Papa Bear: A Dad's Unusual Advice to His kids
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After over 45 years of helping families make sense out of their lives, Dr. Reimer takes what he has learned and shares it with his three kids.

As evidenced by his chapter titles below, some of his conclusions are humorous, unusual, provocative, and no doubt, troubling to some...
Chapter 1: Dance Like Nobody is Watching.    

2: Die Trying.
   

3: Don't Take Life too Seriously... You're Not Going to Get Out Alive Any Way!
   

4: Maybe Being Different is a Good Thing?
    

5: Money Isn't Everything, But it Keeps the Kids in Touch!
   

6: The Bible Was Written by the Same People Who Said the World Was Flat.
   

7: The Age-old Custom of Four Wives.
   

8: The Number Two Top Oxymoron??
   

9: You Cannot NOT Have a Political View!
   

10: I Majored in Liberal Arts. Will That Be for Here or to Go?
   

11: "Go to the Edge," He Said. "I Might Fall," I Said.
 

12: By the Time You Make Ends Meet... They Move the Ends!
   

13: Someone Who Thinks Logically is a Nice Contrast to the Real World.
   

14: Naked Donald Duck Banned in Finland!
 

15: Mark Twain's Secret to Success in Life.
   

16: Good Health is Merely the Slowest Possible Rate at Which You Can Die!
   

17: Does Old Age Come at a Bad Time?
   

18: Suicidal Sister Kills Twin by Mistake!
   

19: Flexible People Don't Get Bent Out of Shape.
   

20: Tell Your Date She Looks Pretty... Even if She Looks Like a Truck!
   

21: Love May Be Blind, But Marriage Is a Real Eye Opener!
   

22: Billy Graham Has Described Heaven as. . .
   

23: Most Lipstick Contains Fish Scales.
   

24: If I Want to Hear the Pitter-patter of Little Feet, I'll Put Shoes on My Cat!
    

25: George Washington Grew Marijuana in His Garden.
   

26: First Things First. . . But Not Necessarily in that Order!
   

27: When the Mind is No Longer Resisting. . .
   

28: Ambivalent About Perfection? Well, Yes and No.
   

29: If I'm Okay With Me, I Have no Need to Make You Wrong.
   

30: In the Golf Game of Life, the Only Real Hazard is Not Taking a Shot!
   

31: If I Throw a Stick, Will You Leave?
 

32: Stress = Waking up Screaming. . . only to??
   

33: I Am Their Leader, so I will Follow.
   

34: There is No Right or Wrong - Just Consequences.
 

35: Does Your Train of Thought Have a Caboose?

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Papa Bear; A Dad's Unusual Advice to His Kids
____________________________

Dedication

The ideas that are in this book have been in me since I was a child. Obviously, they have done a lot of developing since I was the youngest of three boys in a conservative middle class family. In some ways, I always seemed to view the world a lot differently from those around me. I can remember being 10 years old, and questioning the ideas that I was hearing in church. They just didn't seem to make sense. In the end, I ended up with three lovely children of my own. As should be obvious, this book is, without a doubt, dedicated to them: Aaron, Corrie and Jonathan. As it is with all of us who have children, there is a love that I have for them that is beyond description and explanation. You will read a quote in this book that defines a family as a group of people who are irrationally committed to each other's well being. I guess that is the unexplainable part. Sometimes my kids irritate me, let me down, and hurt me---but somehow I can't give up on them. And of course, I too have irritated them, while letting them down and hurting them at times. I sure hope that they too can 'hang' with their dad, strange as he may be.

I don't know if anyone, other than my children, will ever look at this book. To be honest, it doesn't really matter. At an earlier time in my life I attempted a book, with the goal of being published. This is different. I have had a burning desire for many years to put my ideas down on paper. Finally I have gotten some of them written. I am a liberal who grew up around conservatives. There is a part of me that hopes some of my conservative acquaintances will read these pages. My greatest desire has always been to live a life that is genuine and real. Many, if not all, from my past, will be troubled by my words. They will pray for me, but they will not wish to be my friend, for fear that my diabolic thinking might corrupt them. I do not wish for them as friends. Life is too short. I enjoy spending time with people with divergent ideas. But I don't have the energy or desire to be among those who smile at me on the outside, while disdaining me on the inside. If anything, I hope this book can introduce me to more people who accept others as they are---finding them interesting, but not requiring one life to mirror that of the other.

I love you Corrie, Jonathan and Aaron, with all my heart. I don't know if you will enjoy this book, or if it will be helpful. You may find it silly, and not worth your time. I know that I wrote it out of my own need, but I will be pleased if someday it is valuable to you. If nothing else, when I have died, you will have a record of some of what I believed. I was damaged by a too-narrow world in my youth. I guess that's why I want you to hear ideas from the other side. I don't ask you to agree. I just ask that you learn to truly think on your own. In this book, I want to expose you to some ideas that weren't typically taught to you in the conservative world in which you were raised. I know that I am not your typical middle-class church-going dad these days, and I know that my recent life has pushed your envelope. I hope it has helped more than hurt, and has widened your view of the world. I pray that we can grow closer over time, and that our days are filled with laughter!
____________________________

Acknowledgements

This feels like one of the hardest parts of the book to write. There are very few of you who have stood by me as I have totally changed the direction of my life. As I came out of the closet of my world's evangelical fundamentalism, and into the light of my innate set of liberal views, 99% of you have walked away. I have called some of you up, but you haven't returned my calls. You have seen me as a disillusioned middle age man who seems to be stuck in an endless cycle of midlife crisis. To you I say goodbye. I wish you all the best. I am totally happy for you if the old ways truly give you peace and show you the way to happiness. But, I must admit, having worked with thousands of you over 25 years, that your outside shell is hard to believe, because I've seen in your eyes, and heard from your heart, of your own chronic stuckness in your predictable world. If you ever want to talk, I would enjoy that. But please don't ever walk up to me cold turkey again, and tell me you've been 'praying for me,' when you haven't spoken to me for years, and have acted out a total disregard for the beat of my liberal heart. If you want to be friends, without having to pass judgment, I would enjoy that.

To the half-dozen of you who have continued to love me without reservation, I am eternally grateful. In some real ways, your belief in me has helped me to save myself from my periods of despair, when I wondered if I could continue to carry the burden, that led to occasional thoughts of 'ending it all.' Because the love that I have for you is so strong, and because of your confidence in our bond, I know that you won't mind that I don't mention you by name. You know who you are, and you know how you helped me turn the dream of this book into a reality. Thank you isn't enough, but it's all that I can give. That, and the power of my love in your life. This book is not the end of our journey. Instead, it is just another chapter in our efforts to not settle for mediocrity in our lives, as we reach for those stars that are meant to shine on our lives! If my children are the heart of my life, all of you are my soul. Every part is necessary, and together all of you make me whole. Alas, through this book, I send all my love to you, my few and special friends!
____________________________

Introduction:
"I decided to accept as true, my own thinking."
Georgia O'Keefe
American Artist
1887 - 1986

Dear Jonathan, Corrie and Aaron:

I know that sometimes parents write letters to their kids, but this one is so long that it's ridiculous! I guess I feel compelled to share with you some of what I've learned over the years. I don't know if this will be of value to you, but it feels important for me to at least put it down on paper, so that, if you wish, you can look at it some day. I'm not dead yet, and don't have any current plans to be gone forever, but we never know when we will die, so now seems like the right time to write down my thoughts.

I hope you know that I have all the love in the world for all three of you. You are all unique, so expressing my love to each of you takes different forms. I sometimes long for when you were younger, when it was so easy for us to be openly in love with each other. As you've become adults, it seems harder to cuddle and dote on you with my love. Sometimes I want to blame our conservative background for why we're not more demonstrative, but that seems like a copout, for I believe that we all have the ability to make changes in our world.

Throughout most of my chapters to you, there will be statements by others. I believe it was King Solomon who stated, 1,000's of years ago, that "there is nothing new under the sun."? In this book I don't re-invent the wheel. I also don't claim to always know a lot about those whose statements I will quote, but what is said should tell you something about how I view the world. For example, the above quote from Georgia O'keefe has been very powerful in my life. In our world, everyone has an opinion about right and wrong. A lot of people seem more comfortable if an authority figure tells them what to believe (like their parents, teacher, pastor, etc.). That never worked for me. I've learned to trust my intuition, intelligence, and common sense---and I find that they are good guides for me in life.

This doesn't mean that I don't listen to others, or that I can't learn from them. Just the opposite, in fact. But it's not in me to blindly follow the rules as I am led off of the cliff of life. I need someone to share their view with me, and then give me room to make up my own mind. For example, I probably would not have done well in the military, for if I couldn't see some sense in the commands that were given, I'd have a hard time following them.

As you know, I'm the radical in the family. You can see how my independent views contributed to this. As I've said, I can remember being a young child in my Mennonite community, already questioning the right-wing beliefs that were being taught to me. I've always believed in myself, and could never accept an idea on blind faith---it had to make some sense to me. My life experience has proved to me that my logical understanding of the world is a sensible basis upon which to lead my life. I realized early on that there is more than one truth, and that perception is reality for most of us. Most people tend to believe what they were told to believe, so it is difficult to push ourselves outside the comfort zone of our family's values.

You may recall that I have college degrees in philosophy, psychology and theology. I had no idea where I was headed with some of my 12 years in college. I knew I liked to learn, and I hoped to make a living at the end of my college years. Although I didn't have a master plan, in the end, these three areas of study did help me to be the effective psychotherapist that I am today. I want to encourage you, even if you don't have a master plan for your life. If you work hard, enjoy each day, and try to treat others with decency, in the end you'll probably enjoy doing something you can make a living at.

These letters then, represent some of my philosophy. We all have a philosophy (our view of what makes the world tick), a psychology (our view of how people operate), and a theology (our view of whether there is something outside ourselves). Many people don't discuss these three big words, but everyone lives them out. My goal in these letters is to let you know how I see these three things. I will never ask that you agree with me (that goes against my philosophy), but I believe we can each better develop our own views as we compare them to the views of others.

"We make a living by what we get,
but we make a life by what we give."
Winston Churchill
British Prime Minister
1874 - 1965

These letters then, are my attempt to give to you. You know that I don't have a lot of money, so I can't give you everything material. However, even if I had a lot of cash, I would hope that giving you the opportunity to develop your own worldview would still be valuable. Both before and after my many years of work in the church, my heart has been designed to give to others. Sometimes I feel my clients know more of the real me than you do. That seems wrong. I guess these letters are an attempt to change that.

As you may know, putting my ideas down on paper is very risky, for the right wing establishment thinks I've lost my marbles! More than that, they think I'm evil, of the devil, and a mind-threatening enemy who is to be avoided. However,

"The day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud
was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."
Anais Nin
French-Cuban Author
1903 - 1977

I am so sorry that I had to leave mom, and that the divorce had to happen. I know that some will never believe it, but I really did have to leave because my views would not allow me to stay in the conservative world. Although I am by nature one of the most optimistic people I know, I became suicidal at the thought of playing the evangelical conservative game for the rest of my life. Your mom is great, and I will always respect her, but I fit into one world and she fits into another.

For me to blossom meant that I had to step away from most of the world I knew for the first 45 years of my life. I pray that I have not lost you because of what I had to do. I will love you in whatever world you choose to live. And I pray that you can love me in the world that I must live in. Maybe we can operate with the phrase that I have often taught others---I love you, and you're nuts! That is, maybe we can agree to disagree, if needed, while still enjoying each other. I sure as hell hope so, because I love you guys the biggest!

"Once a mind has been stretched by a new idea,
it never returns to its original dimensions."
---- Source Unknown

I hope these letters will stretch you. One of the problems with the conservatism with which you were raised, was that it didn't teach you to think. Yes, you went to school and heard ideas. But you were told that there was only ONE WAY to understand those ideas (i.e., through your protestant theology). In true education you are allowed to find YOUR truth, not THE truth. And you are taught that all truths have value. I hope you won't get defensive as you read my take on the world. You may call me crazy, for my ideas differ from how you were raised. But in the larger world, my views are taught by others, and are found to be reasonable by many.

"As I grow older,
I pay less attention to what men say.
I just watch what they do."
Andrew Carnegie
Scottish-American Industrialist
1835 - 1919

It has been from observing people (this is my psychology) that I have concluded what is in these letters. I have always loved watching and learning from people. For example, when I met atheists who were kinder and healthier than some of the folks I knew at church, it made sense to conclude that the atheists weren't all bad (which is what I had been taught), and that maybe their world view was as good or better than what I was hearing from the religionists.

So then, enough of my introductions! Off we go into a series of parental diatribes about some of what I think matters in life. Please know that these are my views. I own them, and accept responsibility for them. It's what makes sense to me as I continue to try to learn from the world in which I find myself. These are not all my thoughts on all subjects, but hopefully it's a start. I hope you will feel free to ask about other subjects that I've left out. What's maybe the scariest, is that your old man probably has an opinion about almost everything, many of which you may not want to hear!

"Tell me, I'll forget.
Show me, I may remember.
Involve me, and I'll understand."
Ancient Chinese Proverb

This book is an attempt to tell you. I hope that my life is an attempt to show you. And I pray that our coming years together will allow us to be involved, so that we can all continue to develop better understanding. I love you the biggest!!

All my Love,

Dad
2-20-2000
____________________________

Chapter 1:
"Dance Like Nobody's Watching,
Work Like You Don't Need the Money,
and Love Like You've Never Been Hurt."
Lyrics to a Song

This may be the most important chapter in the whole book. If you read only one section, let it be this, because it holds the key to your ability to live out what is said in the rest of the book. I wish I could keep this chapter short, but because this is the foundation for everything else, please bear with me.

"Keep away from people who belittle your ambitions---
small people do that--- but the really great people
make you feel that you too can become great."
Mark Twain
American Humorist
1835 - 1910

The idea that I have found, which will help you the most in life, is to love yourself. It sounds simple, but I have found that only about one person out of ten has high self-esteem. This is a tragedy that hurts children, ruins relationships, causes wars, and drives the suicide rate. I feel so inadequate to fully explain this concept to you. However, I KNOW that if we can help people to love themselves, we will change the world in ways that are hard to comprehend. Developing self-love is what I spend the most time helping people with in my business, and it is the thing that is the hardest to change.

Do we begin with low self-esteem? No way. So how do we lose this ability to realize how awesome we are? Now THAT is the subject of MANY books that have been written! In a word, we lose it because people beat it out of us. If there is one gift in this world that I have tried to give you, it is the gift of high self-esteem. You know that I have not been able to give you every financial gift. However, if I have helped you to forever know your wonderfulness, all other gifts won't matter! I know that right now that's hard to believe, but it really is true! Because if you have the gift of self-love, you have the vehicle to go out and try to make all the other wonderful dreams in your life come true! Knowing how wonderful you are doesn't mean you have no faults, or that you don't need to make some changes in your life. Not to worry. I've found that life has a way of showing us where we're blowing it, even without others telling us about all our faults!

"Formula for Failure: Trying to Please Everyone."
AA (i.e., Alcoholics Anonymous).

When you love yourself, the opinions of others aren't all that important. That doesn't mean you don't value what other people think. It means that you are comfortable doing your own thing, and that you don't have to please others in order to feel good about yourself. Recently a San Francisco Bay-Area pianist was featured in the news for being the first American in 16 years to win the prestigious Van Cliburn competition (worth about $250,000). He stated that "his desire was to make music, not impress the judges. He doesn't worry if someone is going to like him or not. He just tries to...stay true to himself." Pavarotti, one of the greatest voices of all time, stated that "he doesn't listen to what people say...he just tries to be himself."

I hope that I have achieved my goal of helping you to love yourself. I have always tried to tell you that you are the most awesome kids I could ever have! I have tried to love you unconditionally...to let you know that you're wonderfulness has nothing to do with your external features or accomplishments. That doesn't mean that you don't have any weaknesses. It just means that they have no impact on how crazily in love with you I am.

I'm pretty sure that I can give this love to you, because it was given to me, primarily by my mom. My dad wasn't a bad guy, but his love was much more conditional (on my performance). The toughest thing about self-esteem is that if it wasn't given to you, it's especially hard to create on your own.

"I have the body of a god...... Buddha!"
Bumper Sticker

When we have high self-esteem we usually have the ability to laugh at ourselves, and we don't take ourselves too seriously. Very few of us have the perfect bodies, or minds, or finances, or....whatever else is portrayed on the big screen. But you know what? Who the hell cares! Obviously, a lot of what we see in the media emphasizes looks, financial success, etc. And hey, I'd like to have them as much as the next guy. But to not like myself because I don't have them? Now THAT'S crazy!

"Be safe in the fortress of your own peace."
Paramahansa Yogananda
Indian Yogi
1893 - 1952

I know that the ways of the eastern mystics can seem pretty weird, but a lot of what they say makes a hell of a lot of sense. I believe that every great religion and School of thought has some bits of information that we can benefit from. We just have to sift through them to find that which works for us. When we have inner peace, we CAN laugh at our imperfections while still being in love with ourselves.

Please know that this self-love is not prideful. Ironically, when it's genuine, it has a certain quiet humbleness to it. Remember that beautiful and mystical phrase in the Bible: "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free?" People who love themselves know of this freedom.

"The truth may set you free,
but first it may piss you off!"
AA

I'm sure that some of what is true about ourselves is very hard to hear. So the road to this mystical peace is not an easy one. However, just because someone disagrees with us, doesn't mean that their view of us is correct. We need to listen to their opinion, and then try to bravely and honestly see where it applies. Make no mistake; many will come along with ideas as to how you should live your life. Many of those people will be wrong. The challenge is to find the few ideas that will really help you to be at peace with yourself.

"Insecure people indoctrinate.
Secure people educate."
Source Unknown

There is an amazing amount of insecurity in our world. It, of course, grows out of low self-esteem, and is the driving force behind a lot of our world's hatred and violence. When you are secure (i.e., you are comfortable with yourself), you don't need to convince other people to agree with you. Part of being healthy is letting people have their own ideas. In the 60's we called it "different strokes for different folks." A typical sign of low self-esteem is when someone is very dogmatic... when they are driven to tell you that they are right and you are wrong.

"If you think education is expensive, try ignorance!"
Bumper Sticker

As I've said, my view of education is that when ideas are put in front of you, you are free to choose those that work for you. This is the opposite of many forms of education (e.g., in political or religious groups). I believe that this is one of the reasons that an on-going education is one of the best gifts you can give someone. It is also the reason that some groups do not WANT their children to be educated by anyone other than themselves--- for they are afraid that divergence of ideas will ruin their organization. Did you know that for hundreds of years in the Catholic Church, followers were told NOT to read the bible? The PRIEST would tell you what it meant and how you should act accordingly. Sound a little like brainwashing?? How about parents who teach their kids to be "don't-you-ever-switch-or-I-won't-talk-to-you" democrats or republicans?

I'm guessing that this has not been the most exciting chapter, and that you know my views on most of this already. I think that the following chapters may be more stretching for you. But again, if you get this self-esteem stuff right, all of the other pieces of your life will fall into place. Without it, I've seen people flounder throughout all of their adult life!

In conclusion, let me share with you four unhealthy beliefs that I saw printed in our local newspaper. Alan McTighe, a local counselor, had shared these at a Junior High in our community. He called them:

"Four Screwball Beliefs

1. I must be liked and respected by everyone.
2. I must be competent in anything I try.
3. I must be treated fairly (everything must go my way).
4. If the above 3 don't happen, then someone must be blamed and punished!"

1. I used to try to have everyone like me---it was a waste of time. I believe it was Shakespeare who said, "to thine own self be true."
2. We have screwy ideas about failure in our culture. The only way to get good at something, is to begin by NOT being good, and to then be willing to practice until we are VERY good. In other words, failure is good. We can't become competent without doing a lot of failing first!
3. We are lucky if we are treated fairly. It is the exception rather than the rule. It is not an inalienable right. I believe our constitution says that we are "all created equal---under the law." In other words, we should attempt to treat others fairly. It does not happen automatically.

There is NO WAY that we are all equal---we have HUGE differences in ability. This should be obvious to anyone who honestly looks around. This can be a huge social problem---when people are shocked and incensed at unfair treatment. We are a lot closer to The Lord of the Flies than we may want to admit. We should strive for fairness, but should not be surprised at its absence---and we will be happier, if we are pleasantly surprised with those occasions when it does exist!

I can't thing of a bigger problem in our culture than this. I remember an ad that said, "Never let an excuse get in the way of an apology." People sue each other, they fight each other, etc., in order to avoid admitting fault. Sometimes I'm to blame, and the only punishment due is on myself. It's ok to be wrong (actually, it's inevitable), and it can be beautiful to ask for forgiveness.

Can you see how self-esteem is connected to those four screwball beliefs?
1. If I like myself, I don't need to be liked by everyone else.
2. If I like myself, I don't mind failing as I develop my competencies.
3. Because I like me, it's ok if everything doesn't go my way, because I really don't have anything to prove. So I can be at peace in an unfair world. Because of my self-love, I can accept the blame and punishment required for my errors, knowing that despite my mistakes, I'm still valuable.

So--- What's the Bottom Line of this chapter?
Be yourself, don't worry too much
about what others think, and enjoy the ride!
____________________________
It's Your Turn!

What did you like or dislike about this chapter?

What would you like to tell YOUR cubs about this subject?

What is YOUR bottom line on this subject??

____________________________

Chapter 2:
"Die Trying"
Bumper Sticker

When we have two parents, we learn some from each, for either good, or bad, or both. It is my dad who taught me the lesson of this chapter---never give up. When he was about my age (50), my dad moved our family from Nebraska to California. He started his professional life over at that time, in a commission sales job that had no salary guarantees. 15 years later he died. Some of the changes were very difficult, but he always kept trying, and had some good successes along the way as a result. His message was that I didn't always have to be the smartest--- but if I worked hard, believed in myself, and always came back for more--- in the end I would know some measure of success.

"Success is not how high you fly,
but how high you bounce!"
A.B. (one of my clients)

As I have coached all of you in sports over the years, I have observed your natural inclination (which all people have) to want to quit when the going got tough--- and I have always tried to cheer you on as you got back up and took another swing at the baseball of life! I know that this is one of the hardest things to do, for I too have wanted to give up a 1,000 times over! Sometimes I even view it to be a major victory when I can get my sorry old butt out of bed in the morning--- to find the energy to attack another day!

"Despite our best efforts,
the future continues to lie ahead of us!"
Source Unknown

Get used to making mistakes. I do it every day. If we're honest about our human frailties we will never suffer from pride, for our best efforts fall short with regularity! The good news, of course, is that a future, full of potential, does lie ahead of us. So we have no excuse for wallowing in our failures!

"Failure isn't falling down.
it's not getting back up!"
AA

I believe that I've told you that I want to die with my boots on, sitting at my desk, totally engaged in an exciting therapy session, where my client is growing by leaps and bounds. I'm sure that retirement is great for a lot of people (although it can take a year or two to get used to, I'm told!). For me, my work is one of my loves. It is one of the ways I express my passion for life, so I can't figure out why I would want to stop doing it. My view is that we are never quite grown up, never quite a finished product. As a result, I continue to make errors; so knowing how to get up yet once again, is a life-saving skill for me!

"Don't be afraid to try something for fear you will fail;
if you have not the will to try, you have already failed."
AA

I've already stated that we have very screwed up ideas about failure in our culture. Have you ever noticed all the people who act like they know something, when they really don't? Because they are too afraid of looking ignorant, they feign knowledge. It usually becomes pretty obvious that they don't know what the hell they are talking about. These same people will avoid anything new (usually stating that they're not interested in the new thing anyway), for fear of being laughed at because of their initial failures. I believe it was Victor Frankel, the German Psychiatrist who was a survivor of the Nazi war camps, who stated "better to have tried and failed, then to never have tried at all."

"Failure is a necessary pathway to success."
AA

I'm pretty sure you don't remember learning to walk. What a wonderful example of the absolute necessity of failure in our lives! The routine was that you would get up and fall, get up and fall, get up and fall. But you know what? You never gave up! Somehow you knew that all of that failure was going to open the door to wonderful new adventures in your life! After awhile you began to "toddle." Now this was pretty half-assed walking, if I must say so myself! What was amazing was that no one laughed at you or made fun of your inept efforts at walking! I guess everyone knew that those continued efforts, unsophisticated and wimpy as they were, were worth even more continued failure! I've noticed that now all of you are good walkers indeed, with nary a concern that you will be walking fools that are laughed at by others! You guys are awesome! Way to go. You realized that failure was your pathway to success. Keep up the good work of failing as you continue to perfect your skills in the world, and thank you for not noticing whether people snicker at your toddling efforts at new successes in your life!

"Experience is what you get,
when you didn't get what you wanted."
Internet Chatter

Persisting through failure doesn't mean you'll always get what you want. Hyman Judah Schachel, a Jewish scholar said that "happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have." If you become wise, you will learn to want very little, and thereby almost always have what you want. This, of course, is the opposite of what our purchase-driven capitalistic society tells us. You've been raised in the super-media generation. Hopefully you still know the difference between really needing something, and being told by advertisements that what they have convinced you of wanting, is now a need. If you don't know that difference you're in big trouble, for no matter how much you have, it will never be enough. I hope it makes sense that a philosophy of consumerism has no top end. For example, I have had clients who are billionaires, who are still dissatisfied, and looking for more possessions to fill their inner void.

"A mistake is evidence
that someone has tried to do something."
AA

You may know that there are a lot of books published about how to run a successful business. These books are very popular, and their authors are often seen as gurus who can help lead a company to significant profits. I remember one of these books encouraging employees to make mistakes as they tried out new ideas---that success can grow out of outlandish thinking, which can then lead to new products. You may have heard the old story that Alexander Graham Bell considered himself to be a huge failure, for it was his goal to invent a hearing aid for his wife. This failure-of-a-man never accomplished his goal, and got stuck with being the person who is responsible for a silly contraption called the telephone.

"Your success in life does not altogether depend on your ability and training;
it also depends on your determination to grasp the opportunities
that are presented to you."
Paramahansa Yogananda
Indian Yogi
1893 - 1952

It is said that Bill Gates (somewhere closest to the world's richest individual), while a new student at Harvard, decided to quit school, and begin a business with some of his computer friends that he met on campus. Today, of course, that looks like one hell of a good decision. Obviously, this person had significant ability, but he lacked formal training. He seemed then, and continues to seem, like an individual who is especially good at grasping the opportunities that are in front of him, and building upon those. Luck may determine some of your success in life (i.e., being in the right place at the right time). If you mix that with an undying determination to keep getting back up, and a willingness to try that which is unfamiliar to you, you will probably have very pleasing results in life.

"You can't go back and have a brand new start,
but anybody can start now and have a brand new end."
AA

God but I hope you never give up. You know that I love sports, but you may not know why. I am competitive and love the challenge of trying to win, for sure. But more than that, I love to watch the games where they persist to the last second, and sometimes pull off the most impossible victory of all! That is symbolic of my desire to do my very best until I breathe my last breath, believing that this approach will help me to enjoy the ride, and will probably lead to some significant victories along the way. I've had lots of clients who got strung out on drugs, poor work histories, etc. I've always tried to be a beacon of hope to them, so that they could start today to change all of that crap into cream.

Without hope for a better day, I believe we begin to die. Part of aging is giving up. I've seen old people who were vital because of their hope and zeal for tomorrow (although they are the exception rather than the rule), and I've seen young people who had one foot in the grave of life, because they could find nothing to be hopeful for or excited about. That's why I pray that you will never give up. Because on the day that you give up---you begin to die.

"There is hidden strength within you to overcome all obstacles...
Bring forth that indomitable power and energy."
Paramahansa Yogananda
Indian Yogi
1893 - 1952

This is a good example of how your self-esteem will influence your ability to not give up. If you believe in your hidden strength and value, you will be driven to get up again and attack life, because you can feel the power within you. We all have days when we feel anything but powerful. That is, we're not always confident. In fact, we are often just the opposite. This is where our personality comes in. Some of us are optimists, and some of us are pessimists. My experience is that there are many more pessimists than optimists. I believe this has a lot to do with how we were raised.

Because there are more unhealthy parents, they raise more unhappy pessimistic kids. Whether we feel it or not, our hidden strength is in there. Ever heard of an athlete that has an unstoppable will to win? It doesn't mean that they have more ability than everyone else, but that they can almost will a victory--- because of their ability to dig deep down inside themselves and pull out that inner strength. It's like the parent who can lift a car off of their injured child, because of their unbelievable desire to rescue their loved one. It's not normal. It's superhuman. THAT'S what you have inside of YOU!

"Some people grumble because the roses have thorns,
instead of being grateful that the thorns have roses."
AA

It will be important for you to discover where you sit on the optimism to pessimism continuum. This is HUGE. It affects everything you do. As you know, I'm a died-in-the-wool optimist. Ironically, I'm also a crass realist. Optimists don't have to be head-in-the-clouds, out-of-touch-with-reality airheads. And pessimists don't have to be down-in-the-mouth hopeless slugs. They can have a perspective that helps to make careful and thought-out decisions. Regardless of where you are on the scale, I do pray that you will be able to know that the gray clouds can only hide the sun for so long. A recent story in the news told of a father and son who went hunting. Accidentally, the son shot the father. In his grief, the son killed himself. What he didn't know, was that his dad was wounded, but not dead. Now the father has to live the rest of his life without his son, because the son made a fatal assumption that his father's situation was hopeless. As I've said, without hope, we die.

"We must learn from the mistakes of others,
because we won't live long enough
to make them all ourselves!
AA

Please, please, please try to learn as much as you can from others! I know that you may often feel that you have life figured out, but you probably don't! I feel this so strongly because I have had to learn far too many lessons from the "school of hard knocks" my own self! If I am anything, I am a student of people. I can sit and watch people for hours, wondering what makes them tick, and enjoying the uniqueness of every person that walks by. As you try to learn from others, let me give you a warning: what you see is rarely what you get! We humans are masters of disguise, when it comes to our inner feelings. It will be rare indeed if you have friends who tell you how they REALLY feel about things.

Most people have powerful alter egos inside themselves, which they don't want to let out, for fear of rejection from others. In my psychotherapy business, I am the lucky one who gets to see how people really feel. That's what they pay money for--- to put their guard down, be genuine, and receive love regardless of their dark side. Don't be fooled---we all have a dark side. Conversely, we all have a light side. More than anything, avoid making assumptions about people's insides from what you see on their outsides.

So then, learn from others, but PLEASE find people who will tell you the straight story (you know, like yes they were afraid, yes they want to kill their neighbor, etc.). Please remember, that just because people have "dark side" ideas, doesn't mean that they will act on them. In fact, I've found just the opposite to be true. If you give people permission to vent their most intense feelings, they are LESS likely to act on them!

"This earth is a stage. Each person has their own part to play...
Greatness doesn't lie in our role, but in how well we play it."
Paramahansa Yogananda
Indian Yogi
1893 - 1952

Each and every one of us on this earth is of value. We all have something to offer. Unfortunately, because so many of us are unhealthy, we act out our lives in ways that are messed up. A lot of us are angry, depressed, or afraid. We envy the few people who are in the limelight, thinking that they are the lucky ones. You will be lucky indeed, if you can appreciate your place in life, no matter how ordinary it may seem to others. My view is that our job on this earth, after we have learned to be in love with ourselves, is to bring joy to others, as we accept them just the way they are! Now remember, accepting them as they are doesn't mean that they don't need to change. But I've found that they won't find the strength and motivation to change, if they don't first feel valued by us as they are--- that we believe there is good within them in their current state, even if they're damn obnoxious right now!

"There is absolutely no pain in change or growth.
The pain is in the resistance to the change or growth."
AA

Whether we will admit it or not (for we may not even be aware of it), change scares the hell out of most of us. I believe that change is one of the greatest teachers in our life, and one of the things that we should be constantly exposed to. This is, however, the opposite of how most of us live our lives. We talk about "arriving," like there is an end goal that can be attained. My view is the opposite---that life is the journey, and that that's what is to be enjoyed. I hear people say "when I win the lottery," or "when I find the right husband /wife," etc.--- then I'll be happy, then things will settle down. I don't believe, in one sense of the word, that things should ever settle down. You know--- the old idea that you're either getting better or worse, but you can't stay the same. It has been said that the only thing that you can count on not changing, is that things are going to change! I encourage you to embrace the changes that come into your life, rather than being surprised or irritated by them!

"For Peace of mind,
resign as general manager
of the universe."
AA

The desire to be in control (and to have power over others) is probably one of the most significant forces in our universe. Ever notice that great movies (e.g., Star Wars) are often all about evil trying to have power over good, and good vying to take back control of its life? I knew a VERY powerful and successful man who told me that the greatest lesson he had learned in his life was that--- control is an illusion. Please do yourself a FAVOR and quit trying to control everything around you. The old adage is "let go and let god." Even without belief in a god (my basic position), we can easily say "let go and let life." Nothing is more obnoxious than being around someone who tries to control everything in their world--- or ours! I'm sure you must know someone like this. They usually are not happy people, because it is impossible to ever control all the variables in our lives, or to have more power than any one or any thing (take hurricanes, for example!).

"We all know that god/life
never closes one door without opening another ---
but the hallways can be a bitch!"
Source Unknown

This is why it doesn't make sense to give up--- because a door that closes is always followed by a door that opens. If you don't believe this, you might as well check out right now. Because if you don't have the will to fight and wait for the good, you can almost be guaranteed that your life will suck! What's tough, of course, is that we can see the door that is closing, but sometimes we have a hell of a time seeing the crack in the next opening door! That is where faith (and patience) comes in. Everyone chooses on their own what they want to have faith in, but life is always about faith. Faith leads to hope, and hope gives life. As long as we're alive, I don't see any sense in proceeding in any other way. I believe that when we have faith in the hopefulness of life, we actually HELP the good to come our way. We almost will it into existence. We refuse to accept anything else. We develop a perspective that can see the potential for lemonade in whatever lemons are thrown our way!

So---What's the Bottom Line of this chapter?
Throw the bomb!
As long as there's a chance,
don't you DARE give up!
____________________________
It's Your Turn!

What did you like or dislike about this chapter?

What would you like to tell YOUR cubs about this subject?

What is YOUR bottom line on this subject??

____________________________

Chapter 3:
"Don't take life too seriously.
You're not going to get out alive anyway!"
Source Unknown

I find nothing more boring (and sometimes irritating) than being around people who are too damn serious! You know that I like to joke around, and I guess a person can be too silly, but I'd rather error on that side any day! In this chapter I want to encourage you to do a lot of laughing at life. I understand that a lot of life is serious, and sometimes terribly sad. But I swear--- that if you don't learn to laugh at some of the insanity in your life, it will literally kill you (or cause you to want to kill others)!

"I have seen the truth, and it makes no sense."
27 Thoughts to Get You
Through Almost Any Crisis

It seems that part of being young, is trying to make sense out of life. It also seems that part of being older, is realizing that THAT is a futile search! No, this doesn't mean that there are no great truths or principles in life. It just means that the way people behave often defies common sense--- and that laughing at it is a lot easier on you than getting all ticked off! In Prague, Czechoslovakia a woman named Vera Czermak discovered that her husband was having an affair. She thought about murder and suicide. Choosing to die, she jumped out of her third-story window. To her surprise, she wasn't even seriously hurt, because she landed on her husband on the street below, killing him!! Just another example that our lives are full of surprises!

"The only way to get to be right,
is to give up being right."
AA

This is such a big subject. I don't really know how to put the importance of this concept into a few words. Actually, we will cover this in more detail in one of the last chapters. So for now, let me say that if you can learn the concept of paradoxical truth, it will probably be a lifesaver for you! The majority of the battles between people have to do with fighting over who is right. In some ways, being right is a myth, because "right" is determined by how each person perceives the situation. We all know people who absolutely have to be right--- or they're impossible to live with. These are not healthy people. People who can agree to disagree usually have a much lighter slant on life.

"Wherever you go,
there you are."
AA

I encourage you to learn to go with the flow of life. It may be that there is no bad place to be, in your life. Some places APPEAR to be bad, but that may be because we still don't have enough wisdom to see the good. This doesn't mean that there won't be events in your life that everyone would agree are terrible. However, please remember what one of our forefathers, Alexander Hamilton said: "the masses tend to be asses". Most people don't have the ability to see good in the apparently bad. This is where I find ODAAT to come in very handy. When I can take my life one-day-at-a-time, I can laugh along the way, because I can always find SOMETHING good about today, and I won't have to deal with tomorrow until I get there! The other side of the coin, of course, is that I can't change yesterday, so I'm a fool if I let it ruin my today!

"All who wander, are not lost."
Bumper Sticker

I am one of those who likes to intellectually wander, in wonderment of the world around me. I like trying on new ideas, and having them lead me to new understandings. I'm a firm believer in getting all we can out of life, for I believe that there isn't another opportunity on the other side of death. In my religious past-life I was around far too many people who were not enjoying this life, in the belief that the good days would happen when they died and went to heaven. This strikes me as a terrible waste of a life.

"To know nothing is bad...
to learn nothing is worse."
Papa Bear

In my experience most people are not committed to learning new ideas. They just keep reciting what they learned at an earlier time. They look at something new, but because they run back to the safety of the familiar, they miss the new and helpful lessons for their life. I find that emotionally unhealthy people are often those who are especially serious. In psychological terms, they are emotionally frozen at an earlier age. They may be 40 on the outside, but they're 5 or 10 years old on the inside. Unfortunately, they keep thinking like a child, and are unable to learn beyond their childish years. Please never think you're done learning, or that you know everything about anything. You'll be a lot more fun to be around, if you continue to be hungry to learn more.

"If everything is going your way,
you must be in the wrong lane!"
Source Unknown

I truly hope that your lives are full of smooth sailing---but I would never bet on it! Not because I don't love you, but because the nature of living is that we all have crap in our lives at one time or another. One of the keys to success in life is to have realistic expectations. Some of the people who are most unhappy are those who expect apples out of life, when it regularly delivers oranges--- when life doesn't even have any apple trees in it's orchard!

"Pain is part of the program,
while suffering is optional."
AA

Yes we will all hurt, but we do have some choice as to how we approach our pain. I know it sounds simplistic and corny to say it, but it's true--- attitude is everything! It doesn't mean that it's EASY to have a hopeful attitude; just that it's HEALTHIER to do so! It's normal to suffer through our struggles, and it would be unhealthy to say we don't hurt when we actually do. But becoming a martyr who tells the whole world is a whole different story! I've found that, subconsciously, some people seem to "enjoy" their suffering (or the attention it brings them), so they seem to wallow in it even when there are paths leading out of the mud!

"When you get fancy,
you're asking for trouble!"
Ben Schwartzwalder
College Football Coach
1909 - 1993

Yes, you'll hear this theme more than once in this book. That's because it is so damn difficult to keep it simple! Our culture will lure you in other directions. It will be subtle, but very powerful! When our lives are more basic, it is easier to keep our humor alive. If there's anything that I see time and time again with aspiring young couples, it is that their plate is too damn full of all that they have to do! You know---multiple careers, the kids in every sport, on the synagogue board of directors, planning for that perfect home to go with the perfect.... Remember--- simple doesn't have to mean poor. Money is good. It does, however, complicate our lives, so we need to make sure we keep it under a healthy control.

"Repression causes depression."
AA

If there's one thing we need to do to keep us healthy, it is to honestly, openly, and verbally express how we feel. This sounds simple, but it is NOT done by the majority of the people in our culture (especially the males)---for lots of reasons that I will go into later.

I'm told that there was an Iraqi terrorist, named Khay Rahnajet, who didn't pay enough postage on a letter bomb he sent out. It came back with "return to sender" stamped on it. Forgetting it was a bomb, he opened it--- and was blown to bits! This story, of course, is so ridiculous that it makes people laugh. However, as I look back on my life, I have made mistakes that now seem almost this ridiculous. You too may well experience feeling really really stupid. This is why being able to laugh at our world is so important. We don't get to the chapter on perfection until late in the book, but suffice it to say at this point that perfection is a joke. And if you can't laugh at what I just said, you are already headed for trouble!

So---What's the Bottom Line of this chapter?
Before you die, life will challenge you a lot.
Remember that she who laughs, lasts!
____________________________
It's Your Turn!

What did you like or dislike about this chapter?

What would you like to tell YOUR cubs about this subject?

What is YOUR bottom line on this subject??

____________________________

Chapter 4:
"Maybe being different
is a good thing?"
Cartoon Caption

In the cartoon that has this saying, there is a very sorry-looking Christmas tree that finds happiness in the fact that he is different from all those around him--- for he is the only tree left standing on the lot! I've observed that most people become uncomfortable when they are different. Especially young people. They will go to extremes to blend in with the crowd. One could conclude that being different is a very bad thing.

"Think different."
Apple Ad

My bias is that being different can be a very good thing. I love this simple saying by the Apple Computer people. I want to encourage you to feel free to break away from the crowd, to think for yourself, and enjoy the power of your own mind! Remember what Mr. Hamilton said (hint: rhymes with masses)? Don't you just hate a parent who quizzes you?! In psychology there is a concept about crowds called "group think." The idea is that when you get a large crowd together, individuals will sometimes lose their own ideas in the group, and behave in ways that they would normally avoid. This phenomenon explains why we may see a group physically assault an individual. As individuals, they would not do this. But in the crowd they pick up a frenzied mentality that causes them to compromise their moral beliefs. Another theory put forward is that people believe they can get away with things when they are anonymous in the crowd. That they have these violent tendencies, but would not act them out as individuals, for fear of getting caught.

Now, there's nothing wrong with having some ideas that conform to society. We all agree, for example, that murder or stealing are usually not good for society. However, sometimes something very new and different (like the atomic bomb) is considered by many to be a good thing. It was, of course, a terrible tool of destruction. But because it seemed to halt an even greater evil (the 2nd World War), it was seen as having some benefit.

This is but a small example of the reality that good and bad are relative. Life is too complex to paint our answers in black or white. You may not like it, but it most certainly is true. I can give you endless examples in your life and mine where the decisions we make about right and wrong are relative to certain facts. This is why your willingness to THINK as an individual is critical to your welfare, and the world you live in! PLEASE don't take the easy (and lazy) route of accepting what you are told. You all have great minds, so USE THEM! It is said that most of us are only making use of about 10% of our mental capacity. If, after careful and objective thought, you decide to accept the teaching of the masses, then so be it. But to "assume"? that others are correct will never take you to your higher vistas.

I hope you know that making assumptions is a killer error that most humans incessantly make! You probably know the old saying that to assume makes an "ass" out of "u" and "me"! I know it's damn difficult, especially at your age, to truly be an individual who thinks for themselves. We all want to be liked, and it's hard if our friends think our ideas are crazy. But in the long run you'll like yourself better if you live out what you believe. I know, because I spent some of my time NOT doing this. If your friends give you crap, the answer is simple. Get new friends!! I know that might sound difficult, but it doesn't have to be. If you just focus on being your awesome self, others will flock to be your friends. Honest!

The other thing about thinking differently that is so wonderful is pointed out in the Apple ad. If no one thought differently, we would never have any new ideas! Kind of a duh, but still worth saying. Many many inventors, scientists, artists, etc. were thought to be nut-cases when they were coming up with new ideas. It was only after the masses realized that their "heretical" ideas were really "better" ideas that they received their proper respect! Thinking differently can also mean thinking more creatively. So get down, and get creative, because one of your ideas just might change the world! How about the girl who invented the rubber band, or the paper clip? Seems boring today, but those were revolutionary ideas!

"You're half way through life,
before you realize it's a do-it-yourself thing."
Source Unknown

When a person is young it seems that they spend a lot of time looking around for tips on how to do things the "right" way. Let's pop the bubble right now. Very often there is no "right"? way! There are better and worse ways, based on the outcomes of each, but what is best for you may not be best for another. I distinctly remember a woman coming into my office and asking me what was the "exactly perfect" thing she was supposed to do in her life situation. I hope you can realize that this made me very nervous! This happened to be a religious person who believed that if she could just figure out the mind of god regarding her situation, all would be well. My experience is that I cannot tell you or anyone else what to do with their situation. It is my job as a therapist to help the person find the answers that are best for them. What I would do may not be what is best for them. Sounds kind of relative, don't you think?

With my life now more than half over, I can tell you that the above quote does make an awful lot of sense. Like others, I often didn't listen to the beat of my own drummer, and lived my life based on what others told me was best for me. Not a good idea. This creates dissonance--- a yucky feeling that happens when your insides tell you to do or be one thing, but your outsides go in another direction. One of the biggest goals of psychotherapy is to help people become less dissonant and more congruent--- that yummy feeling that happens when your outside life matches your inside ideas. I encourage you to learn sooner than I did to trust your intuition. Listen to what your gut tells you. It may not always make sense with what the outside world thinks, but your gut is usually right! In a later chapter we'll talk about the possibility that there are no bad choices in your life--- just some that bring more joy than pain.

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world;
the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself.
Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man."
George Bernard Shaw
Irish Play wright
1856 - 1950

Shaw is a well-regarded philosopher. What in the world is he saying here? I like to think of myself as a reasonable person, and it seems sensible to adapt to the world around us. So what's his point? I believe he is adding a special meaning to "unreasonable." To me, he is saying that we should not be complacent about the world around us. That being "reasonable" can mean we aren't sufficiently challenging the unhealthy ideas that are assumed to be true. That for our world to change for the better we need to be comfortable with appearing to be unreasonable; that new and healthy ideas usually seem strange and uncomfortable at first.

"11/19/99 was an odd day. This was the last one for quite a while.
After this, we won't see an odd day until 1/1/3111.
The next even day will be 2/2/2000,
the first since 8/28/888.
So enjoy being odd.
You won't get the chance again
in your lifetime!"
Internet Trivia

Who the hell are these people---the one's who figure this weird stuff out? They've GOT to be math majors! Surely, they are very odd people! The good news is that they appear to be at peace with their oddness! Are you at peace with yours? Maybe you don't think you're different. Maybe you're not! All I know is that "normal" is about as relative a term as there is! If you go to a different part of the Bay Area, let alone another part of the Country, you will think that the habits of the people are very abnormal. You will conclude that they differ from you, which leads most people to believe that they must be strange (i.e., wrong).

I encourage you to celebrate how different and unique YOU are (at least in the eyes of others, if not your own)! Reminds me of someone I knew who was always teased as a kid, because they were SO skinny. Turns out that by the time she was 40, she was the envy of all her friends, because they had all gotten bigger than they wanted to be, while she was the prettiest slim-jim of them all! What do they say---paybacks are a bitch? And of course, there is some truth to "what goes around comes around." The wealthy geekified nerdy Bill Gates is probably one of the best examples of this!

So... what's the Bottom Line of this chapter?
You're different, which makes you special!
Be you, and enjoy being odd!
____________________________
It's Your Turn!

What did you like or dislike about this chapter?

What would you like to tell YOUR cubs about this subject?

What is YOUR bottom line on this subject??

____________________________

Chapter 5:
"Money isn't everything,
but it keeps the kids in touch!"
Source Unknown

This, of course, is a huge subject, for money is one of the world's greatest loves! People work their butts off for it, they kill for it, and they give up their bodies for it. You have grown up in an affluent community, so your attitudes about money will be a little different from someone who grew up in a different part of the world or in an impoverished situation. If you can get your head straight about money, you will feel amazing freedom in your life.

I must admit that as you have become adults, this saying has seemed more and more true. I'm pretty sure you love me, but I sometimes struggle with how little we see each other, if I don't make the contact. And it does seem like I hear more from you when you need financial assistance. I'm pretty sure this is typical of young adults who are busy living their own lives. I raised you to be strong and independent, so I can't really criticize you for now living out that script. My problem is that I miss you some of the time, but I don't think it's healthy for me to call you up and scold you for not contacting me. The only good contact is that which you really want. I always hear about kids who are dying for their parents approval, and who seek out their folks to attain this. Hey---maybe I raised you with too much self-esteem?! I always told you that you were the most awesome kids on the planet, so maybe you don't need the old man's approval?! Guess that's a good thing for your welfare. It's just kind of sad and lonely for me at times.

"Best therapy I know.
Make money, feel better."
Cartoon Caption

Money is neutral. It is neither good nor bad. It is how we use it that is either good or bad. Because our culture values money so highly, it is thought to be a main source of happiness. This quote went with a cartoon, where two very wealthy men were sitting in an exclusive club. There is no doubt that when we have financial success, most of us have a big smile on our face. However, I have surely known people with money who are unhappy.

"We act as though comfort and luxury
were the chief requirements of life,
when all that we need to make us really happy
is something to be enthusiastic about."
Charles Kingsley
English Priest
1819 - 1875

If there is anything I wish for you, it is that your life will be full of passion. Part of how I define aging is the loss of passion. We all know that our bodies will age, but our attitudes can be another story. I've mentioned old people who are young, and young people who are old---and that the alive people are passionate, and that the dead people are listless. If you're enthusiastic about making money, that cool. But that is only one of hundreds of things that people can be passionate about. Besides, money is really only a means to an end. People pick differing end goals--- financial security, a nice car, providing for their children, helping others in need, nice clothes, etc. Do you see how your self-esteem is tied into your views of money? If your esteem is low, you may want the house, car, etc. to prove to people that you have value, or to win them over as friends. I have found that money doesn't work very well, in the long run, toward accomplishing these goals.

I think you know that one of my life-long passions has been to be involved in helping people improve their lives. Very few things bring me more joy. It is probably the driving force behind all the work that is going into writing this book to you. I'm guessing that we are pre-wired for our passions from our youth. And of course, the values we were taught by our parents influence our future. Ever notice how parents who are teachers might have a child who teaches? Or parents who run a business have some kids who do the same? Part of your specialness is finding out what uniquely turns you on. Some like to make money. Some like to help people. Some like to work the soil, and some like to fix whatever is broken. The list is as long as the number of humans. My wish for you is that you will feel free enough and secure enough to find your own passion, and build it to the sky! You may have more than one, and they may change throughout your life. In this regard I hope you never grow up, in the sense that you always want to learn from life, and always see the mystery and intrigue of the every day world!

"God gives every bird its food,
But She does not throw it into their nest."
Source Unknown

Hard work. Money usually doesn't come without hard work. I know that you may see things in the media that suggest otherwise, but those are usually myths and lies. I hope you have the energy and the drive to get out there and make your life happen! I've always felt I have to do my very best. If I am then blessed with a little good luck along the way, so much the better! But I can't wait for the lightening of good luck to hit me, while I sit on my butt and bitch about the fact that life isn't fair, and that I'm not getting my due. I really don't think I'm DUE anything. I think this is a very dangerous thought, which is all too popular in our world. I don't have a RIGHT to be as successful as my neighbor. All I've got is the opportunity to get out of bed every morning, attack life with as much gusto as I can muster, and be thankful at the end of the day if my hard work has brought me some reward.

"There is more to life
than increasing its speed."
Mahatma Gandhi
Indian Civil Rights Leader
1869 - 1948

Man, but we live in a fast-paced community and world! Some of it is fun, but sometimes it can make a person crazy! Some people need to learn to slow down---but not everyone. Ever know someone whose butt seemed to have a permanent imprint on the couch, and whose remote seemed to be welded to their hand!? This quote is a good example of how great truths apply to some more than others. Some of our too-unmotivated friends need to increase the speed of their lives! Gandhi's point, of course, when set in the context of money and happiness, makes great sense. The old song says that "money can't buy me love"---and it doesn't guarantee happiness either. However, it HAS been said that money does help you to look for happiness in more interesting places! Now, there may be some truth to THAT!

"Don't focus on success
as much as on significance."
Source Unknown

I really like this one. The world tends to define success in fairly narrow terms. If we can feel that our lives are making a difference, that what we are doing has some significance for us, our happiness quotient will undoubtedly go up. In finding this significance we may make some money, or we may not. A good parent who healthily loves their children is very significant to the kids and society---but the financial pay usually sucks! But so what. As long as you can feel good about what you are doing.

However, I do want to point out that money is significant in our lives. When our world so often defines success with money, it's hard for us to blow off our culture's values. Money isn't everything, but neither is it nothing. It IS something, and you will do well to come to grips with your philosophy regarding it, so that you can better pick those goals that fit that philosophy. I know some religious people who chastise those who have money, or make it their goal. I believe that is wrong. I've also noticed that those same religious leaders sure don't mind hanging out with the money people when the church has a building fund! Again, different strokes for different folks. Money is just another neutral part of life that people develop negative or positive feelings about. It could just as easily be who has the biggest nose ring or the longest feet. Sometimes society capriciously decides that one thing is of value and another is not.

"Life is a game---
and money is the prize."
Papa Bear

I remember talking to a friend who stated that, "in the end, it all comes down to money." You may not know it yet, but there really is a lot of truth to that. You want a house, but it costs money (and more than you ever imagined!). You want a certain car, and it costs too much money. You want your kids to go to a certain school, but where will the money come from? And on and on it goes. You need to pay for your parent's funeral, but there is no money. What do you do? In a way I would say, don't fret. Because some how, people find a way.

But even when we don't worship money, it still impacts our lives. I grew up with lots of ideas about social welfare. I must admit that as I have gotten older, I have had some regrets that I did not focus more on a profession that produced more income. In myself, I have always been something of a minimalist. But when one has a family, the game is very different. The associated costs are one reason that people have smaller families today--- because ours is an expensive world, and the financial commitments last a lifetime!

So, what's the Bottom Line of this chapter?
Money can be powerful.
Figure out what you want,
and set your course!!
____________________________
It's Your Turn!

What did you like or dislike about this chapter?

What would you like to tell YOUR cubs about this subject?

What is YOUR bottom line on this subject?? ____________________________

Chapter 6:
"The bible was written by the same people
who said the world was flat!"
Source Unknown

Now we're getting into some difficult waters, given that you (and I) were raised in the right wing of Protestant conservatism. It is not an error that I did not capitalize the "b" in "bible" in the title. The bible is a very helpful and informative book with good ideas about life--- but it is in no way the ONLY source of truth in our world! It was written at a point in history, and is influenced by the culture of its day (as are all writings). You have been told that conservative christianity is correct, and that ALL OTHER RELIGIONS are wrong. This is a huge falsehood. As I have told you, you would most likely be a Buddhist if you were raised in a Buddhist culture, or Jewish if raised in a Jewish culture, etc. You may think you have "chosen" your faith, but in reality your subculture has planted it upon you--- via regular church involvements, christian schools, etc.

It is very interesting that we do not give a second thought to disagreeing with the early scientists (who told us the world was flat), but we resist disagreeing with the early religionists (who tried to sell us their theology). As a scientist, what makes the most sense to me is atheism. It makes the least sense to think that my white man's version of god is the only truth on the subject. If anything is true about god, it would be that there are many paths to god, and that none is superior.

"Religions are different roads converging to the same point.
What does it matter that we take different roads,
as long as we reach the same goals.
In reality there are as many religions
as there are individuals."
Mahatma Gandhi
Indian Civil Rights Leader
1869 - 1948

I believe I understand why so many people want to believe in god. The obvious answer is that most have been told to have this belief. But at a deeper, more psychological level, believing in god provides an awful lot of comfort to people: it helps them to think that they will see their loved ones after death, it helps them to be less afraid of death, it helps them to not deal with the absolute finality of death, and it provides comfort that somehow everything that happens in the world fits into a larger puzzle of justice. We've all heard it at funerals: "she is going to a better place, he's going home to his family, god knows why this happened," etc. There are times when I want to believe in god, and enjoy all of the comforts, but my mind experiences it as intellectual suicide. The verse says that "we shall know the truth, and the truth shall set us free." I take comfort in knowing that if I approach life with open and sensible eyes, I will be at peace with what I see.

"The sum total of all that lives is God.
We may not be God, but we are of God,
even as a little drop of water is of the ocean."
Mahatma Gandhi
Indian Civil Rights Leader
1869 - 1948

This is a very comforting thought--- to think that we are an important part of the universe and it's environment. However, I doubt that it is true. My psychological concern is that we will only feel valuable if we are part of something else. We need to view ourselves as innately valuable, regardless of whether there is a force working outside of us in the universe. Can you see that there is a huge built-in problem with this belief in god? It is the ultimate copout! Ever notice how people turn to god to save the day: "god help me... to get this job, to win the ball game, to sleep tonight," etc. It may sound strange, but please understand that in all that I am saying, I am not down on you (or anyone) who believes in god. I just want us to understand what the implications of that belief are.

"I suppose that most people who find themselves
in a dangerous spot pray to God.
But I feel that I've gotten myself there,
so it's my responsibility."
Sir Edmund Hillary
The 1st person
to conquer Mt. Everest
1919 - 2008

I often observe people using god to their own advantage, while not doing enough on their own part to get the job done. It's so typical to ask god for help when we feel helpless. And we'd like to believe that ours is the good cause, the one that god supports. As a very simplistic example, it makes no sense to watch two sports teams pray for victory in their contest. They may tell you that they are only praying that no one gets hurt, but I know better. I've worked with professional athletes, and they think it is only right that god be on THEIR side! This is part of the problem with my god vs. your god--- it leads groups to war with each other (some of the world's largest battles CONTINUE to be fought because of sick god thoughts)--- which seems like a very ungodlike characteristic!

I think that it is just like believing the world is flat, to think that god is going to rescue the day for us, or that we deserve her blessing more than the other guy. If we give god the credit for the outcome, that diminishes all that we did to bring it about. One of the HARDEST things to logically defend is all the ROTTEN evil that happens in the world. How many religionists have looked the fool as they stumble over their words, trying to explain why god allows the injustices of the world to go on and on!? It seems much more sensible to state that we don't know why shit happens, but that it is part of the cycle of life, and that we need to do our best to reduce its frequency in our world.

"I've found Jesus.
He was behind the sofa
the whole time!"
Internet Chatter

You're probably at a stage in life where you can't laugh at this. I, on the other hand, in my antiquity, find it to be a great play on words. How presumptuous of us to think that, if there were a god, she would be hard to find, or that we would be one of the few lucky ones to find him.

[Side Bar: I am randomly and purposely changing my usage of gender when referring to gods or persons. You have been raised to believe that god is a male, and that men and women only hold certain positions in life. I disagree with all of this, and switch the genders to encourage you to think "outside of the box." In many ways I am a feminist (if a male can be such a thing), and am enraged at how organized religion, men, and society-in-general tries to keep women in a second-class position.]

My encouragement to you, is that you don't worry about trying to find Jesus, God, or Buddha--- but that you try to find yourself. There are those who would say that in so doing, you will find god indeed.

My recommendation is that you enjoy the diversity of religious beliefs that our world possesses, appreciate the advantages of each, and realize the silliness that permeates each and every one. Honor the people who have these beliefs, but feel every liberty to disagree. They are not better or worse because of what they believe. They are just different. And if you can come to celebrate the wonderfulness of differences, you will have taken some significant steps toward health and well-being.

Like you, I can still enjoy some parts of religion: the music is some of the best in the world, the power and feeling that goes with certain holidays is very uplifting, and the quiet and peace that come with prayerful contemplation can warm the heart. There are many things in our world that we enjoy and celebrate, without taking them seriously or viewing them as literally true. Santa, for example. We know he doesn't exist, but we enjoy the game with our children. When they mature, we move them on to other age-appropriate ideas. Religion isn't a bad thing. It's just not the only thing. And it's no reason to like anyone more or less. The stories and myths are great, but a literal understanding of them defies common sense... you know... kind of like Santa!

"Puritanism: The haunting fear
that someone, somewhere may be happy."
Internet Chatter

One of the things that sucks about religion (especially the really conservative ones), is that they seem to be so anti-fun! Yes, I know they have bingo, potlucks, and coffee clubs--- but come on! Ever notice all those pictures from the turn of the century (the LAST one, of course)---how no one is ever smiling? That was also a time in our history when EVERYBODY was religious. Could there be a correlation? I think so! I hope and pray, that if, after all my ramblings on god, you choose a religious life--- that you sure as hell pick one that is pro-fun! As I've said, I know so many people who are living a "pure and clean" (i.e., no fun) life on earth in order to receive the "wonderful blessing of heaven." Give me a break! My bet is that the "ashes to ashes, and dust to dust" verse is one of the ones that makes sense. Please don't waste away your todays on the against-all-odds bet that there's a grand payoff in the big casino in the sky!!

So, what's the Bottom Line of this chapter?
You are not the sheep, and there probably is no shepherd---
but your heart will show you the way, nonetheless!
____________________________
It's Your Turn!

What did you like or dislike about this chapter?

What would you like to tell YOUR cubs about this subject?

What is YOUR bottom line on this subject?? ____________________________

Chapter 7:
The Age-old Custom
of Four Wives

"President Clinton doesn't need another woman in his life. Few would argue the point, unless they lived in the West African nation of Senegal, which the Clintons are visiting later this month. A joke has morphed into a rumor there that the Clintons are coming in search of a Second Lady. The fact that Hillary is coming too is adding to the speculation, since first wives traditionally approve subsequent spouses. For some the idea is just something to snicker about, but to others it's not so farfetched. It's legal for Senegalese men to take four wives and customary for politicians to have more. "In Africa, we can take care of our desires without having to lie," says a local official. "We have problems here, but sex scandals are not one of them.""
Newsweek
March 30, 1998

As you will see, chapters 6-8 are related. However, in order to keep you awake, I have broken them up into various parts. The reason you will hear certain themes reverberate is because they seem so central to me. It has been said that a great speech consists of one strong idea restated in various and numerous ways, such that the listener cannot escape the speaker's primary message.

I find it fascinating how various parts of the world have ideas about the same subject (e.g., marriage), which are completely different. As I've said, the first tendency of one culture is to think that the other culture is wrong, because that which is different we often find threatening. However, who is to say that the view of marriage in Senegal is wrong and the American view is right? It is well known that polygamy has been practiced by some of the Mormons in this country for many many years, and that in biblical times those in power had many wives. Haven't heard about any cultures where the woman has many husbands. Seems unfair, don't you think?

"In ancient Egypt, priests plucked every hair from their bodies,
including their eyebrows and eyelashes."
Internet Chatter

I don't know of any American priests who practice this religious behavior. I'm guessing that not many would sign up for this method of showing their dedication to god! Again, these things seem strange to us. However, if we were raised in these cultures, we would see these practices as totally normal. We would be completely radical, sinful, and mocked, if we were to challenge the practices of that culture.

How can you and I possibly conclude that our American take on god is the ONE AND ONLY true understanding?! Such a conclusion strikes me as completely ridiculous!

As I've said earlier, if there is ANY truth to all the mythology about god that we have been spoon-fed, it would seem to be that:

"Each one reaches heaven
by climbing his own particular stairway."
Source Unknown

I would suggest that the age-old custom of four wives is no more ludicrous than the age-old customs of our culture. You know, like the idea that it is better to be married than single, or that children can only be healthily raised by a two-parent heterosexual married couple, or that it is healthier to not have sexual intercourse until after we are married, or.... The list, of course, could go on and on. I hope you are developing the ability to challenge the ideas you were raised on, and are only choosing to live out those ideas that make the most sense to you.

"WWBD?"
Book Title

Why, may I ask, does this make any less sense than WWJD? How about WWDLD or WWMD? I godda tell ya, that the one that seems most responsible and intelligent is ---WWID?! It is so easy to use this god stuff as a copout! Why should I be let off of the hook by telling you that I'm Doing What Jesus Would Do? What Would Buddha Do? What Would the Dahli Lama Do? What Would Mohammed Do? Can you see how these bumper stickers attack our self worth? Can't I be trusted to figure out what to do in my own life? Why do I need a god crutch? Maybe I'm afraid to take responsibility for my own behavior? I guess I shouldn't believe in myself, because apparently only some supposed and mythical power can beam me down the directions for my life. I get it. Low self-esteem is the way to go! I am nothing. God is everything. I am only the vessel. God is all the substance. Silly me! Now I remember--- these are the great lessons I learned in church! Pleeeease get out of my way, because I can't wait to get back to church for more of this psychologically and emotionally uplifting instruction unto righteousness!!

Sorry, but I just can't do it! Been there, been beat down by that already! I only have one alternative, and that is to---GROW UP! Although it's out there on the edge, I godda go with WWID. Hold on to your hats, because this acronym stands for--- drum roll--- What Would I Do!! Now, I don't mind if we check in with the spiritual heavy weights from generations past, for their insights are helpful (just like everyone ELSE'S are!). But in the end, I must make the call. And I'm ready to step up to the plate of life and state that it is my decision, I stand by it, and I will live with its consequences! If I'm wrong, I won't blame it on my inability to understand my god's hieroglyphics. I was given a mind, and feeble as it may be, I'm committed to using it! So please, do me a favor and tell me What YOU Will Do. I understand that you may be wrong. I can definitely relate to that. Seems easier than claiming that I know which truthes my Higher Power is beaming my way---only to have to tell you later that I misread the beam! Plus, this way, if I'm lucky enough to make some correct decisions, I get to take the credit! Such a deal! And if there IS a god, I'm think'n she'll be happy to not be blamed for so many of my lame-o decisions! All right ---WWID! I'm all over it! What about you?

"The Mississippi River was flooding its banks and the waters were rising around Clem's house. The waters had gotten to the level of the front porch where Clem was standing. A man in a rowboat came by and called, "Hop in, and I'll take you to high ground." But Clem said, "No, my God will save me!" The river continued to rise to the second story windows. A powerboat came by and offered a rescue, but Clem continued to wait for God. Now on the roof, a helicopter offered a lift, but the wait for God continued. The next he knew, Clem was dead, and standing before God. Angry at God, he said: "I trusted you! Why did you let me down?" To which God responded: "What do you want from me? I sent you two boats and a helicopter!!"
Internet Chatter

So, what is the Bottom Line of this chapter?
Culture usually determines reality.
Our spirits are not as free as we think.
Besides, god gets tired of take'n the blame.
Maybe it's time for me to take credit for my own ideas!
____________________________
It's Your Turn!

What did you like or dislike about this chapter?

What would you like to tell YOUR cubs about this subject?

What is YOUR bottom line on this subject?? ____________________________

Chapter 8:
The Number-Two Top Oxymoron:
Religious Tolerance.

If we could master this in our world, we would go a long way to creating much greater peace for all. I think we have made progress, but we still have a long way to go. It's almost as if tolerance and diversity are bad words to some people. Maybe it goes back to the idea that divergent ideas cannot coexist--- that if I say my way is right, I am logically required to conclude that your way is wrong. The problem seems to occur when I conclude that there is only ONE truth, and that mine is the ONLY truth. I hope that you kids are starting to understand what a philosophically untenable idea this is.

"Teach Tolerance"
Bumper Sticker

I am an advocate of this bumper sticker, because teaching anything else is the kiss of death, if we humans are all going to get along and coexist. Because it makes no logical sense to conclude that one group is superior to the others (as Hitler tried to teach), logic dictates that we then have to try to treat people equally. My understanding is that some people don't like this bumper sticker, because they think it means that their ideas are going to be put down, or that they will be required to accept ideas that they completely disagree with. Nothing could be further from the truth. I do think that some people believe their ideas have to be superior, or else they (as people) will be inferior. This too is false. Our ideas are separate from our value.

It is expectable that our ideas will change over time. In fact, it is preferable---because as we get wiser, we will outgrow our unwise ideas. Remember that verse: "When I was a child, I thought as a child. But now that I am an adult, I have put away my childish ideas?" The occasionally huge ugliness that we see in our world (for example, white supremacists) grows out of child-like thinking, which grows out of the hatred that is bred in insecurity, which grows out of not loving ourselves. Ergo, high self- esteem will save the world, while the opposite--- is killing us.

"Most people tend to overcompensate...
People who are riddled with doubts
tend to be dogmatists
who believe they are never wrong."
Source Unknown

This is a classic concept in psychology that can help you to try to understand people. There are many names for it, but I have heard it referred to as a reaction formation. Basically, it is the idea that people may cover up how they really feel by portraying a belief that is just the opposite. For example, a person who is very dogmatic is usually not very emotionally healthy. It may well be subconscious for the person, but they will cover their self-doubt by acting like they have absolutely no doubt. Also, a person who appears super self-confident may actually be riddled with self-doubt. None of this is ironclad, but it is worth thinking about when you observe someone. Confident healthy people are usually very reasonable regarding ideas they disagree with, and don't have a huge need to have you agree with them.

"Believe in the god that you believe in,
in the best way that you can."
Katsuhika Ito,
Buddhist Priest

Some of the most tolerant writings are by the eastern mystics. They seem to have captured a religious view that tries to allow for individuals to view the world differently. A very small book, called the Tao de Ching, which was written about 2500 years ago, has been very influential in my life, and may be worth your time. As you can imagine, if we were to live out the message of this Buddhist priest, it would wreck havoc on organized religion. This, in my opinion, would be a most wonderful thing! Have you seen this bumper sticker?

"Jesus is coming back,
and boy is she pissed!!"

Most religions are way off the mark as to what healthy spirituality is all about. Today is probably a lot like it was in the biblical times, when Christ was mad as hell at the Pharisees (the religious leaders of the day) for their ignorance about spirituality--- and their arrogance.

"The most common name in the world is Mohammed."
Internet Chatter

Isn't this interesting? Kind of says that we Americans are not in the center of the universe, don't you think? One of your best forms of education would be if you were able to spend some time in some of the world's other cultures, where the majority of the world's population lives.

"If we could shrink the earth's population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all the existing human ratios remaining the same, it would look something like the following: There would be 57 Asians, 21 Europeans, 14 from the Western Hemisphere (both North and South), and 8 Africans. 52 would be female and 48 would be male. 70 would be non-white and 30 would be white. 70 would be non- Christian and 30 would be Christian. 89 would be heterosexual and 11 would be homosexual. 6 people would possess 59% of the entire world's wealth, and all 6 would be from the United States. 80 would live in substandard housing. 70 would be unable to read. 50 would suffer from malnutrition. 1 would be near death and 1 would be near birth. Only 1 would have a college education, and only 1 would own a computer. When one considers our world from such a compressed perspective, the need for acceptance, understanding and education becomes glaringly apparent."
Gordon Belt,
on the Internet

What more can I say, but that I pray that you can develop this type of tolerant and open perspective of all those around you. It saddens me to say it, but, in my experience, many religious people are just the opposite of this. In fact, they act like finger-pointing and judgment is their part-time job. Conversely, in AA, they say that theirs is:

"A program of attraction, not promotion."

Most religions are trying to promote their ideas, despite the fact that most people don't find them to be attractive. If they would just love people, rather than judging them, their congregations would grow--- for we all want to be loved and accepted, and none of us likes being told that we're doing it all wrong. And no, the "love the sinner but hate the sin" thing just won't fly. I understand that most churches cannot do this, for it leads to philosophical suicide. "My church tells me I can only live my life a certain way, and my friend lives hers differently. Ergo, she must be bad. I can't hang out with bad, because it may rub off on me, and then I will be bad. I must stay away from her" (a lot of this thinking is subconscious, but no less powerful!). When we can conclude that we are good, without the blessing from an outside force, we will do good. People who are unconditionally loved will give it to others, and the world will get better!

So, What is the Bottom Line of this Chapter?
"Different Strokes for Different Folks" can save the world.
____________________________
It's Your Turn!

What did you like or dislike about this chapter?

What would you like to tell YOUR cubs about this subject?

What is YOUR bottom line on this subject?? ____________________________

Chapter 9:
You Cannot Not Have a Political View

I'm guessing that you know that I'm not terribly interested in politics, given that we never discuss it much together. However, I do have my opinions, as do you. Your upbringing has skewed your views to the right wing republican perspective. You could have just as easily been born into a liberal democratic household, so I hope you know that, as with religion, your political views are not really just your own creation.

"Political language" is designed
to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable,
and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind."
George Orwell
English Novelist
1903 - 1950

It's easy to be down on politics and politicians. It's convenient to blame the government for anything that we don't like in our country. This, I think, is a copout. Obviously, there are some bad politicians. But just like anything else, there is also a lot of good. Most who enter the profession probably have good intentions. I do think that there is something about the institution that tends to twist people's views, and to compromise some of their initial ideas. But there will always be politicians, because there will always be government. We will always need good and decent people to enter the profession, to keep it from going completely sour. I do think the idea of limiting the number of years a person can stay in office is probably good, for the input of constant new blood should reduce the chances of corruption.

As I've said, by nature, and since childhood, I think I have been a liberal. Such thinking was not encouraged in my family. In fact, such ideas were either subtlely or openly made fun of. Please note, it is much healthier to ASK children what they think, rather than trying to TELL them what to think! This is a critical area in child development, which I hope you can improve on in your world. We need to trust their innate ability to make up their own mind. We need to get rid of our insecurity, which drives us to want our kids to be clones of ourselves. Inevitably, children will have features that differ from their parents (e.g., the artist child born to the military parent/s). We mess kids up when we don't let them listen to the beat of their own drummer. I would say that this happens in at least 80% of today's homes, so we have a lot of work to do!!

Here then, are some of my political views: My position on abortion is pro-child and pro-choice. Yes, men help women to become pregnant, but the child is in their body, and I believe the outcome is their choice. I wish women didn't get abortions. Not only for the child, but also for them. I can't know what it's like to have a child inside of me. However, it seems blatantly obvious that because it is such an amazing miracle of nature, there is a psychological impact on the mother if the fetus is aborted. I have had many clients who have experienced this, and their reactions are as diverse as each woman. Some women suffer, while others do quite well after an abortion. The choice is obviously one of those lesser-of-two-evils type of things. In a perfect world, such a choice would not have to be made.

Obviously, abortion should not be lightly used as a form of contraception. In my experience, women don't want to do this. An abortion has emotional and physical ramifications, which most women understand. Most women have an innate maternal urge, which works against abortion ideas. A woman who has frequent abortions is probably very emotionally unhealthy, as well as poor and desperate. I'm very turned off by the right-wingers who seem to castigate women who choose abortion. Compassion, rather than judgment, should be the rule. I've also observed that some of the most adamant pro-lifers are very emotionally unhealthy. And yes, some of the pro-choicers seem to have gone off a deep end.
I am told that the Greek Parthenon has two of the most famous Socratic sayings engraved on it: Moderation In All Things, and Know Thyself. I've also mentioned another one that I like: To Thine Own Self Be True. Let's remember "attraction rather than promotion." The best choice is usually somewhere in the middle of the dilemma. The woman deciding on an abortion needs to understand what matters most to her, and then be true to her own heart. Her decision needs to be based on her views, more than those of others. She needs to decide which set of consequences she is able to live with. Abortions will always happen, regardless of the law, for ours will never be a perfect world. Obviously, we need to educate men and women, so that there are fewer unwanted pregnancies. And as we raise people who love themselves, they will take better care of themselves, and their offspring. Please remember--- I'm not trying to solve this problem (for it is probably unsolvable). I'm only trying to give you my personal views. They are not meant to touch on every side of the debate. They are only something for you to sharpen your views against.

On another subject, I am not anti-capitol punishment. This differs from being pro-capitol punishment, in that I do not like the idea of killing people. In fact, I am not really FOR the death penalty, but I don't see the logic in not letting a person experience the consequences of their actions. I believe that we will always have some killing and murder in our world. Hopefully we can avoid major wars, but factional hatreds will no doubt continue. Although I am an optimist, I am a realist, rather than an idealist.

From what I can tell, a lot of what we do for prisoners is not helpful. The return-to-jail rate is very very high. I'm mixed about prison. Part of me wants them to suffer so badly in jail, that they will do everything in their power to never return. The other part of me wants to find a way to educate them, such that they will choose a better life outside of jail. Most prisoners, of course, come from terrible backgrounds, where they have been abused, lived in poverty, and developed animal-like traits in order to survive. Clearly, if we can raise children more healthily, we will reduce the prison numbers.

It seems reasonable that a consequence of killing someone would be to be killed ourselves. The rights of the victim and their family are just as great as those of the killer. In fact, it seems reasonable that a person who has killed someone should LOSE all of their rights.

I know that all of this can get very complex--- was the killer out of their mind, was the murder premeditated, are we executing an innocent man, etc. Notice that most of what is said about criminals has to do with males? Why do you think that is? Testosterone? Primal warring instincts? Sex drive? Pretty interesting stuff. I of course, am no expert here. Just a dad giving you my perspective, and challenging you to think on your own.

"To belittle is to be little."
AA

It's easy to hate the criminal. In fact, it can seem like great sport to put down everyone who is different from ourselves. Criminals are especially easy to disdain, because they do such terrible stuff. However, I believe that people become criminals, rather than being born as such. In other words, they were once cute little kids who liked to play with their neighbors. But something went very wrong--- they were mistreated, they were born with a genetic problem, they were malnourished, they've gone insane, etc. This does NOT excuse their criminal behavior, and they must still suffer the consequences of their actions. But I think we do well to realize that we are not so different from the bad guys. If we we'e raised as they were, we too, might be a menace to society. I guess I'm trying to encourage you to err on the side of compassion, rather than judgment. Beneath all of our ugly veneers, there are some pretty nice people inside.

So, what's the Bottom Line of this chapter?
Logically and independently develop your political views
and then give people room to differ!
____________________________
It's Your Turn!

What did you like or dislike about this chapter?

What would you like to tell YOUR cubs about this subject?

What is YOUR bottom line on this subject?? ____________________________

Chapter 10:
"I majored in Liberal Arts.
Will that be for here or to go?"
Bumper Sticker

It would seem that going to college doesn't guarantee a great job. Oh well. How in the world can we expect someone who is twenty years of age to have their future figured out!? And yet, this is the unfortunate myth that some parents place upon their children. The three of you are taking very different paths through your late teens and early twenties. Part of me believes that there are no bad ways, just different ways. It has been clear that a college education is one ticket to long-term success. However, the world of computers, for example, has demonstrated some amazing acceptions (remember Bill Gates, the college dropout?). Of course, if one happens to be a genius, they can probably make it in ANY profession without a sheepskin!

But what about all of us who make up that big bulge in the bell-shaped curve? College still continues to be a main vein to better jobs and income for most of us. Beyond that, however, the key variable is how much determination and hard work we are willing to put into our job efforts. If you're driven to succeed, college may help you, but going without will not necessarily hurt you. Besides, if you're happy with your work, who the hell cares what anyone else thinks. Furthermore, we now live in a world where people no longer necessarily work for the same company, or do the same type of work, for their whole career. The old saying is "wherever you go, there you are!" I pray that you can enjoy being in the "now" of your life, rather than pining away for the "was" or "will be."

"I thought I wanted a career.
Turns out all I wanted was a paycheck!"
Internet Chatter

The truth of the matter is that for many many people their job (and the education that may have helped them get it) is just the means to an end. I'm quite sure that well over 50% of the population really doesn't like their work, but lives for the paycheck that empowers them to do what they REALLY love. Just like all the college students who think that half of their required classes are stupid, and that they'll never use most of the ridiculous stuff that they are required to memorize! We would all like to do the fun jobs, and tell our yucky bosses to "take that job and shove it!" Unfortunately, this only happens in fairy tales, for all of us working stiffs have far too many bills, which won't let us walk away from those weekly paychecks!

"You cannot be rejected by another human being---
all they can do is tell you what their limits are."
AA

I hope and pray that what you do with college or work grows out of your own desires, rather than what others think of your choices. Some may not accept you without a college degree, while others may reject you because you have one. Once again, this is an example of why your high self-esteem is so critical. For when you are liking you (and your choice of college and career), the opinions of others just aren't all that important. Because only about 2 out of 10 people are strong enough to hold these views, I understand that this is no small task! But the payoff in personal happiness is well worth the effort! I must admit that this is an area where you will probably feel a lot of pressure. It can come not only from your parents, but also from your relatives, your coworkers, your boy or girl friend, from your buddies, etc.

Please know that your career choices WILL be rejected by some--- regardless of WHAT choices you make. The lesson here is for you to realize the unimportance of their rejection--- and that all they are reflecting is what is important to them--- which hopefully has NOTHING to do with you! This may sound weird, but only YOU can reject you! If you're fine with you, then to hell with them and their small thinking! Try not to take rejection personally--- by considering the feebleness of the rejecting source! Also please realize that you're job is a choice. Don't give me that victim crap about being stuck. So unstick yourself! Please don't say, "I can't." Hopefully you will understand that what you are saying is, "I won't."?

"The trouble with the world
is that the stupid are cocksure,
and the intelligent are full of doubt."
Bertrand Russell
English Philospher
1872 - 1970

God but I hope that this makes sense to you. It is easier to be stupidly dogmatic than intelligently doubtful. Beware of people who say "always" and "never", and who tell you there is only one way to do anything! It will never be true that "everyone" must get a college degree or that "no one" should have a certain kind of job. Did you catch me using the word "never"? Did it make you stop and think? I sure as hell hope so!

Please know that it is wonderfully ok to say "I don't know" or "I'm not sure." In the long run people will respect you more when you own up to your ignorance--- especially if it is connected to a desire to go out and learn the answers. And yes, we're all ignorant about a lot of stuff a lot of the time--- because the world is vast, and we can't manage all the information that is out there. Ever have someone bullshit you about knowing something? Isn't it pretty quickly obvious that they don't know what the hell they are talking about? Do you respect those people? I didn't think so. I have found that it works when I tell them I don't know, but that I'll get back to them with an answer after I do some research. People can respect this, because they've been in the same pickle themselves.

"Comfort the disturbed,
and disturb the comfortable."
AA

I do believe that this is one of our jobs in life--- and our education or career can be a part of this process. In the middle class world in which you've been raised, you've probably seen more of the comfortable people, and fewer of the disturbed. When we're comfortable, we don't want to be pushed outside of our comfort zone, but it's probably what we need--- in order to keep us emotionally healthy. And we have a responsibility to help those who are less fortunate than we are. This, however, is different from helping someone so much, that they forget or become unmotivated to help themselves. In psychology we call it "learned helplessness." You know the story--- instead of giving someone a fish every day, we need to teach them how to fish.

"Heaven is just a new pair of glasses."
AA

The eastern concept that heaven is a state-of-mind makes great sense to me. I"m like, totally happy for you dude, if you find heaven somewhere between "here or to go." I WON'T be as happy if you want me to be your "sugar-daddy" father while you're "finding yourself" on the surf of Hawaii. Your adulthood has at least two wonderments--- that you are free to pursue your dreams without parental encroachment, and that I am free to cheer you on without parental responsibilities.

I hope that you can clean the "glasses" of your perspective on the world on a daily basis, to see the predictable and ongoing heavens that surround you. The majority of the world is not able to do this, for pessimists seem to rule the day. Please realize that our every day world will tell you more of hell than heaven. You might even consider turning off the nightly news, if you can't remember that a 10% chance of rain is a stupid idea--- when even basic math tells us we should bet on the 90% chance of sun. Heaven waits around every corner, if you will but see it. This doesn't translate to an easy and lucky life--- but to the ability to see humor in hell, and to the knowledge that as long as we have a breath left to take, we have a rainbow yet to find.

So, what's the Bottom Line of this chapter?
Waiter, weight lifter, or world champion. It doesn't matter.
Just be DAMN sure your choices work for you!
____________________________
It's Your Turn!

What did you like or dislike about this chapter?

What would you like to tell YOUR cubs about this subject?

What is YOUR bottom line on this subject?? ____________________________

Chapter 11:
"Go to the edge," he said. "It's too high."
"Go to the edge," he said. "I might fall."
"Go to the edge," he said. And I did.
And he pushed me. And I flew."
Richard Bach
American Author
1936 -

I"m thinking that this is a very important chapter--- for I have seen so many people reduce their lives by avoiding this subject. There is a relevant book title that I like: "Feel the Fear, and Do It Anyway." One of the things that can help you the most, throughout your lives, is to fight off the fear of taking risks. This poem was shown to me by a man who received it, on a postcard, from his young adult daughter. The implication was that her parents had challenged her to push the envelope of her life--- and that this had been very hard for her--- but that she had come to realize what a gift their pushing was. As you know, I have some concern that the small world in which you have been raised may not serve you well over time. If you can be happy in that smaller world, then I will be happy for you. But in general, I believe that most of us get healthier in our lives as we take some growth-producing risks.

"Fear can hold you prisoner,
but hope can set you free."
Shawshank Redemption
American Movie - 1994
Written by Stephen King

I don't know if you saw this movie, but I thought it was a great one. My experience is that the majority of the population never comes even close to tapping their potential, because they are afraid to go where they've never gone before. I find this to be true even as I do something as simple as work at my computer. I will resist conquering a new feature on my pc, because it seems like it takes too much time to learn, and I feel too damn stupid while I'm learning it! However, once I get over my fear of stupidity, and push myself to learn the new computer trick, I feel like the smartest guy in town! Of course I'm not, but it's fun to widen my knowledge, and to realize that my work will be easier because of the new feature I just learned.

Nothing is sadder than to observe someone who has lost all hope. Please know that fear is a driving force behind this hell. I have had moments of this, but fortunately my positive nature keeps me from staying frozen by this demon. In all honesty, and as I've said, without hope I would just as soon be dead--- for hopelessness is a living death. Unfortunately, I've seen quite a few of the walking dead in my life. They may have an exterior that seems ok, but on the inside they are rotting away.

Instead of dying dramatically, they are dying by inches. Some of them seem to smoke, drink, or eat too much in an attempt to aid the process. Without exception, I have found that these people are frozen by fear. I believe that the "peace that passes all understanding" has to do with finding the hope that comes with letting go of the controls of our life--- and responding to life, rather than trying to manipulate it. Unfortunately, this is something that only a small minority of people come to understand.

"Fear is the darkroom
where negatives are developed."
AA

We've discussed how it is that some people become optimists, while others become pessimists. When we are afraid, it is very hard to be optimistic about our life. It's fair to conclude that if I can reduce the number of things that I am afraid of, I will up my chances of being more positive about the tasks that lay ahead. A general growth principle is that we want to get out of the dark, and into the light. There are those who say there is no darkness--- just our misunderstanding of the light that can be found in what appear to be dark situations. It would seem that the goal should be to be realists, rather than pie-eyed optimists or never-see-good pessimists. I have found that every time I have a fear, I benefit when I look it in the face, stare it down, and find out what unhealthy part of myself is driving that fear. After this sometimes VERY painful process, I always feel happier, healthier, and braver. So my wish for you is that you will refuse to let your fears keep you locked in the darkroom of your life. Take the risk. Go into the light, and you will be VERY impressed with yourself in the end!

"Numb is dumb;
feel to heal."
AA

I know it sounds way too corny, but it IS important for you to "be in touch with your fear." Please don't conclude that the way to deal with fear is to ignore it or act like it doesn't exist. One of the problems with the male-macho-act is that it usually denies the reality of fear. Just like bad-hair-days or pimples, we all experience fear at one time or another. There is actually a lot of energy and power in fear. Sometimes being afraid pushes us toward anger, which can be a powerful force for good if it is properly channeled. When we are open to feeling our fear, we are also open to feeling our joy, passion, anticipation, etc. I hope you know that there is no such thing as a bad feeling (contrary to what you were taught in the church). What is good or bad about a feeling is what we do with it. I hope that makes sense, because it is pivotal and life changing.

"Leadership is going where no one else has gone."
Bob Galvin
Former Chairman of Motorola
1922 - 2011

Following is ok, but you know what they say: if you're not the lead dog, the view never changes! By definition, very few of us can be leaders, for the vast majority of us are members of the pack. There is a special exhilaration in being ahead of the pack, and leading the way for others. I believe you all have the potential for that kind of leadership. However, it's very possible that you won't achieve this level, for most of us are not brave enough to go to the limits of our ability. In this regard, I want to encourage you to be risk takers, to try that which is new, to not settle for only that which is easy--- with the knowledge that you will almost always land on your feet, and that you will LOVE the rush that comes from not quitting, and going all out!

I also want to encourage you to become comfortable with being alone. If you do become a leader, there will be times when others will think you are crazy, and won't want to hang with your ideas. If your ideas are good, over time others will come along. I'm sure you've heard the saying that "it can be lonely at the top." I also hope that you understand that there is a world of a difference between being lonely and being alone. Unfortunately, many many people in our world are deathly afraid of being alone, because they think that they will automatically be lonely. That CAN be true, but it does not HAVE to be true.

If we are in love with ourselves, we can have a pretty darn good time when we're alone. In fact, sometimes people bug the hell out of us, and nothing sounds sweeter than some alone time. Because most people do NOT love themselves, they feel that loneliness will kill them, so they put up with numerous bullshit relationships--- rather than dealing with their fear of being alone. You may know that since I moved out, I've spent several major "family" holidays by myself. I can tell you that it was a little strange at first (because it was new and different), but I have grown to thoroughly enjoy and look forward to those times. You know that I love being with you, but it also works for me for you to be with your mother and the other relatives, while I enjoy some solitude.

"Life experiences are like quarters.
You lose both of them
by lying around on the couch."
Jamba-ism #16

If you know anything about me, it's that I'm not a couch potato. I may spend some time alone, but that doesn't mean I'm just sitting around! If you choose to live on the couch, I will of course still love you--- but my bias will be that you're missing a Hell of a lot of awesome living while stuck to that sofa! I have found that fear is often the glue that keeps people stuck to the couch. The person concludes that the predictability of a boringly safe life is better than a life of challenges and changes. My experience is that it is "better to have tried and failed, than never to have tried at all" (remember this one?).? Damn those quizzes!

So, what is the Bottom Line of this chapter?
Don't be afraid of the edge.
Jump, and you will fly!
If not, you'll learn something!
____________________________
It's Your Turn!

What did you like or dislike about this chapter?

What would you like to tell YOUR cubs about this subject?

What is YOUR bottom line on this subject?? ____________________________

Chapter 12:
"By the time you can make ends meet,
they move the ends!"
Source Unknown

How to live with money. Or should we say, how to live with the fact that there never seems to be ENOUGH money. Add in the fact that "life is what happens while we're busy planning other things"--- and making sense out of our finances gets pretty damn complicated!

The typical advise is that you should work hard, save your money, and plan for your retirement. I can't tell you how many people I know who have become very disillusioned because something went wrong with this "perfect" plan for their life. They were going to save x number of dollars for x number of years--- and then retire with a nice chunk of change. But low and behold, they lost their job, or their spouse, or their health, etc. This is an area where "one day at a time" makes great sense! Of course we should do our best to make some plans for our life--- but let's not be at all surprised when that plan has to be modified. In fact, that is what we should expect. The surprise would be if our plans at 20 years of age were anywhere CLOSE to our life at 60!

It will be nice if you can live a life that is free of debt---but it isn't likely. After all, this is America, where Capitalism drives the economy by continually teaching us that we should not be content with what we have, and that happiness is found as we spend more money. A more realistic goal will be for you to manage your debt in a way that won't turn you into a stress case. If you can develop an appetite for less rather than more, that will go a long way to ease your mind.

"For a long time it seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life.
But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first,
some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin.
At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life."
Alfred D. Souza
Australian Philosopher
- 2004

It's so true, that our lives are a series of obstacles, rather than a series of smooth roads. I sure hope that you don't miss out on the wonderment of everyday living because you're waiting for something good to happen tomorrow. By it's definition, tomorrow never arrives. All we have is today--- so let's enjoy it! As I've said, why ruin today by worrying about what may happen tomorrow, or fretting about what occurred yesterday?!

"I used to have a handle on life, but it broke."
Internet Chatter

Maybe you're too young to see the humor in this, but most of us old folks can totally relate. Because we've had times when we thought we had life all dialed in, only to be thrown yet another curve! As I have said earlier, if you don't want to lose your sanity during this journey called life, you will do well to develop a very STRONG sense of humor!

"Lord, save me from your followers."
Bumper Sticker

Unfortunately, a lot of financial evil that occurs in the world is found within the walls of religion. Obviously, some god ideas are helpful to lots of folks, so we don't want to throw out the baby with the bath water here. However, we've all seen those ridiculous bad-hair-day television evangelists who end up asking people for more and more money. It's easy to see the errors of these people's ways. It's tougher, however, to understand how the local church, parish, or synagogue may be encouraging unhealthy ideas about money. We should say here, that typically the religious leaders who preach this financial gospel don't have malice in their hearts. They simply don't understand the error of what they are preaching.

I truly believe that whether Christ, or any of the great early religious leaders, walked the earth today, they would be very distressed by what they saw. There seems to be this human tendency for religions to take great spiritual teachings and somehow pervert them. What's the old saying: money is power, and power corrupts, and complete power corrupts completely. I think it's great when churches take donations and use them to help those in need. But unfortunately, a lot of the donations don't make it to the poor, and are diverted into arenas that do the opposite of religion's stated intent. I can't tell you how many spiritually alive people I know who find their faith being hurt within the walls of religion. They often say that their god is more easily found on the shores of a lake than in the pews of a church.

"Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully
as when they do it with religious conviction."
Blaise Pascal
French Mathematician
1623 - 1662

Wow. This is a powerful statement! And one that I have found to be all too true. Mind you, this is being said by a very well known spiritual man, who is famous for stating that "within every human there is a god-shaped vacuum." This man was not anti-god. Just the opposite. He believed that people were never whole until they placed god within that inner vacuum (something I disagree with). You've studied enough history to recall that many of the world's wars were done in the name of god. What a ridiculous idea, by the way! Why blame god for our desire to take over another country or group of people? Let's just admit that we're power mongers and get on with it! Do you see, once again, how the idea that "my god is better than your god" is philosophically ludicrous?

As you try to manage your money and understand your world, you will wonder who to trust, and which organizations to give your money to. You will find that your money will never go far enough--- to pay your bills, or to provide aid for others. I do believe that you will be better off if you give part of yourself away. Whether you do that with your money or your time or both, doesn't seem to be the issue. Just be aware that many of our culture's ideas about money may be off the mark, and be prepared to develop your own sensible conclusions about how to use it to do the most good.

An over-riding principle of this chapter, and this book, is that you will help yourself if you do not assume that the ideas you've been exposed to are worth keeping. It may be that many of them are good, but if you don't take the time to assess where the good ones end and the bad ones begin, you may massively screw up your life--- and not know it until you're in some very deep shit!

As you might guess, I like the "Question Authority" bumper sticker. Please understand that this doesn't mean that I am AGAINST authority. I know full well that it is required if society is to avoid the ugliness of chaos and anarchism. The question is: which authority is good and reasonable, and which is extreme and unhealthy? Sorry, but I can't avoid the conclusion that the only way for you to figure that out is to take the time to understand the issues at hand. I, nor any one else, can answer that for you. Please avoid anyone who tells you they can. You know --- like parents, pastors, and teachers. Doesn't mean these are bad people. Just that what they say may be wrong for you--- given you're unique slant on the world.

So, what's the Bottom Line of this chapter?
As you plan your life, get ready for the plans to change---
and be ready to question the establishment!
____________________________
It's Your Turn!

What did you like or dislike about this chapter?

What would you like to tell YOUR cubs about this subject?

What is YOUR bottom line on this subject?? ____________________________

Chapter 13:
"Someone who thinks logically
is a nice contrast to the real world."
Source Unknown

It would be nice if the world were fair, and if people made sense. However, these are myths that create a great deal of distress for many people. Do you remember my earlier quote from Alexander Hamilton--- about the masses (how could you forget it!)? I honestly believe that people would know more peace if they could let go of their need to make sense out of the world, and quit trying to control it's outcome. In some ways the world does make sense, but it seems like we don't want it to make THAT kind of sense. For example, the laws of nature, as observed in the animal kingdom, display a certain harmony and balance. But lots of folks seem to need to think that we humans are BETTER than the animals, or that we are ABOVE their seemingly primitive ways. I can't explain to you exactly how humans and animals are related, but I definitely think Darwin was ON to something (as opposed to being "on" something).

There seems to be a great tendency among humans to live in denial. I'm guessing it's because the truth is so hard to bear, or figure out, or accept. The established psychological principle is that we become healthier as we deny less and accept more. As I said earlier, I clearly see this in people's inability (fear-based unwillingness?) to consider that most religious explanations of the world are steeped in mythology and superstition--- and that a more factually based understanding of human phenomenon actually explains the world more clearly. For example, I grew up being told that the Genesis account of creation was THE truth. You know--- that the world was built in seven 24 hour days, that the world is only about 4-5,000 years old, etc.

However, the well-regarded science of carbon-dating of dinosaurs, tells us that the earth is millions and millions of years old. It is blatantly clear that it is foolish to take the biblical accounts of creation literally. And yet, even today, this debate still rages on in some of our schools. Out of fear that their faith will crumble if they accept the findings of science, religionists are forced into denying well-established truths. In his book "Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism", Mitchell states that biblical literalists will do their faith an ever-increasing disservice, as their irrational conclusions paint them to be fools in the eyes of educated people around the world. And so you see, truly, that rare person who does think logically is unusual--- and often frightening to many, for their conclusions push people way out of their comfort zone.

"To understand people,
I must try to hear what they are not saying,
what they perhaps will never say."
Father John Powell
Catholic Priest
- 2009

I first read Father Powell's writings when someone gave me "Why Am I Afraid to tell You Who I Am?" This was a very popular book in the 60's, which challenged people to be vulnerable enough to take the risk of being genuine with someone else in their life. It was a seminal work that understood how amazing, scary, and life changing it can be if honesty prevails in our world. Of course, this rarely happens. That is why Powell points out that we need to listen for what people don't openly say. This, of course, is the very heart of psychology. A person's outside message is usually very different from their inside message. It's hard, for example, for most of us to believe that the inside message of an outside criminal is tender and worth caring for. Sometimes a person's outside behavior is SO difficult, that we want to believe that they are all evil. As I've said before, these "bad" people are usually emotionally wounded people (unless they suffer from a biologically-induced wound, which I will discuss later). It is because of our wounded-ness that there is so little peace in our world--- because we are using illogical and neurotic methods to try to make sense out of our troubled world.

"All reports are in:
life is now officially unfair."
Internet Chatter

Hopefully, we can now put this irrational idea to rest. As I've said earlier, the law makes attempts to get people to treat each other fairly, which is a good goal. Although we will never completely reach this goal, it is something that we should continue to strive for. This is an example where having 80% of something is much better than having 50%. I hope it is also eminently clear that we are not all equal. Again, all people may be equal "under the law," but there is no way that all people are "created" equal. For example, the reason some people are paid much more than others, is because they usually have an unusual talent (e.g., a professional singer who has a one-in-a-million voice). We would all like to be treated fairly, but let's not be shocked if we experience a few occasions where in fact this is not the case.

"Some days you're the dog;
some days you're the hydrant."
Internet Chatter

I'd like to believe that we all have our day in the sun. I know that you can tell me about some hydrant days, but I hope you can recall some dog days also. If nothing else, the laws of statistics should be in our favor. Just like the roll of the dice, the bad numbers aren't the only ones to show up, even though they may show up more FREQUENTLY than the good numbers. If you're a pessimist, you've got hydrants on the brain. If you're an optimist, there's nothing better than those dogged days of summer! I know it's hard to choose, but I encourage you to walk the dog to the best of your ability--- and realize that hydrants only come along once every mile or so!

"A gardener took great pride in caring for his lawn. But one year it grew full of dandelions. He tried every method and product to get rid of them, but nothing worked. Exasperated, he wrote the Department of Agriculture, explaining all he had done. "What shall I try next," he asked. "Try getting used to them," came the reply."
Source Unknown

Perspective. It really does make the world go round. Who's to say what is an ugly dandelion and what is a beautiful wild flower? If we can give up trying to fit the world into our tiny little attempts at understanding and control, life can be a hell of a lot more fun! I'm sure you know people who keep bitching and complaining about the dandelions in their world--- the pain-in-the-neck boss (maybe that's why they PAY us---to put up with this kind of crap), the difficult spouse, child, in-laws, etc. Blah blah blah. Paint or get off the freak'n ladder, already!! If you don't like it, DO something about it! Ever notice the person who seems to LIKE to bitch and complain? They would never admit it, but it sure as hell seems obvious to all the rest of us! Now realize that there is a world of a difference between "acting" like the dandelions don't bother us (then we just get passively pissy--- not a pretty thing!), and really coming to see the beauty in the dandelions. Now that's not to say that there truly aren't some butt-ugly plants in the world! But more often than not, we may miss the good in an apparent bad because of the blinders we are wearing.

"Great minds discuss ideas;
average minds discuss events;
small minds discuss people."
Source Unknown

To some extent we can't pick the minds we have. We can, however, choose how to use them, or how much to use them. I sure hope that the three of you won't be lazy-minded in your lives. I understand that at some level we may all have some interest in the soap operas in our neighborhood or on our TV's. And I know that it's common at parties to talk about the events of the day. But I hope you can develop a thirst for wrapping your minds around great and diverse ideas, and that you'll have friends who will occasionally push and challenge you, rather than just saying "yes sir, yes sir, three bags full!"

So, what's the Bottom Line of this chapter?
Detour your mind from do'n the donkey thing,
and change the world, rather than gripe'n about the world!
____________________________
It's Your Turn!

What did you like or dislike about this chapter?

What would you like to tell YOUR cubs about this subject?

What is YOUR bottom line on this subject?? ____________________________

Chapter 14:
"Donald Duck banned in Finland
because He Has No Pants On!"
Internet Headline

Okay. Here we go. One of the most important chapters of the book. Why? Because sex is a central part of our world and our lives, and because screwed up thinking about sex messes up untold numbers of people. This headline is especially humorous when you consider that the Scandinavian countries are considered to be some of the most sexually progressive on the planet. Who knows if it's really true, but there's no doubt that there are quite a few places on the planet where this type of thinking prevails!

"Some lions mate over 50 times a day."
Internet Chatter

As I have said, I believe we are connected to the animal kingdom. Hopefully you understand that evolutionary ideas can coexist with beliefs in god. There are many scientists who are also theists. I wonder how you responded when you read this unique fact about lions. Did you say "that's disgusting," or "in my next life I want to come back as a lion!?" As we all know, Freud thought that libido (i.e., sex drive) was a primary driving force in nature. Although Siggie is dissed by many today, it is generally accepted that his theories about the power of sexuality have merit. The animal kingdom, of course, is one proof of that, for animals build their lives around their natural desire to copulate and procreate.

If you can peel away all the taboos about sexuality in our world, we are very similar to animals. Anyone who has observed adolescent boys and girls in "heat" can testify to this. It is very sad that so many in our culture choose to view this hormonally-driven natural act as yucky, gross, tacky, vile, etc. My belief is that those who say these things are not at peace with the power of their own sexuality. When Freud first spoke on this subject he was critical of the church, for he saw religionists as being in denial about the natural importance of sex in their lives. His conclusion that this dissonance (i.e., tension) causes a great deal of neurotic behavior in people, seems very sensible. Especially if we remember that healthy people are congruent and unhealthy people are dissonant.

My belief is that sex is absolutely normal, and that it is one of life's simplest yet most powerful pleasures. Anything that tries to denigrate this natural process is usually going to do the person some harm. I believe that we need to be smart, sensible and safe with our sexuality, but that it is totally unhealthy to suppress this gift of nature. It is just as natural as the need for food, water, and sleep.

"A pig's orgasm lasts for 30 minutes."
Internet Chatter

I'm not exactly sure how or why this was studied, but I do know that it is part of the natural order of things. It is neither good nor bad---it's just normal. In the same way, orgasms are natural for all of us. I believe that masturbation is normal, and that it is unhealthy to suppress it. We need to teach children that their bodies are wonderful and are intended to be enjoyed, but that all of us also need to consider the feelings of others when we masturbate. We may need to instruct our child that their self-touching or stimulation is most appropriate when done privately. We should NOT scold our children for exploring their bodies, hanging on poles, rubbing up against something, etc. We all need to realize that our bodies are under our control, and that no one should be allowed to touch us without our permission. Again, similar to the chapter on politics, the point here is to tell you some of my views, not to speak to every aspect of this subject.

"Humans and dolphins are the only species
that have sex for pleasure."
Internet Chatter

Ok? So how do the researchers know this? We know that humans tell us they enjoy it, but what do the dolphins do? Do they have a smile on their face? Do their flippers flutter? Guess it doesn't matter. What DOES matter is that, similar to our animal friends, we are designed to enjoy sex. I think it is absolutely ridiculous to adopt the right-wing position that sex is only intended for procreation, and should only be engaged in for that purpose. We could say that food was only designed to nourish us and keep us from starvation, but I don't know anyone who would say that it is not also designed for our pleasure!

You may know this, for it is common knowledge that people often substitute great food for the absence of great sex in their lives! Do you think chocolate and other rich foods are so lustfully desired just for their taste? I think not! The pleasure centers in the brain that are stimulated by food are the same ones that are stimulated by sex. So if I can't have a roll in the hay, please pass the warm rolls to hold me over for another day! Ever stop to think that great sex might be a great weight-loss program? And conversely, that our nation's problems with obesity may be tied to our inability to free ourselves enough to appreciate and enjoy sex?

"One of us
is thinking about sex.
Ok, it's me."
Internet Chatter

Do men think about sex more than women? The typical answer would be yes. If true, there may be hormonal reasons for this that go back to our animal-kingdom similarities--- an innate drive to copulate, which of course helps our species to thrive. Similarly, why are so many people comforted by water? Does it remind us of the safety of the womb? Why do people love to gaze into a fire? Are we genetically reminded of the warmth it brought to our ancestors in the cave? Can you see how our sex drive may also be genetically wired?

If it's true that women crave sex less, could it be that centuries of male domination and Victorian thinking have bred it out of women (you know... let's keep them barefoot and pregnant down on the farm, so that they won't threaten our domination)? Or are women genetically wired to produce offspring, and only really crave sex when this is possible (e.g., women being most erotic when they ovulate)? I want to encourage all of you to feel good when you think about sex (for you may think of it often, if this is what your hormones tell you to do). I want to encourage you to NOT abstain from sex, for that will mess you up. Sex, of course, can be solo or with others. If you engage in it with others, be safe, and only share it with those who choose to participate. Forced sex is way wrong, and will harm all who are involved.

"The strongest muscle in the body
is the tongue."
Internet Chatter

Maybe you already knew this. Very interesting. I encourage you to become the best kissers that you can possibly become. This usually comes with practice, and your technique is enhanced if you practice with lots of other people. Sexual intercourse is wonderful, but passionate french-kissing can be an almost equal turn-on if you learn to let yourself go.

The first person I kissed was a neighbor boy. It must have been about the seventh or eight grade. As you know, I am heterosexual. It may surprise you to learn that same-sex experimentation is not unusual for pre-adolescents. My buddy and I felt safe with each other (i.e., we would not die from the embarrassment of not knowing what the hell we were doing), so that we could work on our technique before we started hitting on our real target--- the girls with the developing bodies! I don't remember that our kisses were wet, but I do remember practicing which way to turn our heads, how to bend the girl over, etc. I do remember my first kiss with a girl. I was in the eighth or ninth grade. It was behind the popcorn machine at school. She approached me (I was shy), and laid a big sexual french-kiss on me! Well I'm here to tell you, after experiencing THAT, there was no f------ way that I was going back to kissing Danny again!! There's nothing like the real thing baby!!

Let me take a moment here to say that I think there is absolutely nothing wrong with homosexuality. Remember that I stated that I disagree with the depravity of man theory--- that mankind is innately evil? I believe we are good, and will develop into something good if provided with healthy guidance and direction. Part of this direction consists of letting people find their own way. If a child has gay tendencies, I believe they need to discover if that path works for them. Many of the gay people I know would not have necessarily chosen that path. But they know no other, and can't even comprehend how to travel down a different road. I think it's a crock to say that people can choose not to be gay, any more than I can choose to like broccoli. We don't choose our tastes. They develop. We can challenge them and expose them to different options, but we can't (and shouldn't) compel them to go south when the winds of our heart blow them to the north.

Let me now clearly state to you that I don't take the bible (or any of the other great scriptures of the world) literally. In some ways, this is probably way obvious to you by now. This doesn't mean that I disavow the bible either. But I think it is ludicrous to take a 2,000-year-old document and apply it verbatim to our world. The PRINCIPLES of all the great scriptures will always be true and helpful (e.g., the 10 commandments), but it is a display of ignorance to believe that the 66 books of the bible all agree with each other, and form one neat and congruent whole. Every denomination I know of chooses to focus on one part of the bible as THE truth. And every denomination chooses to IGNORE many other parts of scripture! This is blatantly obvious and true. For example, when I grew up, the Pentecostals (who believed you had to "speak in tongues" in order to be a Christian) were considered to be crazy cult members who misunderstood the scriptures. THEY said that all the "Christians" who didn't speak in tongues were fakes, because they didn't accept the literal words of scripture on this subject.

I will talk a lot more about sex in the dating and marriage chapters. Suffice it to say that I feel frustrated trying to talk about such an important subject on paper in just a few pages. As I've said earlier, not only on this subject, I wish I could do a better job of letting you in on my views. When I have a client in therapy, we sometimes will spend months and years discussing and rediscussing these crucial parts of adult health. Some of the greatest highs I have known in my life have been from learning about these subjects, and helping others feel better about these areas in their own lives. Sometimes my heart pumps with exhilaration, as I help myself and others to make sense out of these subjects that most of us were never taught by our parents. Can you see why I am so motivated to write all of this to you? If you're interested, it can be an absolute mental orgasm! Well--- now maybe THAT'S hard to believe! Does that say something about my sex life? With more physical orgasms would I need fewer mental ones? Hmmm??

So, what's the bottom line of this chapter?
Sex is awesome and natural.
But sadly, many are afraid of it.
Drink it in, and know it's blessing!
____________________________
It's Your Turn!

What did you like or dislike about this chapter?

What would you like to tell YOUR cubs about this subject?

What is YOUR bottom line on this subject?? ____________________________

Chapter 15:
"Part of the secret of success in life
is to eat what you like."
Mark Twain

All right! Here we go! Having just discussed sex, it's seems only right that we look at life's OTHER great (and more accessible!) pleasure---food! I am here to tell you that there is a lot of press and discussion dedicated to this four-letter word. Ever notice how much energy people expend discussing what they SHOULD eat--- versus what they WANT to eat? People seem to carry around big chunks of guilt regarding all the "bad" foods they put in their mouth. Maybe one of the advantages of the "good old days" was that people just ate--- without spending hours fretting about how bad they were for actually eating what they liked!

There is no doubt that in today's world we know a lot more about the effects of what we eat on our bodies--- compared to many years ago. However, it also seems true that we don't know as much as we sometimes think. Ever notice how one food is bad for you for a few years, only to be found to be "not so bad for you" in later research (eggs, for example)? I definitely like Mark Twain's slant on food. It reminds me of hearing Julia Child (the world-famous chef) say that "life is too short, not to enjoy a little bit of butter." Have you also noticed how later research sometimes points out that all the artificial chemicals in some foods (e.g., margarine or diet soda) is as bad or worse than the down-side of the natural foods? Continuing with the idea that we are related to the animal kingdom, it makes sense that their survival takes place in the middle of eating all of the natural substances around them (e.g., vegetables, meats, milks, etc.). Can we be so far off the mark if we do the same?

"Eat right, exercise... die anyway."
Bumper Sticker

What we think about food may have a lot to do with what we think about life and death. Regardless of what we think about the after-death thing, the dying part is inevitable. I guess that if your goal is to make it to 100, tofu and sprouts may be the way to go, but personally, I see no benefit in being the one who lives the longest:

"We're not here for a long time,
we're here for a good time."
Minolta Ad

I've only been half joking when I've told you, in the past, that I want you to treat me with the same dignity as you would one of your horses--- when the quality of my life is gone, take me out behind the barn and put me down! As you can see, I don't want to win the "living the longest" contest. In the same way, when it comes to food, I sure as hell don't want to only eat hay, when there are awesome carrots available along the way! As you know, a huge goal of mine is to enjoy the journey, rather than waiting for the fun to start at the end of the line! And a real part of that enjoyment is to eat what I want when I want--- and let my detractors be damned!

As you know, my weight has not changed in 50 years. It does not always endear me to my peers for them to realize that I am as slim now as when I was in the eighth grade. I'm sure some of this has to do with the genes I was born with, but it is probably enhanced by the fact that I weigh myself daily, am a small eater who is "full" in moments, am tightly wired such that I don't sit still for long and love to burn off energy, and that I can pretty easily stay away from foods for a day or two until my weight returns to where it started. However, I do believe that my psychology of food also contributes to my stable weight. And yes, I know that thin people drop dead just like heavy people, and that we're not necessarily healthy just because we're slim.

I think you know that I have never been drunk and I have never smoked. This is not because I am so "pure," but because I don"t like the taste of these products, and I don't like the way they make me feel. You see, my cardinal food "rule" is that I don't eat it if I don't like it (and I also try to only eat when I'm hungry--- which really angers those who think I should eat when they think the clock tells me to). Like our mothers taught us, I understand that we should "take at least one bite," so that we can give new foods a chance. My experience is that, after having tried lots of them, I still don't like ?em! And boy do I take shit for this from all my yuppie friends! The fact that I still eat like a kid (remember, that I love Twinkies for lunch!), drives them nuts! I know only a few people who let me be me, and love me even if my eating habits aren't politically correct. These, of course, are some of the people that I feel most endeared to--- for theirs truly seems like an unconditional love!

"I do not like broccoli. And I haven't liked it since I was a little boy,
and my mother made me eat it. And I'm president of the United States,
and I'm not going to eat any more broccoli!"
George Bush Sr.
41st US President
1924 -

You go George!! It's interesting how people struggle with accepting the fact that George and I don't like lots of foods (like me and salad, for example). They always say: "why don?t you like it"? Always strikes me as a strange question. I don't like it because it tastes like crap to me! Hello?! Isn't that why people USUALLY don't like something?! Maybe they want me to break down how the texture of it in my mouth makes me want to throw up, etc. I don't know--- maybe I'm missing something in these discussions!

"The cardiologist's diet:
if it tastes good, spit it out."
Internet Chatter

You may recall that my dad died of heart disease at 64 years of age. I believe he was first diagnosed with it around 40. My mom lasted until she was 86, living in her own home. Way to go mom! Just in case you think my diet of Tasty Kakes (competing with Hostess since my east coast friends introduced me) and chips will kill me quickly, I don't have any heart disease yet, and my temperament is much more like mom's than dad's. I have every intention of eating what I like until I die (but hey---I drink non-fat milk. Do I get any points for that??)--- and I would be perfectly fine with dying today. I've always said that life isn't all it's cracked up to be, and death has been given a bad rap! I'm not think'n you're going to have to spend your retirement years visiting me in the rest home. Hell--- I'll probably STILL be running circles around your sorry old asses!

"I didn't climb
to the top of the food chain
to be a vegetarian!"
Bumper Sticker

No, there's nothing wrong with being a vegetarian. I love you all to death, and some of you have made this choice for yourself. It just so happens that I am a carnivore. Hopefully, I and the herbivores of the universe can coexist together! Now that In 'n Out Burger serves up their "grilled cheese" (lots 'o veggies, and hold the meat!), we can all dine together!! My experience is that some people are veggies, while others are meaties. This appears to have a genetic basis, with people drawn to different foods by their inner clocks. You may know that there is a theory that males are carnivores because their ancient ancestors needed the protein to go out and hunt for food and fight the wars--- and that the domestic jobs of the females were enhanced by the herbivore diet. Isn't this evolutionary stuff like way interesting?! Fascinating, I tell you!

"I guess this just goes to show you that being a vegetarian
is no guarantee that you'll live a longer, healthier life."
Cartoon Caption

In the cartoon above this caption, two cows are being trucked off to the slaughtering house. I don't know how these cartoonists come up with this stuff! They have such a wonderful way of putting a humorous twist on the issues in our world. I'm jealous! The truth is that nothing will guarantee us a longer and healthier life. And more importantly, even with health and length-of-years, we can be miserable on the inside! Why ruin your todays with starvation and deprivation, when tomorrow may never come!

Just for the record--- this doesn't mean I'm pro obesity and poor health. In fact, I'm just the opposite! But the proof is abundant that staying away from real food (like when we're on a diet) can often cause us to gain more weight than we will ever lose--- in the long run! Remember what the Greeks said--- moderation in all things. Eat what you want--- just don't feel you have to steal away in the night and stuff your pockets with it! In fact, the opposite is usually true. If I can eat something as often as I wish, I usually don't feel deprived, and end up losing my lustful craving for it.

"WHY did I do all those push-ups?!"
Jackie Kennedy Onassis
35th First Lady of the US
1929 - 1994
(shortly before
dying of cancer at 64)

What a poignant statement this is. Being active is a wonderful and vital part of our good life. But to be a slave to the treadmill at the expense of missing the beauty of the day--- now that would be a tragedy indeed.

"The average human eats
eight spiders in their lifetime at night."
Internet Chatter

Who knew?? We are awfully uptight about what we eat in this culture sometimes, don't you think? Don't tell anyone, but I have no problem picking up a good french-fry after having dropped it on the floor. Now I'm sensible, so I brush it off and do a visual to make sure that all is well, but certain delicacies just can't be allowed to go to waste!! If it's all bad, how come the dog never dies from eating up the crumbs (ah yes--- the we're-like-the-animals analogy again!)? We're also way too ethno-centric in America. Ants and many other fine bugs are delicacies around the world (remember Simone and Pumba in Lion King?), as well as all other kinds of foods which are weird to us, and can't even be imagined to be edible!! It would appear that one man's garbage is another man's grub! Alas, once again--- who knew??

So, what's the Bottom Line of this chapter?
Pass the butter--- but yes, I'll try to stop
before my heart begins to sputter!
____________________________
It's Your Turn!

What did you like or dislike about this chapter?

What would you like to tell YOUR cubs about this subject?

What is YOUR bottom line on this subject?? ____________________________

Chapter 16:
"Good health is merely
the slowest possible rate
at which one can die."
Source Unknown

Sex and food. We've talked about how both of them are part of good health. But as I've said, no matter WHAT we do for our health, we're gonna die! Seems like we ought to get comfortable with the idea. Ever notice how much time, effort, and energy some people spend trying to LOOK like they're NOT getting closer to dying? You know--- the face-lifts, the hair dye, the obsessional sit-ups, etc. All three of you will do well in your life if you can think well of your death.

"Don't forget that
life is 10% how you make it,
and 90% how you take it."
Internet Chatter

Attitude. It makes the world go round. I encourage you to accept the cycle of life. That, for example, death is just one more part of your human experience. That it is not to be feared, and that good can come from it. It seems to me that we have very out-of-balance ideas about what a normal life looks like:

"Marilyn Monroe had
six toes on one of her feet."
Internet Chatter

You're too young to know much about Marilyn Monroe, but I think you understand that she was THE symbol of perfect sexual beauty in her time. I don't ever remember one of her cheesecake poses including a sexy shot of her deformed foot! I hope that you will come to understand the power of illusion in our world. That with the use of cameras, lighting, make-up, plastic surgery, body-part stand-ins (e.g., in a movie, the camera may show you the legs of a model, rather than those of the actress), etc., a person can be turned into something pretty awesome in a magazine or on the screen--- something they would NOT resemble if you ran into them at the mall! We have to be smart enough NOT to compare ourselves to mythical standards when we judge how we look. With regard to aging, we can hopefully see our wrinkles and gray hair as indicators of our character, and reminders of all that we've been through, and the lessons we've learned along the way. I don't mind if you get something tucked, colored or sucked, but please remember that it's your inner attitude that will help you with aging more than anything you do on the outside.

"We are visitors on this planet. We are here for 90 or 100 years at most.
During that period, we must try to do something good, something useful, with our lives.
If you contribute to other people's happiness,
you will find the true goal, the true meaning of life."
His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso,
The Fourteenth Dalai Lama
Tibetan Buddhist Monk
1935 -

I hope that you are lucky enough to have good health for most of the years of your life. As we've said, it won't keep death away from your door, but it should help to make the ride a little smoother. The Dalai Lama seems to be saying that our days will be better if we have people in our lives, and if we can bring some joy their way. I hope that some of what I'm trying to share with you in this book will help with that process.

So, What's the Bottom Line of this chapter?
The die'n day cannot be denied.
Healthy or not, let's enjoy the ride!
____________________________
It's Your Turn!

What did you like or dislike about this chapter?

What would you like to tell YOUR cubs about this subject?

What is YOUR bottom line on this subject?? ____________________________

Chapter 17:
Does old age come at a bad time?

The point of this quote, of course, is that I don't remember many people telling me that they were happy that old age was making a visit to their body. I really don't think it comes at a bad time' it just comes before we've matured enough to accept it as a good part of our life:

"It's paradoxical that
the idea of living a long life appeals to everyone,
but the idea of getting old doesn't appeal to anyone."
Andy Rooney
American Television Writer
1919 - 2011

I doubt that you are old enough to know who Andy Rooney is, but he, as a national comedy figure, always had a way of making sense out of life in just a few words. I feel that I can not do justice to how important this subject of old age is. It may well be as I get closer to death I can speak with more authority on the subject. Although I must say that when my parents were 50 I definitely thought they were old! So hey, I may be closer to being an authority on this subject than I give myself credit for!

"Our eyes are always the same size from birth,
But our nose and ears never stop growing."
Internet Chatter

Isn't it exciting to realize that as we become older we can continue to grow!? Not! By the way, one way you can tell that we men are aging, is when we have more hair in our ears and nose than we have on our head! Is that disgusting or what!?

A lot of a person's feelings are seen in their eyes. That might be one reason why babies are so dear to so many people. With adult-sized eyes, they seem to cry out with feeling and emotion. Ever notice how some of the endearing animated characters have huge eyes (e.g., Bambie)? I'm guessing this is one reason why we are so drawn to them, and feel so much connection to them. Conversely, I have not felt terribly drawn to some of the ears-bigger-than-a-Mack-truck old geezers I have known! I swear--- some of those guys could harvest all that hair and sell it for a profit!

"You know you're getting older when you look forward to a dull evening,
a fortune teller offers to read your face, you get winded playing chess,
and ' you just can't stand people who are intolerant!'"
Source Unknown

At EVERY stage in our life, the journey is more enjoyable (and palatable!) if we can find ways to laugh at ourselves! You know--- like how you can tell if you're middle-aged: when you find out where the action is--- and you run the other way!

I think it is crucial to our little discussion of old age to state that it is partially a state of mind. Partial, because (so far, anyway) we can't do anything to fight off our physical aging process. However, as I've said before, if we can keep our thinking vital, progressive, and inquisitive we can be appreciated by others as being young beyond our years! Don't you just love to be around elderly people who are open-minded, who want to learn new things, and who don't think that the only good life was in "their day"?

So, what's the Bottom Line of this chapter?
When old age comes knock'n on your door---
take her dancing 'til you both drop dead on the floor!
____________________________
It's Your Turn!

What did you like or dislike about this chapter?

What would you like to tell YOUR cubs about this subject?

What is YOUR bottom line on this subject?? ____________________________

Chapter 18:
"Suicidal twin kills sister by mistake!"
Internet Headline

What kind of a crazy quote is this?? It is actually a very odd lead-in to one of our most difficult topics of discussion. Kind of hard to find any good humor regarding suicide these days. I know that you may think it's inappropriate to attach laughter to this fatal, lethal, and morbid subject--- but please remember that humor is sometimes a tool to help us deal with life's most difficult subjects. With tongue-in-cheek, this one points out the deadly part that confusion plays in a person's mind when they decide to take their life. Surely it must be because a person is confused and depressed that they would choose to kill themselves--- right??

"Grant that I may not criticize my neighbor,
until I have walked a mile in his moccasins."
Indian Prayer

I think we need to be careful not to judge the person who takes their life. Of course it is true that some of the people who choose suicide are depressed and confused--- even delusional (i.e., temporarily out of their regular thinking, such that they do something that they would not normally do).

It has been said that suicide is the ultimate act of selfishness--- for it leaves the living to grieve, hurt, and possibly feel guilty, for the rest of their lives. It's understandable to be mad as hell at the suicide victim, because they copped out on life, they gave up the fight, they took the chicken's way out, etc.

However, we need to realize that there are many forms of suicide, and that not all of them are conscious. What we hear about on the news are the dramatic deaths--- jumping off of bridges, hangings, shootings, drug overdoses, etc. Did you ever stop to think that someone who eats, drinks, or smokes too much might have a suicide wish? Are you aware that there are many people who think life sucks, and that they are just waiting to die? Now, they might not say this to you out loud, but their actions seem to yell out this conclusion. Ever heard the saying: "Your actions are speaking so loudly, that I can't hear a word you're saying??

Let me go on record, and state that I believe people are in charge of their own bodies, and that I believe that suicide is part of the human condition. We should always try to minimize it. I can be concerned for someone and try to help, but I can't make them have the will to live. I would hope that no one would commit suicide, and that all of us would find enough purpose in life to want to continue the journey as long as we are able. This, however, is simply not true of all people, and given free will, never will be.

I once had a client who had been in and out of psychiatric hospitals because of numerous suicide attempts. This person came to me for treatment, while also receiving medical care from other physicians for her chronic inability to develop the will to live. Without a doubt, when I met her, she was in a very difficult life situation. After many years of marriage, her husband had left. And although she loved her children dearly, not even their presence would lift her spirits. Although she was also taking several medications to help her with her hopelessness, nothing seemed to give her hope after her divorce. I distinctly remember her giving me a book entitled "How to Win Back the One You Love." Unfortunately, when she concluded that she could not complete this task (another example of the truth that we can't control the heart of others) , she made one final suicide attempt that was "successful." One of the greatest tragedies may have been that one of her children discovered the body, and has to live with that image for the rest of their lives.

Because I knew the lady and her former husband, I was asked to perform the funeral. To complicate matters even further, I had to perform two separate funerals for the two families--- because they couldn't coexist in the same room as a result of the divorce. As difficult as this whole experience was, it helped drive home the truth that if people do not choose to be alive, we can only keep them from the logical outcome of their hopelessness for so long.

I have also witnessed a different version of suicide. I have worked with people who were dying by inches as a result of diseases like cancer. These people have told me of pain that is beyond comprehension, and have requested their loved ones to help them end their hopeless miserable life. Every day in every state there are people who ask the machines to be turned off so that they can end it all. Sometimes called mercy killings or euthanasia, they are suicides nonetheless.

There is no doubt that this is a scary area for all of us--- for what if the person changes their mind after we've pulled the plug, what if their cancer could be healed by a miraculous turnaround, etc.? My experience is that dying usually isn't as complicated as we make it out to be, and that miraculous healings are statistically rare at best. When people's lives are filled with hell and absent any heaven, they ultimately want to leave, because the pain just isn't worth hanging around for.

Obviously, a person's state of mind is critical as they consider suicide. It is important to point out that biology can play a significant role in how a person views the world at the time of their life-defying depression. It is an absolute JOKE to believe that "if they want to" anyone can get better by "pulling themselves up by their bootstraps." I believe in self-reliance and personal efforts toward healing about as much as anybody I know. But my professional experience has shown me that sometimes a person's mind is so sick that they cannot accomplish self-recovery, no matter how hard they try. We now know that the presence of too much or too little of the brain's natural chemicals can cause a person to feel hopeless, rageful, blissfully happy, etc. Of course, we are more than just a bunch of drug-fed neurons--- we always have some power to choose. However, some of those people who jump off of the bridge are so far gone in their minds, that they cannot make a rational decision toward self-survival.

A secondary factor that effects our sanity is the substances we put in to our bodies. It is well known that those who abuse alcohol and other drugs are at much greater risk to harm themselves. When I was growing up in the full bloom of the Hippie era, there were all too many stories of kids "dropping out" on acid, only to die as a result of believing their hallucination's lie that they would fly when they jumped out of the window. We will talk more about drugs in chapter 25, but suffice it to say here that if we can encourage more people to live lives that are closer to clean and sober, we will get many people off of the bridge's edge and back to their homes.

It's important to also realize that there is a significantly POSITIVE impact of some drugs on the spirit of the suicide candidate. I continue to be frustrated with the negative attitudes I hear about the helpfulness of prescription drugs for mental problems. People are happy to take meds for their heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes. But when it comes to their depression, anxiety, or hopelessness, they think that they should be able to "get over it" on their own. That if they take meds they are "weak." How stupid is that!

Given that mental problems can be just as biologically based as physical problems, it is absolutely FOOLISH not to use medicine to help with both! But nooooo! Prozac can help you, but because of it's public image, you choose to suffer in silence instead (or you take it "under the table" so that no one will know!)!! Oh pleeeease! Are you not going to take your blood-thinner medicine for your heart because you're afraid of what people will think? That they might think you are weak and needy?! I don't think so! Many suicides could be avoided if people would admit they need help, and actually go and get it! In this case, it is all too true that pride definitely comes before the fall!

So, what's the Bottom Line of this chapter?
I want you to live, but that's your call.
If life is unbearable, I'll try to understand.
____________________________
It's Your Turn!

What did you like or dislike about this chapter?

What would you like to tell YOUR cubs about this subject?

What is YOUR bottom line on this subject?? ____________________________

Chapter 19:
"Flexible people
don't get bent out of shape."
Source Unknown

It seems like it shouldn't be too much to ask. But in reality it is a pretty rare trait. How many people do you know who are flexible about the beliefs or lifestyles of others? A lot of people pay lip service to being tolerant and open-minded. Even the liberals who claim to be advocates of free speech and personal freedom, can get real ugly if you disagree with their take on the world!

Why do you think so many people are rigid, uptight, and opinionated? There is no doubt that there are lots of answers, but one that comes to my mind is that these people somehow believe that they are less valuable (or the other person is superior) if their way isn't the ONLY right answer. This really is a very important subject, because if we can get people to agree to disagree we will go along way to reduce violence and enhance peace. Once again, the huge importance of self-esteem becomes obvious.

What is one thing that I have unequivocally learned over all the years in my practice? That there is more than one way in life!! This may not sound like much, but it's huge! I understand that we like our way best--- for it is what works for us and is what we understand. But I have seen that there are many different ways to live a life. And guess what--- they all work! Who knew!? What I mean, is that they all get people through life. And that even if their way differs from ours, the different styles of living get people to the goals that they set out to accomplish (e.g., keeping a job, having a family, raising kids, etc.).

I find that, by our nature, most of us are ideo-centric. That is, our ideas are in the center of our universe. And we believe that ideas that differ from ours are dangerous and untrue. This is something in ourselves that we must FIGHT if people are to get along. For example, if I believe that the way to make it in life is to go to college, and you believe the answer is to skip college and get a job, we may have a hard time getting along. In the beginning you might disagree with this, because you believe our friendship will keep us together. But I'm here to tell you, as I become a yuppie with my bm'er and cell phone, and you become a "linesman for the county," we're going to have a harder time getting along, because the values of our groups will increasingly differ.

We could get to the point where one of us hates "those yuppies" or "those blue collar workers," if we're not careful! It is when these feelings develop that we need to remember that we are on different roads in life--- that they are both good roads, and that they will lead us to the similar goals we had when we were kids. Unfortunately, there is this built-in tendency of groups to dislike each other more as they get more entrenched into their own group. I hope what I'm saying here makes sense, for there is no doubt that the "one way" philosophy has done HUGE damage in our world!

"Never mess up an apology
with an excuse."
Winston Ad

How are the three of you, at admitting that you are wrong? For many many people it is next to impossible. Clearly, our pride is an indicator of our ill health. Hopefully it is totally obvious to you that we are all wrong some of the time--- and that the only sensible thing to do is admit our failures for what they are. There's a world of a difference between admitting we're wrong and being incompetent. If we consistently find that we are doing something wrong, it's probably an indicator that what we are doing isn't our strong suit. Once we know this, all we have to do is go out and get a new suit! I know that this is easier said than done, but we are all talented--- the trick is to find out in what area--- and to be wise enough to NOT try to do what we are NOT good at! I hope that you can become so healthy, that you can be at peace with admitting where you are wrong. Trust me on this--- people will respect you more, love you more, and want to spend more time with you if you can master this art. Furthermore, if you can admit where you are wrong, it will probably be easier to forgive other people when they blow it:

"Forgiveness is not an event;
It's a process."
AA

Have you had the experience of believing that you were without fault--- and that the other guy was a loser who would never amount to anything? If we're honest, most of us have felt this way at some time in our life. And then do you know what happens next? Life comes along and kicks us in the butt!! Do you remember the quote "life is what happens when we're busy planning other things?" I hope that you can always have a sense of humor with your life, and that you won't try too hard to over control it. Go ahead and make your plans, but don't be surprised when life sends you in another direction. In fact, you'll probably have less pain and strain if you train yourself to be surprised when things work out as you planned!

I'm sure you've heard the phrase "forgive and forget." I'm here to say that it isn't that simple, and it usually doesn't work that way. In my experience, you can "choose" to forgive someone, but the forgetting really isn't under your control. It is an act of your will to forgive someone, but only if you're lucky, will your mind choose to let go of the pain that they caused. If we can view forgiveness as a process that takes place over time, it is something that we can attempt with more success. I don't think mom nor I ever "required" you to forgive each other when you went to war. I guess we could have tried to "require" you to say that you were "sorry", but that is usually a joke! When we're mad, we never mean that stuff--- and it makes us sick to have to say the "I'm sorry" and "yes I forgive you" words when we don't mean it!

The best reason to apologize or forgive is because not doing so keeps us in prison. If our goal is to try to go with the flow of our lives, we won't have much luck if we're using all of our energy being hurt by someone or by hating them. The desire for vengeance can only take us so far. After feeling good for awhile, it starts to turn on us and become toxic. Ever been around a hateful and angry person? I can't think of anything uglier. If you hang out with someone like that for too long it will rub off on you. And then no one will want to hang out with you!

So, what's the Bottom Line of this chapter?
Why fight, and why flee?
Why not try to go with the flow?!
____________________________
It's Your Turn!

What did you like or dislike about this chapter?

What would you like to tell YOUR cubs about this subject?

What is YOUR bottom line on this subject?? ____________________________

Chapter 20:
"Tell your date she looks pretty,
even if she looks like a truck!"
Ricky, age 10

It's time to talk about dating. Given that you guys aren't married yet, this seems like one of the book's most important chapters--- because if you figure out how to healthily date, a lot of the rest of your life will fall into place. It is the period after high school and before you marry that will set the blueprint for a lot of your future.

In my 35+ years of talking to clients all day long, I have come to learn this truth: very often, dating is a lie. What is the one phrase I must have heard a thousand times in my office: "You are NOT the person I married!!" Which means, when translated--- you lied to me!! People who are dating don't typically set out to lie, but their behavior is untrue nonetheless. It is untrue because they are usually trying to win someone over by putting their best foot forward. In other words, they are putting on a show (which is often subconscious) in order to convince someone to love them. Because most people are driven by their insecurity, they are afraid that they are unlovable, so they will do almost anything to get someone to marry them (the unfortunate end-goal of most dating). They make the mistaken conclusion that if someone marries them, they must be loved. And then they erroneously conclude that they are loveable (ergo, concluding that they have value). We've talked about this before. That one of life's greatest risks to emotional health is to get our value from whether people accept us or not.

As the old saying goes, "kids say the darndest things!" Ricky's pretty funny, don't you think? I guess if your date kept looking like a truck, you wouldn't continue to go out with her (unless you're into the truck look!). But if you wanted to "score" with her, I guess you'd keep praising her truck-like beauty! A good question, of course, is: what's the goal of your dating? The old view, as you may know, is that men date in order to have sex. Although this may also be true of some of today's women, the classic view is that sex isn't as important to the woman, but that her greatest goal is to feel close to someone while being listened to and understood. Ergo, the old saying: women give sex to get love, and men give love to get sex. Obviously, this over-simplifies why people date (although not by much, if you buy the "we're similar to the animals" theory!). People want to be taken care of, they want to take care of another, they want to have children, they want to avoid being alone, they want a built-in long-term friend, etc.

"On the first date, they just tell each other lies,
and that usually gets them interested enough
to go on a second date."
Martin, age 10

I know that this may sound crass and pessimistic. I want you to know that I am not against you dating, and I don't think dating is a bad thing. In fact, just the opposite. I recommend that you date, and date, and date some more. I would hope that you would date lots of different people so that you can better decide which type of people you like and which ones you don't. I also hope that, within the confines of being smart and safe about sex, you are sexually active during your dating life. I SURE AS HELL hope you don't fall prey to the classic religious we-won't-have-sex-until-we're-married syndrome. You've already seen one of the outcomes of this among your friends: they date, can't resist each other (a natural outgrowth of hormones), fall off the wagon and have stupid sex (i.e., sex without protection), she becomes pregnant, they struggle with the issue of abortion, possibly marry, and usually end up either unhappily married or divorced.

Another major downside to dating without sex is that you never learn much about good healthy sex (because, just like anything else in the world, you learn how to do it well with LOTS of practice in a variety of situations). After marrying, you then play at sex and figure out that either you don't like who you're having sex with, or that you don't like sex (something that is unnatural, and usually the result of growing up in a family/social/religious situation where sex is openly or subtly castigated).

A third reason to be sexually active during your dating years, is that it will probably make you neurotic and unhappy to go against this natural flow of your life. I know that you've been told that the Bible instructs you to wait until you're married before you have sex. Did you know that when the Bible was written, the average age of marriage was 13? In other words, as soon as kids reached puberty and their hormones told them to have sex, they were encouraged (more like "required") to marry! This is just one of many examples where taking the Bible literally is ignorant and destructive. Given that sexual desire is as natural as drinking water, we must rewrite our moral code for this generation to include the reality that people are not marrying until 25-30 years of age (which is what I recommend for YOU, by the way!). Furthermore, some people choose to never marry. It is ludicrous to think that they should forgo this natural part of life (i.e., enjoying sex) just because they don't hold a marriage license!

I also recommend that you live with someone before you marry them. I tell dating couples who come to me that they should be together AS MUCH AS IS POSSIBLE, so that they can discover what they DON'T like about each other--- as well as what they DO like. You see, what you LIKE about the person will be obvious and easy to see (that's why you are dating them!). It takes a LOT more time to find out what you DON'T like about someone! And it is the passage of time that will cause them to put down their guard, and let you see more of the REAL them! I hope you realize that no two people can be together a lot without finding some things that they don't like about each other! After you have learned the "dirt" on each other, you will be in a much better position to decide whether you want to continue the journey through time together.

I also hope that you know that all the B.S. about being "star-crossed lovers who were destined to be together since before the beginning of time" is one of the biggest crocks known to humankind!! My experience is that your best mates are found within a certain TYPE of person (I think it is ridiculous to think that there is only one person for you in the world!). Within that type, there are many different people that you could happily live with. I know that this isn't as romantic as the yarns they spin in Hollywood--- but it will go a lot farther to ensure your long-term happiness! Why don't those Hollywood folks just go steady or live together? What a joke they can be! In 1999 "they have never been happier with the soul mate that they have finally found" (that they are now marrying)--- and by 2000 they are divorcing because of their differences! Have you noticed our cultures obsessional need to believe in the fairytale marriage of the prince in shining armor to the virginally perfect princess bride?!! Talk about having our heads in the sand!!!

In the next chapter we will discuss marriage, but suffice it to say here that marriage is a whole different world! I remember an old book title that referred to it as a "leap of faith, by the light of the moon!" Living together, of course, is no guarantee that you can make it in marriage, but from a scientific perspective, it sure as hell gives you more data to go on as you try to make one of life's most important decisions!

"No person really decides before they grow up
who they're going to marry. God decides it all way before,
and you get to find out later who you're stuck with."
Kirsten, age 10

Kirsten also has a way with words, wouldn't you say??! However, I must say that I completely disagree with her! Give yourself some credit. YOU decide who you are going to marry--- not god or anybody else! Also be mature enough to take responsibility for the decision you make. Let's not copout and blame our decisions on god! Unfortunately, it IS all too true that many people feel they are stuck with their spouse at some time after their wedding. It makes it even worse for them when they think that god told them to marry this person. Was god wrong (something their theology will not let them conclude), or did they misread god's wishes for them, or does god want to "teach them some lessons about life" by having them suffer through marital misery for life? I godda tell ya, I'm not too impressed with ANY of those conclusions! I find it more reasonable to conclude that I lost my senses, and made a wrong decision. Did you know that, when translated from its original language, "ecstasy" means "deranged"? I can't TELL you how many people have said to me: "What was I THINKING when I married him/her? I must have been out of my mind!" Perhaps, in the ecstasy of their love, they were deranged?? Makes sense to me. How about you?

I hope you guys know that I'm not trying to be a downer on this subject. I'm just trying to give you some of what I've learned from others via the stories that thousands of people have told me. I am basically trying to give you the chance to be wise beyond your years. The odds are that you will ignore my words, for that is the statistically expectable curse of being young. You know--- "I want to do it my self, I want to learn it from the school of hard knocks, It won't happen to me, etc." I can't even count how many people have come back to me, having to eat THOSE words!

I will be totally happy if your dating experience is a smooth journey that leads you to make life-long healthy decisions. However, if you do, you will be breaking all the odds. Please don't think you are so different from everyone else, and that you won't make all the mistakes that us old folks made. I remember my 9th grade German teacher stating that "Ve get too soon oldt, ant too late schmardt!" My hope is that this book will help you to up your "schmardt" factor sooner rather than later!!

So, what's the Bottom Line of this chapter?
The goal of dating should be to bring some fun and pleasure
into your life! If you happen to find a mate along the way,
what a nice bonus indeed!
___________________________
It's Your Turn!

What did you like or dislike about this chapter?

What would you like to tell YOUR cubs about this subject?

What is YOUR bottom line on this subject?? ____________________________

Chapter 21

"Love may be blind,
but marriage is a real eye opener!"
Source Unknown

Ok, ok. So this chapter is ALSO important. After all, what could be more important than to discuss one of the worlds oldest, and most screwed up, institutions! I'm not terribly concerned about everyone else's opinion about marriage, but as you grow into adults and consider this institution for your own lives, I hope that I can bring you a perspective that will widen the options which you will consider.

Let me begin by saying that I am not against marriage. In fact, I am all for marriage when it is healthy! However, I do not believe that it is the only way to go, or that anyone who is not married is worse off. The reality, of course, is that marriage is a very sick institution that is in a world of hurt. In the world of business, if you had a product that failed at least 50% of the time, you would throw it on to the scrap heap, and go back to the drawing board to invent a better product. I find it interesting how irrationally and tenaciously people hold on to wanting to believe that marriage is wonderful, and that it holds the key to their happiness. The whole situation is just such a setup for disappointment!

"Some women get all excited about nothing,
and then they go out and marry him!"
Cher
American Recording Artist
1946 -

In case you didn't know, there are a lot of bitter women in the world. The men are out there to, but I find that they aren't always as openly verbal about their disdain for marriage and women. Do you remember that country western song, where he refers to their divorce by saying "she got the gold mine, and I got the shaft?" These are, of course, examples of people who have been hurt by love and marriage, who show their hurt through their anger. These, truly, are people who have discovered that marriage is a real eye opener! Many have come to realize that there can be a world of a difference between love and marriage.

Now, lest you think that I'm just trying to be a marriage basher, let's keep the statistics in mind: As we said, at least 50% of first marriages fail. It is also believed that 80% of the people who remain married are unhappy (this doesn't mean that they say it out loud). Therefore, only 10% of those who originally married are truly enjoying the ride! This doesn't mean that the 40% who are unhappy and married are planning on splitting up. But it does mean that under their breath they experience significant pain in their marriage, and wish for things, like the 75 year old man who sat on my couch and said: "All I ask is that she dies 5 years before me. That's all I ask for, is five years of peace." Or the couples who have sat before me and said: "Oh, I hate him. But we are required to be together, so I'll have to find a way to gut it out." To reiterate--- I'm all for healthy marriages, when they exist. Conversely, I'm totally against marriages that create hatred, dysfunction, and screwed up kids. I believe that they are a serious hazard to our society's mental health, and that they should be discontinued as gracefully and swiftly as possible.

"Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May,
and were still smelling pretty good by June.
However, they were just starting to smell,
so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor."
Life in the 1500's,
as quoted on the Internet

Ah, but despite the realities of the potential pitfalls of marriage, the myths about this aging and inadequate institution never cease to amaze! Many of today's ideas began for practical and nonromantic reasons. However, over the years, we lost sight of where these ideas began, and started to believe that they had qualities about them that were much loftier than was ever intended! I honestly believe that it is because of our dysfunctional ill health that we grab at the straws of marriage to save us from our ordinary and mundane lives. How terribly disillusioning it can be to have traveled well down the road of marriage, before we come to realize that it too can be ordinary and mundane. The only difference now is that we have someone alongside us to deal with, in addition to our own complicated responses to life! May we be ever so lucky to blessed with a reasonable and emotionally healthy spouse, to help ease the rocks on this road we call our life!

"An intimate relationship does not banish loneliness.
Only when we are comfortable with who we are
and can function independently in a healthy way,
can we truly function within a relationship.
Two halves do not make a whole when it comes
to a healthy relationship; it takes two wholes."
Patricia Fry,
in the Catholic Digest

This, of course, is where the heart of the problem rests in marriage. We bring together two partially healthy people, who in leaning on each other in marriage, hope against all odds that they will become complete and whole. Their great illusionary bubble is all too quickly burst as they venture down the road of their marriage. If you want to have a healthy marriage, quit needing the other person so much, and learn to find strength as you begin to stand on your own two feet.

"I do my thing and you do your thing.
I am not in this world to live up to your expectations,
and you are not in this world to live up to mine.
You are you, and I am I;
if by chance we find each other, it's beautiful.
If not, it can't be helped."
Fritz Pearls
German Psychiatrist
1893 - 1970

This is not your typical view of marriage. When this Psychologist wrote this famous poem in the 70's, it created a wave of controversy. I must tell you that it makes absolute sense to me. One of the reasons I see marriages failing is because people begin to believe that they own the other person. It is because so many people experience marriage as the loss of their freedom that they chaff against this human invention. The research on happiness is very clear: People who believe that they have choices in their lives are always higher on the happiness scales. I honestly think that marriage will have to be reinvented if it is to avoid going the way of the typewriter and the horse-drawn carriage.

I hope that you kids will consider not being married as one of your life options. Being single is way under-rated, and being married is way over-rated. In reality, they are probably equally attractive ways to live your life. It is my understanding that marriage, and the wedding vows, are not even found in the Bible that people believe worships this institution. They are primarily manmade concepts that were invented to keep individuals and society in check. Society was afraid that people would behave as disgusting wild animals if the state and religion did not control them. Mankind was thought to be evil, and people could not be trusted to follow their natural instincts. Can you see how fear drove those in leadership to try to control people by having power over them? I hope this idea makes sense, because it goes a long way to explain the abuses of religion and government.

There is NO WAY that I believe that marriage is the only place where healthy kids can be raised, or that society will fall apart without traditional two-parent families. I see this as fear-based irrational thinking. Some of the healthiest kids I know come from single, or gay, or mixed-racial families, etc. To say it again: My experience is that healthy individuals make for healthy marriages or families. For example, if a child comes from a healthy single-parent gay family, they will be more well adjusted than if they came from an unhealthy traditional two-parent church-going family.

If you do choose to marry, I hope that you will not be in a rush. As I've stated, wait until you are at least 25-30. Go see the world first. Get started in your career. There is no doubt that being married will reduce some of the options in your life. This will be ESPECIALLY true if you decide to have children! Yes they can be wonderful, but your life will never be the same after their birth! Some of it will be for the better, and some will be for the worse. In other words, I'm here to tell you that a lifetime is a LONG time to be married. So if you start it at 30, rather than 20, you won't be missing all that much by the time you get to 80!

"If you want breakfast in bed,
sleep in the kitchen!"
Internet Chatter

I hope that you believe in equality in your dating and marital relationships. In truth, many people don't. At least that would be what there actions would indicate. We get all upset when they don't honor our rights. After all, they owe it to us, right? NOT! Instead, I encourage you to focus on how much you can give to the other person, rather than how much you can get from that person. This does NOT mean that you should act like you have no needs, or that yours are not as important as the other persons. It just means that you cannot EXPECT the other person to meet your needs. All you can do is express your wishes, desires and needs. If they choose to be helpful with them, awesome. If they do not, then you need to meet more of your own needs, or move toward other relationships that will be more fulfilling to you.

Why not focus on bringing THEM breakfast in bed? To sit in bed, yelling for them to bring you the breakfast that you "know" you deserve, is not a very effective strategy! If they don't want to bring it, trying to "require" that it be brought to you will only produce a distasteful breakfast at best! Give away what you would hope to receive. What a nice surprise it will be if it comes back to you! But please don't waste everyone's time by giving it away with strings attached. When you can lovingly give it away without the need to receive, you will have truly arrived!

"A Saudi Arabian man can divorce his wife
if she doesn't give him coffee."
Internet Chatter

There is an awful lot of chauvinism in marriage. Can you believe those cultures where the women have to be completely covered up in public, where they have no rights, where they can be left on the side of the road to die, physically abused, etc.--- all in the name of god or the law? Did you know that religion is at the core of a lot of this? And, of course, that most religions are steeped in male dominance? Would you like to be a woman in one of those religions that allows the man to have four wives? Or would you rather be the man in that culture? How can I do anything less then be supportive of the Women's Movement's efforts at equality and fairness? You know--- equal work for equal pay. And the same principle makes sense with couples. Either of us can carry out the garbage, cook the dinner, or wash the dishes. All that matters is what we agree on, and that we both feel our arrangement is fair.

I believe that it is absolutely possible to love more than one person in your life, or to be married to more than one person in your life, or to love two people or more at the same time. When we looked at the age-old custom of four wives (in chapter 7), we saw that there are cultures where men have multiple wives. My guess is that as women become more liberated this is less likely to happen. It would seem that most people prefer to be monogamous. This may be because of how people are raised. The women who live in harems (in cultures where polygamy is practiced) are not known to speak against polygamy. That may be because they will be SHOT if they disagree, but they also probably think the practice is normal, because it's all they know.

I know that this will sound sacrilegious, but the idea of requiring marriage to last forever makes very little sense to me. I know a woman (who is a single parent today) who got married in her early 20's. She is a very bright and spiritual woman, who saw her marriage as a journey, but not one that would necessarily last forever. Over time, she and her husband grew apart, and eventually divorced. She does not regret having been married, nor does she lament now being single. She believes that both of these parts of her journey had a purpose, and that they both have value.

I think it will be awesome if you find a partner whom you can enjoy for as long as you live. This is one reason why I want you to marry later in life, for you will hopefully get smarter as you get older. Conversely, I don't think it will necessarily be bad if you travel part of your life with one individual, another part on your own, and another with a new partner. This doesn't mean that you won't know pain in these transitions--- but that those learning pains may be your greatest teacher.

My suggestion is that a little reverse psychology can increase your potential for a long-term relationship. Live your love-life one day at a time. Do not hold on to the person, or attempt to require them to stay in your camp. Tell them that you only want them around if they want to be there. As you let go of them, they will be more interested in staying. There is a story about a stallion in a corral. When the gate was closed, he tried and tried to get out, feeling penned in and discontent. When the gate was left open, he went out and wandered about. Realizing that life within the corral was desirable, he returned. As long as the gate was left open, he contentedly stayed. It was only when they closed it (and he lost his sense of choice) that he grew discontent and restless. There was no guarantee that he would return if the gate were left open. But the mare did not want him in the corral if he wanted to be out, for he would be a pain to live with, and would only create misery for them both. Remember the old poster about the hand letting go of the bird? The caption said, "If she comes back, she was yours. If she doesn't, she never was."

Weddings are another part of marriage that don't make much sense to me. Families spend a fortune (often going in to long term debt). They try to pretend that they have a life that doesn't exist in their every day world. It looks like they are acting out that whole perfect-prince-and-princess thing. To really date myself, they are living out the old "Queen for a Day" show. Let me say right here, that I'm as sentimental and romantic as the next guy. As you know, I perform weddings for couples. Not a wedding goes by when I don't get all choked up over the vows and the feelings of love. I desperately want all that is said in the ceremony to be true. My sadness comes when it so often isn't.

I think it's awesome if a couple wants to throw a big party to celebrate their love--- but I don't think a wedding is a required component. It seems that weddings are often an opportunity for the parents to show off how wealthy or successful they are. Even parents who don't have the money will put on a big spread, so as not to have others think they can't afford the required shindig. I know of some parents who have offered to give their kids cash (instead of a wedding) if they will just go off and elope!

It just seems that we should choose to have a wedding that we can afford, and that expresses who the couple really is. So, if they like camping, let's have it in the woods--- If they like swimming, let's have it at the pool, etc. Let's only invite the people who we really want to attend. Let those with hurt feelings work out their own issues. Let's have money left in the bank after the service is over. In other words, let's do our wedding our way! In fact, maybe we won't have a wedding. Or maybe we won't even get married! And those who reject us as a result--- well, they weren't really our friends anyway!

So, what's the Bottom Line of this chapter?
Marriage isn't magic.
If you choose it, proceed with caution,
and drive the car before you buy it!
___________________________
It's Your Turn!

What did you like or dislike about this chapter?

What would you like to tell YOUR cubs about this subject?

What is YOUR bottom line on this subject?? ____________________________

Chapter 22

"Billy Graham has described heaven as
a family reunion that never ends.
What must hell possibly be like?
Home videos of the same reunion?"
Internet Chatter

Families. Sometimes they are pretty confusing. May be a case of can't live with them, and can't life without them! What is a family anyway? Well let me tell you what I think it's NOT. It is not two parents and 2.4 children. Now of course this is ONE type of family, but it isn't even close to being the ONLY or the BEST type of family. In fact, I believe there is only ONE type of best family--- and that is the one where the members of the family are truly loved and accepted. I know this sounds easy. And I know that almost everyone would publicly state that "of course" this is what goes on in their family. But what I've heard time and time again in private is that sometimes people HATE their family (or parts of it). They lament that you can pick your friends, but you can't pick your relatives.

This, of course, is what makes the second part of the quote so funny. You know--- "PLEASE tell me that I can leave the family reunion now. Please tell me that I don't have to stand around being bored to tears any longer, or listening to Uncle Harry talk about stuff that I've either already heard him say a hundred times over, or that I couldn't IMAGINE caring any less about!?

As you can probably tell, I don't necessarily share Billy's belief that families are where heaven is found. I know that this may be the stereotypical view of bliss, but it just doesn't seem to ring true for lots of people. As in the earlier chapters, I am not saying that I'm AGAINST families. Nothing could be further from the truth. I would just like us to be a little more honest about this subject that is protected by a shroud of pretending. It's ok to enjoy your family, but it's also ok to NOT enjoy your family!

It is very sad, that in the guise of being a loving family, so much dislike and judgment can go on. You know--- "We are a loving family, but don't you DARE bring that tramp to our family reunion!" "How can you go out with that non-Catholic?" "That guy is trailer-trash!" "They're not really a family!" "After all, they're gay, or she's a mother that's never been married," or "no son of mine is going to have a wife from that racial group," or "if they don't join our religion, God has told us to disown them and to never speak with them again," etc. No, I didn't make these statements up. If you haven't heard this type of thing, it may because of your youth, or because your ears have been covered. Unfortunately it is all too true that if these are not spoken out loud behind someone's back, they are at least thoughts inside far too many minds.

Do you remember when we went to Cecil William's Church in San Francisco? Do you remember saying that anyone who went to that liberal place "could not" be a Christian? It was Father's day. I remember a self-described "queer" single father testifying to his love for his children, and thanking the congregation for accepting them, even though they weren't "your typical church family." I don't know about you, but I cannot look that man and his children in the face and tell them that they are not a family, or that they are the wrong "kind" of family. I know two gay women who have adopted a child. They seem to be a very loving family. How presumptuous it is for any of us who grew up in traditional communities to believe that we have "real" families, and that other combinations of parents, children, spouses, or non-married partners have "wrong" or "sick" families. If a group of people are committed to each other's welfare, and are willing to support each other's efforts, they are to me, some type of family. I remember Dr. Brazelton, the famous pediatrician, defining a family as "a group of people who were irrationally committed to each other's well being." That makes a lot of sense to me, and pushes me to accept all different types of families as "being on the same team."

I don't believe that a divorce necessarily causes a family to cease to exist. I believe, in fact, that families and divorce can coexist. The traditional party line is that divorce crushes and ruins families. In my experience, it challenges the family to change, and requires the family to redefine itself. For example, a two-parent family may become two single parent families, or two blended families (i.e., if remarriages occur), etc. If one parent realizes they are gay, they may choose to become divorced and enter into a gay relationship. The children of the original family may then have to adjust to being the members of a blended gay family, etc. Even if there are no children, two people who have been intimately involved in each other's lives can continue to have a sense of family long after they have divorced or remarried. Sometimes they become like siblings or relatives. They attend holidays with their new family members, and try to be supportive of the present and past family members.

I realize that I am not talking about the "typical" divorce. Unfortunately, it is the insanity that people watch on soap operas that is often lived out in their lives. Why do you think those dysfunctionally-based crazy shows are so damn popular? I'm guessing it is because it reflects the ill-health of many of those who watch. I honestly believe that if people live on a steady diet of that type of insanity-training, it will do significant harm to their lives. If they can laugh at it and separate reality from fantasy, then maybe it's innocent fun (after all, who of us within the yuppie generation can't remember at least occasional addictions to Dallas on Friday nights!). The problem is that all too often we don't have any healthy sources of family thinking in our everyday world (and please don't think that churches necessarily help here!). So we start to believe that the soap opera insanity is the sensible way to live our lives (even though this may be subconscious)!

You see, it is because of the emotional sickness of family members that divorce can be so devastating. I know that divorce is complicated, and that no one would choose it if they knew of a better way to preserve their sanity. But my experience is that it is not so much divorce that messes up kids and their parents, but HOW the family divorces! I hope this makes sense. Divorce is so often spoken of as society's greatest evil. I'm not trying to say that it's an easy thing, but that the pain of it can be greatly reduced if the couple or parents approach it in a healthy way.

In other words, there is such a thing as a constructive divorce. I remember watching a movie where a couple in their late 40's were having a cocktail together out by the pool. Casually, one turned to the other and said, "you know, I think it would be best if we got a divorce." The other one paused for a moment, and then said, "I think you?re right." They clinked their glasses together as they toasted the honesty of the moment, and anticipated the experiences that would follow. I know this may sound crazy to you. We could say that they were crass, didn't value the sanctity of marriage, etc. However, the intent of the movie's producer seemed to be that they valued the years that they had weathered together, but that they now needed to enter two separate phases of their journey through life. No, they did not hate each other. But instead, actually still had love for each other. But they had grown in different directions, and it would be healthier for them to change their course at this time, while remaining supportive of each other.

The question is--- have you ever known a couple to have this kind of amiable split?? The answer is probably ?no!? At least we can be damn sure it hasn't shown up on our favorite soap! I must tell you, however, that I have SEEN couples split up in this fashion. They may be rare, but they do exist! The reason they are SO unusual, is because there are very few couples who are healthy enough to separate without becoming insecure, vengeful, jealous, etc. If, from childhood, we can help people to become much more emotionally healthy, we will see more of these friendly splits. I know it may sound crazy, but I believe it is ABSOLUTELY true! The other great truth, however, and the MORE exciting news, is that if we raise people to be this healthy, they won't get in as many sick relationships that require breakups in the first place!! We WON'T reduce the divorce rate by legislating or preaching against it. We will reduce the rate by TELLING people that it's OK not to marry, and encouraging them to get their own s--- together first!!

So, what's the Bottom Line of this chapter?
There may be as many types of families as there are groups of people.
And even if divorce rattles their cage, families really are forever!!
So get used to it, and invite your x and their family over for the Holiday!
___________________________
It's Your Turn!

What did you like or dislike about this chapter?

What would you like to tell YOUR cubs about this subject?

What is YOUR bottom line on this subject?? ____________________________

Chapter 23

"Most lipstick contains fish scales."
Internet Chatter

Things are often not what they appear to be. I mean, who doesn't like lipstick? Most women like to wear it, and most men like to look at it, or better yet, kiss it! However, not all of us are fond of fish, and even those who are don't like kissing the outside of the fish!

The same can be said for kids from divorced families. You know the party line--- "Oh those poor kids. Their folks split up. It must be so hard on the children. Everyone knows that children of divorce are more screwed up than normal kids." Just like the beauty of lipstick can be deceiving, so can the lives of children from divorced families.

I am in no way disagreeing that there are lots and lots of divorces that are a nightmare for the kids. But let's realize that it is the unhealthy psyches of their sick parents that make the divorce so complex and ugly. We all disdain the dads who drop out of the family, the mom's who abuse drugs and neglect their kids, the parents who use their kids as pawns to stick it to their x, etc.

What most of us do not hear about, are the kids who do as well or better in their single parent families as they were doing when their parents were together. I want to say very clearly that there is a power for good in divorce and part-time parenting, that is hardly ever discussed in the media!

"Worldwide, one out of three women are abused."
US News and World Report
January 24, 2000

The unfortunate truth of the matter is that there are a huge number of sick marital relationships in the world. We may think that in America we are exempt, but nothing could be further from the truth. Ever notice a woman with bruises on her face or arms? When you ask her what happened, she tells you that she fell. Interesting. It may be true, but don't be at all surprised to find out later that her boyfriend or husband beat her up. Now maybe they were both drunk or high on drugs, and maybe she said some really mean stuff to him, but none of these excuses justifies this abusive behavior.

There's another type of dysfunctional abuse that is, in a way, much more difficult. I can't tell you how many people have told me about the subtle ugliness of their relationship. They often say that it might be easier if there were bruises on their body, because then people could "see" the hell that they are going through, people could truly understand, and not chastise them for wanting to run away.

I'm talking here about emotional or psychological abuse. It's VERY hard to put the reality of this hell into words, because it is SO damn subtle. A person could have a spouse who seemed perfectly fine to people on the outside. But living with the person can be like Chinese Water Torture--- the constant quiet dripping of dysfunction will drive you CRAZY over time! And in fact, it often does take many years to figure out that you're not crazy--- that s/he who APPEARS NICE is really TOXIC to the core!!

For example, this person may say they want to be married, but they ignore you, they don't compliment you, they passively sabotage you by withdrawing, and not talking to you. They will never admit that they are unhappy or want things to change (probably because they are so screwed up, that they don't know it themselves). In fact, they don't communicate at all--- about anything of the heart. They're great if you want to talk about the weather--- but you find that to get old after a couple of decades!!

Your friend's think s/he is such a nice person, but you think to yourself--- trying LIVING with them!! Your own family has a hard time understanding why you are so unhappy, and yet you are SO miserable that you think suicide sounds like a fine option! Subtle as it is to the outside world, it is the blackest of hells nonetheless. I've seen people who don't get out of this mess do one of two things: they end their lives or, more commonly, they bury themselves in their kids, their work, their garage, their compulsive shopping, etc. They are the walking dead, and there are 1,000's of them! Some have told me, that all they are doing is waiting to die (keep in mind that some of these folks are in their 20's or 30's!).

It is an absolute falsehood that all couples should stay married. Countless children (not to mention the adults!) have been permanently scarred (physically or emotionally) because their dysfunctional parents stayed together.

"Remember that not getting what you want
is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck."
Nepalese Good Luck Mantra

No one wants to go through a divorce, and there are no children who would rather have their parents divorced than married. That is, of course, if we assume that they have a decent life with their parents. We would all wish that our parents would get along, be close, keep being in love with each other, and treat us kids well along the way. So much for Disneyland. If that happens, awesome. Unfortunately, this often isn't the case (remember, we're talk'n over 50% of the time). So our parents split up. We don't get what we want.

What's more relevant is--- what do we do when the marriage doesn't help both parents to be healthy and strong? What do kids need more than anything else? They need to be raised by healthy people! If those people happen to be both of their parents, all the better! But sometimes kids need to be away from one or both of their parents--- if their folks are too screwed up to healthily raise the kids. This is so so difficult at first, but sometimes this loss opens the door to a far better world. Honest.

In other words, divorce is sometimes the lesser of two evils. I know children of divorce who are MUCH healthier today because their folks split up! I've known these kids since they were young, and they tell me this after they've become adults. And please realize that these are not only kids from physically abusing homes. Children whose parents are emotionally unstable can be VERY harmed by this subtle demon! Their parents may look great on the outside--- they may be successful at work, involved in the community, etc. But all of that is the shell. If the parents don't know how to unconditionally love their kids (probably because THEY were never truly loved), they may, albeit very subtlely, do lifelong damage to their kids. I have had adults from these types of families have to spend many years on the couch trying to undo the damage.

With regard to the power of part-time parenting, it is often misunderstood that some parents do a better job on a part-time basis than they might do as a full-time parent. We could say that this makes them inferior, but that hasn't been my experience. For one thing, in today's world, almost all parents are part-time parents! Because both parents want or need to work, they don't see their child/ren from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. anyway. Let me also say here that I do not agree that it is always in the best interest of the child/ren to have at least one parent at home full-time. It may be best, but that depends on the temperament of the parent, and how well the parent and child get along.

Also, it has been found that some children thrive in the daycare environment where they can interact with their peers. In reality, a mix of time at home and in daycare may be best for most kids. What troubles me is the assumption that parents who work outside of the home are somehow doing an inferior job of parenting. And conversely, that a child whose parent is home full-time is always better off. It's the idea of one way being right for all situations that I struggle with. For example, when I grew up, it was always assumed that mom should be home full-time, and that the kids were surely going to be more troubled if this did not happen.

If we do happen to be a full-time parent, it's easy to take for granted a lot of what goes on with our child. Conversely, when we only see our child part of the time, we tend to treasure each moment more highly, because they are limited. I've seen full-time parents who become more loving and considerate once they shift to part-time. This may happen even if it wasn't their wish to be a part-time parent. They may have gone through a divorce, or their spouse may have died.

You've probably seen this bumper sticker:

"Insanity is inherited.
You get it from your kids!!"

There's actually quite a bit of truth to this. Being with kids all the time is enough to drive a parent ta drink'n! In fact, I know more than a few parents who tip a few at night in order to "cope." Now realize that these parents say that they love their kids, and that parenting is their most important job. What I notice, when I look into their eyes, is that they don't LOOK terribly happy! They tell me that they SHOULD be happy, but the voice of their inner heart, as reflected on their face, tells me otherwise!

The truth is that not everyone is cut out to be a parent! And sometimes the least qualified are having the most kids! What's up with that?! Could it be a certain dysfunctional need to be loved or needed, that drives them into that which they're really not terribly good at?! I don't think that we should have a panel which chooses who is healthy enough to be a parent--- but we need to realize that the ability to reproduce does not necessarily come with the requisite parenting skills!!

It's very hard for parents to admit that they have bitten off more than they can chew. The guilt can be overwhelming! But both parents, and the kids, might have a more positive family experience if the folks owned up to who is good at parenting, and who isn't. Let's let the pros parent-on, and let the amateurs either learn a better way, or take a back seat to those who will do the kids the most good. How do we know which is which? If we watch closely, the kids will tell us!

If two parents who become divorced can cooperate with the care of their child/ren, it is the greatest gift they can give their offspring. In order to do this, the parents usually have to come to grips with the divorce. They have to find some inner peace, and they have to conclude that even if they don't like their ex, s/he is still a critical part of their child's life, and that the relationship should not be interfered with if possible. Obviously, we have the situations where the parent drops out of the child's life, is in prison for a major crime, etc. We have to admit that it is unfortunately all too true that sometimes the child is better off if they never see the troubled parent again. I always hate to see it get to that level, but sometimes it is definitely the best choice for the child.

The toughest task, of course, is when there is only one parent around to do the job. Parenting is said to be the second toughest job in the world (can you guess the first?), even with TWO parents! So when we do it solo, the fatigue alone is enough to put us in the home! However, once again, I've heard lots of stories where the parent is THANKFUL to have the other parent out of the picture--- because they are just as much a burden as another child--- or they are so counterproductive that (here we go again) they do more harm than good!

When I think of my own experience as a single parent with you three kids, I wish it didn't have to be this way. I wish we had more times when we could just hang out together, rather than you having a sense of visiting with me. I think that both your mom and I have been pretty well equipped to be good parents for you. I think you know that I left because your mom and I are so different, not because the parenting was overwhelming. Because Jonathan is younger, he and I have had a more normal family life. Given that you guys are off to college and adulthood, I guess our relationship was changing anyway. I just want you to know that I don't think there was anything highly dysfunctional, from a parental perspective, that led to my leaving. In fact, I think our parenting was one of the greatest strengths of our marriage.

So, what's the Bottom Line of this chapter?
Not all kids from divorced families are unhappy.
For some, it's better. And realize that,
just because the folks are together,
doesn't mean the kids aren't at risk.
___________________________
It's Your Turn!

What did you like or dislike about this chapter?

What would you like to tell YOUR cubs about this subject?

What is YOUR bottom line on this subject?? ____________________________

Chapter 24

"If I want to hear the pitter-patter of little feet,
I'll put shoes on my cat!"
Internet Chatter

You kids were raised to think that it was a forgone conclusion that you would marry, and then you would have children. So far, none of you have married, and I'm not a grandpa. For this I am thankful. As I've said in the previous chapters, I hope you wait until you are older to marry.

You may not know that when I was writing my doctoral dissertation, I was studying the impact of children on couples. The theory in the literature was that childless couples (do you notice the negative spin in the word "childless"?) were less emotionally well balanced than couples with children. Because my advisor had a research grant to look at the affect of kids on couples, I was paid a part-time salary while we studied this subject.

What we found was contrary to what had been assumed. Children did not necessarily make couples happier and more well adjusted. We DID find that it is important for adults (married or single) to pass on some of their ideas to the next generation (so THAT'S why dad's writing this all-too-long book to us!). Even if they don't have children, most adults find other mechanisms (like being a Big Sister, or a Scout Leader, or a favorite aunt or uncle, etc.) to share their ideas with the young ones around them. It seems that it is this desire to pass on our beliefs that helps middle-aged people to feel well adjusted, more than whether or not they have their own kids.

Our study was part of a new movement which began to refer to people who did not have children as "childfree" couples. I'm sure you can tell that this term gives a more positive flavor to the concept of not having kids. I want you to know that I will be totally happy for you if you "choose" to have children. But I sure as hell hope that's what it is--- your CHOICE. Which means, of course, that you can also "choose" to NOT have children. I want you to know that I (nor anyone else) should never be a reason for you to have children. I will never be one of those parents who tries to guilt you into having kids, so that I can find new joy and purpose in life. I will love any children you have, but I will be just as happy if you choose to never have kids.

"Children are not things to be molded,
but are people to be unfolded."
Source Unknown

I'm sure you kids have seen parents who have too much of their identity tied up in their children. Although this is all too typical, it is very dangerous--- both for the parents and the kids. In my experience, kids can be a wonderful part of a parent's life, but they are only a PART of the parent's life! The age-old principle of moderation obviously applies here. If my kids are my WHOLE life, then I am devastated if they go away or behave poorly. If they are a PART of my life, I love them dearly, but I expect them to grow up, become independent, and go their own way. If (when?) they screw up, it is difficult, but I can realize that they are making their own choices, and that I am not totally to blame for their errors.

I can remember James Dobson, the well know Christian Psychologist, lecturing to parents about raising their kids. He was referring to the Biblical passage which states that parents should "raise up a child in the way in which he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." He pointed out that this verse from the Book of Proverbs, was making a statement of probability, rather than promise. In other words, there is no guarantee that kids will turn out to be what their parents raised them to be. I have told hundreds of couples over the years that they should not take total credit for the successes of their children, any more than they should take the total blame for their failures. As parents, we are more like guardians of our children than directors. We need to give up trying to control them and shape them into our image. Instead, we need to help them unfold themselves into who they need to be. This can be VERY difficult, because we are not always enamoured with who they become. This, of course, is where the gift of unconditional love is most necessary and valuable to them.

So, what's the Bottom Line of this chapter?
You are AWESOME, whether you choose to have kids or not.
Because this is the biggest job of a lifetime,
make sure you're READY, before you enlist!
___________________________
It's Your Turn!

What did you like or dislike about this chapter?

What would you like to tell YOUR cubs about this subject?

What is YOUR bottom line on this subject?? ____________________________

Chapter 25

"George Washington
grew marijuana in his garden."
Internet Chatter

Drugs, sex, and rock 'n roll. That's what my teenage generation was all about. You guys may not use the same phrase, but your era probably isn't much different. I've already given you my views on sex. When it comes to music, I am value free. I don't believe "your" music is any better or worse than "my" music. I believe music is relative--- that the "beauty is in the ear of the beholder." A lot of older people believe that "their" music was better, and that today's "music" is a bunch of crap. This usually means that they don't understand the current music, or that they are stuck in a time warp of their youth that seems like "the good old days." Music is a classic example of how much people can hate to change.

It seems that every young generation picks music (and hair styles, and clothing, etc.) that is guaranteed to p--- off their parent's generation. I think the purpose of this is for the kids to feel independent, and to break away from their parents. It seems that music, and all that goes with it, is a right-of-passage to independent adulthood. Ergo, don't be surprised if someday you think your kids music is "crap!"

Hopefully it is also totally obvious to you that the type of music you like has to do with where you were raised and who you hung out with. If your parents raised you on classical music, you might like it as an adult (or HATE it because they always "stuffed it down your throat"). In addition, the music of various cultures is so amazingly different. Having grown up on American music, my ears almost rebel when I hear some of the music from India, Japan, Africa, etc. If I can manage to keep listening, I may learn to appreciate some new styles, but my first reaction is to turn off the freak'n radio! Once again, we are very much the outgrowth of the small world in which we were raised.

Back to George Washington and weed. What are my views on drugs? First of all, it makes sense to me to view alcohol as a drug, just like dope, speed, psychedelics, etc. The fact that alcohol is legal and the others are not, doesn't matter to me. I know it does to some people, but I honestly think those folks are in denial. I am most interested in the impact and affect of drugs on people, and it seems foolish not to conclude that alcohol's affect falls into the same category as the illegal drugs. Besides, it is misinformed to not realize, once again, the relativity of cultures. There are, for example, countries where the use of opium and marijuana are legal, and there are at least parts of countries (i.e., our own, where there are "dry" cities or counties) where alcohol is illegal. Whether drugs are good or bad is not a matter of governmental edict. We must think on a higher plain, where we look at its value or curse in relation to its impact on our lives and those of our families.

I don't know if our first President really smoked marijuana, but this quote would suggest that he did. What IS true is that people have been using substances to change their mood for thousands of years. A more recent development is that we can now make synthetic drugs. Timothy Leary was the LSD guru of my generation. He was a psychology professor at Harvard who was doing research on the ability of humans to communicate in a sixth dimension. He believed that the use of a newly invented drug (LSD) would enable people to experience a whole New World. He advocated that teens like myself "tune in, turn on, and drop out." For generations most teens had used alcohol, but the huge popularity of marijuana, LSD, cocaine, etc. seemed to take over my generation as never before. Mine was the age of "free love and free sex." Silly me, I pretty well missed the boat on THAT deal! The tragedy, of course, that grew out of all this "freedom," was the AIDS epidemic. As a result, you are now required to give a lot more thought to your sex life being safe.

The point of this story is that the early intentions of some of the drug users were to have fun while building a better world. What has happened, unfortunately, is that untold number of lives have been ruined by drug abuse. Not only for the drug users, but for their families. Given all this tragedy, it's easy to conclude that all drug use is bad. However, this defies the moderation principle set forth by the Greeks thousands of years ago.

Let's talk about you and drugs. I've already made my decisions on this subject (you know--- I don't smoke, drink alcohol, use any drugs, drink coffee, etc.), based on what feels and tastes good to me (not because some higher power gave me an instruction manual). But you're in the middle of deciding what to do. I find that one of the key variables is your personality. In my practice I see people who have "addictive personalities." These are folks who tend to over-do what ever they touch. If they drink, they drink too much. If they exercise, they exercise too much. At times, they can be successful, because their over-doing can lead to significant achievements. But it can also bring tragedy along for the ride. These people may crash and burn after great successes.

We will talk more about personalities in Chapter 34, but let's just say here that if you're one personality type, drugs will probably be more of a problem than if you're another. I've met people who want to be clean and sober, but who find achieving this goal almost impossible. Others see no interest in drugs, and because of their personality type, have almost zero chance of messing up their lives with substance abuse.

You may not be like me. You may like the feelings that drugs give you. It would be silly for me to scold you for being you. My wish for you is that you will be smart about drugs. If it's messing up your life, then you'd better consider backing away. Please don't be in denial about its impact on you. Are you missing work? Are you gaining or losing too much weight? Is it messing up your relationships? Had any DUI's? I know it may sound boring, but the moderation idea does make a lot of sense to me. Have a good time, but know when to quit. I was raised to be a teetotaler. I think that was a mistake. It would have been easy to want to rebel and go to the other extreme, when everything in the world had been presented as "bad" or "sinful."

"Grow up, not old."
Isuzu Car Ad

A lot of the fun that people have is associated with alcohol and drugs. Today we understand that even cigarettes and cigars are addictive. Others find food to be their "drug of choice." There are a lot of people who look "good" because they're not abusing alcohol or drugs in public. But in their private lives their accessive use of food, coffee, cigarettes, etc. is an addiction that is every bit as real.

I want you to be grown-ups who have a hell of a lot of fun. Part of being old is when our ideas become rigid, and we become NO fun to be around because we are dysfunctionally stuck in the past. I guess I'm one of those weird people who has more fun at a party sober than I would drunk. In fact, I take a lot of s--- for being me at times. I can remember being in London, and going out with some colleagues. I told them I didn't drink, but they still put pints of beer in front of me. I didn't touch them. There was a lot of pressure, but I hate the stuff, so I stood fast. I asked if I might get one of those "fruity" drinks where, if I'm lucky, I won't taste the alcohol. These old-fashioned guys said that, if I did, everyone would think I was gay! Isn't that wild?! I wouldn't care if others thought I was gay, but for the British cops I was pubbing with, such a scene would have apparently been uncomfortable indeed! I should have had one of you kids with me at that time, to drink on my behalf! I'm guessing you would have found their gift of British ale to be sweet indeed!

It's critically important to point out that many people use drugs to self medicate themselves. Usually, they have no conscious awareness of this. I never cease to be amazed how some of my clients, who are abusing some substance, will resist taking a prescription drug. They will trust themselves to subconsciously misuse substances to find peace in their life, but then won't trust a trained Psychiatrist to prescribe a medicine that has been researched for over ten years!

Please realize that some people CANNOT control their use of drugs! Maybe that seems obvious, but it's amazing how many people think that they can quit--- when they can't! This is where prescription medications can be SO helpful. We now know that the brain is divided into sections, and that certain substances create pleasure, pain, rage, fear, etc. in these sections of the brain. A person who is self-medicating is often trying to fill their brain with substances that their body is not naturally producing. Prescription drugs are sophisticated mental health vitamins that are intended to fill these natural needs in a way that minimizes negative side affects. I can't think of one time when one of my clients wasn't better off using prescription medications under a Physician's supervision--- rather than trying to heal themselves with god-knows-what "self-prescribed" substances! This is definitely a situation where drugs are not bad. Just the opposite --- they are a godsend!

So then, this whole subject of drugs can be very complicated. This is an area where we need to be careful about passing judgment. For example, there's no doubt that non-users can be a genuine pain in the butt! I think it was Jack Nicholson who has euphemistically quoted Rodney King (an African American whom an LA court determined was illegally beaten) by saying: "Why can't we all just get along?!" The uppity non-user or the militant user are yet again classic examples of ideo-centric thinking. We've got to allow people to make their own decisions, even if we think that what they conclude is crazy!

So, what's the Bottom Line of this chapter?
Drugs can be deadly. Be smart, and have fun,
but know that there will come a day
when "no" may be the only sensible answer!
___________________________
It's Your Turn!

What did you like or dislike about this chapter?

What would you like to tell YOUR cubs about this subject?

What is YOUR bottom line on this subject?? ____________________________

Chapter 26

"First things first,
but not necessarily in that order."
Internet Chatter

The order of our lives. It would be nice if it were first things first, but it rarely IS in that order! We think we know which events should come before and after each other, but we are ever so silly! I encourage you to view your lives as an ever-changing mystery. Go ahead and make your plans, but hold-on as life deals you one surprise after another!

"You only go around once."
Minolta Ad

Unless, of course, you believe in reincarnation. But even then, it seems like you come back as a mosquito or a rat, or on a good day, a cow. I think it is fair to continue believing that we only really have one chance at living this life in our human form! As you have already heard from me, I think it's a waste of our todays to bet on an afterlife of payoffs. I hope, that as you try to plan out your life, you give it your best shot. If we get a second chance later, let's call it a bonus! In fact, maybe we should give up on all our ideas about forecasting our future. As you remember, we can plan for the future--- but we can't COUNT on the future. Really stop and think about it for a moment. If this life is all that you will ever have, are you content to live it as you are? Or would you change some things to make these days count for more?

"Yesterday is gone; forget it.
Tomorrow never comes; don't worry.
Today is here; get busy.
AA

I do believe that if we will do our best with today, the tomorrows will take care of themselves. Don't worry. Be happy. Those are two of the hardest things for all of us anxiety-ridden anal-retentive Americans to do. And how about those yesterdays?! How about you? Man but I've had some terrible ones! It can be so freeing to think that today can be a fresh new start. There's a song that says "start'n all over again is gonna be tough, so rough, yea, but we're gonna make it." Maybe you three haven't had enough crap in your life to appreciate the wonderment of hearing that "today is the first day of the rest of your life." Lucky you! I hope it stays that way. Unfortunately, the statistics of Life 101 tell us not to bet on it.

"I try to take one day at a time,
but lately several days have attacked me at once!"
Bumper Sticker

It takes most of us decades to master this one day at a time stuff, so don't be too hard on yourself if it doesn't come to you naturally or easily. And remember that it's a message that is contrary to everything we hear in our culture. We are told that we can control our lives, that we deserve to be number one, that we're losers if we aren't completely successful, etc. Some of the ideas I'm trying to share with you in this book don't make sense to people until they've lived long enough to realize that these types of messages are a crock. Maybe what I'm trying to give you is dangerous or wasteful, because it is coming to you before your time. I hope not.

"In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect.
Trees can be contorted, and still they're beautiful."
Alice Walker

In Chapter 28 we will discuss perfectionism at length, but let's just say here that I encourage you to do your best, but that it is foolish to be down on yourself if you don't hit some perfect target that you have set for yourself in life. First of all, we often don't know what the "perfectly good" really looks like. A lot of the goals we pick may be a set-up for disappointment. Just like the twisted and deformed tree, there may be a perfect beauty in our twisted lives that is lost in simplistic definitions of the "perfect" way in which are lives should go.

So then, what's the Bottom Line of this chapter?
Life is a surprise, which takes us on a mystery ride.
Are you flexible enough to be ready?!
___________________________
It's Your Turn!

What did you like or dislike about this chapter?

What would you like to tell YOUR cubs about this subject?

What is YOUR bottom line on this subject?? ____________________________

Chapter 27

"When the mind is no longer resisting, no longer avoiding or blaming what IS,
but is simply passively aware, then in that passivity of the mind
you will find there comes a transformation."
J. Krishnamurti
Indian Writer
1895 - 1986

This chapter will challenge your ability to accept a paradoxical truth--- that by letting go of what you want, you are actually more likely to attain it. This, of course, is a classic concept of Eastern mysticism. If you've ever read any of their writings, you know that it is the type of thing where you scratch your head and wonder--- what the hell are they really trying to say? They use very few words to explain life's most complex concepts. And their view is often the opposite of Western thinking. We were taught to beat up the other guy until we got our way. They say that we should not fight the other guy, but passively get out of the way and watch their negative energy bring them down. Listen to more of their "funny talk:"

"We should find perfect existence through imperfect existence.
We should find perfection in imperfection. For us,
complete perfection is not different from imperfection."
Shunryu Suzuki
Zen Buddhist Monk
1904 - 1971

I can honestly tell you that I believe these folks are really on to something! I know it can be hard to understand, but these ideas have been around for about 2,500 years, and they have a certain staying power that would suggest that their ideas really can work. I'm guessing that you've heard of the Yin and the Yang concept. The symbol for this is a circle that has two curled figures intertwined with each other. It was seen a lot in the Hippie era, and is still seen on surfboards, tee shirts, etc. I know that you've seen it. I think it may also be associated with your drug culture, and would show up in head shops, tattoo parlors, etc.

The concept is that all of life has Yin and Yang, and that the two parts make up the whole of life. Yin and Yang represent opposing forces, like the dark side and the rebel alliance in Star Wars. The quote above says that perfection and imperfection are united. This is a Yin and Yang idea. It says that we need to learn to understand our achievements in a whole new way. Jung, an early Psychologist, spoke similarly when he said that all people have both male and female within them, and that the two parts (although not often discovered and understood) make up the whole of who we all are.

I know that this can sound like gibberish, but if you can figure it out, it can be LIFE CHANGING. This is the kind of stuff, for example, that sends movie stars (and hoards of others) to visit the Dali Lama. They are trying to figure out life, and looking to a spiritual leader to show them the way. A typical Buddhist response by the leader to the student goes something like this: "Why do you look to me? You know the answers. Just look around you, and you will find them." Now this can be VERY frustrating if you have just traveled 12,000 miles to check in with your favorite guru! You're looking for some bottom line quick answers, and HE tells you to stand around contemplating your navel! If the answers were so obvious, why the hell did you travel half way around the freak'n world!
This, of course, is the whole point. We need to slow down, stop and listen to what is around us, and figure out some of the answers in ways that work for us. This, again, is the opposite of how we were raised. I have a cartoon in my office where the guy is lying on the couch, talking to his shrink. He says to the Doc: "My wife tells me what to do, and my boss tells me what to do. What do YOU think I should do, Doctor?" This book, of course, is all about challenging you to find YOUR self, and encouraging you to come to your own independent adult conclusions about lots of areas of life.

"If there is no enemy within,
the enemy without can do no harm."
Traditional African Proverb

I love this quote. Most people that I encounter have an enemy within that they are not aware of. And that enemy is messing them up pretty good. My job is to convince them that the enemy exists, help them discover what it is, and help them slay it. An old saying states that "I have met the enemy--- and it is ME." This proverb encourages us to discover that "peace which passes all understanding." Because when we have conquered our inner enemies, no one on the outside can do us any real harm. THEN we "shall know the truth, and the truth shall set us FREE." It's possible that what I am saying makes no sense to you at your current stage in life. Maybe read this chapter again when you are older, and then it will hopefully be a lot more helpful.

"The archer strikes the target,
partly by pulling,
partly by letting go."
Source Unknown

Do you hear the theme, as it is said again and again? Let go of all your attempts to control. If it's something you will benefit from, it may come back your way. For example, you love someone, and you want them to love you back. You try to compel them, force them, guilt them, etc., into staying or returning. This is very typical, but totally foolish. Let them go. Why would you settle for someone who didn't really want to be with you anyway? Who knows. If you can totally let them go, maybe they will return. If so, you can decide whether it's healthy for you to be with them. By then you may have found that life has something much better for you. If they don't return, count your blessings, because it would have been only half a life to live with a reluctant partner anyway. Don't let your own enemy within cause you to settle for less than you deserve. Better is out there. To not believe that is to have fallen for the biggest lie in town.

"Surrender is victory.
We win by giving up the fight."
AA

You know about Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi. This is their teaching. Non-violent resistance has proven to be a very effective political and social tool over the years. I find that what is hard, is to know how to apply this principle. Maybe you don't agree with this concept. Then you need to go into the world and see if aggression and force will lead to better outcomes. There are quite a few historians who would point out that it does not. Standing toe to toe with our neighbor is so easy for our natural ignorant self, but it usually leads to chronic standoffs like the Arabs and the Jews, or the Catholics and Protestants in Ireland. Warring is the foolish game of the uninformed. There are no winners. Only temporary dominators, whose victory will come back to haunt them. Coexistence is not desirable because it is the best way, but because it is the only way. Otherwise, we all lose eventually.

"The only thing you can control in life
is your attitude."
AA

Ok, so you do have control over SOMETHING. But it is not what most people typically think of. Try as we might, we just can't get people to do what WE know is best! Damn-it all! However, if we come to understand that we are not robotic, and that we have a choice in how we react, we can feel free indeed. This may sound simple, but most people don't have it mastered. You know--- "YOU made me angry... YOU made me do it," etc. No, actually, that's a crock. I cannot MAKE you angry. I may behave in a way that your anger would be justified, but you only get angry if you CHOOSE to get angry. This is, as we've said before, a very strange concept for lots of people. I hope it makes sense to you, because, once again, this is an idea that can SAVE YOUR LIFE. If you will take charge of your buttons, and not copout by saying that they MADE you act like a jerk, you will be on the way to knowing AWESOME power in your life for good.

"Quit thinking.
(It's what got you here)"
AA

The Eastern mystics would tell us that we Westerners analyze too much. If we will keep it simple, and learn from the natural order around us, we will be wiser and happier. This one is hard for me, because it is my thinking and analyzing that has helped me find my way in life. I think that this is another one of their paradoxical truths. In not thinking, we think. God, but these guys can be confusing!

So, what's the Bottom Line of this chapter?
The doing and the not doing---
they are two parts of the whole.
Perfection and imperfection are partners.
Let go, and let the good happen!
___________________________
It's Your Turn!

What did you like or dislike about this chapter?

What would you like to tell YOUR cubs about this subject?

What is YOUR bottom line on this subject?? ____________________________

Chapter 28

"Ambivalent about perfection?
Well, yes and no."
Internet Chatter

Now let's talk about that great American myth--- that there is a perfect world out there. Let me be perfectly clear: THERE IS NO PERFECT JOB, SPOUSE OR LIFE!!!!!! I hope I'm making myself clear! It makes me SO ANGRY to see how this concept SCREWS PEOPLE UP! I just got done watching a new show: "Who Want's to be Married to a Multi-Millionaire." Now THERE was a work of art! 50 women putting themselves on the inspection block for a guy, who's hidden behind a wall. HE chooses them. Their only choice is to be willing to be part of this charade. The conclusion was that, at the end of the hour, he would have found--- get this, this is the part where I lost my cookies--- THE PERFECT MATE!! And I guess, by association, he was HER perfect mate!

Ok. Let's review. First of all, there is no perfect mate! Secondly, if there were, this sure as hell wouldn't be the way to find them! The goal should be to find someone with whom we have a pretty good fit. If we look for perfection in this arena, we're GUARANTEED to fail! Actually, I shouldn't knock this idea--- because it is DAMN GOOD for my business!

The other twist on this perversity, is that all the OTHER people have it together, and that I'm the only screw-up in the group. Or, put another way, their lives are perfect, and mine is a joke! Wow, but this is some sick stuff! I know that you kids have heard the word "perfect" thousands of times. It's time for us to think about what it really means, and whether a type of perfection exists. In my experience with tons of people, the concept of perfection has always seemed to do a lot more harm than good.

"Perfection is... being right, is fear, is pressure, is control,
is judgment, is taking, is anger and frustration, is the destination.
Excellence is... willing to be wrong, is taking a risk, is natural,
is spontaneous, is accepting, is giving, is powerful, is confident, is the journey."
Keli Lydell,
in 1995

There is no doubt that I want to encourage you to go-for-it in life, and put forth your best effort. That does not mean, however, that I will ever expect you to be perfect. It seems clear to me that we live in an imperfect world. I don't know about you, but I have yet to meet a perfect person! Oh, there are some people who ACT like they are perfect, but to be perfectly honest, they invariably end up being perfect jerks! Relatively speaking, I don't believe that perfection exists. Now I've seen a perfect sunset, or a perfectly beautiful day. But when it comes to human behavior, people sometimes spend a HUGE amount of time and effort to APPEAR perfect, but they are all, on occasion, putz's just like you and me! If there is one thing I've learned, in working with people, it's that what you see is RARELY what you get! Let me say it again: It is a HUGE mistake to compare your insides to someone else's outsides! Your REAL friends won't expect you to be without error. They will love you as you are, and will laugh with you as you occasionally screw up!

"Friend, don't be a perfectionist.
Perfectionism is a curse and a strain.
For you tremble lest you miss the bull's-eye.
You are perfect if you let it be."
Frederick S. Perls
German-born Psychiatrist
1893 - 1970

Fritz Perls was a prominent Psychiatrist, and the founder of a well-known school of thought known as Gestalt Therapy. This is not just your old man telling you that perfectionism can be dangerous. And I hope you know that I'm not encouraging you to be the opposite--- a slackard that doesn't try at all. I recall an old saying that encourages us "to do our very best. But when we put our head to rest at night, to be at peace with the effort we have set forth, because we did the best that we were able." Striving to be excellent--- now that's a good goal. That's differs from perfection.

"You will have the capacity
to learn from your mistakes.
You will learn a lot today."
Internet Chatter

I am currently reading a book on how to effectively manage people, how to coach them to success. One of the points that this nationally regarded author makes is that we need to praise people when they make fewer mistakes today than they made yesterday. Hopefully you've learned, from the earlier chapters of this book, to appreciate your mistakes as wonderful lessons on the way to your future successes. Don't make it your goal to live a life that is so small and safe that you never make mistakes. That will be your kiss of death. As long as we're a little out of our comfort zone, we have the chance to learn.

"It's the things I do wrong, my failings,
that are often the bridge to other people."
AA

If you want to make friends, screw up! Those people who make fun of you and snub your efforts, weren't worth your time anyway! The people worth getting to know will be able to relate to your failure, because they've also been there. There's nothing worse than hanging out with someone who has never screwed up! Either they are in denial, or their turn at failure just hasn't come up yet!

"If you're not happy today,
what day are you waiting for?"
AA

How many people do I know who are unhappy because they are not perfect yet!! Now, they won't declare their unhappiness in so many words, but it seems obvious none the less: "If only I were thinner, taller, or richer; if only my kids were as successful as the neighbors; if only I could be as spiritual as the pastor;" and so on, and so on.... The only thing I can conclude from hang'n out with these folks is that they are perfectly irritating! So when are you going to like your life the way it is, already?! I tell ya, this perfection thing can be at killer!

"Babe Ruth wore a cabbage leaf
under his cap to keep him cool!
He changed it every two innings!"
Internet Chatter

Ah, the Babe. The perfect baseball player. But wait. What's this about lettuce? No way! That's perfectly ridiculous! That's like, so not normal! I've heard of skeletons in your closet--- but lettuce in your hat?? Don't ruin my image of his perfection! This sounds like the behavior of a very odd person! First Marilyn's toes. Now Babe's lettuce. This is a serious blow to the myth of perfection!

So, what's the Bottom Line of this chapter?
I hope that you're totally ambivalent about perfection,
because too much of it can ruin a perfectly good day!
___________________________
It's Your Turn!

What did you like or dislike about this chapter?

What would you like to tell YOUR cubs about this subject?

What is YOUR bottom line on this subject?? ____________________________

Chapter 29

"If I'm ok with me,
I have no need
to make you wrong."
Source Unknown

I sure as hell hope that if you have a great need to be right, that you'll get over it ASAP! It's hard to think of a type of person that is more obnoxious than the jerk who insists on ACTING like she's never wrong. All of us around her KNOW that she is wrong--- because her ignorance is so obvious when seen through her bullheadedness. Talk about an insecurity red flag! This is where the tragedy of low self-esteem is glaringly obvious. The most basic intelligence should tell us that we're all wrong some of the time.

The better part of this quote is the good news that I don't have to make you wrong. When we feel good about ourselves, it's ok for the other guy to be right--- or wrong. It doesn't threaten us or hurt our feelings. It's just part of the regular ebb and flow of our lives.

"It is not your job
to point out
other people's faults."
AA

Ever feel like you know a lot more than the other guy? It's tempting, isn't it? To want to straighten him out? Funny how people don't always welcome our wealth of knowledge! It can take quite a few years to resign from being the caretaker of the universe! But I encourage you to learn the art of waiting before giving your pearls of wisdom. There is an old saying that "what most people need is a good listening to." When we are ok with ourselves, we can be patient as we wait for our friend to want to hear our advise. It's very stress-reducing for it to be ok for them to be right or wrong, for then we don't have to expend all kinds of energy "defending" our version of the truth. It's nice to get to the point where we don't have to be hurt or enraged by either outcome.

"People who want to share their religious views with you,
almost never want you to share yours with them."
"16 Things That it Took Me 50 Years to Learn,"
by Dave Berry
American Author
1947 -

Isn't THIS an interesting one! Pretty true, don't you think? People want to tell us how to live our lives, but they really don't give a damn about how WE see the world! Have you ever experienced the rejection that goes with not agreeing with someone? People can be so nice when they think they might win us over. But when they realize that we're not taking the hook, they can get down right ugly! I honestly believe that the sale of religion is just like the sale of anything else. Somebody walks up to you at the beach or a street fair. They want to sell you a balloon, or food, or anything else you can think of. God but they are nice at first. But when you walk on past them, the niceness thing changes in a New York minute!

Sometimes it seems like everyone in the world has something to sell. How rare (and wonderful!) it is to meet someone who just wants to talk or say "hi!" A relationship with no strings attached--- that's what I think we're all looking for! I've often thought that a salesman would be more effective if they accepted you, regardless of what they were selling. We would all be so smitten with their genuine no-strings-attached approach, that we would buy their product before anyone else's!

"I am not responsible for your feelings--- just my behavior.
What you think of me is not my business."
AA

Just as we want people to accept us unconditionally, we don't want to get hooked into the trap of being made to feel like we control how the other person feels. This is a VERY significant concept, that will help you a lot in the future, if you can figure it out. It is DAMN scary when we start believing that we can control the happiness, sadness, anger, etc. of the other person. You might think that this is a good thing, and that it helps us to make a difference in the world, while making us feel that we have the power to fix others. Initially this may seem to be true (this, of course, is the great myth that can trap lots of young counselors). But in the long run, it ruins us, because sooner or later they will start saying "you ruined my day; I'm not happy because of what you did; you made me so angry that I hit you," etc.

Now THIS is crazy making! Because it's hard enough to control our own state of mind, let alone trying to keep THE WORLD happy! So, Pleeeease---sign up for retirement if someone is telling you that you are making or ruining their day. What they think of you and your behavior is their call. You may choose to do something that makes great sense to you. THEY may tell you that your decision is breaking their heart and they'll never recover (e.g., you're going to move away from the family farm, to the big city with your gay friends). You are doing what makes sense to you. If they don't like it, that's their problem. THEY are in charge of whether their heart breaks! YOU are not. Remember, they can CHOOSE how they respond, even if they're not AWARE that they can choose! This doesn't mean that you don't care for them. You care, but you can't fix them.

"Happiness is largely unrelated to income and education or any of those other things we believe we must have to be happy. Content people usually share certain traits: They like themselves, they believe they have control over their lives, they are optimists and extroverts.... 'Life is funny,' a friend told me recently. 'When you stop looking for something, you find it.' ... I'm happy now is spite of what happens, not because of it.'"
Ana Veciana-Suarez,
Miami Herald Columnist

This, of course, is the over-arching goal of this book. If I could give you anything, it would be the ability to laugh at your life as you enjoy the ride. Now that in no way means that the ride will be easy. In fact, it is fairly inevitable that you will have your share of hurts along the way. But if you can smile at life, while blowing off its pains, you will not only bring joy to yourself, but to all of those around you!

So, what's the Bottom Line of this chapter?
I hope this message isn't boring,
'cause once again self-love is the key to soaring!!
___________________________
It's Your Turn!

What did you like or dislike about this chapter?

What would you like to tell YOUR cubs about this subject?

What is YOUR bottom line on this subject?? ____________________________

Chapter 30

"In the golf game of life,
the only real hazard is not taking a shot."
Source Unknown

Sports, competition, winning. I love them all. As I've told you, it's not so much that I'm a crazed fan for any one team. It's the struggles of life that are played out on the field that capture my heart. I enjoy rooting for the underdog. I like it when someone does well against all odds. There's nothing I love more than seeing the fire in an athlete's eyes. The absolute desire to win. The refusal to quit. The belief that somehow the impossible can be accomplished.

I can't help but wonder how badly you kids want to achieve your goals. The majority of people talk about succeeding, but that's all they do--- is talk. The will to win. Is it in you? Now, I'm not just talking about making a lot of money or becoming famous. It could be your goal to ace your job, or your schoolwork, or to put on the best Super Bowl party, etc.

"Don't wait for your ship to come in
--- swim out and meet it."
AA

I guess it's ok if you wait for your ship to come in, but then you're not allowed to bitch about it NOT coming in! People don't want to hear it! And of course, if all you do is wait, it probably won't come in. Because ships have a way of gravitating toward those who make some waves, and blow the sails into their own port!

I do hope that you will attack life. I know that my nature is less passive and more aggressive, so I want to keep in perspective that I'm giving you MY spin on life. But of course, that's kind of a duh, because this whole freak'n BOOK is my take on life! What I'm trying to say is that I understand that not everyone attacks life. And if they're happy with that, then I'm happy for them. In my experience, however, being passive leads to more sadness than joy. And this isn't my thought alone. It is hugely popular in Psychology to teach assertiveness training. The reason for this, is that a lot of studies have found that if people will challenge life and take more control of their world, they will be happier.

"Misteaks treated here
as learning opportunities."
Taking the High Road
Scottish Soap Opera

Hopefully, you know the correct spelling for "misteaks." Nothing is worse than a pithy quote that doesn't fly! If you're going to "take a shot" at life, you're definitely going to hit the "hazards" on occasion. Take it from a well established sucky golfer--- you will hit the hazards on quite a FEW occasions! The point, of course, is that you'll never hit the green, you'll never get that hole-in-one, if you don't at least SWING the club! I'm sure you've heard people talk about what they're going to do "when they win the lottery." Funny though--- when you ask them, they tell you that they never even PLAY the lottery! (PS: This is not necessarily an encouragement toward gambling. Guess what? Here's the GOOD news--- I'm not going to set forth my views of gambling in this book! Yes, it's true! There will actually be an END to this diatribe! I could add a chapter on gambling. But, Nooooo!! The end is near! Only 5 chapters to go!). Take the shot you guys! Don't let fear stop you! Don't worry about failing! Of course you'll fail! For awhile. But then, one of your shot's will land, and then, finally, you'll be--- da man!!

"Nobody cares if you dance well. Just get up and dance."
"16 Things That it Took Me 50 Years to Learn,"
by Dave Berry
American Author
1947 -

We men are often reluctant to go out onto the dance floor. It appears that we are embarrassed, and we don't want to make fools out of ourselves, because we were born with two right feet. It is my experience that women truly do welcome any man onto the dance floor. In fact, it's a great place to meet women, because so few men are out there! Even if they think we suck, they're just happy to dance with us, and they REALLY like it if we know we suck, and can laugh at ourselves! Ah, the wonderment of high self-esteem once again! So, without a doubt, we are better off if we TRY to dance--- rather than not dancing at all! Ever seen a grouchy old man around the fringes of the dance floor, who refuses to budge? Don't you dare end up being one of those old f----!

"If you're afraid someone's going to find out something about you, tell them.
The embarrassment lasts a few seconds, but carrying around the secret
will keep the fear with you always."
Source Unknown

PLEASE don't let embarrassment rule your lives! It is such a vacuous villain! I have seen many many times over, that you are farther ahead if you admit what you don't know, or what you are afraid others will find out! As it turns out, people are pretty compassionate when you admit your foibles or your dark side. How tall you will stand if you have nothing to hide! Be you, and ta hell with any who don't like it!

So, what's the Bottom Line of this chapter?
There's only one shot you're guaranteed to miss---
the one you don't take!!
___________________________
It's Your Turn!

What did you like or dislike about this chapter?

What would you like to tell YOUR cubs about this subject?

What is YOUR bottom line on this subject?? ____________________________

Chapter 31

"If I throw a stick, will you leave?"
Internet Chatter

Have you ever had someone be too dependent on you? Or maybe you're the one who leans heavily on the other. Well I'm here to tell you, it can be a major burden to have someone believe that you are their life force, and that they can't make it without you. Now I understand that it can feel good to help someone. After all, that's what my job is all about! In fact, there is a cycle in therapy, where the client begins by being aloof. They then go into a stage where they are very dependent. And then, if I've done my job well, they grow to need me less, and learn to trust themselves more than anyone else. But I've definitely seen some relationships where we keep rescuing the person, and they keep being dependent. One of the terms for this is "learned helplessness." I want to encourage you to avoid these types of relationships like the plague!! They are not good for you, nor for the one who is leaning on you. At first it can feel very comfortable, but in the long run both parties are diminished by this dynamic.

"Please go away, so I can miss you!"
Internet Chatter

One of the keys to a healthy relationship can be some time apart. I remember a cartoon where two women were sitting together on a bench and chatting. One of them said to the other: "You know, one of the keys to our friendship, is that we don't spend too much time together!" This, of course, is contrary to common folklore. The image of a great friendship or love relationship is where the couple wants to spend EVERY MINUTE together. What you DON'T hear is how they get along once they actually START spending all their time together! I can't tell you how many women have told me how much they did NOT welcome their husband's retirement! They loved their time on their own, and didn't know how they would get anything done when HE started to spend all of his time at home! Another scary example of "isn't it wonderful that we can spend all our time together" is, of course--- marriage! THIS is why I suggest you live with, and otherwise spend a hell of a lot of time with, whomever you choose to partner-up with! Because you won't know if you can avoid killing them, until you live out this wonderful dream of "spending 24-7 together!"

"Peace is the first product
of freedom from all desires."
Paramahansa Yogananda
Indian Yogi
1893 - 1952

Often, when we hear this type of quote, we are thinking of freedom from material things. That's the easy part! How about trying to be free from the desire (need?) to be with someone else?! As I've said, the best relationships probably occur when I don't NEED to have a relationship! Because when I NEED one (and that's usually what it is, rather than a healthy desire), I'll do some desperate and sick stuff to get one! The "peace that passes all understanding" may well be when I'm at peace with being on my own and loving myself. But of course you KNOW what will happen when you get that peace--- everyone is going to want to have a relationship with you!! And when you get to that point of self-actualization, you're not going to be sure that you want one!

"He who knows when enough is enough
will always have enough."
Lao Tse
Founder of Taoism
6th Century BC

It may sound like this is referring to material things. However, I think it goes beyond the obvious. For example, I don't encounter many people who are wise enough to know when enough is enough in their relationships. Far too often they stay in unhealthy situations for all too long, and dysfunctionally try to repair them in ways which are destructive. Now, the answer may not be to cease the relationship, but they need to become wise enough to know when to stop playing the same old sick games. They need to learn, if you will, how to start breaking the cycle of ill health in their relationships. That, of course, is my job when they come to see me. Whether they are brave enough to take the necessary steps to repair the insanity (subtle as it may be), is their call. One of my goals in this book, is to hopefully give you at least a couple of little clues about the world around you, such that you can avoid some of these traps.

So then, what's the Bottom Line of this chapter?
"You and me Babe. All I need is you."--- It's a lie!
Look out for the lyrics to love songs.
They're almost guaranteed to screw you up!!
___________________________
It's Your Turn!

What did you like or dislike about this chapter?

What would you like to tell YOUR cubs about this subject?

What is YOUR bottom line on this subject?? ____________________________

Chapter 32

"Stress = waking up screaming,
Only to realize that you haven't fallen asleep!"
Source Unknown

A lot that has been in the newspapers lately, says that, just like adults, you kids experience a lot of stress too. It's hard for me to know, as someone who doesn't walk in your shoes, just how bad your pressures are. As a parent and an adult, I know that I sometimes have more responsibilities than it seems like I can bear. I hope and pray that at your young age you DON'T have as many pressures as I have! Because I'd like to think that part of being young means being relatively worry free. It seems to me that part of aging is having the time to grow into our responsibilities--- so that what we handle at 50 is much greater than what we handle at 20. But because we have gradually developed the ability to cope with lots of different tasks, ALL that we have to get done becomes manageable!

Stress, of course, WILL be a part of your everyday life. And it really is something that can cause some people to go over the edge--- to burn out. You may know that studies have found that stress is not all bad. In fact, it's a very good thing in some ways. With no stress people can be unmotivated and unproductive. With too much they can be the same. What we've found is that SOME stress helps people to operate at their optimum level. One of the reasons for tests in school, is to hopefully produce enough stress (which should produce motivation) to get the student to LEARN some of the material. Without tests, the student might be so happily laid back that they would learn almost nothing!

"Some insects can live up to a year
without their heads."
Internet Chatter

I've heard about running around like a chicken with your head cut off--- but this is ridiculous! This, however, is the kind of thing that stress can do to a person! The key, of course, is to learn to MANAGE our stress. I don't know if you've ever had the experience of being so overwhelmed that you didn't know which way to turn, because you had 100 things to do. I know you kids laugh at me when I talk to myself, but I'll be damned if I can keep track of all that I have to do sometimes without coaching myself through it! That overwhelmed feeling is what is similar to the insect operating without a head. But god help me if it goes on for a year at that level--- because I don't think I could survive it!

"A pair of Michigan robbers entered a record shop nervously waiving revolvers.
The first one shouted, 'Nobody move!' When his partner moved,
the startled first bandit shot him."
True (?) stories shared on the Internet

Oh man, but the screw-ups that can grow out of being a stress case! Shooting your buddy, just because he moved! Imagine one of your good friends. I'm guess'n they would be way p----- if your stress sent them to the hospital! I want to encourage you to take the time to notice and realize that you may be more stressed out, at times, than you realize. If you can stop to see it, then maybe you can do something to reduce it!

"Man, unlike animals,
has never learned that
the sole purpose of life is to enjoy it."
Samuel Butler
English Author
1835 - 1902

I so greatly hope that you can enjoy your journey through life, and that you won't be so serious or future-focused that you will miss the boat on joy. I think that you are going to want some successes in life, in order to up your pleasure of the journey. As a result, you are going to get stressed along the way. If you conclude that you want a stress-free life, then you will miss out on some of the rewards that grow out of hard work and real effort. I don't think this will make you happy. So I hope that you can find the balance between being a motivated stress-case and an unmotivated mellow-machine.

So, what's the Bottom Line of this chapter?
Stress can make us crazy, but its absence can make us lazy.
So balance is where it's at, so we can know when to do this and that!
___________________________
It's Your Turn!

What did you like or dislike about this chapter?

What would you like to tell YOUR cubs about this subject?

What is YOUR bottom line on this subject?? ____________________________

Chapter 33

"I am their leader, so I will follow."
Source Unknown

Learning from people. That is the trick. A wise captain listens very carefully to her soldiers. I don't care what line of work it is, this management truth applies across the board. You can't lead people where they don't want to go. At least not for long, or with great success. If they won't follow you where you want to go, then a) you're not the best leader for them, or b) you need to go out and find new soldiers who share your vision, or c) you need to follow them!

"One of the keys to AOL's phenomenal success
has been their sex chats."
Newsweek,
January 24, 2000

As you have experienced first hand, America-On-Line is one of our country's most recent great business success stories. Now I don't know how much of your time on AOL has contributed to the success of it's sex-chat rooms (which, I might add, is probably a great place to learn a hell of a lot of valuable information!), but I think you can tell that they have specialized in at least one successful gimmick--- they give people what they want! This is an excellent example of a leader who follows! One of the keys to their success is their ability to figure out what their customers want, and then deliver that product faster than the speed of light!

From what I can tell, all of you kids are very talented. If you choose to use your gifts, I believe that you will be in positions of leadership in the future. My goal here is to give you a couple of simple ideas that will increase your chances of leading successfully.

"What a difference there is
between giving advice and lending a hand."
AA

If you're going to be a leader, I hope you don't become one of those jerks who just leans on the shovel, while everyone else does the work! Everyone loves a hands-on boss! You can talk 'til the cows come home, but your troops will be MUCH more impressed if you get out there in the field and actually help them herd the cattle! I recently saw a boss standing around, looking rather useless and silly, while several of his workers were down on their knees cleaning up the floor. If he's got other stuff to do, that's great, but then go do it! If he's going to stand around and watch his people work, at least pitch in. Because, if nothing else, it will help to finish the work in that much less time! Duh!!

"Everything I ever let go of
had claw marks all over it."
AA

I understand that as a manager, it will be hard to let go of doing all the work yourself, because we usually think that we can do it better. And often we can! But you will be paid to manage people--- not MICRO-manage people. Give the work away. The only way they will learn, is if you let them fail on their way to becoming competent. And it may be that life will go on, even if they don't dot the "i"'s and cross the "t"'s as well as you! Get to the point where you are paid for what you KNOW, rather than what you DO! If nothing else, the pay for the former will be much greater than for the latter!

"Change is a process, not an event."
AA

It can take time---a LONG time, to create change in ourselves--- let alone the people or the organization we are trying to manage. You've got a lifetime in front of you. Use it. I know you can think at 22, that you've got life figured out--- but there's no way that you do! Sorry, but that's just the plain truth! You think I'm nuts now, but someday you won't. The old saying is that "the older I get, the less I know." It may not make much sense now, but it will. Just be patient, and you will see. I know that patience is so VERY difficult to hang around for, but it is one of life's greatest teachers!

So, what's the Bottom Line of this chapter?
Great leaders have never been dictators.
If you listen, they will love you. And if they love you,
you can stand shoulder to shoulder and succeed together!
___________________________
It's Your Turn!

What did you like or dislike about this chapter?

What would you like to tell YOUR cubs about this subject?

What is YOUR bottom line on this subject?? ____________________________

Chapter 34

"There is no right or wrong ---
just consequences."
AA

Alas, this is yet another important chapter! For the issue of right and wrong is at the core of most our lives. It determines how we behave, and how we treat other people. Let me say going in that this is a discussion of the fact that--- people are different. All together now--- DUH!! I know that, at one level, this is completely obvious. But what I see day-in and day-out in our lives is that a) we don't believe this, or b) we're too ignorant to see this (which is usually the result of a lack of education), or c) we run away from this truth because we don't want to believe it!

Because if we believe it, then we will be forced to change how we treat other people. And that can be damn irritating, because we feel very comfortable with our prejudices! We would (albeit sub-consciously) rather continue to lazily think that all _____ are stupid, or bad drivers, or ignorant, or lazy or ______ (go ahead and fill in the blanks with your own firmly held prejudices. After all, we all have them!).

As you can tell, this is yet another attack on the ideocentricity that rules our lives. Do you remember this from earlier in the book (god, I thought the quizzes were over!)? You know--- the idea that we are the center of the universe, and that our ideas reign supreme. Now we don't verbally (or maybe even consciously) say this to our friends, but it's what we believe. Like when we leave a party, and say to our friend, spouse or children: "That democrat/republican should be shot! They're ideas are crazy! They are going to be the downfall of us all!" Now, maybe the subject isn't politics, but hopefully you get the point--- they're crazy and we're not, and they are definitely not to be trusted!

In contrast, I have the gall to begin this chapter by saying that there is no right or wrong. How do you feel about this? Does it make any sense that we are taught by the consequences of our actions, rather than by an outside set of rules? I hope so, for as I've said, right and wrong are relative--- to who is saying what in which situation. I know that this can be uncomfortable, and that it isn't easy, but it's not a new idea:

"Learn the rules,
so you know how to break them properly."
Nepalese Good Luck Mantra

These are not new words from a contemporary radical. This comes from ancient mystics, and is not intended to be anti-government or revolutionary. To me it means that we need to understand the rules of the system before we can decide which are inferior, so that we can then challenge and change them.

I have a lecture that I first prepared over 20 years ago, entitled Black-and-Whites vs. Grays. One of the points made in this talk is, guess what--- that people are different. And that their differences pretty well predetermine how they are going to look at life. We know today that there is a genetic base to this, and that people carry certain personality traits with them out of the womb. Which means that, by definition, some people are always going to bug the hell out of us, because they approach life so very differently (and they will continue to do so!).

"There's room for more than one opinion,
and none of them has to be wrong."
AA

You really need to consider whether you believe this or not. If not, your life will be more difficult, and people will find you more difficult to be around. Now, I know that we all pay lip service to the differences of people. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about what you believe in the privacy of your own mind, where you cannot be judged or bludgeoned for not being politically correct. For it is that inside voice and belief that really determines how you will treat people.

I must say that I have found, through working with people for ever so long, that this quote is absolutely true. I also know that I struggle with it constantly, because it just makes so much sense to me that I am reasonable. Which leads me to conclude that they must be wrong. But they are not wrong! That's the whole point--- there is more than one right way!! So alas, what I have seen is that there are four or five ways to live a life, and they all work! Who knew!! They all get people through their lives and on to old age. I like my way better, and think that theirs is probably inferior, but hey--- if it works for them, who am I to knock it--- as long as they give me the same room to live my life my way!

"Your friends love you, anyway."
"16 Things That it Took Me 50 Years to Learn,"
by Dave Barry
American Author
1947 -

This, of course, is the test of who your REAL friends are. After a while, they figure out that you're a little odd. Which means, you live differently than they do. If they can say "I love you--- and you're nuts!," you may be on to something. You see, it is this whole black-and-white vs. gray thing that ruins most relationships. If I'm a died-in-the-wool black-and-white, your grayness is going to drive me nuts! You're so damn wishy-washy! Why don't you get off the fence! Have some backbone! Stand up for what you believe! Why are you always breaking all the rules?! Conversely, if I'm a gray, grayness IS what I believe in! Why do you have to be so damn critical and rigid?! Can't you see the complex nuances of the situation, which make a simple yes-or-no answer impossible!? How can you say that everything fits into a nice neat little box! You drive me nuts! And in all of this, it's hard to love you, because I don't respect your ideas!

"Einstein couldn't speak fluently when he was nine.
His parents thought he might be retarded."
Internet Chatter

It fascinates me that the idea of distinctly different and permanent personality differences is ancient. Long before Einstein (about 2,500 years, to be exact!), another early scientific leader, Hippocrates (the father of modern medicine--- as in The Hippocratic Oath), studied the body fluids of dead people. He concluded that there were four types of people (sometimes called "temperament types"), based on the types of fluid he found in their bodies. Sounds pretty weird, huh? But guess what? Today's modern genetic studies seem to be confirming that he was on to something!

This is another lecture that I've given a gazillion times, so let me be super brief: Hippocrates called them the Choleric (type A, driver, tends to be insensitive), the Melancholy (sensitive, artistic, leaning toward depression), the Sanguine (salesperson, life of the party, tends toward air-headed-ness), and the Phlegmatic (this term comes from the bodily fluid "bile" in the body--- isn't THAT special! S/he is very stable, laid back, tending toward laziness). I've told my students that if they will listen for one hour, I can teach them the basics of the Temperament Concept, and that after one hour, this concept will improve their world (for the better) for the rest of their lives! Sounds corny, but it's true! Because it helps you to understand people, and to predict, with great accuracy, how they will behave, and how it would be effective for you to respond. This concept, albeit by different terms, is taught in business all the time! And it definitely helps business people to be more successful--- IF they can apply the principles! And by the way, the Temperament Concept tells me who is likely to be able to do this! 'Tis amazing stuff!

For example, look at Einstein. When he was nine, it was thought that he might be a loser. Boy, did he prove them wrong! But he was lucky. A lot of talented people have slipped through the cracks over the years, because no one appreciated their giftedness. We know today, for example, that there are different TYPES of intelligence, and that we can fail in one area, but excel in another! This has everything to do with Temperaments! The key is to find our area of giftedness. I believe that we all have a special talent. The problem is that a lot of us never find it, because people gloss over our individual differences. They don't realize, for example, that a child may not be doing well in school because they are bored, or unchallenged, or out of their area of interest--- rather than because they are mean-spirited or rebellious. I believe we all want to do well and be praised, but our gifts don't always fit into the nice tidy boxes that we call education.

"Right-handed people live, on average,
nine years longer than left-handed folks."
Internet Chatter

Isn't this interesting? Being left-handed, I guess I'd better have my bags packed! Again, this may be tied to personality types. It is said that left-handed people have higher intelligence--- but being your left-handed dad, you guys might dispute THAT one! You may know that the left and right sides of the brain are thought to perform different functions (e.g., the left being more analytical--- like an engineer, and the right being more creative--- like an artist).

"People who say 'I'm not creative' just shut themselves off and miss out on life. It's like a death sentence. To be creative, you have to be terribly positive. You have to believe that anything is possible. And once you start doing that it's exhilarating, life affirming, and addictive. I'm so hooked on creativity I just can't stop."
Jerry Della Femina
Named one of the 100 Most
Influential Advertising People of the 20th Century

Can you tell what Temperament this gentleman probably is? Right---Melancholy. He says that every one can do what he does, but that probably isn't true. For example, the Choleric can push themselves, but they will tend to be stiff-necked, anal, and compulsively organized as they try to unleash their inner artist!

"For me, it is nothing. New millenium, or new century, or new year.
For me it is another day and night. The sun, the moon,
the stars remain the same."
The Dalai Lama,
in 1999

Obviously, the Dalai Lama is referring to all of the 2000 hype. As you can tell, his is a Melancholy response. A Sanguine would see it as the biggest party of their life, and be the last to turn out the lights. A Phlegmatic would probably watch the event on TV, or better yet, be in bed by 10! A Choleric would see it as an opportunity to make money, and would organize "his people" to maximize their profit exposure through strategic Y2K advertising! Are you getting the feel for this Temperament deal?!"

It's important to realize that people are usually a mix of the Temperaments, with one being primary and another being secondary. The healthiest mix would be for a person to have the positive traits of all four of the Temperaments. Please know that there are no good or bad temperaments. Rather, within each there are good and bad traits.

"You never really learn to swear
until you learn to drive."
Internet Chatter

Ah, road rage. Truly it is the American way! Of course, most of us flip people off from under the dash, because we know that there are always a few card-carrying whacko's on our highways (who may be carrying guns)! Nonetheless, for any of us who live in metropolitan areas, driving has it's opportunities to truly express our feelings! So how do the four Temperaments react?

[Side Bar: I think you know that I'm a card-carrying cusser. I envy some of those guys in the movies that have turned cursing into an art form! Now, I know when and where to cuss, so as not to be offensive, but I godda tell ya, there are times when a gosh or a darn or a shucks just doesn't cut it!! Ever work on a car or repair something around the house? There's nothing like a rich stream of expletives to comfort one's bruised knuckles! This is just one of the areas where I have disapproved of your christian schooling. Listen to what one of your principals wrote: "We have observed and heard of those who are using perverse speech among our older students. Our position on these patterns of behavior is one of intolerance." Now we all know that it isn't kosher to tell our teachers to go to hell. But some of the greatest terms of endearment between testosterone-pumping males will make the air on any playground turn blue! This school's simplistic perspective is but another example of giving words too much power. We need to channel the feelings and aggressions of kids--- not stifle and deny them. Cussing happens. It doesn't make the person bad. In fact, in some inner cities, it is at the heart of teenage communication. You and your best friend totally cuss each other out--- and then laugh your heads off as you smile from ear to ear!]

Ok. We're back on track. So, what was the question? Oh yea--- how do the four Temperaments react to traffic-induced insanity. Well--- the Melancholy is more likely to cry and experience fear, and to have their feelings hurt, for they care about all people, and can't understand why the other person would be so unkind. They are definitely the ones who don't mind sitting a mile back in the right-hand lane, rather than aggressively speeding up on the left and cutting in at the last minute. Their bumper sticker might go like this:

"You can't hug your kids with nuclear arms."

Let's see--- which personality might be speeding up on the left? What a shock---the Choleric! S/he is the most aggressive driver, and might have this bumper sticker on their car:

"If you don't like the way I drive, get off the sidewalk!"

Or

"As a matter of fact, I DO own the whole damn road!"

Their driving goal is the shortest route in the quickest time. They like to measure the distance between two points with their computerized car gizmo, and will give you the most thorough directions--- and be p----- if you don't get there--- and you had better be on time!

I once went to a meeting with a Sanguine. It just about drove me crazy. We went in her car. She was so intense in her humorous conversation with me, that she completely sat through a green light! Because I was in charge of the meeting, and because I have a touch of Choleric in me, this sitting-through-the-light experience was like totally out of my world view! But the Sanguine lives on Planet Fun, and details like directions and time just don't compute! So let's laugh and tell stories once we get to the meeting on time already!! Her bumper, of course, must have had this sticker on it:

"A day without laughter is like a fish without water."

In a way, our Phlegmatic friend, may be the best person to travel with---if we don't care what month we get there! Better yet, they may decide that it just requires too much effort to get dressed and go to the event. If they do go, they will be very methodical. They will study the maps, drive very safely, and get there in plenty of time--- to find a comfortable place on the couch upon which to park themselves for the entire freak'n game--- pre and post-game included!! And finally, what bumper sticker do you think they will have on their car? You guessed it---NOTHING! Because it's just too much work, and someday they will be selling the car, and it would be hard to take the sticker off prior to the sale, and... Get the picture?

"When you do all the talking,
you only learn what you already know."
AA

One of my goals in life continues to be to learn about life from listening to people. Because we like our way the best, it's easy to tell the whole world about it. Only one problem--- they probably don't want to hear it! Remember this one from Chapter 29?:

"What most people need is a good listening to."

I find that if I can shut up and listen, I will usually learn a lot more, and the other person will enjoy me more. It is human nature to want to hear ourselves talk. My goal is not to keep preaching my views, but instead, to expand my views as I listen to others. It reminds me of the classic fast-car bumper sticker:

"Get in, sit down, shut up, and hold on!"

Metaphorically, I want to sit down, shut up, and concentrate, as I (realizing that the other person is different from me), try to learn from whomever is in the driver's seat!

So, what's the Bottom Line of this chapter?
Give up needing to be right!
And enjoy the diversity in all the "rights" you can find!
___________________________
It's Your Turn!

What did you like or dislike about this chapter?

What would you like to tell YOUR cubs about this subject?

What is YOUR bottom line on this subject?? ____________________________

Chapter 35

"Does your train of thought have a caboose?"
Internet Chatter

Yes, yes, yes! This is it! The final chapter! I can't guarantee you kids that it will be short, but I can guarantee you that it will end!! Surely nothing can be better, at times, than to have one's parent--- shut up already! I can vividly remember being young, and thinking I was going to die of boredom as my parents would drone on and on about what I was doing wrong, or what (for the 50th time) I should be doing right! I remember a cartoon that was truly troubling when I first read it: A young man was looking into a mirror. He paused. And then all-of-a-sudden, he screamed, and then yelled--- I'm becoming my parents!!! May you be spared this curse. However, let me point out that this cartoon was so relevant to me because--- I remember coming to the same realization in adulthood! We are all greatly affected by our past, and carry more of it with us than we realize!

"We are the end product
of every experience
we have ever had."
Freud

I am sorry. I am truly sorry. How can it be that your psycho-babble dad has written you well over 200 pages, without a quote from grandfather shrink?! But alas, the drought is over! To have quoted the gods and sages of the world without a word from Siggie, this is truly an error. As you may know, the truth of the matter is that Dr. Freud is maligned by many, because some think that he was hung up on sex, potty training, etc. Regardless, the man came up with some ideas that have been a help to legions. It is said that he was quite neurotic. For example, the theory is that he sat behind his patients on the couch, not so much for therapeutic reasons, but because he had a hard time looking them in the eye!

It is foolish indeed, to believe that we get helpful ideas from only those who are totally balanced. In fact, a little neurotic twist on life can make things much more interesting! Remember how Einstein was thought to be retarded in the 9th grade? The man was undoubtedly neurotic, but I'm guessing that science still welcomes his ideas! See how it works? You get information from the person who is an expert in their area. Albert was never known for his relationship advice, for example. But quiz him on math, and you got a pretty good answer!

All of this said, it is a significant truth that we are the culmination of all our earlier experiences. I find that many people do not like this idea, and try to deny it. Please remember this when you choose to date someone. If they have had a complicated and troubled past, it will probably affect them today! I had a couple come to me, with the goal of saving their marriage. He had been from an immigrant family in New York City. His mother used to chase him around the house, and beat him when she caught up with him. He left home as soon as he could, by falling in love, and marrying another very young person. He swore, at 21, that he would leave all that abuse behind him, and never treat HIS spouse that way! Guess what was happening 20 years later in his own marriage? You got it--- he was now being abusive to his OWN wife! He didn't WANT to, but "he couldn't help himself!" In other words, his current life was the end product of his earlier life experiences. Even if it was not his conscious intent, the learned behaviors in his subconscious were being acted out in his todays! So let's give him credit--- Freud got at least one thing right!

WARNING! WARNING! RANDOM REIMER WARNING! Let the reader beware. Given that this is my final treatise to you kids, this chapter contains all that I have left to say! There is no attempt to have it fit neatly into a ball. Like me, it is somewhat off the wall. I hope that you can enjoy (tolerate?) the ride as I bounce from pillar to post! Well, hold on --- 'cuz here we go!

"No matter what happens,
somebody will find a way
to take it too seriously."
"16 Things That it Took Me
50 Years to Learn"
Dave Barry
American Author
1947 -

We've talked about the importance of humor in our lives. Whether it's what you read in this book, or what you discuss on the street, beware of the person who refuses to laugh at themselves, and who can't see the wonderment in the absurdity of who we are and what we do as humans! If we can get over being so damn serious about everything, it's clear that what we people do is VERY funny! It's one of the things that I hated about my religious life--- those folks took life way too seriously! So lighten up, already!

I don't really think there have to be any sacred words or subjects that we can't discuss, dissect, and have fun with! You know--- all the B.S. about not being able to say "god," or "bastard," or "S.O.B," or "fuck," or "vagina," or "penis," etc. I believe this is very significant: Words only have as much power as we give them! And words have different powers in different cultures. It is the meaning you attach to them, that gives them their power over you. I get concerned when someone says they can't use a certain word, because I know the word is neutral and harmless, and has no power over the person or whom they direct it at.

It seems like the ultimate act of foolishness to "protect your honor" by getting in a fight with someone because they called you a "bad word." So rise above the word, already! And realize that no amount of "honor protection" will heal the mind of the unhealthy one who said the word! Just walk away. When you know of your value from the inside, it doesn't need to be defended on the outside--- it will be very obvious to others over time!

"Chewing gum while peeling onions
will keep you from crying!"
Internet Chatter

Ah. Finally! We're totally immersed in the trivial and meaningless section of the book! Given that onions are not one of my major food groups, I've never tried this gum trick. Let me know if it works! How's THIS one for trivia?!:

"Polar bears are left-handed."
Internet Chatter

To those of us who are suffering members of the left-handed minority, I guess there is no such thing as an unimportant quote about being a lefty. Did you know that my dad was left-handed, and that when he was a boy the school teachers would smack his knuckles with a ruler, every time he did anything with his left hand? As an adult, he ended up pretty confused as to what to do with which hand. In today's world, it seems ridiculous to be prejudiced against someone and to abuse them because of which hand they write with! Can you see how society's ideas radically change over time? Do you think that maybe some day it will seem just as ridiculous to be prejudiced against gays or other minorities? I guess time will tell.

"The Guinness Book of World Records hold the world record
for being the book that is most often stolen from public libraries."
Internet Chatter

Do you remember, Aaron, when you used to love to read the Guinness Book of World Records? Do you remember this one? Who studies this stuff? Does anyone really care? Even a BS'er like me can't think of anything meaningful to say about this gem! And you thought I had to find meaning in everything! Hah!

Ok ok. I can't handle it. Back to meaningfulness!

"80% of success in life
consists of showing up."
Woody Allen

The theme of this final chapter is success. I hope that some of what I have shared with you will increase the odds for success in your world. Woody Allen is a pretty interesting guy. Definitely scores on the neurotic scale, but probably also on the creativity scale. Can you guess his primary temperament? I have found what he says here about success to be pretty accurate. It's great when that which is important is also simple. Here's another twist on the same theme:

"Wake up,
suit up,
show up."
AA

I guess we could say that, in a way, success isn't all that tough. What's ironic is that the majority of the people in our world don't pass this discipline test. I don't know about you, but my bed lies to me. When I have to get up for work, it tells me that the world is a bad place, and that life will be best if I stay in bed! If I'm lucky enough to make it to the tub, and immerse myself in the water, the H2o tells me the truth--- that the world is full of wonderment and joy, if I will just now enter into it! I must have heard thousands of people tell me that it's their first step that is the hardest! So we must take that first one by faith, not by sight! Because our eyes aren't open enough to see the successes that lay ahead of us. Don't listen to the darkness within, but believe that there is a rainbow around the corner! Guaranteed --- we will never see it as long as our head is under the pillow!

"Take into account
that great love
and great achievement
involve great risk."
Nepalese Good Luck Mantra

PLEASE don't choose safety first in your world. Instead,

"Judge your success by
what you had to give up
in order to get it."
Nepalese Good Luck Mantra

There's an old saying--- "nothing ventured, nothing gained". You've heard about some of the success stories that are happening in the Silicon Valley. Hopefully, you realize that for every success, there are hundreds of failures. However, it is because of innovation and risk that some of these individuals have known so much success. Do you know what a Venture Capitalist is? It's my understanding that it is someone who looks for new business "ventures," and then gets people to invest their "capital" (i.e., money) in a calculated risk that has the potential for a huge return. As you "venture" out into life, I hope that you will feel enough bravery to "capitalize" on sensible risks that may bring goodness into your lives! If nothing else, they will create a lot of ad-venture--- and your life won't be boring!

Meet a young Venture Capitalist. Check out this true-story job application (found on the Internet) that a 17-year-old boy submitted at a McDonald's fast-food restaurant in Florida. They hired him because he was so honest and funny!

NAME: Greg Bulmash
SEX: Not yet. Still waiting for the right person.
DESIRED POSITION: Company's President or Vice President. But seriously, whatever's available. If I was in a position to be picky, I wouldn't be applying here in the first place!
DESIRED SALARY: $185,000 a year plus stock options and a Michael Ovitz (the Disney guru) style severance package. If that's not possible, make an offer and we can haggle.
EDUCATION: Yes.
LAST POSITION HELD: Target for middle management hostility. LAST SALARY: Less than I'm worth.
MOST NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENT: My incredible collection of stolen pens and post-it notes.
REASON FOR LEAVING: It sucked.
HOURS AVAILABLE TO WORK: Any.
PREFERRED HOURS: 1:30 - 3:30 p.m., Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday.
DO YOU HAVE ANY SPECIAL SKILLS?: Yes, but they're better suited to a more intimate environment.
MAY WE CONTACT YOUR CURRENT EMPLOYER?: If I had one, would I be here?
DO YOU HAVE ANY PHYSICAL CONDITIONS THAT WOULD PROHIBIT YOU FROM LIFTING UP TO 50 LBS?: Of what?
DO YOU HAVE A CAR?: I think the more appropriate question here would be "Do you have a car that runs?"
HAVE YOU RECEIVED ANY SPECIAL AWARDS OR RECOGNITION?: I may already be a winner of the Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes.
DO YOU SMOKE?: On the job, no; on my breaks, yes.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE DOING IN FIVE YEARS?: Living in the Bahamas with a fabulously wealthy dumb sexy blonde super model who thinks I'm the greatest thing since sliced bread. Actually, I'd like to be doing that now.
DO YOU CERTIFY THAT THE ABOVE IS TRUE AND COMPLETE TO THE BEST OF YOUR KNOWLEDGE?: Yes. Absolutely.
SIGN HERE: Aries.

Wouldn't life be a blast if we could say what we really felt, didn't care too much about the outcome, and had some good laughs along the way!?

Ok. We're done!! Is that applause I hear?? I will do my best, my dear children, to promise not to write you anymore too-long letters! What possessed me to give over many months of my life to this venture?

"Share your knowledge.
It is a way to achieve immortality."
Nepalese Good Luck Mantra

I really don't think my goal is to achieve immortality. In fact, lying down, sleeping, and doing the dead thing sounds just fine with me! Well maybe not today. How about tomorrow?? You see, I have this energy problem. I just LOVE ta keep on book'n! Soooooo, I guess as long as I have the energy to race through life, and the ability to enjoy others, I'll hang around. Unless, of course, someone else decides to punch my ticket! But hey? I've always loved surprises!

No really--- all seriousness aside, I've always loved how it feels to share ideas, without fear of criticism and judgment. Maybe as Erik Erickson's theory suggests (the Psychologist upon whom I built my Doctoral Dissertation), it is part of middle age to want to give our ideas to others. I hope that you've picked up that I don't want to give my ideas to those who don't want to hear them. For example, I think that's why the idea of teaching Junior High students always sends a shiver up my back. When I teach to adults, there seems to be a hunger, and that's what turns me on (well, not the ONLY thing!). Those middle school kids are great, but it always looks like the LAST thing they are interested in is what the teacher has to say! Or maybe that's how I was at that age!

In conclusion (ya godda love THOSE words--- I can remember being a kid in church. My greatest joy was when the preacher finally uttered those words! Yes! Five minutes and I'm oudda here!), this piece from many years ago seems like a good way for you and I to measure our success:

"To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others! To leave the world a little bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social situation. To know even one life has breathed easier because you have tried---
this is to have succeeded."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
American Writer
1803 - 1882

Please never forget how valuable you are, my dear children! Not only to me, but potentially to everyone around you. We never know when someone will come along and change our lives forever--- just as we never know when we may have the same affect on others:

"To the world you might be one person,
But to one person you might be the world."
Internet Chatter

In our every day lives we are just regular Joes. None of us in the family may ever know the limelight of influencing thousands of people. And yet, if we can become healthy, we have the power to change the world forever. You kids, especially have that gift. Please don't waste it. Give yourselves away. You will love it, and so will everyone around you!

So, what's the bottom line of this chapter? Do you remember what Yoda said to Luke Skywalker " Do, or do not. There is no try." With these words I say goodbye, and pray that but a few will help you fly! Robbie Rhymer here, say'n over-n-out, promis'n that this is the final word, without a doubt!!!
___________________________
It's Your Turn!

What did you like or dislike about this chapter?

What would you like to tell YOUR cubs about this subject?

What is YOUR bottom line on this subject?? ____________________________

Dr. Reimer has worked in the field of Psychology for over forty-five years (in where else, but the Land of Odd--- Northern California!). In his ongoing Psychotherapy practice he continues to learn from his clients, as he strives to help them find there way in our complicated world. Dr. Rob's four college degrees span the fields of theology, philosophy, marital and family therapy, and psychology. The twelve years that he spent in college seemed ever-so-long at times, but eventually led him to a profession where he :can't believe that he gets paid to do what he loves so dearly." After spending seventeen years as the Director of Counseling for a very large suburban Protestant church, he chose to bring his liberality "out of the closet," and leave his fundamentalist roots behind him. In addition to his private practice, Dr. Reimer has several projects that are intended to "keep him out of trouble": Working on a novel, consulting to businesses, providing motivational speeches, and developing his newest venture, an Internet business (www.WannaTalk.com). Dr. Rob would love to hear your reactions to his book (and please feel free to send your favorite quotes, so he can give you credit in his next book!), and welcomes your comments at:

PapaBear@ WannaTalk.com

 
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