Archive for the ‘relationships’ category

Understanding

May 11, 2015

aloneOver the last month or so, I found myself avoiding conversations before and after my Men’s meetings … and sitting by myself at breaks.  I wasn’t being consciously anti-social, but there I was, feeling alone in a room full of people.  I was fairly sure other people noticed, too, but nobody ever said anything, so who knows?    But it bothered me.  So, naturally, being an analytical kind of guy, I tried to figure out why I was doing it.  Isn’t that the way an engineer solves a problem … understanding the root cause then addressing it?   I came up with several good theories.   I’m feeling sheepish about several decisions I’ve made lately and I don’t want to hear anyone’s comments.   I have nothing to say to these people (even though I’ve chatted at breaks with these people at breaks for a least ten years).   My ego is running amok, making me either arrogant or defensive.   Nothing helped. (more…)

Body Language

February 27, 2014

body languageOne of the side effects of aging, at least in my family, is an assortment of dermatological decorations … moles, skin tags, age spots and the like.  My Dad had them and now, so do I.   As a health conscious senior, I keep an eye on these uninvited passengers, since they can sometimes evolve into a skin cancer.   I also have my doctor give me the once over every time I see him.  So far I’ve been lucky but I have had few skin tags removed because they are in places that snag on clothing.  A while back, I noticed a rather large raised patch of rough skin on my right forearm.  Anything new worries me.  I’m going to have Dr. G look at this, I told my wife, Muri.   A while later, I was working on a technical problem at my desk and noticed that I was biting on that exact spot on my arm.  My dermatological decoration was my Thinking Spot, where I unconsciously bite my arm when I’m thinking.  Sitting here a moment ago, trying to come up with a next sentence, I noticed I was chewing the ends of my mustache … and the rough spot on my arm is gone.  I guess I’ve moved my Thinking Spot.   As we were leaving the house for Arizona two weeks ago, Muri suddenly snapped her fingers.  What did you forget? I said.  Me?  When I forget something, I slap my right thigh with my right hand (at my age, I could hurt myself trying to slap my left thigh with my right hand).  I asked my daughter what she does when she forgets something.  I just say “Shit,” she said.  I sometimes combine an expletive with a leg slap if I forget something important, the vulgarity of the expletive directly proportional to the importance of the forgotten item.  I can always tell when Muri is thinking because she bites the inside of her lip or cheek.  We must be oral thinkers. (more…)

The Benefit of the Doubt

September 8, 2013

imageWhen I started attending 12- Step meetings over twenty years ago, one of the things that drove me crazy was people who used their 3 minutes of sharing to tell a tale of misery and woe, then finished up with, But life is good and with the program, everything is getting betterPlease, I thought.  When I talked to my sponsor about it, he told me I should give people The Benefit of the DoubtYou don’t know what their lives were like before, so maybe they are better.  And so, as much it was against my nature, I learned to give people The Benefit of the Doubt.  And all in all, it’s served me well.  By trying to see that people are doing the best they can, I often get to see good in them that I’d have missed in the past.

BUT.  There’s a price.  Every once in a while, I believe in someone again and again, only to have them disappoint me.  That makes me distrust my intuition about people and it takes a toll on my faith in mankind.  I feel betrayed, even though my sponsor tells me that thinking the actions of someone else are about me is a symptom of self-centeredness.  I find it harder to trust the next soul I encounter that needs The Benefit of the Doubt.  But then I remember that many years ago, someone gave me The Benefit of the Doubt … when, perhaps, I didn’t deserve it … and it saved my life.  And then I know … I’ll be out on that limb again, paying it forward.   But sometimes only after a very long while.

The Art of Listening

June 22, 2013

This week a friend emailed me a link to a video, It’s Not About the Nail.   It is not only funny but it says everything that Men Are from Mars, Women are from Venus says in two humorous minutes.

What I like about this video is that it also shows how the particular ways men and women approach problems causes both sexes to forget to listen.  He doesn’t listen to her feelings or her needs and she doesn’t listen to a solution (in this case, a good one). (more…)

Protected: Apologies. Amends. Consequences.

April 10, 2013

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A Little Prejudiced

February 9, 2013

crashWednesday night, while I was sitting in my recliner, waiting for a post topic to turn up, I turned my Roku to Amazon Prime and started watching the 2004 film, CrashCrash takes place over a thirty-six hour period on Los Angeles, following a racially diverse cast of characters as their lives intertwine and their individual prejudices appear in random encounters.   Rather than divide the cast into heroes and villains, each person is shown to harbor racial prejudices, usually borne of ignorance rather than malice.  A signature of the film is that many of the characters find themselves in situations where their humanity extends beyond their prejudice.  For example, bigoted police officer, John Ryan, molests a black woman during a traffic stop, then ends up risking his own life to save her from a burning automobile.  A theme of the film is that everyone harbors prejudices.   The film was a surprise winner of the Oscar for Best Picture over the 2004 favorite, Brokeback Mountain.  Many critics attributed that to homophobia among Academy members and others complained that interconnection of the many characters in Crash was contrived (Can you imagine that?  A contrived plot?).   I didn’t see Brokeback Mountain but I really enjoyed Crash, and I enjoyed it again Wednesday night.  It touches not only upon the bad that can infect each of us but the good we can do.  It’s well acted and the ethereal score by New Age artist, Mark Isham, carries the film’s mood perfectly. (more…)

Sex and Sixty

August 18, 2012

Last week, Muri and I saw the new film, Hope Springs, starring Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones.  In the film, Kay (Streep) and Arnold (Jones) Soames are husband and wife in a marriage that seems to have run its course but continues on inertia.   We are never told the ages of Kay and Arnold, so I’m using the ages of the actors in my title … Streep is 61, Jones is 65.  Their conversation is limited to perfunctory table talk and their affection to rote good-bye kisses as Arnold heads off to work.   They not only sleep in separate beds but separate rooms.  Arnold is a particularly cranky curmudgeon whose home life seems to consist of watching golf on TV, managing every detail of Kay’s life and avoiding any hint of intimacy.   Kay is what we used to call a shrinking violet, giving in with little resistance to her life sentence as cook and housewife.  We’d never know that she longs for more if she didn’t confide in her friend at Coldwater Creek where she works part time.   Oh, yeah … they haven’t had sex in five years.  When she receives a brochure about a renowned marriage therapist, Dr. Bernie Feld (Steve Carrell) in Hope Springs, Maine, she coerces Arnold into going for a week of intensive couples therapy. (more…)

Bread and Hardware

November 17, 2011

Last week, someone in my Thursday Night Men’s Group reminded me of one of my favorite sayings.  Stop looking for bread in the hardware store, he said.  No, we haven’t switched to shopping advice for the clueless.   It means that we are wasting time if we are looking for something like validation or affection or love from someone who’s never given it before.   It doesn’t matter why they won’t give us what we need.  We need to look elsewhere.  To continue the metaphor, we need to go to a grocery store … to someone who can provide what we need … or perhaps, learn to bake our own bread … that is, fulfill our own need.  That doesn’t mean we should stop going to the hardware store altogether, particularly if the hardware store has lot of other things we like.  What guy can’t find lots to like in Home Depot?   Have I beat this metaphor to death yet? (more…)

Understanding Relationships (??)

July 2, 2011

Now here comes the big ones. Relationships! We all got ’em, we
all want ’em. What do we do with ’em?Jimmy Buffet in Fruitcakes

In relationships, regardless of their nature, there comes a moment when you understand that there are some things you will never understand. When you are standing in that moment, just be all right with itIyanla Vanzant, preface to July in Until Today!

You know that when both Jimmy Buffett and Iyanla Vanzant have something to say on a subject, it’s a matter of importance to all of us. In this case, Jimmy asks the questions, Iyanla (one tongue-twister of a name) has an answer.  A good one, by the way. (more…)

On Secrets

June 4, 2011

This post has been itching to get out for at least a month now.  It started when somebody quoted the old saying, You’re only as sick as your secrets, in one of my men’s meetings.  I’ve certainly heard it several zillion times, but this time I found myself thinking about exactly what it means.   Do only really sick secrets make me really sick?   If my secrets are only a little sick, will I be likewise?  Or do a hundred slightly sick secrets add up to one really sick one, making me really sick?   If I didn’t tell you that I used to shoplift candy bars from the store at the top of Grand Avenue hill when I was ten, would it make me sick?   How about plain old innocent secrets?  Should we have any secrets? (more…)