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Martha's big adventure -
Till it's right - Martha Randolph Carr

It's insane to do the same thing over and over again expecting different results. We all know that by now. However, that hard-won knowledge really hasn't motivated a lot of us to change.

Not surprising, since being open to change is the whole point of the saying. Take a chance and try it a little differently. Come on already. The old way has been done to death and it's just not working.

However, in one of those peculiar twists that is proof the universe occasionally likes to laugh back at us, we keep going back for more. It's firmly built into our mental DNA to somehow believe that one more try is all it's going to take to get her back or make that old car work or finally make it big in business.

It has cost us all kinds of heartache, money and time, and yet we look over our shoulder wistfully at all of our efforts and wonder. What if we tried it again with just a little more effort and hung in there just a little bit longer?

That's the first step back into the quagmire.

There are actually three steps in the Insanity Waltz. The first is wondering about a different outcome in a future yet to happen. The second is looking at how to start it all up again from a slightly different angle because, really, that's all that was needed in the first place. The third is the long road that begins to look awfully familiar and ends with the same stale disappointment. One, two, three, one, two, three over and over again, just like a crazy waltz.

Rather than marching steadfastly toward the hell we know just one more time, how about a different game plan? This one will require a few more questions up front in order to succeed, but will pay off with a lot more general harmony and happiness in the household.

The first question is very important and not to be avoided. It's an honest look at all of the bills and whether or not they're getting paid on time, and in full. If the answer is no, that's the first priority in the financial and career category. No exceptions. Start writing down ways to supplement the income that are reasonable and don't involve the element of luck.

The second question is equally important. Take a good look around at all of the family members who live with you. There should be appropriate amounts of time spent with each member. Appropriate attention means somewhere between the extremes of neglect and smothering.

The third question is just as important and just as likely to get ignored. Put down in writing everything you're doing for yourself to make sure there's play time, a little exercise and a couple of good hobbies. If that's all there is on the list, time to trim it back a little. If it's hard to come up with something that wasn't suggested first by someone else, then that's a clue that it's time to show up in your own life.

These three questions cover the basics, which are often ignored in the Insanity Waltz. Once they're covered, then it's time to take out that old desire and break it down a little bit.

Often, if we're willing to keep doing something that has only brought us pain, we're also lying about why we're doing it in the first place. More honesty is what will help us to change course. My favorite was confusing the size of a bank account with the size of my own self worth. Mix in a little bit of the need to be right, and years are wasted on pointless projects.

That's the consequence of all these treks down a well-worn and unsuccessful path. Time goes by without really being noticed and real opportunities for love, family and career are missed. Time to let go and walk an entirely new sidewalk where the ending is written just one day at a time. More adventures to follow.

Martha's column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc., newspaper syndicate. E-mail her at Martha@caglecartoons.com, or visit www.martharandolphcarr.com.