Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Getting to Know My Colon?

Diagram of the Human Intestine.Image via Wikipedia

Diagnostic tests --- they are necessary to our overall health. They can help with regard to early detection. They are sometimes AWFUL!!

The most horrific words I ever heard from my favorite obstetrician was, "Congrats on turning 50, now you need to have a colonoscopy!" All I could think of was the prep... Well, dear readers, I had to watch my other half this past weekend do his prep... mine is in two weeks. At least now I know it's no where near as awful as I though it was. He has survived the prep and the procedure with his colon and his dignity in tact. I suppose there is hope for me...

I am holding my breath!
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Sunday, June 28, 2009

I Don't Want To Talk About It!! But I DO!!

Men and women process differently. As a result of this, counseling, which is mostly verbal, tends to feed the woman's format more than the man's. This contributes to his hesitance and her willingness. Gaining an understanding of the structure and purpose of counseling may help.

Often times it is the woman in the relationship who want to see a counselor. She has issues she has tried to discuss with her partner on her own, but to no avail. She now wants help in opening up a dialogue with her partner. She may feel emotionally disconnected in the relationship finding the lack of progress extremely frustrating. Her belief may be that a disinterested party will be able to bring the issues to the forefront and begin real movement toward change. For her, talking about issues and hearing herself discuss them aloud gives her the ability to make a decision. She may talk all around the issue, bringing up seemingly unrelated details and scenarios until she feels she has found herself.

Very often her partner has no desire to have a third party involved in the dialogue. It is not unusual for men to feel uncomfortable talking about feelings. They may feel unmanly discussing their relationship issues with a counselor due to the interpretation among many men that seeking help of any kind intimates incompetency. Men tend to feel uncomfortable talking about issues. Their general processing pattern may be to mull over difficulties in their head, come to a decision then share that decision with their partner. Talking through a decision may not be helpful and may actually interfere with their processing pattern. In their growing years men are taught to be independent, not to rely on others for solving their problems and make decisions on their own. Men may believe that counseling goes against these ideals learned from society.

In fact, counseling gives both partners a chance to air their views, feel heard and validated and have a say in the solution to their difficulties. Many times partners have black and white views of their problem. They each see only their side of the issue. Life has many shades of grey. We want solution A and don't want solution B. However we have never even thought of solution C. That is the purpose of counseling, to give a fresh perspective that may spark a new solution.

Many times partners are stuck. They may need just a small prod to get unstuck and back into balance. Counseling may provide just that tiny nudge in the right direction to get partners back on track.

Friday, June 26, 2009

What Can A Counselor Tell Us We Don't Know?

What is the purpose of counseling? How does talking about our difficulties with a stranger help? Why should we share our private life with someone we barely know? What can they possibly tell us that we don't already know about ourselves or each other?

Do any of these questions sound familiar? Most of the time when partners come to counseling they approach it with very different views of what will take place. Very often the partner who wants to attend may expect that the counselor will defend their ideas to their partner. The reverse is also true. The partner who doesn't want to attend will expect they are going to be brow beaten by the counselor to accept their partners position.

It is important to stress that the counselors job is to listen carefully to both sides, facilitate empathetic communication between the partners and try to help them find an acceptable solution. It is not the job of a counselor to take sides in the dispute.

Making partners aware of the structure of counseling may ease some of the discomfort that arises when counseling is being sought. Since the goal of counseling is to help partners enjoy their relationship more fully, it is to the benefit of both to try it out. The ups and downs of relationships sometimes cause partners emotional pain. Counseling may ease the passage through the difficult times and help the relationship back into balance.
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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Happiness is an Inside Job

i believe the grass is no more greener on the ...Image by ashley rose, via Flickr

How can we be happier persons?

One of the issues we all face during our lives is our dissatisfaction level. Some of us seem to be able to be happy pretty much regardless of our circumstances. Others of us have a hard time being happy even when everything seems to be going well. Why does this happen? What can we do about it?

Happiness is an inside job. When we enter a relationship as a person who is already happy and fulfilled in their lives, we bring ourselves as a gift to the relationship. When we come to a relationship with the expectation that our partner will be the one to make us happy, we are setting ourselves up for failure. No one person outside of us can fulfill us or make us a happy person. That is a task that each of us has to do for themselves.

When we enter into a relationship with our partner with the expectation that they will fulfill us, or make us feel happy when we are not, we are doomed to disappointment. If we are unhappy to begin with, eventually we will become unhappy again if we are not working on ourselves to change that dynamic. When that happens, we may blame our partner for our unhappiness rather than taking it upon ourselves to better our situation. Too many times we may leave the relationship once we feel unhappy, looking for a different partner to fix our happiness level. We will repeat this pattern over and over again, leaving relationship after relationship looking for the one who will finally make us feel fulfilled, when all along it was our responsibility to fulfill ourselves.

We want to bring ourselves as a gift to our relationship with something of value to add to that living dynamic entity. We do not want to be an albatross around our partners neck dragging them down with us into our pool of unhappiness. To that end we work on our recovery. We use our tools in our daily lives to help us overcome our issues and increase our self esteem. In this way we give ourselves the gift of happiness.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

New Fox Reality Show - The Blame Game

This year Fox will present a new reality show called the Blame Game. In the past we have had the Newlywed Game and Family Feud. The benefit of the Blame Game is that everyone already knows how to play, since we have all played the home version.

That sounds funny, right? But funny it isn't. The truth is we all have played the blame game over the course of our relationships. We might have felt better in that moment, wagging our pointer finger at our partner and revelling in our righteous indignation, but we accomplished only one thing. We fueled the fires of resentment and bitterness. Since our goal is to improve our relationship with our partner, the reality is that the blame game has no place in our lives. It is a defense mechanism left over from our childhoods.

Children often play the blame game, and play it well. Siblings learn quickly how to escape punishment from caretakers by blaming their antics on one another. Teens blame their rebellion on the difference in privileges between their home and the home of their friends. By the time we reach adulthood it is time to leave the blame game behind.

Partners may blame one another for difficulties in the relationship forgetting that the saying, "It takes two to tango" often applies. In a misunderstanding or disagreement, both parties generally share responsibility whether equally or not. Focusing on coming to an agreement is a more productive path rather than bickering about who was more at fault. In the end, personal responsibility and acknowledgement occur only in an atmosphere of acceptance, flexibility and open communication.

It is important to recall, especially when we are in the midst of a disagreement, that we can disagree but do not have to become disagreeable. Playing the blame game is disagreeable, accomplishes nothing toward the goal of bettering our relationship and builds walls, not bridges.

We all are fallible. If we treat one another with respect we will reap the reward of being respected. We allow our partner the dignity of making mistakes without losing self esteem. This small gift gives our relationship solidity. We do not want to be denigrated when we stumble. We treat our partner the way we wish to be treated when we falter.

We practice tolerance, patience and gentleness in our daily lives. We try to leave everything a little bit better than we find it. As we use our tools and increase our own self esteem we will be better able to give our partner dignity and respect even in the face of disagreement. We practice self care curbing our tendency to react vs respond. In this way we give ourselves the gift of a dignified and respectful relationship.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Fathers Are Our Role Models

Happy Father's Day.

Here's some bad news. Children only bond with one person in their lives. That person is their biological Mother, and it happens during pregnancy while the child is in the womb. By the time the child is born it knows it's Mother's smell, taste and voice. It has known only her for the last nine months.

Now for the good news. There is another incredibly important connection called attachment. Lucky for Fathers!! Children become attached to their Fathers during the first few weeks and months of their lives. Once they have created a relationship based on attachment they are committed to both caretakers.

Attachment is one of the most fundamental aspects of our growth. We learn how to feel secure, independent, how to allow ourselves to be nurtured and cared for through attachment. When we become adults our ability to form constructive relationships emanate from the success of our earliest years. If our process of attachment was interrupted or dysfunctional in some way we may have trouble forming effective relationships as adults.

Many Fathers feel their role in their children's lives is unimportant. This couldn't be farther from the truth. Children may feel secure with one parent, but having the balance of two parents increases the odds of having an emotionally mature, healthy relationship of our own later in life.

Father's... don't underestimate how important you are to your children. They want and need your example of how to be a competent empathetic caretaker as a man.

Happy Father's Day!!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Who Messed Up Your Hair?

It's the weekend. Some of us may need a laugh more than others. For those of you who have folks in your lives who like to rain on your parade... this one's for you!!

A woman was at her hairdresser's getting her hair styled for a trip to Rome with her husband. She mentioned the trip to the hairdresser, who responded: " Rome ? Why would anyone want to go there? It's crowded and dirty. You're crazy to go to Rome . So, how are you getting there?" "We're taking Continental," was the reply. "We got a great rate!" "Continental?" exclaimed the hairdresser. "That's a terrible airline. Their planes are old, their flight attendants are ugly, and they're always late. So, where are you staying in Rome ?" "We'll be at this exclusive little place over on Rome 's Tiber River called Teste." "Don't go any further. I know that place. Everybody thinks it’s gonna be something special and exclusive, but it's really a dump." "We're going to go to see the Vatican and maybe get to see the Pope." "That's rich," laughed the hairdresser. You and a million other people trying to see him. He'll look the size of an ant. Boy, good luck on this lousy trip of yours. You're going to need it."

A month later, the woman again came in for a hairdo. The hairdresser asked her about her trip to Rome . "It was wonderful," explained the woman, "not only were we on time in one of Continental's brand new planes, but it was overbooked, and they bumped us up to first class.. The food and wine were wonderful, and I had a handsome 28-year-old steward who waited on me hand and foot. And the hotel was great! They'd just finished a $5 million remodeling job, and now it's a jewel, the finest hotel in the city. They, too, were overbooked, so they apologized and gave us their owner's suite at no extra charge!" "Well," muttered the hairdresser, "that's all well and good, but I know you didn't get to see the Pope." "Actually, we were quite lucky, because as we toured the Vatican , a Swiss Guard tapped me on the shoulder, and explained that the Pope likes to meet some of the visitors, and if I'd be so kind as to step into his private room and wait, the Pope would personally greet me. Sure enough, five minutes later, the Pope walked through the door and shook my hand! I knelt down and he spoke a few words to me." "Oh, really! What'd he say?" He said: "Who messed up your hair?"

Misery loves company. When someone else feels miserable they can be cruel with their words. We have a choice... react or respond... We don't have to get down into the gutter with those who find they have nothing better to do than tear us down. We can hold our heads high while we smile and make the choice to walk away.

Our recovery gives us the tools we need to rely on our inner values. We do not need to allow negative people to demean us in order to make themselves feel better. If someone is having a bad day they are allowed to feel their feelings. We can occupy ourselves elsewhere until they feel better.

We consistently apply our tools in our daily lives. We work at recovery because it is our path out of darkness and into the light. As we come across others who have not yet stepped on the path we can show them the way. It is up to them to take that first step.

Friday, June 19, 2009

I Cheated... I'm Sorry... Is That Enough?

These are a selection of comments made to a self admitted cheater who got caught and is now trying to save his relationship. [Details omitted to protect the privacy of those involved.] We can all benefit from reviewing the cost of hurting our partner in this way. Many of us have had difficulties in our relationships. This is clearly not the way to solve problems. Cheating is not a solution, but an additional problem. The overall question is, what does one do to rebuild once the bombshell has dropped? Here are some observations.

"You are clearly intelligent, well spoken and capable of communication. Thus far what I have seen, reflects a man who may be in mid-life crisis. It is not uncommon for folks to face this at about your age. Have you considered this?"
"Due to your intellect you have been able, thus far, to rationalize your actions. This is not a plus. Staying in your head keeps you out of touch with yourself and doesn't allow you to feel the enormity of the situation. Intellectualizing is a defense mechanism. Are you using it?"
"We all have stress in our lives that may at times cause us to feel depressed. How we respond to that stress indicates who we are when no one is looking. Many men at mid life, reacting to the inevitability of aging, begin affairs in order to affirm their virility. Is that what you are doing?"
"You have gone to great lengths to discuss the fact that you are now having open and honest communication with your wife. Please think about the virtue of honesty vs the abuse of that virtue in looking for her to absolve you of your failure to keep your commitment. It seems that you are looking to your wife to cleanse you of your defective behavior. If that is the case, please know that it is not her responsibility to forgive you so that you can feel better. If she chooses forgiveness it is solely for her benefit. Is that what you are doing?"
"You must find your own path to forgiveness with your higher power for your actions. This is difficult and painful as it requires you to accept that you have placed yourself before others in every aspect of your life. You currently believe that you have taken nothing from your family in pursuing this intentional course of action. Please do not deceive yourself in this way. Do you think you are doing that?"
"You will need to accept the fact that you have behaved dysfunctionally and that as a result of your actions you have caused great harm to both your wife and your children. Please don't think they are unaware of what has happened. They may not know details, but they surely know that a bombshell has dropped. You and your wife are seeing a counselor. That is a necessary first step. What about your children? They need counseling as well. Have you taken care of that?"
"You have written that you still have the urge to visit the old ways. This indicates some level of addiction. You will need to address these addictive behaviors directly within an appropriate setting. Are you doing that?"
"There are many unanswered questions. Please take the time to think about them. They are vital to your mental health. Are you willing to do that?"

We work hard to recover from relationship trauma. We practice our tools in our daily lives. We seek a path which we walk one step at a time, sometimes not knowing where we are headed. We reach out to our higher power in faith that we will be better persons for the effort. We humble ourselves in admitting our faults and seeing ourselves as we are. This road that we walk is worth every bit of effort. If we ever doubt the truth of our recovery we can read this post and recall that "there but for the grace of God, go I".

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Life As We Are

We see the world not as it us, but as we are.

This is a basic fundamental awareness that has escaped many of us for a good portion of our lives. We are taught from the time we are very small that we experience the world through our five senses accurately. The truth is that the amount of sensory input we receive moment to moment vastly exceeds our capacity to process it. The best we can hope for is a scant overview of our environment. But the real key to the puzzle isn't how much of our input we process, but the filter we use to do that processing.

We develop our processing filter during our everyday lives. We begin when we are young within our family of origin. We absorb the values and ideals of our caretakers as we spend time with them. We observe how they respond to their environment and we mimic that learned behavior until we make it our own. As we grow we add to the base we acquired in childhood. During our adolescence we add much from our external family... our friends.... usually to the displeasure of our caretakers. As we approach adulthood we sort through all the values we have internalized and finally create our filter. Although we have the capacity to revamp that filter as we wish, our general tendency may be to continue to see our lives through it. It has effectively become the base of our belief system.

There are times when we suddenly see our lives without the filter. We experience a paradigm shift. For a brief moment we see ourselves as others may see us. How we internalize that message determines whether we are capable of changing ourselves as a result of that experience. If our self esteem is strong and we feel confident, we may accept this new information readily and adapt. But what if our self esteem is low. We may see the new information as threatening and reject the message, thereby preventing change and growth in ourselves.

This underlies the need for using our tools in our daily lives. As we continue to practice self care we become more adept at using our tools. As we become more and more familiar and comfortable with our tools we integrate them into ourselves, thereby increasing our self esteem. As our self esteem rises we are more able to accept the truth, that our vision of life is not as it is, but as we are. In this way we give ourselves the gift of acceptance.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Laughter Is Jogging on the Inside

Laugh and the world laughs with you! Laughter is the best medicine! Laugh it off! Laugh it up! LOL! LMAO! Laughter is jogging on the inside!

Why is laughter so important? Does it really make us feel better? Yes. Research shows that laughing releases chemicals in the brain that promote a more positive mood and decrease pain.

Some of the funniest laughter comes from laughing at ourselves. When we can laugh at ourselves not only to we enjoy the benefits to our health, but we show humility and a sense of perspective as to our place among our fellow human beings. In our ability to chuckle along when we make a faux pas, we allow others to relax in our company and enjoy their lives as well.

We've all known folks who were too uptight to have a good laugh at their own expense. Let us be certain that we continue to join the ranks of those who enjoy life to the fullest.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Recovery In Five Short Chapters

[Recovery in Five Short Chapters is adapted from the original by Anonymous]

Chapter One -
I walk down the street. Suddenly, without warning, I fall into a hole. It is huge, dark, and frightening. I am scared. I fumble around in the dark trying to find my way out. I feel nothing out there. I can see nothing. I am lost. Terror overcomes me in the darkness. I want to curl up in a ball and hide. Somehow I begin to try to find my way out. It seems to take forever, but eventually I begin to feel the edge of the hole and I can follow the walls in the dark. After what seems like an eternity I can see the light in the distance. I follow it and climb out. I am exhausted, shaken to my core. I continue on my journey.

Chapter Two -
It is the next day. I walk down the same street. I know the hole is out there... somewhere. I am frightened. I fall in again. It is huge, dark and scary. I feel lost. I know there is a way out, but I cannot find it. I begin to feel terror in the darkness. Somewhere in my mind I remember there is a way out. It takes a long time, but eventually I reach the edge of the hole and feel my way along the walls in the darkness. After a very long time I begin to see the light and I climb out. Again I am exhausted. I continue on my journey.

Chapter Three -
It is the next day. I walk down the same street. I see the hole. It is up ahead. I know it is there and that I will fall into it. I feel uneasy. It is familiar in a scary way. I really don't want to fall in, but I can't help myself. It is still dark and very big. I recall that there is a way out and begin to reach for the walls at the edge of the hole. I find them more quickly than before. Soon I see the light and am able to climb out. I feel spent, but understand what has happened. I continue on my journey.

Chapter Four -
It is the next day. I walk down the same street. I see the hole. It is up ahead and it is huge. It stretches across almost the whole street. I see a path around the edge that has been walked by many others before me. It is narrow and there are places where I might fall into the hole but I decide to try. I walk around the hole!! I am exhilarated!! I continue on my journey.

Chapter Five -
It is the next day. I walk down a different street!!

The journey of recovery begins with the recognition that we are falling into the same hole over and over again. We can choose to walk down a different street. Make the choice. The path is clearly marked. Let your Higher Power guide you along placing one foot in front of another in faith.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

We've Been Selected for an Award!!

We would like to thank Carol at http://pamper-u.blogspot.com/ for selecting Holistic Counselor to receive the "One Lovely Blog Award". Carol is an alumnus from ACHS as an Aromatherapist. She makes and sells bath and body products with her husband in Minnesota.

If you would like to be selected to receive the "One Lovely Blog Award" send your URL to us at Holistic Counselor at we will check you out! We have only fifteen awards to give away, so be one of the first to apply! In the meantime, please check out Carol's blog for excellent information on bath and body products made with an all natural aromatherapists healing touch.

For more information on becoming an Aromatherapist or pursuing a career in alternative health and medicine contact ACHS at http://www.achs.edu/.

Thanks again Carol, we appreciate the edification!!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Are You A Happy Person?

What I have seen thus far of our new President, seems to indicate that he is a happy person. He also seems to be very much in love with his wife. We smile as we see images of him with Michelle, attending the theater in New York, having a romantic dinner in a local DC restaurant, playing with the kids. We see our leader as a happy fulfilled human being as well as our President.

Having a successful relationship with our partner may allow us to feel, in large part, that we are successful in our lives. Being capable in our chosen profession is important to our self image and self esteem, but the happiness level of our partner is a key factor in how we measure our success as persons.

When our partner is essentially happy with themselves, us and our relationship we feel content. Our inner view of ourselves seems balanced. We connect with our partner easily and often, moving in and out of intimacy and communication readily. As we co-exist we produce chemical messengers in our bodies that improve our health and increase our feeling of internal happiness. We are literally hard wired to enjoy connection and our bodies produce chemicals to reinforce that message and feeling.

To that end it is vital for us to increase our skills at building and maintaining our relationships. Effective communication, empathy, patience and compromise are the life blood of our relationships. We invest our time, energy and being into them and need their continued existence for our optimal health.

Just as our country needs an effective President, our relationships need our leadership. We devote ourselves to self care to increase our self esteem. We use our tools in our daily lives allowing us to be centered and emotionally available to our partners. In this way we give ourselves the gift of happiness.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Do You Know the Early Warning Signs of Abuse?

This blog references an excellent post written by Dr. Steven Stosny, as expert in the field of relationship counseling, emotional abuse and domestic violence. We are encouraged to take note of the information provided by Dr. Stosny with regard to very early warning signs in potential partners. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/anger-in-the-age-entitlement/200812/emotional-abuse-verbal-abuse-very-early-warning-signs
Many of us have been involved in relationships where we have been abused either financially, emotionally or physically. We recall how difficult it was to extricate ourselves from the grip of that relationship. How much we might have appreciated knowing these very early warning signs before we became involved, allowed our inner selves to be crushed, then needed to practice daily self care to rebuild our shattered self esteem.

We thank our Higher Power for our path, our tools, our ability to associate with those who have walked the path before us showing us the light at the end of the tunnel. How much pain we might have avoided had we been aware of these red flags. We have discussed this information time and again, but having it all in one post is an invaluable tool.

In reading Dr. Stosny's post we can marvel at the many items that catch our attention. We read various early warning signs and realize that our partner did in fact do many of these things early on in our relationships. Blaming ourselves for not realizing is unnecessary and hurtful. We must be gentle with ourselves and not go down that road again. We forgive ourselves for not knowing. We are on the right path taking one step forward day by day.

We can feel blessed that we have been on the road to recovery and can now practice self care. We use our tools in our daily lives increasing our self esteem each and every day. We pass along these important points to help others in avoiding these pitfalls. As we reach out to inform others we use our tools to share rather than control. We allow others to make their own decisions and face their own consequences. This is the essence of detachment and self care.

Please read the linked post as pass it along to whomever you believe might benefit from it's content. Consider it a part of your recovery journey, sharing valuable information and life's lessons. Let your Higher Power guide you in your choices to share.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Using Your Struggle Muscle!!

Has life gotten too easy? Is our routine causing us to become bored? Are we creating drama in our lives to fill up the empty space? What can we do to overcome our addiction to drama?

Many of us grew up in families of origin that were filled with the drama of chaos in every day life. We may have had caretakers who could barely manage their own lives... siblings who created intense drama around themselves... a family member who was disabled... neighbors who created chaos and drama within their home and out into the street involving others. Not to mention an addict or alcoholic in the family. Some of us have been caught in the inter-generational caretaking trap... caring for both children and parents simultaneously. This can leave us exhausted, drained and without time to live lives of our own.

Any or all of these situations creates an imbalance in our internal rheostat. We become drama addicts. Over time our bodies become accustomed to the shots of adrenaline we receive from our flight/fright/freeze response which reacts instinctively when we are stimulated in chaos. As we grow up in a constant state of arousal, due to the chaos in our families of origin, we become adrenaline addicts. When nothing is happening we feel sluggish, down, somewhat depressed, tired, bored, and generally disinterested until... BAM ...we get a shot of adrenaline when our friend calls and tells us that she and her husband are having a fight again. Drama!! We are wide awake, alert, up, focused, energized and ready to interact. It's so much better than coffee!!

What happens when we walk the path to recovery and our challenges begin to dissipate? Some of us suddenly find that our lives have become boring, empty, without meaning, tiresome. We miss our daily doses of adrenaline. We feel useless. Our bodies literally feel different. The chemical addiction lessens over time, but our mental addiction must be addressed as well.

We may react by creating drama in our daily lives to fill the empty space. We don't have to go down that road. We can, instead, pursue hobbies and interests that we previously didn't have time to learn. We can paint, draw, attend theater, musical concerts, visit museums, learn a new language, try our hand at crafts, run a garage sale, refinish a special piece of furniture, read, exercise, volunteer or join a club.

When our time is absorbed caretaking others we may neglect our own lives for extended periods of time. This may leave us with a big empty space where caretaking and drama used to live. As we walk the path of recovery it is imperative that we take up new challenges to fill the void left by the old habits we no longer wish to pursue. Nature abhors a vacuum. If we do not fill the space by choice we run the risk of our hold habits returning and taking hold once again.

We practice our tools in our daily lives giving ourselves much needed self care. We make efforts not to isolate, to socialize with others both in and out of recovery. As we continue to remain vigilant in our pursuit of recovery we increase our self esteem. In this way we rebuild our life.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Our Rights and Responsibilities as Citizens

Two American journalists, Euna Lee and Laura Ling, have been sentenced to twelve years hard labor in North Korea. Although there is the possibility that they may be pardoned as a result of diplomatic efforts in the weeks and months ahead, we cannot help but think of the terror that must exist within their hearts during this very dark time. We as a nation pray for their safe return.

This situation brings home the important point that we, America, must never again engage in the kind of inhumane treatment of prisoners that has occurred over the past seven years during the Bush/Cheney administration. The North Koreans arrested, charged, tried and convicted these two young women in a space of just a few months. We certainly have the ability to do the same here in the US. Holding detainees without charges for extended periods of time cannot be permitted. We must continue to be a beacon of enlightenment to the world, not a picture of hypocrisy. If people are arrested they should be charged, tried and either convicted or freed within a reasonable time period. No nation has the right to hold foreign nationals in limbo for indefinite periods of time.

Our nation was built to be an example of human rights and tolerance. We must rise to the occasion whether we are living in peace or not. Intolerance gives way to abuses of the kind we have seen over the past seven years. We do not live in isolation and can no longer afford to pretend that we have all the answers.

We the people of the United States have the right to speak our piece. We have the right and the responsibility to speak out when we find the conduct of our government unacceptable. The way we treat those who break our laws is a reflection of who we are within. When our government shames our citizens we must act to correct the situation. No one is exempt. Those who have broken the law must be shunned. They are an embarrassment to us, the people of the United States of America.

Friday, June 5, 2009

I Said I'm Fine!!!

Many times a man who is deep in thought may say they are 'fine' in response to their partners query when their body language clearly says otherwise. How do we respond to this dichotomy?

We ultimately call this type of response mixed messages. It can be confusing to a partner who sees one thing (body language) and is told another (verbal message). Although he is technically being dishonest, there are times in relationships when one partner is lost in thought, not focused on the news, processing the events of the day. He may be processing an issue and not be clear enough in his mind to be able to discuss it yet. It may not even be related to his partner.

Many men and women process very differently. Women often process through talk and sharing (outward) whereas men often process through thought and reflection (inward). Many times women attempt closeness and reconnection after being apart from their partners by talking and sharing about their day. They may feel the need to reconnect even more strongly during times when men are distracted by TV or the newspaper. Men, on the other hand, do not reconnect in this same way, thus his answer of "fine" may be his way of getting some mental space to work through the processing of his day. He may not feel it is important to talk about it, not realizing that his partner may feel disconnected by his response.

Women may feel disconnected from their men when partners return to one another after their day and have opposing needs. Men may need to relax and have down time...time to process their day within themselves. Women may need to talk and reconnect. They need to process their day by sharing it with their man. This dichotomy may cause many problems when couples don't realize why they feel differently and misinterpret their partners actions.

Someone asking, "What's the matter?" to a display of body language that says closed (crossed arms) and thinking (wiggling foot) seems to be modeling behavior that says, "I care about you and want to know if you are upset about something." However, the recipient may feel reluctant to discuss a problem or issue that has not been fully thought through, not wanting to seem indecisive or unable to come to a conclusion on their own.

Thus we have a dilemma. If we are able to realize that we are different from our partner we can use our tools to practice self care while we allow our partner to process their day in their own manner. If we need to talk while our partner needs to introspect, we can either wait until he is ready or we can call a friend to chat. If we need to introspect while our partner needs to talk, we can either choose to wait to process our day or ask her to give us some time to relax first. As long as we choose to communicate effectively and respect each others differing needs, we can overcome these obstacles to connection and resume our intimacy without conflict.

Using our tools keeps us grounded in our needs and allows us to recognize that it is our differences that make each of us unique individuals. We can respect each other within the relationship while still being able to meet each others needs when we bend to compromise. In this way we both eventually have the chance to relax and reconnect leading to healthier relating and intimacy.

We practice our tools in our daily lives giving ourselves the gift of self care. In this way we increase the mutual respect in our relationship and allow our partner the freedom to practice self care as well.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Feeling Greedy?

It's always a difficult time when someone we love passes away. We feel pain inside where there used to be wholeness. We hope that in time the pain of grieving will pass and we will feel whole once again. What happens to us when greed takes over our family after a tragedy? How do we cope with the ensuing drama and chaos that threatens to stall us in our grieving process?

We may experience losing a loved one as a crisis. The pain of loss, comfort, support and safety is too great to bear. This may lead to acting out grief through greed. Often times when a loved one passes away there may be infighting among family members trying to grab a share of the pie. This type of activity can stall the grieving process. The daily drama directs energy away from allowing feelings to progress naturally through the stages of grief. We may end up stuck in one of the five stages, denial, anger, bargaining or depression. Our goal is to attain the fifth stage, acceptance, but our journey may be frought with difficulties when bickering takes the place of solace and empathy.

If we are not permitted the chance to feel and process our pain and loss we may become unable to move forward with our lives. We may shut down our feelings and become numb. We may opt for self medication, abusing alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex or food. We may make hasty decisions that do not reflect our usual ability to respond rather than react. Our inability to process our grief may affect every area of our lives from our health to our relationships.

We may behave in abrasive and insensitive ways when we are filled with pain and sadness. We may become absorbed in our loss and attempt to grab more than our share of the estate of our loved one in an attempt to fill the gaping wound we feel inside. We must come to realize that no amount of things or funds will replace the person we have lost. The pain will not be mitigated by filling our lives with trinkets. The loss is real and we must come to terms with it. This will only happen as we permit ourselves to move through all the stages of grief.

Creating a diversion of drama over assets may take our mind off our loss for a time, but eventually we will be faced with the enormity of the fact that our loved one has passed on. If we delay our process we will only increase the amount of time it takes us to become whole once again.

Our most healthy choice is to reach out for support from those who love us and are willing to stand by us during our time of trial. We can attend support groups at local area hospitals, called bereavement groups. They are designed to help us get through our loss by encouraging the expression of feelings that come to us during the processing of grief. We are supported by others who have also lost loved ones and are traveling the same road.

Our lives may become quite tumultuous following the death of a family member. We must take time out for self care. Especially if we are responsible for the care of remaining family, it is imperative that we make the committment to ourselves to use our tools, practice self care on a daily basis, reach out for support to our network and higher power, and allow ourselves time to process our own feelings. If we need to attend a bereavement group, it is a gift we give ourselves. We do whatever we can to soothe those around us, giving ourselves the same soothing in the process. Life will return to balance in time. We must learn the art of acceptance.

A wise woman once said: "The hardest part about life is accepting reality when we don't like it."

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

American Terrorism, AlQaida and the Taliban

The Taliban and AlQaida are intolerant groups of terrorist cells who band together to eradicate ideology that they find disagrees with their fundamental religious beliefs. They believe that those who practice different sets of religious principles are a threat to the safety of their society. They believe that justifies killing those who would threaten their way of life.

We here in America have found that to be intolerable. We have gone to war as a result of this ideology, costing thousands of lives, both American, Afghani, Pakistani and Iraqi in the process. We have denounced terrorism as a threat to global security and the possibility of peace in our world. We have stated that we as a nation believe in tolerance of all faiths and beliefs. It is what our country has stood for over the past two hundred plus years of its existence.

I now watch in horror as an American doctor is again assassinated. This time while attending church with his family. He was targeted by violent radical right wing conservative Christian based anti-abortion terrorist cells operating here in America. This is hardly the first assassination carried out by these cells whose repertoire include: repeated bombings, shootings, vandalism and death threats.

It is implausible to me that we are willing to enforce our beliefs that terrorism is unacceptable in the world arena with the lives of our military men and women, yet we take insufficient action here at home. We are more than capable of dismembering these cells here in America and letting those who encourage terrorism suffer the consequences of their actions.

This is not an anti-abortion or pro-choice issue. We cannot allow terrorism to survive here in America with regard to any issue. It is simply not acceptable for people who live in this country to decide to take matters into their own hands due to intolerance, prejudice, differences in ideology or just plain rage. Should we permit this type of behavior to go unpunished, we become that which we despise... a lawless state ruled by the ideology of the strict.

We cannot control what radical right wing media may state publicly, whether on radio, television or in print, but we can control how we participate in allowing them to reap profit based on our viewership. I suggest that whenever we frequent any establishment that airs radical right wing media in any form that we ask graciously that the channel be changed. Maybe if we, the citizens of America, finally refuse to listen to or watch the stoking of the flames of hatred and bigotry, those who perpetrate its message solely for ratings and monetary gain, will finally find something more productive to talk about.

Has our society degenerated into the same terrorism that we abhor in the Taliban and AlQaida?

Monday, June 1, 2009

I'm So Mad I Could Just...

What do we do when we feel resentment toward our partner? How do we get past the challenge and renew the loving connection we long to feel once again?

When feeling resentful, our inner voice tells us we want our partner to care about the way we are feeling. This seems a natural state of affairs. To that end we may try to explain why we are upset, give our partner a long list of current and past offenses, cry, become angry, manipulate, use the silent treatment and many other expressions of our displeasure. Our inner child stamps our feet and fusses trying whatever works to draw attention and gain understanding from our partner. The apparent flaw in this logic is that our reaction to our resentful feelings, create exactly what we are trying to overcome... feelings of resentment in our partner. We have treated our partner with the same insensitivity and coarseness that created our initial resentment.

We know how difficult it is to be empathetic toward our partner when we are feeling resentful. We may have been treated in ways that were hurtful and unpleasant. We may feel violated or used. We feel righteous in our indignation. We may be unaware and disinterested in our partners feelings while in this state. We have become insensitive and coarse toward our partner.

Conversely, our partner probably feels exactly the same way toward us now that we are angry and resentful. This is the core of the dilemma. Much as the itch/scratch theory, it is unimportant who began the conflict or resentments, if the goal is to return to loving communication and warmth. The way out is to regain our balance and center ourselves.

We take a time our for self care. We give ourselves some space and alone time. We use that time to reflect on all that has happened leading us to this place of resentment. If we have been using our tools and giving ourselves appropriate self care throughout our recovery, we will slowly be able to see our part in the conflict. Our ownership of the responsibility for our part in the discord enables us to let go of our resentments. We can then approach our partner in love and discuss our differences from our center using detachment.

We use "I" statements focusing ourselves on our part of the problem and making amends where necessary. We ask our partner if we have missed any area of responsibility prior to moving on with the discussion. We give our partner a chance to take personal responsibility themselves before we point out areas of discontent. If we have been diligent in our efforts to be forthcoming our partner may well respond in kind. We can give ourselves credit for having the maturity to respond vs react. Our self esteem flourishes when we treat ourselves, our partner and our relationship with gentleness and dignity. We recall that we create balanced karma when we give what we wish to receive.

In continuing to use our tools we develop the skills we need to overcome resentments in our relationship preventing bitterness from taking root. We practice self care in our daily lives increasing our self esteem each time we succeed in responding vs reacting to the challenges put before us. In this way we give ourselves the gift of honest loving communication.