oh my god, I can’t believe you did that,” followed by feeling stupid and angry. This is the cycle playing out on its own.

Interrupting the Self-critic

You know that what you think will determine how you will feel.

So what if you simply interrupted your self-critic?

What if stubbing your toe did not have to mean anything about you? You will actually find out that the stubbing hurts a little bit less when you don’t add the negative emotion of annoyance or irritation on top of the physical pain.

In Small Ways

It’s very useful to practice interrupting yourself in small ways. Like for example what you say to yourself when you catch your reflection in a mirror.

It takes being aware of what you say to yourself, really acknowledging it and then deciding that you are not going to say that about yourself any longer.

Your thoughts are optional. You cna choose to not have negative self-talk.


Really pay attention to the language that you use. Language really matters.

If you have practiced saying “I have to,” or “I should,” you probably have practiced feelings of overwhelm and dread, because “I have to” and “I should” never create a positive emotion. There is no upside to it. You are free to interrupt that language and replace it with “I get to.”  the thoughts that you think create how you feel.

5. Learning

Self-coaching is very much about self-discovery and learning. If you can look at your thoughts, feeling and actions as an opportunity to be curious about yourself, you will find yourself on a fascinating journey of growth.

Practice curiosity. Open your eyes. Wonder.

So, my friend, what are you ready to interrupt in your life? Let me know so I can cheer you on! And as always, share this blog post  with your friends; I bet you know someone who needs it.