Be a good father; be there…

March 19, 2018

From the Jack’s winning Words blog – “Be like St. Joseph.  He’s a model for every (teacher and parent).  Children need you to walk beside them in love.”  (Pope Francis)  Today is St. Joseph’s Day, honoring the father of Jesus.

Jack went on to write a little bit about Joseph, the father of Jesus and about being there for our children. All too many fathers are so focused upon success in their careers that they fail to realize, until it’s too late, that the children that they worked so hard to man rushingprovide for have grown up and moved away. They rationalize all of the time that they spend at work instead of at home as necessary to provide all of the things that they think the family needs. Often, the only thing that the kids really wanted was more time with dad. Perhaps the saddest country song that best captured this topic was Cats in the Cradle by Harry Chapin.

In reality, the pursuit of career advancement and success at all costs is an ego-driven thing and, as such, is extremely selfish. The success-driven businessman is not in it for the family; they are in it for themselves. Few ever really admit that and that is the root cause for many divorces. Perhaps even their marriages are motivated by the need to appear successful, to have the perfect wife and the perfect family to fill out their resume. Those marriages seldom stand the test of time. Some may evolve into loveless arrangements of convenience for both parties.

The truth is that, if family is one’s first commitment and concern, the career that you family grroupchose to pursue will be viewed as a necessary and secondary commitment of your time and attention. An even deeper truth is that family will actually be second, after your commitment to God. Once you have made that commitment your other priorities will fall into line. When you get your priorities straight, you will also find that your level of satisfaction with life increases dramatically. A loving kiss from your partner or a hug and a heartfelt “thinks Dad” from your child is much more rewarding than another reward plaque to put up on your wall.

We often see stories in the news about children being raised in single parent homes. Many times those are children in black homes, where the father is incarcerated or perhaps even dead at an early age. It is easy to sit back and think that this is somehow different from the family where the children never see dad, because he is always “at man prayingwork”. Perhaps “at work” is his prison. In any event, the result is still the same – children being raised in what is effectively a single parent home. Grant yourself a pardon from your work prison and spend time at home with family. Don’t worry that you can’t afford to give them the latest things; the one thing that they want is you in their lives and you can give them that. Be like St Joseph and be there for your children.

Have a great week ahead with your family.


Don’t try to understand and don’t judge, just be there…

December 6, 2016

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.”  (Harper Lee) – as seen recently on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

I’m not sure I agree with how Harper Lee phrased this quote. I might have said it this way – “You can never really understand a person; but, you can consider things from his point of view.” I’ve made a couple of posts recently about what I called the “frame of reference” through which someone with autism or depression might view life.

The posts referred to in my posts were based upon articles written by people two who view their own lives through those frames of reference. They both wrote “What does it feel arrogantlike..” posts to blogs. My point in both was that it is very difficult, and perhaps even a little disingenuous, to say things like “I know how you feel” or even “I can imagine how you must feel” to someone suffering through bad days with either of those conditions. They may mutter something like, “thanks for being understanding”, while all the while thinking, “No, you don’t understand at all.”

Rather than end up making some lame, condescending effort to understand that person, perhaps you could spend some time considering what is driving them to act and react in the ways that they are. You could try to look at the events that they are reacting to from the point of view of being in pain, or torment; of being frightened and confused; of feeling alone and helpless; of seeing no way out of your situation and having no hope. How do you think you would feel and act, if all of those emotions and feelings came crashing down on you at the same time? Then up walks Mr. or Ms. Dogooder and puts their arm around you and says, “I know how you feel”.

So what do you think you would do? Perhaps you see yourself drawing away or lashing out. Maybe you think that you would panic and run. It could be that you would fall into their arms and sob uncontrollably or maybe push them away and loudly proclaim that you don’t need their help or their pity. If you can imagine any of those responses for yourself; why are you so surprised when they might happen to you when you were “just trying to help”?

handshakeThe support that you might imagine yourself needing does not come from pity or from some false sense of “understanding” how you feel. Rather it comes from them accepting you as you are and offering to help in any way they can. It comes from admitting that, “I have no idea how you feel; but, I’m here to help you find and get to a better place, if that is what you want.” Sometimes the best thing that you can do is just to be there, to listen and to support, not to judge or feel that you must intervene. Sometimes what people need is just a friend to talk to and not a savior (they already have one of those).

One of the hardest things to do is to stop judging people who need your support. What they do is not right or wrong it is just different; and that difference itself is just a valueno judgement judgement that you make based upon what you think you might have done. Making those right or wrong judgments is in no way helpful and actually gets in the way of you providing the support that is really needed.

Another hard thing is to stick with it. Providing the support needed that people with any number of conditions that make them a little different is not a short term thing. These are not usually things that they can just “snap out of” or “get better”; rather they are conditions with which they will live for their entire lives. So, you cannot expect to fly into their lives, work some magic to make it all better and fly out. Long term understanding and support are what is needed.

Perhaps the point of view that you need to adopt is one of an accepting and understandinghugging-bears friend who is ready to be there when needed and to back off when necessary; ready to lend a shoulder to cry on, without pity; and ready to listen when they talk without judging. Be the person that you imagine that you would need if you were experiencing life as they are living it. Don’t worry about understanding them; you won’t ever; so, don’t judge, just be there for them.

Have a great and non-judgmental rest of your week.


Be there for someone today…

May 23, 2016

“Remember that everyone you meet is afraid of something, loves something and has lost something.”  (H. Jackson Brown Jr) – as seen recently on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

timidYou will meet many people this week and all of them will be people for whom the little quote above applies. Many of them may also be someone who is need of someone else to share their fears or sadness or love with; someone who cares about them and their situation or condition. Maybe that can be you.

Our typical greeting of, “How are you?” has become such a throw-away line that we really don’t expect an answer, other than perhaps the retort, “Fine, how are you?” We ask without really caring about the other person. If anything, we respond because we want to tell them about our troubles or issues, in hopes of evoking their empathy with our situation.

I meet very few people in day-to-day life who seem really interested in the response to their, “How are you?” question. The more normal interaction is with someone who is chopping at the bit to tell me about themselves ad to share their problems. When I do meet someone who is genuinely interested in understanding me it is almost immediately obvious that their opening question, was just that – the beginning of what they hope to be a dialogue that will answer their other questions, like who are you, what makes you tick, what interesting things can I learn about you and from you? I’ve written here before that Pastor Doug McMunn, Pastor of the Milford United Methodist Church, is one such person.

How can you tell when you’ve met such a person? Well for one, they will spend much more time listening than talking themselves. They will ask short open-ended questions andempathy then intently listen to your answers. They will express empathy or sympathy, while also offering support and encouragement. You will also notice that you start to feel better because you found someone with whom you can share things that may have been nagging at you or even overwhelming you. Figuratively (and perhaps literally), you have found a shoulder to cry upon. You’ll feel better and they will too, for having been there for you.

How can you pay it forward? Be there for someone else this week. Be that good listener. Mean it when you ask the question, “How are you?” Stop and offer a shoulder to cry upon; then offer the support and encouragement that they need to move on in life. Help that person understand that they are not alone in their pain or sorrow or fears. Help them extract those demons and deal with them.

Do you need a hugThere is a rather famous sports clip of the late Jimmy Valvano running around the court after NC State won the 1983 National Championship game (click here to view ). He would later say that he was just running around looking for someone to hug. Many of us are like that in life. We run around through life looking for someone to hug. Be there this week to get and give that hug.


Just be there…

October 9, 2015

“Sometimes we need someone to be there.  Not to fix anything or do anything in particular, but just to let us feel that we are cared for and supported.”  (From a picture of Charlie and Snoopy) That little saying was forwarded to me by Pastor Jack Freed from Jack’s Winning Words. Jack is a big fan of the Peanuts cartoons, assnoopy and bird am I.

For me, today’s little saying conjures up memories of snuggling on the couch in from of a fire on a cold winter night. No words are needed and there is nothing wrong or needing fixing; however, just being there together makes us both feel that all is right with the world. There are just times when having your life mate at your side or in your arms provides a very warm feeling of completeness and contentment. I think that is what Charles Schultz was thinking about when he wrote that little saying in the Peanuts cartoon.

What memories do you have of those kinds of moments? For some it might involve memories of being cradled in our mother’s arms. For others it might be time spent with a nest friend or a loved one. Whatever the moment, cherish those feelings and save them to bring up again and again as needed, when things aren’t going as we would like.

caregiver handsSometimes we play the role of the person who is there to provide the feeling of comfort and safety. Cherish that also. It is one of the most important roles that you will have in life. Caring and supporting others, especially in moments of need is a privilege and an honor, which we should take seriously. There is vulnerability and trust on the part of the person that you are supporting that must be protected and honored. They have let you into their emotional inner-circle, which is a place that few probably get to see. Be kind. Be gentle. Be respectful. Be the person that they believe you to be and play your role, even if it is just sitting there in silence and holding them. Don’t try to fix everything , just be there for them.

Have a great and caring day.


Someone needs you; will you be there for them?

March 2, 2015

“We need each other, and the sooner we learn that, the better for us all.”  (Erik Erikson)

There was a long story in the Sunday Detroit Free Press about a local woman, whom repairmen discovered dead in her garage a while back. She had been dead for five years and no one had missed her! The story went into great detail about this woman’s background and how something like that could happen. It wasn’t as if the women had no relatives. She had brothers and sisters living in different parts of the country. And this didn’t happen in some out of the way place; but, rather in a nice neighborhood up in Pontiac, Michigan where homes are fairly close together – she had neighbors. The story recounted that she wasn’t really what we might call a hermit, just a very private person, with no friends locally and with a history of not communicating with her family members, sometimes for years. Sadly, her mummified body was found in her own garage, sitting in her own car. The body was so badly deteriorated that the coroner may never be able to determine the cause of her death. One might classify it as death by isolation. It certainly was death in isolation and that is sad.

In the paper’s recounting of this woman’s back story It is documented that she did have friends and co-workers at one time and even showed up for family events on occasion (rare, but it did happen). She was always recognized by everyone who knew her as someone who kept to herself and that in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But she took her need for privacy to the extreme and got to the point where she apparently needed no one. She established this image so firmly in everyone’s mind that there was no one that saw it as unusual that they had not seen her or heard from her in years. She had set her bills up on an auto-payment schedule, so they just kept getting paid after her death until such time as the funds ran out. Eventually her house was repossessed through foreclosure and it was when workmen showed up to repair a hole in the roof that they discovered her body.

Had she taken to heart the little saying from today by Erik Erikson she might still have died, but she would have been missed a lot sooner. We’ll never know if she perhaps could have even been saved by someone who cared and became concerned about her when she didn’t show up somewhere or wasn’t seen for a while.

Gristly stories like this account aside, there is more to Erik’s statement than just watching out for each other. While humans aren’t classified as “pack animals”, we are normally social beings. We depend upon social interactions for reinforcement, feedback and self-assurance. It is important that we learn to like ourselves, but it is also critical thatfriends holdi hands we have the interactions with other humans that confirm who we think we are or help us to become the person that we would like to be. At its most intense and important level this human interaction is with our life-mate. I can no longer even imagine life without the one in my life who completes me. Perhaps that is why the loss of a husband or wife can be so devastating and really why those left behind often seek that level of companionship again.

Another obvious reason that we need each other is that we are all dependent upon the work and contributions of others to supply almost everything that we need. I haven’t seen anything but the trailers for the movie about “The Last Man on Earth”, but I can imagine that initially one could run around breaking into stores for whatever is needed; however, that supply is finite and since no one else was around, there would be no new supplies of anything. Systems such as the power grid that are fairly highly automated might run for some time, but event hey would faultier and quit after a while if there was no one around. So the things that everyone else is out there doing is important to me and what I do somehow is important to them, too.

From time to time we may be in situations where it feels like we’re alone. Maybe we are away from home, maybe even in a fairly isolated location. It is important in time like that to savor our memories of loved ones and friends and woman workingperhaps even to take advantage of modern technologies like Skype to reach out and touch them, if only for a moment. Texting also has a feel of immediacy that is somehow comforting; at least you know that the person on the other end of a texting exchange is there and aware of you. There’s nothing wrong with feeling that sense of loneliness and reaching out to someone for relief. There’s no great honor in being known as a loner and it is no proof of your independence to shun friends and family when you could use help.

On the flip-side of this coin, it is not the right thing to do to allow this to happen with someone that you know. Being concerned about them is not being nosy. Taking steps to communicate with them, even if they have not made thecaring effort with you is reaching out, not reaching in to their lives. It’s not snooping when it’s driven by love or concern, so don’t let your friends or relatives become hermits. Sometimes, if the secrecy and withdrawal of a loved one is caused by factors like drugs or alcohol it is only through your aggressive actions to communicate that you might be able to save them from themselves.  Make them see you and then help them see themselves. Remember that we need each other. Help them see that and we’ll all be better off.


Be there for someone today

November 1, 2014

As seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog – “Be kind.  Remember every one of you is fighting a battle.  Everybody’s lonesome.”  (Marion Parker)

At first, I did not get this quote. Then I thought about it and it is true that even the most popular people often have secrets that they don’t share and with which they struggle in lonely isolation. Most of the world was shocked recently when Robin Williams took his own life. Here was a guy that most of us probably thought had it all – popularity, success, money, al l of the things that we believe lead to happiness – yet he struggled with depression and eventually lost his personal battle and committed suicide. He was lonesome in that battle.

I’m sure that there may have been a few close friends of Robin Williams who knew about his struggles, but perhaps he shut them out or they just weren’t there when he needed them the most. Many of us are caringthe same way. There are people with whom we may have shared our fears or concerns or anxieties. They wanted to help, but we pushed them away; refusing their help. Why? That’s one of the hallmarks of depressed behavior – the need/desire to be left alone. It is something that true friends need to fight their way through. They need to make sure that we are not alone and not allowed to feel alone in our fight. Everybody does not have to be lonesome.

If you know of someone that you care about who is struggling with a personal demon, the best thing that you can do for them is to make sure that they are not alone in that fight. Be there for them. Make them share it with you. Provide support and comfort or just lend a shoulder to cry upon. “You are not alone” is perhaps the best thing that you can say to them. Make sure that they do not retreat into a shell of loneliness. That only leads to despair and beyond.

It may be hard sometimes to force yourself into that person’s life and you may initially encounter anger and heavy pushback from them. Don’t let them discourage you from doing the right thing; and that is not leaving them alone to wallow in self-pity. You may have to become very pushy yourself, in order to break through that defense; but, keep at it until they either seek the help that you are encouraging them to get or completely break down and share their pain with you. That is the cathartic moment that is necessary to begin the healing process.

listeningOnce they realize that they are not alone; that you won’t leave them alone; they can begin to deal with the issues outside of just their own mind. Talking things out can make all of the difference. Just hearing someone else say “It’s OK. Let it out. You’ll be OK” can make all of the difference. In fact, just hearing themselves, get it out to someone else does wonders. It takes the huge burden of hiding the pain off their shoulders.

When you were a child you’d run to Momma with your pain and she would make it all better with a kiss and a hug and maybe a Band-Aid for your boo-boo. As adults we need to be able to turn to our loved ones or friend for that hug and Band-Aid for our emotional boo-boos. That’s what friends are for, if we allow them to play the role. True friends make us let them play that role.

So, there are two bottom-line thoughts here. One is to not to become lonesome by trying to hold girls huggingeverything in; but, rather to seek out a friend or loved one to share the pain with. The second is to aggressively be that friend who is there for others, so that they can’t become lonesome in their misery. I’ll end today on this note –

“Never underestimate the difference YOU can make in the lives of others. Step forward, reach out and help. This week reach to someone that might need a lift”

― Pablo


Three little words that can change your life… I’ll be there. (11 of ?)

April 1, 2014

Sometimes the simplest little things can have big impact on our lives. In this series of posts I examine very short sentences (each just three words long) that can make a difference in your life. If you have a three word sentence that changed your life somehow, share it with me and I will share it with the world.

Today’s little three word sentence is also the title of a famous hit song by the Jackson 5. You can watch a performance of that song by the Jackson 5 by clicking here. To view the lyrics to that song click here.

The Jackson 5 song combines a bit of unrequited love with a pledge of friendship and support. Let me focus first upon the latter – the friendship aspect.

Many of us had best friends in our youth to whom we have made a similar pledge – whatever happens, you can count on me to be there for you. We often drift away from those childhood
friends and that pledge is soon forgotten. Sometimes you hear of people who have remainedbest friends best friends throughout their lives, often it is in the context of a news story about some extraordinary thing that one has done for the other – donating an organ, for instance. Sometimes it is just a story about the longevity of the friendship, with many incidents usually related about being there for each other in times of need. They were there.

In marriages, one of the cornerstones is the commitment that both parties make to be there for each other through thick and thin, in sickness and in health, in the good times and the bad. This pledge to be there is especially important in the bad times and in the times of sickness. When bad things happen, like the death of a relative or maybe even a child, it is the strength of the partner who is there with us that sometimes is the main thing that gets us old coouplethrough it. When sickness hits, especially the really serious kinds like cancer or a stroke, it is the support of the partner/caregiver that we depend upon. It is certainly important to have the support of others and to have faith to give you strength, but nothing quite replaces having that one special person around who has promised to be there when you need them. They are there.

And, what of that person; the one who has said, “I’ll be there”? There is little in life that can provide such a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction as being there for your loved one in a time of need. The tasks that you perform may seem mundane, but the fact that you are supporting and helping your partner get through something that they cannot manage by themselves  give them special meaning. Changing a dressing or helping your partner get bathed or dressed doesn’t make the headlines, but it can make a big difference in their day.caring
Especially poignant are the stories of the life partner helping the mate who can’t even remember his/her name any more. They were there and they feel great about it.

It’s relatively easy when you are standing at the alter dressed to the nines on a very happy day to pledge that you’ll be there. The test is when you’re standing beside the hospital bed, still dressed in yesterday’s clothes holding on to an unresponsive hand and whispering “I’m here. I love you” to someone that you’re not sure can even hear you. Keep trying to get through to let them know that you are there and that you will be there no matter how long or what it takes. There is something in that little squeeze of recognition on your hand that will make it all worthwhile. You were there.


Reach out, I’ll be there…

July 23, 2012

I started my day with this little gem from my favorite blog, Jack’s Winning  Words – “When you reach out, the chances are pretty good that someone will reach back.” (Cheryl Richardson)

Jack went on to site a memory from the old Lucile Ball show I Love Lucy were Lucy and Ethel sang the song Friendship to each other, with the line from the song, “ If you’re ever in a jam, here I am.”

As I thought about it, it occurred to me that men seem to have much more of a problem reaching out in times of need than women. I guess it’s a macho guy thing to “suck it up” and hold things in, rather than reaching out for help. Of cours,e some women keep things in too.

The image that flashed through my mind was from one of those TV commercials about depression – people sitting alone in a depressed state of mind.  There may be drugs to help with that, but I suspect that being able to reach out and having someone reach back to you would do as much good as many of those drugs.

I also thought about how often we may miss opportunities to reach back to others.  How often do we walk around someone who is obviously hurting to avoid getting sucked into their despair?  Do we sometimes avoid making eye contact with someone who is desperately seeking someone to talk to, because we have other things to do? I also wonder sometimes how many lonely old people sit staring out the window of their assisted living rooms wishing that someone would stop in for a chat.

I’ve also noticed, as I get older and a tiny bit wiser, that those who do respond; those who make the effort to reach back, seem to be as rewarded for the experience as those who were reaching out. There is a reward here on earth, as well as in heaven, I suspect, for caring enough to reach back to someone who needs help.

So keep an eye out today and every day for those whose glance in your direction is really a cry for help. For many it is hard to verbalize the request for help, but you can see it in body language and in the eyes. See if you can turn a tear into a twinkle in someone’s eyes today.


Don’t just sit there…build your door

November 26, 2018

To start the week off Jack Freed used this little quote in his Jack’s Winning Words blog – “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”  (Seneca)

Jack went on to write that he keeps a little slogan posted right by his computer – Get tough…Get off your duff!  It means, Get going and build that door! 

Too many of us spend our time lamenting that opportunity has passed us by or that it didn’t come knocking at our door. It is possible that it knocked and that we didn’t hear it, dancingbut it is more likely that we haven’t positioned ourselves to take advantage of it.  H. Jackson Brown, Jr. put it this way – “Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor.” Brown was pointing out that we need to be working at it, building that door, in order for opportunity to present itself. I also like this piece of advice about that dance with opportunity from Wayne Dyer – “When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It’s to enjoy each step along the way.” 

A big part of being prepared to jump on opportunity is believing. Gail Devers said this, “Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for thosewoman-praying who believe.” A great way to start each day is to reaffirm your faith in God and in His hand in your success. That pause to be in contact with God and reaffirm your faith will allow you to take the all-important first step on your journey to success. Martin Luther King, Jr. put it this way – “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

Taking that first step also means overcoming the inertia of procrastination and worry. As Joseph B. Wirthlin put it – “Sometimes we make the process more complicated than we need to. We will never make a journey of a thousand miles by fretting about how leap of faithlong it will take or how hard it will be. We make the journey by taking each day step by step and then repeating it again and again until we reach our destination.”

So, get off your duff and build your door. The opportunity for success lies on the other side if you just take that first step.

Have a great week ahead!


Can there be fake truth?

July 31, 2018

We certainly see and hear a lot about so-called Fake News these days. So extend that thought to include the concept of Fake Truths. It was, to a certain extent, Fake News that claimed to the world that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and therefore an invasion of the country to prevent their use against other countries in the area was justified. That news turned out not to be true; it was based upon faulty intelligence andfact erroneous assumptions and conclusions by the intelligence community – essentially fake truths. The real truth later came out that there were no weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq. So, was that fake news? Not really. It was news fabricated out of false or bad information (fake truth) that was provided by normally reliable sources and embellished a bit by politicians eager to justify a decision that likely had already been made. The news media, always hungry for a good story, took it and ran with it.

In today’s post to his blog Jack’s Winning Words, Jack Freed uses this quote from Buddha – “Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth.” Unlike opinions or assumptions or prejudices, the truth stands the test of time and inspection and is always trying to find a way to get out. William Shakespeare said “the truth will out” in the Merchant of Venice. 

It is interesting that the definition of the word truth leaves some leeway for doubt or later correction. Look it up on-line an you will get these three definitions –

the quality or state of being true.

“he had to accept the truth of her accusation”

that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality.

“tell me the truth”

a fact or belief that is accepted as true.

” I believe that is true”

It is that third definition that applied to the Iraq weapons of mass destruction item of fake news that the Bush administration at the time used to justify its action to invade the country. We will probably never know how much the intelligence was fudged or faked to get to that conclusion; but, for a while we all believed that it was the truth.

These days, our attention has been re-directed to the news of Russian interference in the last presidential election. There are almost certainly nuggets of truth within the surprised emojiintelligence reports and more of them are bound to come out as the truth struggles to the surface. It is not hard to imagine a bunch of Russian hackers (be they military, the intelligence community or civilians) deciding to see what they could do to influence the election or undermine our concept of democracy. It is also not hard to imagine that a contact within the political apparatus of any of the candidates would find a receptive ear to anything that might give them an advantage. After all, politics is not practiced to the highest of moral standards. However, it might prove to be as false as the weapons of mass destruction news to jump all the way to conclusions about collusion or conspiracy. Stupidity, yes. Poor judgement, most certainly. Self-serving, of course.

However; leaping to accusations of collusion, or worse, before the truth is fully out, serves only the third definition of truth. I think we need to work our way through theFacingFactsWordCloud first two definitions before we form our beliefs about what the truth really was. The good news is that Buddha and William Shakespeare were both right and we will eventually see the truth come out. Let’s all hope that Jack Nicholson was wrong in the movie A Few Good Men. Let’s hope that we can handle the truth.  The truth will out and there will be time enough then for a reckoning.