Search This Blog

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Poem 3: Bark on the Wild Side

A poem/lyrics dedicated to my dad whom I believed loved his animals more than his humans.  For worse or for better I inherited in his eccentricness regarding expressing enjoyment of his animals.

You didn't think all my posts would be super serious did you?  

-- As the Red Hot Chili Peppers say in 'My Friends':  ...I love all of you...

"Bark On The Wild Side"

Rover came from Miami, F.L.A. Pawed his way across the U.S.A. Filed his nails on the way Had his junk removed and then he was a she She barked, "Hey Fido Do a bark on the wild side." Barked, "Hey, honey, Do a bark on the wild side." ... ... And the colored dogs go bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark.. Do a bark on the wild side

* Words are not all family friend in this song...

Humor: Inappropriate thoughts and knowing your audience

If you've read my blog, I have a lighter side.  However, I'm can be a deep thinker and a very serious person, sometimes needing to lighten up I think.  So, it's about time for blog about humor.   So, I have a bit of a devious mind.  In other words, my mind sometimes stumbles upon the inappropriate or 'impolite' from time to time.  As I have gotten older, I tend to speak more freely--perhaps I get tired of filtering--what I'm thinking and as a result my daughter (and now my stepfamily) are treated to nuggets of brilliance.  Sometimes, they laugh, sometimes they shake their head, and sometimes they pretend like they don't know me.  I say, genius is often unappreciated, sigh!  But, I digress.  

In between doing the parental griping about them not listening and badgering them to listen, I try to be sometime playful or express a sense of humor.  I remember my dad, God rest his soul, was Mr. Super Serious parent and I was very inhibited what I said around him as a result.  So, besides making a vow not to repeat his 'mistakes' in parenting--instead making my own new ones, I vowed to be more accessible to my kids.  Part of that accessibility was trying to understand them where they are.

I remember sometimes as a kid, thinking and saying  inappropriate thoughts--sometimes related to my gender and anatomy--as little boys are apt to do.  I won't expand upon that.  Those who were once little boys or who have heard some of the talk they do will understand what I mean 😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊.   So, I know kids have devious thoughts.  Adults do too at times, but we learn to better pretend we don't.  Anyway, in the course of wanting to be more accessible, I have expressed a simple concept to them.

We know human nature is such that we aren't perfect.  We know that we have 'inappropriate' thoughts float around from time to time.   Some of them we learn from our family, some from siblings and some just our own 'creative brilliance'.  I expressed to my daughter when she was old enough (and later my stepson), that I understand this happens from time to time.  Even among the 'angelic' kids, I believe this happens.  But, I digress.  I told them as this happens from time to time, it is not necessarily wrong having a 'devious' thought, but how you handle it can make it wrong.  So, here are my thoughts on thoughts...
  • Some thoughts are very destructive and as such should not be ever mentioned.  In fact, you should do what you can to change your focus should your mind dwell in that territory.  Obviously, wishing death upon someone is an example of such a thought.  I explained to my daughter that 9/11 was a result of hateful thoughts that were encouraged to grow and grow and lead to hateful and deadly actions.
  • Some thoughts are rude.  Should you 'have to' express them to get them out of your system, they should be mentioned in private and only to only your most trusted confidant(s).  An example of this is 'locker room talk'.  I told my stepson I expected that boys talk about inappropriate boy matters from time to time and girls may do the same.  I expressed while it is not really appropriate to talk like that, that it is especially inappropriate to express such thoughts in the presence of mixed company.  I said, I understand that your curiosity and amusement get the best of you, but that you shouldn't focus on such thoughts when they cross your mind.
  • Some thoughts are slightly inappropriate.  Potty talk is one.  Like when I referred to passing gas a 'stinky surprise', they thought it was funny.  In small doses, things like this I believe are no big deal and more so of an 'eye-roll' or 'honey don't encourage them' moment.  I believe in limited exposure cracks like these are pretty harmless.  Obviously, if you are talking to an officer when getting a ticket, your teacher during class or you are around someone who is easily offended, you should avoid expressing such thoughts.
  • Some thoughts are just silly and can work to lighten the room.  Like recently at a cub scout meeting I attended, one of the presenters asked if anyone had a question.  One of the little bundles of joy said, "Yeah, what is 1 + 1".  The kids giggled, his parent slightly scolded him and the other adults just smiled and laughed.  To me this is a light-hearted moment which is safe to share in most situations.  Obviously, there are limits to even the most goofy, lighthearted moments, but the world needs humor.  So, humor like this is warming.

So, when I first brought this up to my daughter, I 'tested' her about various circumstances and who you should share your thoughts with.
  • I said if the Governor or President rolls by your school to make a speech and you are bored, should you say, "BORING!"?  Or if he/she asked if anyone has a question and you are hungry, should you ask, "Are you finished now, I'm hungry?" when called upon.   She focused on the mental picture I presented and giggled at the thought and of course answered "No".  (I wondered if I presented a bad idea to her.  :^).   Anyway, I said this is an example of something you might say later to a trusted friend that you had wanted say or ask. It could be something that you express in the privacy of home, letting a parent know that you were starving.  I pointed out that beyond being rude to the speaker, it would get you in a lot of trouble.  So, bad idea.
  • I said if you thought someone was really strange looking would that be appropriate to express.   She said “no”.  I said, if you felt like it was bothering you too much, you might mention it to a parent later and talk about it.
  • I said if your friend was talking about something silly like passing gas would it be okay?  She said it likely would be.  But, I said, to a close a friend maybe, but not everyone would think that was funny or appropriate.
  • I said if you had goofy where moment on vacation when you were out, would that be okay to express openly when sharing what you did during the summer to your class.  She thought would probably be okay.  Other kids might relate, I can see that.
  • I said would it be okay to say hateful things to a classmate if you were thinking them after he/she were rude.  Of course, she said no.  I said this might be a thought you might express to a counselor about how you are feeling.
The point of that discussion with my daughter (and later my stepson) was that it's okay to have a sense of humor, even to have a devious thought pass though your mind as that happens from time to time.  But, that just because you have a thought, doesn't mean you should express it.  In other words, it is important to think about if there is a right, time, place or audience to express the thought.  


As a quick aside.  I remember in previous relationship watching Extreme Home Makeover with my significant other.  Anyway, that episode included making over a house for a middle-aged woman with a brittle bone condition.  So, of course they did a knockout job of fitting the house for her and congratulating themselves on a job well done.  They all stretched out one arm and placed their palms on top of each other in the center and did a cheer tossing their arm up and away from the center.  So, in a moment of an 'ate-up' thought, I imagined when they tossed their arms up and outward that they accidently knocked the lady's wheelchair over, breaking her bones.  While I was laughing at the train-wreck of a thought that had popped into my mind, my so and so pressed me for what was so funny.  I warned her a few times that she wasn't going to like it, but she insisted on hearing what was amusing me.  So, of course I told her and she acted 'appalled'.   I'm like, "I can't help it" and "you asked".  But, you know men are from Mars, women are from Venus.

And that as the late Paul Harvey used to say, is the "Rest of the story".

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Listening: How not to shoot first and apologize later

The events in the world recently and from what I've seen in interactions in my own life and the lives of those around me over time have served to remind that it is not only things like cooking that are a lost art society, but LISTENING is also a lost art.  Listening doesn't always mean listening to spoken words, but also to cues as well, but I digress.  I know I have been guilty of one or more of these at times, so I am not speaking from a position of holier than thou, but passing off what I've felt, seen and learned or come to understand. They sometimes refer to this desire as ESH or "Experience, Strength & Hope" in step programs.  Anyway, I came up with the title of this blog based off words from "Everything Falls Apart" by Dog's Eye View.  It occurred to me that often times listening effectively can prevent immediate misunderstandings and confrontations which later require apologizing for flying off the handle.

But back to listening.  We can recite most of the words that another says, but does that mean we are actually listening to them?  Listening means more than just hearing, it means taking an effort to consider what the other party is saying.  Anyone can repeat by rote, but not everyone takes time to consider the words/intent of the speaker.  From my perspective there are a number of things that get in the way of effective listening, not necessarily in any order:
  • Being too focused on other things while 'listening'
    • Being focused on something outside of the speaker.
      • Your bad day at the work.
      • Your bad interaction with a family, friend, police, etc.
      • A future event/situation/consideration. 
      • Things that grab your attention: TV, music.
    • Trying to come up with a response while the speaker is still talking.
      • Eagerly finishing their thought, rather than allowing them to express it.
        • Is a way of telling them the speaker that you are finished listening.
        • Can be a way stealing their thunder aka stealing the floor from them.
        • Results in the wrongly predicting what the speaker will say.
        • Can be a way of defending yourself or your position before the speaker has given you a reason too.  (Defensive listening)
      • Letting them 'finish' but then immediately go into response mode.
        • Is a way of telling them, you are worried more about your response than their words. In other words, wanting to 'sound good.'
        • Can be a way of expressing defensiveness.  Something may have triggered you and instead of asking for clarification or thinking through what they said, you jump into 'defensive response' mode.  (Defensive listening)
        • Can be a way of condescendingly checking off the "I listened" box when you really didn't.

Now from my perspective, you can be a good listener if:

  • Hear out your speaker.  Giving him/her time to make his/her points effectively and consider what they are meaning. 
  • Focus on what they are saying and not just being able to recite their words.
  • Ask for clarification when the opportunity presents itself, but not before the speaker has had a chance to elaborate.
  • Focus on what they are saying, rather than just formulating a response.
  • Ask intelligent and respectful questions and limit asking the speaker to repeat his or herself.
  • Put the ideas of the speaker in motion where it makes sense to.
    • Where it is feasible.  Sometimes the ideas are an ideal or a goal, not something to immediately reach.
    • Benefit one or more parties: preferably the listener, the speaker and the subject(s) of the speaker.
    • Where it can advance the relationship.  Can show the speaker that you really listened and gave consideration of their thoughts and feelings.

This focus on how to listen wouldn't be complete IF we don't take time to actually focus on the speaker as well.  A speaker can be a poor 'listener' as well.  A speaker can be a poor listener if he or she:
  • Doesn't pause to let his or her audience take a moment to digest what they've heard.
    • Avoiding proper pauses can cause the audience to get overwhelmed.
    • Assumes that the audience can follow his/her line of thought at the same speed the speaker does.
  • Doesn't effectively read the cues of his audience.
    • Shows the speaker is more interested in his/her words then reaching the audience.
    • Shows inflexibility on the part of the speaker.  Cannot adjust to audience needs, potentially missing a great opportunity to reach them.
    • Can result in the speaker talking down to, talking past or talking over the head of the audience.
    • Can lose his/her audience to tears if he or she is ignoring what the audience is 'saying'.
  • Makes the discussion/speech all about him/her. 
    • Shows the audience that they are just a backdrop vs. being a integral part of the discussion or speech.
    • Is contrary to relating to the audience.  In relating:
      • They say their piece, but then step out of the way of the point being made, rather than to continue to point out their role.
      • They focus on the takeaway and what they've learned, rather than their own personal importance in the matter.
Whether it's an informal conversation, a group or panel discussion, a give and take session, an interview or speech to a audience, knowing how to listen is crucial in advancing the conversation, the idea and/or the relationship.  Focusing on being a good listener can help to avoid misunderstandings and confrontations and can promote better relationship, personal or otherwise. It can also prevent a person from sounding foolish in response (as if you respond to what you heard rather than what was said, you can sound like a fool).  Showing disregard as a listener can lead to misunderstandings--shoot first, apologize later, confrontations and lead to either a halting of progress if not destruction of a relationship--personal or otherwise.

As a final aside, just like most things in life their are exceptions in more understanding of 'listening'.  

  • When you interview for a job, position or role, you have to make yourself the subject of your words, ideas, relating.  You are not only advancing your ideas, but also yourself as the messenger or implementer of the ideas.
  • When the other party or parties steal the oxygen and don't give you space to absorb what they are saying or to respond, you have to assertively (and unfortunately perhaps 'rudely') grab control of the floor.
  • When time is critical (as in an emergency) and you need to act fast, sometimes you have to take what the speaker said and run with it, even if they aren't quite finished.  
  • Sometimes when the speaker is totally out of focus and there is an opportunity, it can be useful to 'interrupt' them to get them on point.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Observations on shame: The Shame Tipping Point

I previously discussed in the "The Shame Cycle", the idea of shame operating in a vicious cycle or keeping us in a rut.  In "Shame and codependence", I discussed how shame can keep us in unhealthy relationships and/or can keep us making poor choices.  In this blog I wanted to go in a slightly different direction and expand a little bit upon what happens when shame reaches a crossroads.

I will first touch on/revisit the consequences of shame that hasn't reached a crossroad. At least as I have seen or come to appreciate it.
  • Poor decisions are often made based on shame, especially hidden shame.  I've heard of couples in which the spouse--usually the husband--gets his wife a new ring, a new car, a fancy vacation, redone room or something similar in an unusual or unusually timed way.  In a sense, it is a compensation for a shame that isn't spoken of.  In some cases, it is an 'understood' payoff, in some cases it is hopeful inoculation against consequences should the shame be discovered.  Often times it is a poor financial choice that wouldn't be done in a more level-headed setting.
  • Taking credit (shame-wise) for something which one shouldn't to overcompensate for known or unknown shame.  Known shame is like a poison that is purposely being bled out.  It can cause us to 'own up' to too much wrong in an attempt to bleed the poison out faster.  For example, taking sole blame for the family vacation that has gone awry can show how 'contrite' we are.  On the other hand, unknown shame is a poison that needs doesn't have an obvious outlet, especially if the unknown shame is too devastating.  The hidden outlet can end up being false humility or taking blame where not due. For example, Rep. Foley couldn't own up to his inappropriate behavior with underage pages.  So, he became the Chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children.  This allowed him to feel better about himself by absolving or bleed out some of his shame for his destructive (and hidden) issues without having to own up to them.  In  a sense if he helped many other children, he could atone for or bleed out the poison of his own behavior.

But, to move back to the point at hand, often times shame reaches a crossroads or as I call it a "Shame Tipping Point" in which the dynamics of the shaming relationship or situation change dramatically.  From what I see, the "Shame Tipping Point" ultimately is a "Fight or Flight" response.  Before I go further with this I want to make a disclaimer or two:
  • Some harm or injury to others is so profound--such as murder/child molesting--that it is understood that the offending party has little right to expect the offended party will ever lift the weight of shame from them.
  • Flight, while it can be a self-protective tool, isn't necessarily the right or proper tool, especially if amends are proper to make or the consequences of 'flight' or too devastating.

So, let's take the "fight" response.  Say you've made poor choices along the way that have caused harm to others.  A natural response is to feel shame about it and to act 'hangdog' around the person(s) you've harmed.  There is of course value in showing contriteness and taking steps to make amends.  However, in many cases, the injured party takes it too far.  The injured party continues to use shame as a club to beat down or to extract a pound of flesh and/or concessions from the injuring party.  For example, if I bullied a sibling as a kid, yet realized as I matured how wrong that was and made attempts to make amends for it, it is realistic to expect that my sibling would eventually be forgiving.  However, as we know many times in these cases, the sibling realizes the power in holding the guilt/shame over the head of his/her 'childhood tormentor'.   The sibling will often use continually try to pay back or stick it to his/her 'tormentor' and hold them down in shame.  In other words, the sibling will actively work on shaming his/her 'childhood tormentor' At some point, if the "Shame Tipping Point" is reached, the former 'tormentor' will be pushed too far and realize that he or she is now the 'tormented'.  Once he or she realizes this, they probably will never again accept the dynamics of the relationship.  At this point, the former 'tormentor' will have regained his/her self-respect and will accept whatever consequences of taking his or her power back.

Now, let's take the 'flight' response.  Ultimately, 'flight' can either mean running away from the shameful circumstance/relationship or in worse case scenario, 'checking out' or taking his or her life.  Unfortunately, I believe for my brother Bill, he was living with unchecked 'shame demons' and he took his own life.  For the sake of discussion, I believe most of his 'shame demons' were largely not of his own making, but instead things done to or around him.  Also, I believe he was living with mostly 'illegitimate' shame--that is shame that wasn't his to accept.  But, try and tell someone in that situation that they are off in their thinking.  It's like trying drive halfway across the country in one day.  While it is not always an impossible task, most of the time you end up short of the result you are trying for.  In any case, most of the time, the flight "Shame Tipping Point" results in the other party falling into major if not total retreat.  Rightly or wrongly, when you press someone's shame button too often or too hard, the sting or hurt of the shaming instead of pushing them to change, pushes them to make themselves scarce.  The shamed person may 'deserve' the shaming--such as when they are not doing their part to help take care of an aging parent--but just because they 'deserve' it, doesn't mean they are ready to face up to it.  If they really aren't ready to face the reason for their shame, then it is more likely that they will retreat or take flight from the messenger who delivers the shaming message.

I'm not totally sure what the point of this blog was.  Perhaps it was help people see their role in uncomfortable (and potentially) shameful behaviors, situations or relationships.  If I help one person to step out of the shame cycle, to see that blindly accepting a shaming is wrong, I feel I will have succeeded with the blog.  If I help a party to understand or see the flight response in another and adjust accordingly, I will have succeeded.  After all, a famous hymnal doesn't express that "Shame is the Victory", but instead says "Faith is the Victory (that overcomes the world)".

Monday, December 26, 2016

The truth shall set you free

I've been told by a friend that I am a "truth-seeker" and I was once told that a strength of mine is a willingness to listen to the truth even when it is painful.  I feel that the friend who called me that, shares the same attribute.  Perhaps that's why we are good friends.  We at times differ in our exact conclusion--be it political or otherwise.  However, we each share a thirst for bottom line, a thirst for clarity, a thirst for accuracy.  As an aside, I felt my late brother was this way as well and wish he had known him.

For me, I usually "need to know".  When I can't know, I am bothered.  When I have just 'an answer', but my gut tells me it's not the right answer, I am bothered.  When a situation appears to be 'off', but I don't exactly know why, I am bothered.  When I sense someone is being disingenuous with me or humoring me with an answer, I am bothered.   In all these instances, especially in areas of significance, I will continue to process over time until I've come up with what I feel is the closest thing to truth that I can.  


This 'need to know' sounds good in some ways, in some ways:

  • Leads to excellent problem solving/brainstorming skills.
  • Leads to more honest relationships or at least a better understanding of a relationship.
  • Leads to solving issues which are vexing initially.
  • Leads to some situations where the truth provides relief.

In some ways, it is very tiring:

  • Leads to uncomfortable uncertainty when you don't understand or know.
  • Leads to an inability to let go easily or get past a problem.
  • Leads sometimes to focusing too much energy on the trees and missing the forest. 
  • Leads sometimes to recognizing that  the answer is more difficult than originally thought.
  • Leads sometimes to pain & a block when/where the truth is not kind.
  • Leads to sometimes being a killjoy.

When I realize something somewhat profound or a confusion/uncertainty is made clear for me, to me it is the "Spirit" flowing through me.  For some, they may call it intuition or gut feeling.  But whatever you call it, I see it as the "truth flowing through" a person.  I think each of us has a God-given ability to truth detect, but for various reasons we don't use it effectively.

  • Truth can be embarrassing.  This is especially true if we've 'bought' a lie for so long.  Think Nazi Germany where they bought the Hitler's lies until they couldn't anymore.
  • Truth can be painful or shameful.  If we've pumped up ourselves as being a "good person", but have made (and minimized) mistakes, it is easier to keep the lie than to own up to the mistakes.  If we can only avoid the painful/shameful truth, we don't have to face our deficiencies.
  • Truth can be inconvenient.  It is easier to dismiss a problem with a simple narrative or a stereotype than to actually dig in and deal with the problem that recognizing the truth forces us to face up to.  Race relations in this country on all sides is an unfortunate example of this.
  • Truth can have consequences.  Sometimes a relationship can be so broken that facing that means facing the end of the relationship.  Sometimes, owning up to a crime you've committed means facing hard time.  

Ultimately, I think it is healthiest to live a life in which we are honest with ourselves, others and our Higher Power.  That requires the ability to be open to and be willing to accept the truth whatever the cost. However, for me there are a few things to note.
  1. It is okay if we don't have all the answers to everything.  In this life we won't get a chance to know all the answers.  Besides often times while we may not get an answer to a question we have, the pursuit of that answer can lead to the answer to other questions being discovered.   In a quest to study or understand different kinds of bacteria behind viruses he was careless in handling one of his cultures.  He noticed where it grew mold, the bacteria was prevented from spreading and hence the advent of penicillin and other antibiotics.
  2. Sometimes we will find or 'discover' the answers not when we want them, but when we need them.  In other words, we may have not been ready for the truth to be revealed to us just yet. In other words, it is important to be able to accept a time of uncertainty in the meantime. I think sometimes my Higher Power--God--works that way in my life.
  3. If we are willing to face the truth while we may face a time of pain, we can often look back on it at a point in the future and realize it was a necessary step in our growth or healing.
  4. Not everyone is ready to 'hear it like it is or 'face the truth'.  Just because you are ready to face the truth, doesn't mean any or all relevant other parties are.  Wisdom to know when to share 'the truth' is just as important as willingness to.  That doesn't have to mean being dishonest, but instead can be mean being respectful to the needs of others.  

I guess my overall takeaway out of this is to be open to the truth.  Do your best to remove your blocks from it.  Be open to the good and bad that it can bring or reveal.  

Just some thoughts post Christmas.  A time to reflect on the truth and the year that soon will be.

-- Rich

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

All you don't need is hate...

As I was thinking about the All you need is love... post, I had thought about a post on the hate--often portrayed as the opposite of love.  Some would say, the opposite of love is indifference, but I digress.

I thought my blog post should be on the hurt and the consequences of hate.  By that I mean personal animosity.  What lead to this post ideas was when I read and saw a story the other day about a senseless assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey.  To me it was another shocking reminder of the darkness in this world that is hate.  Unfortunately, I'm not immune to the poison which is hate.  When confronted such senseless and hate-filled acts of violence, if I allow it, my reaction is one of hatred and wishing horrible things toward the person who committed such a destructive act.  But, I digress...

So, what are the potential consequences of hate (not necessarily in order of importance):

  • Poison in our soul.  Those who have been in a twelve step or recovery type program (and many who haven't) have heard an old saying attributed to numerous people: Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.  While our resentment or hatred might inflict damage on the other person, often times most of the damage ends up being inflicted on ourselves.  If someone at school, at work or elsewhere does (or doesn't) do something that causes us to hate them, ultimately who is hurt more if we are lying awake in bed at night hating them?  Who is hurt more if we can't focus on the things that benefit us due to our hatred?  Who is hurt more when the poison of hatred causes us stress?
  • Hate begets hate and leads to destruction within families, communities, societies and the world.  As I indicated to my daughter, I feel  that 9/11 was an extreme result of hatred festering in the heart of many.  A single act of hatred towards Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria on June 28th, 1914 set in motion a chain of events that led to the two most destructive wars in world history.  An anarchist's bullets led to ultimatums, reprisals and declarations of war starting in 1914, kicking off what we now know as WWI.  Though, open hostilities ceased on Nov. 11th, 1918 (now Veteran's Day), the resentment and hatred reared its ugly head in the 1930s again, culminating with the invasion of Poland on Sept. 1, 1939 to kick off what we now know as WWII.  A single act of hatred led to the death of countless millions.  Now, every expression of hatred will not lead to such an extreme result.  Let's just say hatred rarely starts out big and left unchecked will like a cancer grow.

Before I finish this topic matter, I want to address a few things.  

Ever since I was a kid, I have valued life, peace and have hated seeing people fight.  It hurts when I see my fellow man injuring or hurting another, especially when it is a kid.  However, I know in my heart that this is a fallen world and it is inevitable.  That being said, while we can't control how others behave or react, we can control how we think and act and can set a good example for our kids and our fellow man by not repaying hatred.  Once again, that doesn't mean continuously taking abuse or not defending yourself, but what it does mean is not amplifying hatred by repaying it.

- Rich

* I have said a joke for years that "I am violently opposed to violence".  However, this election year has shown me that there are people "hateful in their pursuit of opposing what they see as hatred".  To me this is the antithesis of repaying hate with love.

For an alternative take on hate where it is okay?, go to: Hated it! Is it so wrong to hate sometimes?

All you need is love...

Admit it, now you are thinking about that song.  It's contagious.  But, perhaps it's nice to think about the things that make you smile.  Today as I write this, it would be my late brother's 49th birthday.  He didn't feel loved enough.  I hope he feels it now, but perhaps in the meantime, I can show love to those still here...

I was at a Wednesday evening bible study at my church and our head minister was leading the class.  I don't remember the exact breakdown of the topic matter, we talked about different types of love.

As we know English doesn't do justice to the concept of love.  The same word is used to describe happy feelings towards ice cream vs. romantic feelings towards your significant other vs. warm/selfless feelings towards your kids, etc.  Context is everything in this regard.

I believe the ancient greeks had a good fix on the concept of love

  1. Eros: Love of the body.  That is to say sexual lust or erotic love based on sexual attraction.  In other words a sort of 'tension'.  This can be an important part of a relationship, but in a healthy relationship it is just one aspect.  In an unhealthy relationship, it can be mistaken for a deeper love.  That's why it is important that this type of love is not explored at too early age as it can warp one's view of 'love'.  It can cause a focus on the body being the source of love.

  2. Philia:  Love of the mind.  When you share values, disposition and interests, this type of love exists and can flourish.  This is type of love you have for a brother or a really good friend.  This can be a strong component of a healthy relationship.  Where feelings of eros towards a spouse may fade in time, philia can keep a relationship going strong.  Philadelphia is the "City of Brotherly love" and its name is partially derived from this word.

  3. Ludus: Playful love.  It is child-like in nature.  Think of the joy you feel when you dance or laugh.  Think of the love that is associated with it.  It's fun love.  The way I see it this love flourishes when you have moments of "Lightness of Being".  I see this type of love being a connecting type of love in a relationship.  That is to say the type that when times are tough we can remember the good times and remember why love our spouse.  It is also is a type of love if we let go with our spouse, can break the tension.

  4. Pragma: Longstanding love.  This is the highest form of love in a relationship.  It develops over time.  It is a mature love.  It is commitment or a give and take in a relationship.  It is important to build and nurture this type of love as it can come in handy when your spouse needs you.  Times such as seeing them fight cancer.   In a sense, it is a pragmatic type of love.

  5. Agape: Love of the soul.  This is the type of love that God has for us and showed through Jesus.  It is love of humanity.  It is the most selfless type of love.  This is the type of love that can help us sympathize, empathize and connect with people we don't know.  I think this is why when we read or hear about a 'touching' story, it moves us.  We can related on some level.

  6. Philautia: Love of the self.  It is said that before you can truly love others, you have to love yourself on some level.   So, this love has to be present to love others.  However, it has to be the right form of Philautia. This can either be a healthy regard you have for yourself--one that allows you the space to love others. Unfortunately, it can be narcissistic--which is a consuming selfish type of 'love' of yourself which doesn't allow the space to love others.  

  7. Storge: Love of the child.  This is the connection or bond in which you have with your child(ren).  It is a natural sort of love.  When this love is present we forgive, accept and sacrifice.  Where pragma takes work, storge is natural.  Ultimately, I see pragma approaching storge in intensity or commitment with a lot of work and time.  I see pragma as the grown up type of storge that we would have for our spouse.  In a way, storge is what God displayed for us when He gave us His only begotten Son to atone for us.
My takeaway:  philautia or love of self has to be present to some degree to give us space for the other types of love.  But, if we have the other types appropriately present in our lives, it can help enhance our love of self.  Alternatively, if we 'love ourselves too much' aka narcissism, it can smother our ability to love others properly.  But, as I see it narcissism is not necessarily an authentic love of self, but can be a fragile 'love' of self requiring our attention to constantly feed it.  Finding the balance of self-love is I think the key to being able to show/feel/display love properly in all its forms.  And the key to finding the balance I believe is seeing ourselves as the Father sees us.

Love your spouse, your children, your fellow man, but don't forget to love yourself or don't completely indulge yourself in your own love.  

The final takeaway: On this Christmas season, I think it is important to remember to love others as the Father has loved us.  


All you don't need is hate... is a blog about the opposite idea.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

The insane voice, installment 5: Way out there...

As you know from previous installments of "insane voice" theater, I believe most of us have an insane voice just waiting, begging, pleading to come out.  For some it's worse than others.  And for the worst of the lot, they are institutionalized or become writers. 😹  We know this to be true because often times when people are plied with enough alcohol we see evidence of this.

But, I digress.  I get my inspiration from various sources and my insane voice has various levels to it.  Anyway, here goes this the latest installment of "insane voice theater".
  • If an institution of higher learning has an 'office of inclusion' or something similar, shouldn't it also have an 'office of exclusion' or something similar, just so each side gets equal time and equal speech?  This leads to the next point.
  • If you work in customer service or deal with people and you privately say, "I hate people", does that mean your loved ones aren't people?
  • I watched "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" and at the end, Spock does a mind melt with Bones.  He injects his living spirit into McCoy.  This is revealed by Spock's father in the Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.  Anyway, McCoy was acting a little off after this transfer occurred.  Have you ever noticed that when a pet's owner dies, the pet's behavior is off as well.  Makes you wonder.  So, I got to thinking when my spirit is on it's way to the great beyond, I will my spirit may for a bit cohabitate Simon (or Simon II, III, IV, V, etc) or whatever iteration of cat happens to be present for it.  To others, it will appear like my cat's behavior is off.  But, for me it will a great way to solve a mystery.  Namely, what's it like to be a cat.  So, to anyone I leave behind, be nice the cat friend I leave behind, I may temporarily cohabitate with my cat friend.  Bet you didn't see that coming.  HA   Anyway, leads to next point.
  • If someone with a sickle, a black outfit with a hood and just a general creepy demeanor shows up and it is not Halloween and there is no costume party that you know of around, do you yell out the door, "We don't want any, go next door, the neighbors might!"?
  • If you were a snowman or woman which family, friends or coworkers would you want to have as your fellow snow-people as long as the weather holds up?
  • Sometimes people are said to act catty.   I wonder if in the cat community, cats belittle each other saying another cat is acting "humany".  Just saying...
  • If you have a pity party, what does it become when you invite a guest?

I will leave it at Lucky Seven today.  I hope you enjoyed your time in "insane voice theater".  This is also my 100th post for this blog and is also my birthday so please celebrate it with me.

Criticism: Easier to accept from ourselves than others

I don't remember precisely how it came to me today.  However, I believe I was Spirit-led to a very concrete understanding and analogy of why we often find it easier to openly level criticism at ourselves than to accept the roughly same criticism from another.

This analogy involves a little incident I had years ago.  One day, years ago I got into an accident in stop and go traffic accident traffic.  I didn't realize how bad my brakes were until I tried to stop and wasn't able to.  But, I digress, we got a police report and they left.  My hood wouldn't shut and I had my niece in the car, so I had to find a way to get her home.  I found a cable and tied it down so I could get her home.  So, not a great 'fix' and not maybe the most stable, but still...  Anyway, I thought, I will stop at a store and get something less bulky and stronger to hold the hood down.  So, I tried that and tied the hood down again so it wouldn't slam the windshield.  As it turns out, that was a bad idea.  It held worse than the cable and slammed into the windshield shattering it.  But, I found out something I never really thought about--there is a protective film within it helping to keep it from imploding inwards into the car.

So, how does this relate to my understanding of how we deal with internal/external criticism?

  • When we criticize ourselves, I think we generally keep a protective layer between the criticism and ourselves to lessen the impact or 'damage' of it. The protective layer is how we shield ourselves against the impact of our own criticism  Anyway, similarly the windshield of our car has a thin protective film in the middle to help prevent the impact of a shattered windshield from sending shards of glass into the car risking our safety.
  • When another criticizes us, it can feel like the protective layer isn't there and therefore we feel the full impact of it.  It is similar to being behind glass without a protective layer.  The impact upon which like glass hurtling at us can cause us pain and injury.
  • When we criticize ourselves, sometimes we are serious and sometimes we know we just have to own up to a flaw/issue, but really don't want to face the impact of it.  Point is we understand and control the impact of our self-criticism and can adjust accordingly.  Criticism from another, even sometimes from a loved one, can feel like something large hitting our windshield.  It can really catch us off-guard and give little time to prepare for the effects of it.

Ultimately, in this life, we know are flawed.  We have to brave enough to own our flaws and make changes where necessary to 'fix' them.  We also have to not allow ownership of our flaws or hearing legitimate, properly sourced and timed criticism destroy us.  Alternatively, we also have to have the wisdom to reject criticism where it is illegitimate.  In other words, not to let any sense of personal failings allow of to take ownership of what ISN'T ours.  For example righteous anger is not a flaw.

I don't claim to be the source or guide to these points or questions.  In my life, my Higher Power, God is the ultimate authority on what my failings and positives are.  It is through Him and His word that I have the wisdom to appreciate and understand these matters.

Anyway, just a little nugget that occurred to me one day when I was driving, pondering and remembered an accident/incident I had.


Sunday, December 11, 2016

How the St. Louis Cardinals got their name: The Unauthorized Tall Tale

So, I have a special connection with my daughter Olivia and have had one for long time.  It it based on offbeat and sometimes sarcastic humor.  One of the ways I relate to her is by stories that I tell.  She has literally 100s of stuffed animals.  Many of them has a story behind them or a story within in them.  Just imagine each stuffed animal having a set of adventures told about them in a kid's book type format and that's kind of how I've related to her over time.  She's going to be 10 next year, but I think she still likes hearing me weave tales.  But, I digress.

So, I was talking about the misadventures of two of her stuffed animals today--both birds and we were talking about local sports teams and I had an epiphany.  What is the haha 'real' story behind how the St. Louis Cardinals got their name.  Let's transition to that.  Here is how it went. 

Me:  Olivia, you know how the Cardinals got their team name and mascot.

Olivia:  I dunno

Me: A long ago, in the late 1800s, when the original owner created/took ownership of the St. Louis baseball them they were deciding on a name for the team, they decided they'd name the team after a bird.  So, they set up an audition for birds to impress them.

  • Bluejay - The Bluejay pranced around and tweeted and ownership thought he was pretty and thought about him, but decided against him.  So, he flew off.
  • Bluebird - Similar experience to the Bluejay.
  • Chicken - They decided that the chicken was annoying with its cluck.   Besides, ownership was too worried the team would be labelled as cowards if they were named "The St. Louis Chickens".
  • Goose - Honked very loud and got on ownerships nerves and decided against him (as they didn't want the mascot to sound like a horn).
  • Swan - They thought the swan was very pretty and graceful and they thought she would be better as part of a woman's team.   So, they saved this idea for a women's team they'd come up with.
  • Pigeon - This guys audition was cut short and he was escorted out unceremoniously when he pooped on the head of the original owner.
  • Oriole - They liked this bird but thought one day that bird will turn on St. Louis.  The St. Louis Browns became the Baltimore Orioles.
  • Finch - They thought he was very small, very cute, and had a sweet little voice.  They save him to audition for the mascot of a children's team they might sponsor.
  • Duck - They thought his loud quack was annoying and decide against him.  However, the duck had his kid--a duckling--along and he made a cute small quack and they thought that potentially he could be mascot of the youth team St. Louis started.
  • Owl - They asked Mr. Owl to come up and he said, "who" and they said, "You Mr. Owl" and he said, "Who" again.  After repeating this about three or four times, they figured the owl was mocking them and tossed him out unceremoniously.  I told her it turned out okay because he was someone elses' mascot.  I didn't say "Hooters", but that's what I was thinking.
  • Chickenhawk - The chickenhawk was about ready to step in to be judged but saw the chicken and went nuts trying to chase after it.  Needless to say, he got thrown out".
  • Flamingo - They thought she was pretty, but the team didn't like its pink color (as they were very traditional men) and they decided to let the flamingo try out for a further woman's baseball team.
  • Penguin - Waddled around and made noise.  They didn't think he was dignified enough.
  • Turkey - Ownership couldn't take seriously a mascot whom we ate every Thanksgiving.
  • Peacock - They thought that he was too flashy and distracting for the team.
  • Vulture - He mistakenly thought if he just snatched up and ate the other birds, they'd have to pick him.  Ownership would have started with a new animal, but he didn't know that.  Anyway, unfortunately for him, the original owner was an avid hunter and when the Vulture tried to kill his competition, the owner shot him (and later had him stuffed).  Big mistake for the vulture.
  • Dove - The loved her voice and though she was very pretty and graceful.  They decided that she should try out for a future woman's baseball team.
  • Bald Eagle - They told him that since his people were already the national animal, it'd be silly to have him also be the St. Louis team mascot.
  • Hawk - Once again this bird decided to go after another.  He liked the taste of Finch.  So, when he made moves toward him, they reminded him what happened to the vulture.  Needless to say, the audition for the hawk ended abruptly.
  • Parrot - They got annoyed with him when he kept repeating everything the mascot search committee said.  Needless to say, they threw him out.
  • Woodpecker - They had to escort him away when he attacked the team's wood bats.

Me: Are we leaving out any birds.
Olivia: Emu
Me: Yeah, with their grunting and hissing they didn't think he'd be family friendly.  Any others we are missing.
Olivia: Ostrich
Me: Yeah, they got annoyed with him when he hid his head in the ground when he was called and wouldn't come out.  They yanked him out of the ground and threw him out.

Me: The search team was ready to just move to a different type of animal when out of nowhere flew in a Cardinal who didn't know about the audition, but was fascinated by the collection of birds.  He landed on the bat and started chirping.  The owner loved how natural he was acting, he loved how pretty he was, and thought the bird on the bat would make a perfect logo pictures and thus the team name and mascot were born for "The St. Louis Cardinals".  Needless to say, the other birds that knew about the audition and countless hours practicing were mad as the Cardinal for just showing up with little practice   She agreed and said that most of them got behind the team.

Anyway, Olivia went along with this agreed with the reasons why they pass on or threw out the other birds and liked why the Cardinal was selected.

Anyway, this is just one but a number of stories I tell/make up to my daughter.  I figure, either this will result in me writing a kid's book one day or her thinking I'm absolutely nuts.  Oh well, the things we do for love.  The tales we tell to amuse.

-- Rich