My Therapist, Kenny Rogers

The late Kenny Rogers recently made an entrance into my life.

Maybe it’s because he knew I needed some help.

The singer and songwriter’s lyrics whispered to me like a forgotten dream:

“I’ve made a life out of readin’ people’s faces, knowin’ what the cards were by the way they held their eyes. So if you don’t mind my sayin’, I can see you’re out of aces.”

How’d Kenny know I was out of aces?

Kenny Roger’s Wisdom

To live means risk. Life hands us a deck of cards. Some of those cards are desirable; some are the kind you want to hide from the world.

The cards life deals us are always changing. And one person’s perception of fortune can be another’s confirmation of failure.

How we perceive life’s cards makes all the difference.

Kenny’s lyrics reminds us that our attitude affects a great deal of our outcome.

If we believe we are out of aces — opportunity or fortune, it will show in our body language.

The Problem

A family member called me a couple of times while I was at work to tell me:

“It’s your birthday soon. Here’s what you are going to do. Here’s when you are going to do it.”

It’s worth noting: I had told my family I had a big work event and not to call me that day.

This family member not only didn’t respect my reminder not to call that day; they called me twice, finally leaving a text message that their “plane tickets” were all booked and now they were waiting for me to book mine.

There was never any question such as:

  • Would a trip on this day at this place work with your schedule?
  • What would you like to do for your 50th?

My Therapist, Kenny Rogers

I was annoyed that this family member was dictating how I “should” celebrate my birthday.

There’s something about turning 50 that feels symbolic. It’s the chronological wake-up call to take stock of life, standing on the precipice of life’s past and the unknown future left.

“I don’t want them telling me what to do or how to celebrate my birthday!”

Thankfully, I had my dear therapist, Kenny Rogers to offer his gambling wisdom:

“You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, and know when to run.”

And Kenny’s sage advice continued:

“Every gambler knows, that the secret to surviving’ is knowin’ what to throw away and knowin’ what to keep.”

Mic drop, Kenny Rogers. Man does he know his stuff.

Life’s Gamble

The family member who made my blood pressure rise has a huge heart.

And here’s the truth: no one can make us angry unless we allow it.

An Australian army nurse, Elizabeth Kenny once said:

“He who angers you, controls you.”

We are all diamonds in this life, coming into this space and time with many facets. Sometimes, the less attractive facets shine brighter than others.

The facets we choose to focus on determine our life’s experience.

I could choose to focus on my family member’s controlling personality facet, or I could decide to lean into their big heart.

Our challenges are either “winners or losers”, depending on how we perceive them.

Kenny Helps Me Decide How to Play

Kenny helped me see that my family member is nothing more than a little child in a grown up’s body, so eager to see me and celebrate my birthday, they forgot things like:

  • boundaries
  • considering my perspective

There is no malice to this family member. I’ve often thought of them as bull in a china shop: opinionated, loud, and clueless to what they are psychologically knocking over in their wake.

This person puts everything into their family. And sometimes that means missing the forest for the trees.

So, I’ve decided to turn 50 in the location they’ve told — er, strongly suggested. My ticket is booked. I will get to be surrounded by family I miss like crazy.

I’ve let go of the need for this family member to be a “winning card” on my terms and accepted them for where they are right now.

I’ve let go of the need to “change my hand”, appreciating the family deck just the way it is.

For this round of life, I’ve decided to hold. And it feels pretty darn good.

*Kenny Rogers’ lyrics are from The Gambler

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