Well, this week is Ash Wednesday. However, the Tuesday before is also a special day. It is Shrove Tuesday or “Fat Tuesday”. So buy your donuts early. Not only that, it is the official beginning of MARDI GRAS, especially in New Orleans. By the way, have you ever given up anything for Lent? I still remember the stress of giving up VALUE CITY one year. Now, for me, that was a real sacrifice. Anyway, there is a song by Loreena McKennitt titled “The Mask and Mirror” and two lines of lyrics are “Would you like my mask? Would you like my Mirror?” In my workshop, “Mirrors and Masks”, I focus on the underling image of those lyrics as I talk about the reasons why people wear “masks” to hide their identity and the “person” they see when they look in the “mirror” of their mind. Now, for our discussion for this blog, I am not talking about the people who wear masks to celebrate Mardi Gras or Halloween. I am not referring to The Lone Ranger (if you are old enough to remember that television series) or bank robbers or special units of a police force. Today, I am focused on the people who wear “masks” to protect an image that they want other people to think or believe they are for various reasons. And, yes, I am referring to people who wear “masks” for protection but not for a defense from physical harm. I am talking about individuals who wear masks as protection from people discovering and uncovering the truth about their real lives and identities. And personally I confess that I still wear a “mask” at times. What about you? See, I believe people who wear mental and psychological masks in relationships do it with the intention to hide their actual self-image and real personality. Now, maybe take a moment and think about why so many people wear “masks” Maybe the masks that many people wear are designed to inflate their egos or to act as defense mechanisms to hide the weaknesses that they believe they have within their minds. I guess my question to you is basically do you really know the person that you have an intimate relationship with in your life? Or maybe another question would be more direct. Do you find yourself wearing a mask at times in your relationships? Does anyone really know the person they have a relationship with? No one really knows what is in the mind of another person. Again, I present myself as an example of someone who has worn many masks in life to project or protect an image that I wanted people to believe I was, especially undercover. And, in fact, I was very successful and convincing people that I was someone who I was not in my mental disguises because the masks that I wore were all in my mind. I was so convincing in wearing my masks that I became the person I had created. See I had, and still have, a very creative mind. See, I wore three masks undercover in the underworld of drugs and organized crime associations. And I was very good at convincing people I was who I wanted them to think I was. Outwardly, I projected an image of a very hard, tough and emotionless person who would kill you if the situation presented itself. However, I always lived in constant fear of being “found out” for the person who I really was inside – a man with weaknesses and fears. Now, I can acknowledge that I projected images that “masked”, hid or covered up my insecurities. And so, I compensated for my inner insecurities by becoming the image of the person I projected to be, a killer. In closing, I ask you a very personal question. When you reflect on your life, can you identify with any “masks” you have worn to convince people, even in your very close personal and intimate relationships, that you are or have been someone or something that you really were not within your mind? This will be my last blog. Very few people actually read this stuff and even few people respond to it. So, if you want to write, you know how to find me. It was fun but I really do not like talking to myself.