USM Tribute

 I grew up HUGELY externally focused; my mother was exacting and unforgiving. So from an early age, when I was present enough to contemplate my impending actions, I naturally vetted everything I did from the viewpoint of how my mother would perceive what I was attempting. Sometimes, I chose correctly, and, in the vast sea of “not good enough,” there were exhilarating instances of praise, if short-lived. As I grew older, I transferred that power over me to others: my younger sister, peers, dates, my wife, and even my daughter at times. This adaptation led to external approval, which then translated into a sense of enhanced self-worth. Unfortunately, this was not feeling worthy of my true self, but my adaptations, my false self. I have not thoroughly examined my external referencing origins, but it was undoubtedly instilled by my mother’s Germanic, Roman Catholic, narcissistic, and Scorpio parenting style! It was not until I attended the University of Santa Monica (USM) to obtain my master’s of Spiritual Psychology in my early 50s that I learned to honor and celebrate my true self. To allow my heart to be my cheerleader, guide, and champion, what a concept! While I do receive accolades now for my therapy sessions, writings, and even projects around the house, they no longer are the end-all, be-all. Each one is appreciated and heartening, but I accept praise and Love from me in even greater abundance. In mid-July, after my birthday, this culminated in the most glorious recognition I have yet

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Givers and Takers

A friend on Facebook recently posted on Facebook, and it brought together something my wife and I have been mulling. Are there just “Givers” and “Takers?” The gist of the post was a couple of health issues that kept her bed-bound for several months at a time and, except for her mom, no one visited. Her message to folks, commenting on the current lockdown, was to get over this intense, but relatively short coronavirus stay at home. Via Facebook, I knew of one time, a surgery, and while responding with encouragement, I was not in Houston to even contemplate a visit. We are not close, but it still make me sad that no friends visited her. What led to this blog is, I am somewhat sure she is a giver having helped an elderly relative for many years. And I relate, having been a giver most of my life; I would now classify myself as a recovering giver. Barb and I disagree a bit as she thinks most people are relatively balanced on the giver/taker continuum. I do know a few that seem balanced, but most folks I know are predominantly one or the other, and, I think, takers outweigh givers. Maybe because I have lived with so many takers and glad to love a fellow giver, I see the world more polarized in this area. We all know takers, and while no one is always 100% a giver or taker, I have found that most takers only give when

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Is It True, …

I have written about the subject of discernment before we speak; some say it is a Socrates’ quote, some a Sufi adage, and others from an Indian guru: “Is it true; is it kind, is it necessary?” Too many do not follow this saying, especially on Facebook. One post the other day upset me tremendously because it involved a child, but luckily, not to their face. I have mostly held my tongue these last several years, but the level of viciousness and hate on Facebook can be appalling, in particular, political posts. Unfortunately, I see as much, if not more, from my fellow Democrats; most troubling are those from my classmates in Spiritual Psychology! I have never met this person, just taught yoga at the same shala, and she is the one that requested to be friends on Facebook. I enjoy most of her posts, especially her own and her children’s musical accomplishments. The one that disturbed me in particular read: “I learned today of a child who told their doctor that they are ‘missing school because of the Chinese disease.’ Racists raise racists, you guys.” And then, of course, followed by the seemingly obligatory and equally judgmental and profanity-laced comments. So, first of all, her post is about second-hand information; nevertheless, there can be several reasons why this person would believe this, but it does cause the information to be suspect. How can she know what really was said? It is gossip to discuss someone that is not present

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Coronavirus vs. Tried and True Hygiene

There seems to be an issue I have noticed with families these days; they seem to think that children learn by osmosis, at worst, or by lecturing, at best. I wrote an article about this a while back (that I am still shopping around!), but had not thought of handwashing back then. At that time, I had not felt that this is an issue that I believe stems from those of us in the boomer generation. There is a lot that I do not like about my parent’s and grandparents’ parenting, nor would I condone now. But while they taught us through intimidation, fear, and corporal punishment, by God, they did teach us! I remember in both junior high and high school, getting swats for any infractions, mainly by vice-principals and coaches. While I was not happy, I was glad they punished me in school and did not call home, that would have been ten times worse! I find myself now in the middle of the continuum for this punishment. Unlike most in the developmental field, I do not think paddling should be totally discontinued, but only used as a last resort and never with anger. Unfortunately, we boomers then took parenting to the other extreme, and the next two generations are now clueless. Two things are missing from most parents these days, teaching and knowing their role. I see most parents these days just lecturing their children rather than teaching them; think back when you were a child, did

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Rules Are Meant to be Broken

We have all heard the statement, “Rules are meant to be broken.” Like so much in life, there is both truth and untruth in its meaning. Of course, that begs the question, “Does that mean that ‘rule,’ too, is intended to be broken!” For me, the more apt statement is, “There are exceptions to every rule.” But which rules? There are different levels of external rules, household, society, religious, educational, governmental, etc. Now to add to the complexity of this conversation, not only the spoken/written rules we learn but all the unspoken rules. A therapist friend in Taos always liked to say that children know all the unspoken rules in a home by the time they are four. Those are rules we learn to conform and fit in, but then how about those rules we place on ourselves. These can lead us to present ourselves in two ways; I will never dress that way again because of all the criticism I received (especially from peers), and I will always dress that way because of all the criticism I received (especially from parents)! While we always have a choice to conform or not to conform to other’s rules, but there is usually some punishment involved determined by the severity of the breach and the authoritarian level of the rule maker! The discipline we receive can range from time-out to execution! For most of my life, I was a “color inside the lines” kind of guy. Known rules were comfortable because they

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Why do we like demeaning jokes and stories?

Several years ago, I wrote a blog on how most jokes are mean. I saw a meme on Facebook the other day that said: Help Requested: A friend of mine has two tickets for the 2020 Super bowl. A friend of mine has two tickets for the 2020 Super bowl. They are box seats plus airfares and hotel accommodations. He didn’t realize when he bought them that this is the same day as his wedding – so he can’t go. If you’re interested and want to go instead of him, it’s at St. Peter’s Church in New York City at 5 PM. Her name is Donna. She will be the one in the white dress. The technical term for this kind of joke is a paraprosdokian, where the punch line is totally opposite from what is expected. And, I have to admit, I laughed because of the juxtaposition. And then, I had to ask why did I laugh? If we stop to give this any thought whatsoever, there is nothing remotely funny about this scenario, especially for a relationship therapist! There is almost no one that would put another, someone we supposedly love, in this situation. And we certainly would not want this done to us by someone who supposedly loves us! So why would I laugh at this meme? Typically, when another person is trying to be funny, we join in the laughter. This could be the amateur “class clown” or the professional comedian. As I wrote before, when

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