March 22, 2017

Counter-intuitive

by Rod Smith

I know, I know, it’s counter-intuitive

  • Defining yourself, setting personal goals as if you are alone in this world, and getting your focus off others, will deepen your levels of connection and intimacy with others. Authentic intimacy is contingent upon the development of a secure self. To work on your Self – to set and achieve goals, to develop and new skills, – is not selfish. Not to do so, usually is.
  • Freeing others of their debts to you (gross or trivial, real or imagined) will make you free. The resentments we love to collect poison our vision and taint all our relationships. Our resentments may be specific and targeted at one or a few people, but the emotional toxins they promote are generic and impact all of our relationships.
  • All growth requires some loss and will probably elicit some grief no matter how much change is wanted or necessary. Men and women grieve the loss of even the worst of marriages and even the most abusive of circumstances. People become accustomed to the most trying of circumstances and will often grieve quite unexpectedly when those circumstances change.
  • “Getting a life” outside of your children and “outside” of your marriage is (usually – there are often exceptions) good for you, your children, your spouse, and for your marriage.

As I said, it’s counter-intuitive….

“You and Me” is 16 years old this week. Thank you, readers.

March 18, 2017

Setting the tone for a great workweek….

by Rod Smith
  1. Clarify why you are at work in the first place: you are there to earn a living, to support your family, and to do your job to the best of your ability.
  2. You are not at work to check Facebook, sit on your phone, send text messages that are not work-related, play games, make friends, gossip, or be underhanded about your workplace in any manner.
  3. Mind your own business. Focus on what you are doing and not what others may or may not be doing.
  4. Tell the truth to your workmates, supervisors, suppliers, and customers. If you are working where telling the truth is difficult then it is time to reassess your career.
  5. Be punctual, use no profanities (no matter what kind of job you hold) and never help yourself to anything that is not yours or for your rightful use.
  6. Don’t cheat – not with hours, reimbursements, sick days, leave time, or mileage expenses.
  7. Don’t speak or write anything about anyone that you have not first said directly to him or to her. There are extreme circumstances where this will not apply. In general, speak to people and not about them.
  8. Don’t talk about your ex, your surgery, your ailments, or your in-laws. No one is interested even if they pretend they are.
March 15, 2017

Things I have learned from being a solo parent with my sons almost 19 and 15:

by Rod Smith
  • The children are seldom the issue – it’s earning a living, running a household, and keeping it all going that is the constant challenge.  When the children are very young it’s quite acceptable to let the household chores remain undone if the trade off is time to be with the children.
  • Trying to be both dad and mom is a fruitless and impossible pursuit – many a successful person has emerged from a solo parent family and trying to do the impossible will ensure failure. This said, there’s a mother and a father in us all and children get what they need despite our failings.
  • Getting beyond the “guilt” or the remorse attached to children who have one parent is best done as early as possible. It’s amazing just how resilient children are and how, what others consider unusual, is absolutely normal for my sons.
  • Staying out of the middle of as much as possible has been a real boon – letting my children deal with their teachers, their conflicts, without my interference has compelled them to advocate for themselves and to see just how capable and powerful they (and all people) really are.
March 14, 2017

Mrs. Run Away Bunny

by Rod Smith

It is not only some exotic insects that eat their young. I’ve seen parents do it quite regularly. It happened to my friend when we were boys. His mother ate him. She tried to eat me too but I got away. I ran as fast as I could and after I did that once she left me alone. After I ran away that first time I could visit without her making a meal out of me. She knew I knew what she was up to and furthermore, I knew she knew I knew. Before all this “knewing” gets ridiculous I know that because of what we both knew I knew, she didn’t like me much which was okay with me. If you don’t like someone very much you are unlikely to eat him. Knowing made me safe – which I think it usually does.

Mrs. RunAwayBunny (I call her that just for fun) didn’t eat her son all in one bite, it was just slow, steady mouthfuls. Every time he expressed a view that wasn’t also her view, he got tongue lashed. She chewed him out when he showed any desire for independence or if he laughed at anything she didn’t find funny. Then one day it finally happened, she swallowed him altogether. His pinkie toe of his left foot was my very last glimpse of the real him. All this adoration and love wasn’t very pretty.

Of course she “loved him to death” and because he was “so adorable” she could just “eat him up.” So she did. She did spit him out after a few days much like I imagined the whale regurgitated Jonah. Unlike Jonah, my friend stopped thinking, seeing, feeling, and speaking for himself. Something happened when he got swallowed up, I guessed it was getting so near to the womb he’d already left, that stopped him up or it was something to do with getting too much mother juice. She loved him into what she wanted, into seeing things through her eyes, and when he did, she thought these triumphs were remarkable signs of just how much he loved her. She measured his love by how much of him she could occupy even though it was “Mrs. RunAwayBunny” (I’m liking her name more and more and you’ll know why if you’ve read the story) who wanted to occupy him. If this confuses you now you must know how much it confused me then.

We still rode our bikes together and we sometimes still walked through the forest at the bottom of the yard but after she ate him and coughed him up like a cat and a hairball it was like riding my bike with her and walking through the forest with someone who was always careful and afraid. After she loved him to death he wouldn’t cross Blackburn Road when there was no traffic without being terrified.

Yes. One day, as I told you, and because she loved him so completely and she was always willing to sacrifice her needs for him, she ate the boy out of him altogether. I know. I was there. I watched it happen.

March 14, 2017

I ask a woman….

by Rod Smith

I ask a woman how her life is going and she tells me about her children. She’s very forthcoming. I hear about their failures and successes and their disappointments and their accomplishments in sports.

So I ask again how she is enjoying her life and she tells me about her children’s teachers and how dedicated they are and how they go the extra mile for her sons and how much she appreciates it and how happy her sons are at school.

I persist and ask her if she has any close friends and how much time she spends with her peers and she tells me how her sons’ friendships are a little disappointing to her and that sometimes they get left off birthday party lists and how much it hurts her when that happens and how she wishes adults were more sensitive to her children.

I ask the same woman who happens to also be a wife how she is enjoying her husband and she tells me they “work together” as parents and they are almost always on the “same page.”

I press in and ask the woman if she has a life outside of being a mom and she gives me that blank look as if I have no idea what I am talking about.

March 12, 2017

I remind myself of these things….

by Rod Smith

When it comes to my sons, I remind myself of these things:

  • Their lives are larger at their ages than mine was at their ages. Of course, they’re starting late and the world is a very different place. Their platforms are more complex, and more dynamic than mine was and, I admit, I am somewhat limited in my ability to identify with it. This means I should not be taken aback when I am blinded to possibilities and experiences they see and want to embrace. Rejecting an idea or a possibility simply because I couldn’t envision it is a good way to widen a gap than is mine, and not theirs, to bridge.
  • While the world is a very different place than it was in my formative years, some things remain unchanged. Good manners, using please and thank you, looking people in the eye, standing up for adults, dealing honestly with money and time, working hard, and displaying empathy in the face of those who are suffering – are values that cannot be discarded just because the world is faster paced than it once was. One of my jobs as a parent is to encourage, even enforce some of these things if necessary.
  • I am enough for my sons and the only dad they will ever need.
March 8, 2017

Next time you fall in love

by Rod Smith

1. His or her solvency (credit score) is more important than if he sends you flowers or she showers you with gifts and compliments.
2. The state of his or her relationship with his or her parents is more important than how he or she dresses or what he or she drives.
3. How he or she treats and respects a former spouse (and children) will tell you exactly how he or she will one day treat you.
4. How he or she handles truth and matters of integrity are unlikely to change. If he or she is lying around you he or she will also lie to you.
5. How he or she behaves in heavy traffic, in a restaurant with poor service, how he or she handles credit, alcohol, and illegal substances, are windows that give glimpses into the “real” person.

March 5, 2017

If you want to love your life more and more…..

by Rod Smith

If you want to love your life a little more than you do already there are a few simple, but not easy steps to focus upon:

  • Move yourself more and more out of debt every day until it is gone. While money cannot buy happiness debt can certainly ruin any possibility of it. Daily success will be incrementally empowering and you will love of your life will steadily increase. The things you buy on credit to make yourself feel better offer temporary happiness. Having to pay for these things can keep you up at night.
  • Employ whatever ritual works but get yourself into the driver’s seat of your own life. Assume full responsibility for yourself and embrace the consequences for your good and poor decisions of the past. You are an artist and you are creating a beautiful life. Do so with joy and determination.
  • Speak up more and more about things you formerly have just accepted or where you may formerly have just gone with the flow. It’s acceptable to have an opinion and a voice. There’s sufficient room for us all.
  • Every day we are called to live fully, to determine our own path, and to contribute to the greatness of others. Assume these responsibilities and your happiness quotient will skyrocket.
March 4, 2017

Do you love your life?

by Rod Smith

The Mercury / Monday (3-6-2017)

Do you love your life – or at least most of it?

I hope so. It must be terrible to wake up every day having to face a job you resist in order to provide for people who find you difficult and in whom you may find repeated displeasure. I feel ill thinking of it. It gives me a heavy feeling that I would hate to have to haul around all and every day.

Perhaps you have no job and that may be the source of at least some of your displeasure.

Perhaps you have no family or zero support from family you do have.

I am very aware of how much family and friends form the scaffolding of my life, making so much difference to me when things are tough.

No matter what your circumstance – and I declare this as loudly and forcefully to myself as I do to you: you are what you’ve got. You are your most powerful asset, and, you’d better make the most of it.

Someone wiser than I – and I’d give full credit if I knew the source – said, “we see the world, not as it is, but as we are.”

I’d suggest we also love others, not as they are, but as we are.

Peace. Have a fabulous, loving, and aware week.

March 4, 2017

Prayer for our children

by Rod Smith

May you become fully human knowing that the natural human urge toward being inhuman helps no one.

May you live fully and completely given that most people don’t.

May you have and and enjoy all the beauty life offers with minimal experience of life’s unavoidable brutality.

May you be rich enough eat and be warm and have time to relax and think every day and be able to give away something to others everyday.

May you be poor enough to have to work and discover the holiness and the beauty of hard work.

May you love and be loved and therefore find your place and significance in a community.

May you learn the fine art of give and take and that your giving would far exceed your taking.

May you understand that anger, resentment, failure to forgive, are uniquely individual pursuits.

May you understand that blaming others for anything never helped anyone to become something worth becoming.