Personal Development


Photo by Cesar Fernandes on Unsplash

Chapter XXXI – Tomato Envy

My neighbour is growing tomatoes on his back step. However, these Hulk-sized plants are different. Their stalks are thick and strong, the leaves are green and healthy and green and they are massive.

We also got some plants a little later in the season and kept them on our deck. Ours, in contrast, are undersized and somewhat sickly.

I would estimate that they are one half the size of my neighbour’s monster plants, and that’s probably being a bit generous. 

This disparity created an ongoing dispute between me and my wife about what he was doing and what we weren’t.

Where did he get those mutant transplants from, what variety of tomato were they and why were they getting so big?

I began questioning what was wrong with my little plants every time I went outside, and at one point thought of giving up on them completely. 

Tomato envy impaired my vision.

I was fixating on what my plants should look like instead of appreciating that they are perfectly designed just as they are. Full stop. Their flaws and shortcomings only become evident when you compare them to others. 

I came to realize that my thinking was unproductive and served no purpose. It only resulted in frustration and resentment, emotions that I am specifically trying to avoid.

Photo by Dan Cristian Pădureț on Unsplash

And when I reflected back on the difficulties my tomatoes had to endure, I slowly began to develop a new level of respect and admiration for their will to live. They are survivors. 

They were over-watered and repotted several times. The summer was also unusually hot and dry and there were times when we were lacking in providing consistent applications of water, Miracle Grow and TLC.

Those were factors that were all beyond the plants’ control. 

Meanwhile, my neighbour’s tomato ‘trees’ continue to grow like they are in a tropical rain forrest. They are now enormous.  

However, I no longer possess the envy. I have let that go. The only thing I want to retain is the lesson I was supposed to learn. And that is progress for me.

I know that my tomatoes are going to taste a little sweeter because of it. 

Side Hustle – Unshackled Solutions Life Coaching and Consulting 

To gain experience, I am gifting coaching sessions during the month of August. It consists of a virtual discovery call where we discuss the benefits of life coaching and determine whether we are a good fit together. 

Then we complete two full coaching sessions where we work on whatever issues you identify as important; career change, discipline, work-life balance, etc.

You set the agenda for the conversations and we partner to find effective ways to transform your life. 

I utilize a solution-based approach, that is future focused and seeks to provide you with effective tools to Break Free and Be Better

If you find benefit from working with me, we can discuss what a more formal coaching relationship would look like.

What is life coaching?

If you are interested in finding out more about life coaching or exploring what working with me would look like, please contact me directly to schedule a discovery call. No expectation or obligation. 

Your Next  Best Read – The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself 

CLICK HERE to listen to full free audiobook of Untethered Soul on Youtube.

“The natural ups and downs of life can either generate growth or increase our levels of fear. The energy is directed by our view on change. When we don’t let go, the blocked energy in our heart acts like a magnet; and we attract more of the same energy. Real transformation starts when we accept and embrace our problems—begin to see them as opportunities for growth.”

What attitude do you have regarding change? How does this attitude affect your life  and what can you do about it?


Read some, all or none of Micheal Singer’s audiobook The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself and JOIN ME on Tuesday August 30th at 9pmADT for an interactive discussion about who you are and how we can create more meaningful changes in our lives.  

Join Zoom Meeting…

Positive Reflections – What’s Good?

One of my favorite poems is Mother to Son by Langston Hughes. Whenever I read it I immediately think of my mother. 

It is a welcome reminder of her dedication, willing sacrifices and the limitless hopes and dreams she had for me. 

As a father and grandfather I have a new appreciation for my mother’s unwavering encouragement and support to Be Better and I love her all the more for it. 

Her life was no crystal stair. However, she kept her past and her personal struggles to herself. 

When I was growing up, parents rarely shared ‘private’ information with their children. It was only dispensed on a need to know basis, and my mother was no exception.

She passed away when I was only twenty-three(23) years old. 

Unfortunately, we never got an opportunity to engage in any meaningful adult conversations about who she was and what life was like before I became the focal point of her life.  

I am comforted knowing she invested all of herself into creating a better future for ME. What a selfless gift! My memories of her are an ever-present blessing! 

Best believe I’se still climbing, Myra Clyke. 

Mother to Son by Langston Hughes
Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now—
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

Public Announcement

My granddaughter has stolen my heart. The truth is, that just like Kyrie, I HAVE FALLEN COMPLETELY IN LOVE WITH HER. 

I wish my daughter would give us ten more grandchildren but I have a sad, sinking feeling that Kenya is going to be my last.

My wife and I got to spend some quality time with her over the weekend while Kyrie and his parents went to a waterpark. 

She is at my favorite developmental stage. Everything is new to her – including herself. 

She is quick and funny and her snaggle-toothed smile is everything. She is already fiercely independent, knows what she wants and goes after it with everything she’s got. 

I pray she is able to maintain that defiant spirit into adulthood. She will need all of it and more, especially when you consider ridiculousness like overturning of Roe vs Wade. I still can’t believe that shit, but I digress.

We smothered Mama with love and affection and she was an angel the whole time she was with us. It was perfect!

However, she also provided me with some additional takeaways. She demonstrated the benefits of persistence, being fully present and possessing a growth mindset.

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

I am calling them Kenya’s Five Pre-Toddler Tips to Living Well. Maybe they can provide you with some benefit too. 

  1. Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight

This is a Japanese proverb that reminds us that while we are sure to face failure in striving to achieve our goals, we must always continue to get back up and keep trying. It also epitomizes Kenya. 

She is persistent and utilizes all of her falls and failures as learning opportunities. There is no shame or judgement and she doesn’t get caught up in her head about what others are thinking. There is only purpose and determination.

  1. The Power of  Now

Kenya exists only in the moment. There is no past or future, she lives completely in the Now.

She is completely invested in whatever she is doing and who she is with. There is anxiety about the future or stress about the past – there is only the Now. 

  1. Be Curious 

A curious mind is an active mind. It creates new possibilities and brings a level of excitement to your life. Like Kenya, view everything with an open mind and child-like curiosity. Approach life with openness and interest. Become a lifelong learner. 

  1. Read Read Read. 

Growth and development are central to our pursuit of joy and fulfillment. We need to be reading, experiencing and evolving as opposed to watching, texting and scrolling. It doesn’t necessarily have to be books but you need to be acquiring new information. 

Kenya loves to have books read to her. In fact, it’s her favorite activity when she comes to our place. 

  1. Straight Talk

Kenya keeps it simple. She expresses her needs, is clear about what she wants and who she wants it from. There is no bullsht. 

I believe we can learn a lot from her candid examples of direct communication. We can find more effective ways of expressing our thoughts and feelings, to limit any confusion or misinterpretation. 

We are constantly being provided with meaningful opportunities to grow and evolve through our interactions with the world. 

I identified Kenya’s Pre-Toddler Tips to Living Well. What wisdom could you acquire from your daily experiences and the important people in your life if you chose to look? Plenty, I’m sure. I am Jude. 

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