February 18, 2017

Monday meditation

by Rod Smith

You may earn more than I do and live in a nicer house – but our loneliness is probably the same. When it rips us apart it doesn’t really matter who has the most cash or the nicest home. Loneliness doesn’t care where we live or where and how much we bank. Invite me in – perhaps we can be friends and ease our common pain.

You may be more educated than I am and you may have graduated from a respected university – but I know that if you regard anyone, anywhere with contempt, your education has given you little worth knowing. I may not be very bright by your standards but I do know that truly educated people never use it as a weapon. Talk to me – I might be able to teach you a thing or two.

You may be more travelled than I am and can talk about places I have not heard of or could afford to visit in my wildest dreams – but if travel has made you contemptuous of your homeland and its peoples then travel has not done its finer work in you. Citizens of the world find beauty and wonder everywhere. Come to my house – my culture is as interesting as any you will find on any distant shore.

February 18, 2017

Eight easy ways to burn yourself out…..

by Rod Smith
• Volunteer with abandon to do things you know very little about in order to look good in the eyes of people you hardly know. This ratchets expectations so you have much to live up to and you can put yourself under a lot of pressure. Remember, you work well under pressure. Lots of it.
• Keep lots of secrets, especially those that ought not be secrets in the first place and especially those that are none of your business anyway. Harboring “confidential” or “sensitive” information will make you feel important especially if it includes stuff about your friends and they don’t know you know.
• Take on problems and difficulties that other competent people have already found impossible to solve. Feeling, at least for a while, as if you are Superman or Wonder Woman, can offer a real charge.
• Gossip with abandon.
• Get slap-bang in the middle of other people’s conflicts, especially if the conflicts are none of your business, and especially if the conflicts have a long history. Being the new hope on the block will get you fired up. You’ll even feel very spiritual. It’ll feel like God calling you to a sacrifice of some sort and then when you are ground down and close to burned out, rather than feeling like a busybody (which you are) you’ll feel as if you are aligned with the martyrs of old.
• Agree to roles (at work and where you volunteer and most definitely at church ) where you have much responsibility but very little, or even no authority. Guilt and blame are a real grind, and this is one way to ensure the grind begins as soon as possible. Remember, no pain, no gain.
• Take yourself really seriously – important people with important positions and important missions have no time for recreation. Why should it be any different for you?
• Be nicer than Jesus.
February 15, 2017

Please help us – I am divorced…..

by Rod Smith

“I have read your article in today’s paper about children of divorce and I agree with you. I am separated from my husband for a year and I believe my son (9) is victim of our behavior. We need help. Please advise if you are able to assist in any way.”

  • No matter how much conflict exists between you and your son’s father he once was your husband. This is a sobering place to visit when you are most desperate.
  • Your son embodies both of you. When you reject his father you are in some ways also rejecting your son.
  • No matter how much your relationship has disintegrated it is worth getting sound help to seek compromise and ways to be mutually respectful.
  • Remember you are teaching your son how adults handle life and how men and women treat each other.
  • Do whatever you can to get over yourself and over being right or over having to win, and mutually (yes, both of you) decide what is good and helpful for your son.

Mature parenting demands the adults sacrifice for their children AND develop strong and meaningful lives as if they were not parents at all! I know it difficult – I know it seems contradictory – but that’s why parenting is for adults.

February 14, 2017

Nine things that are worse than divorce…..

by Rod Smith
  • Being caught in the endless crossfire between warring parents.
  • Switching sides and armies every few days as you switch territories.
  • Being super-over-protected in the name of love and concern when the hyper-vigilance is really a means to get back at the other parent or to suggest the other parent is negligent or not as committed or as loving.
  • Hearing constant threats of court hearings and custody hearings and fights over money.
  • Not knowing what you can talk about and who you can say you love depending on where you are and who you are with.
  • Having your childhood freedoms curbed and stunted because the adults in your life refuse to grow up and so they use you as a trophy in their unresolved stuff that happened years before you were born.
  • Having to keep secrets and face weird punishments if you leak information you didn’t know was a secret.
  • Hearing both parents say they never speak badly about the other and you know both are lying.
  • Loving your mother’s or father’s new man or woman but not being free to say it or show it.
February 14, 2017

She has an ex and a son (5)…..

by Rod Smith

“I am dating a woman who is a little older. She has a son (5) and an ex-husband who is very involved with her (even though they are divorced) and his son. I feel like I am in the middle or in the way. I know it’s over between them but they are still very close in some ways. Please help.”

You feel like you are in the middle because you are. Here are some thoughts and suggestions. Accept or reject at will:

You have entered a family dynamic that began without you. Being the outsider will be your default feeling and position. Make sure you are mature enough to understand and accept this from the outset.

No matter how much the child loves you or treats you as if you were his dad – you are not. Don’t get more invested with the child than you are with the mother.

Even if you are invited, do not discipline the child or make judgments on the child’s father or mother. Both actions will come back to bite you. You have to learn the art of loving a woman while leaving the parenting of her child up to the child’s father.

February 12, 2017

Launching a powerful week…..

by Rod Smith

Embody these attitudes and thoughts…

  • I am thinking over this (whatever it is) and talking with a lot of respected and admired friends before I make a decision. I’d rather make no decision at all than a quick one when it comes to things that are going to cost me in the future. “Overthinking” things will not make me lose my spontaneity; in the long term it will increase it.
  • Your (whomever) attempts to pass your anxiety (anger, gossip, resentment) off onto me are doomed to fail. How about you worry about your concerns and I do what I have to do with mine and then perhaps we’ll enjoy each other more.
  • Feelings are very misleading and often based on how much coffee I’ve had. Let’s do more thinking than feeling. There’s nothing wrong with a gut reaction if it spends at least some time under the examination of my thinking brain.
  • Today I am going to earn more money than I spend and if I do that consistently I will steadily increase my chances of happiness. Yes, I know, money doesn’t buy happiness but it does make life a whole lot easier than being poor.
February 6, 2017

Simple ways to live a transformed life….

by Rod Smith

I am convinced that within you (and me) resides the power to live a transformed life and that the gateways to that life are very simple. They are so simple that once you have read this column you will be ready to begin. You won’t require an expensive self-help seminar or anymore coaching or more books. This will be all you need, – all for the price of this newspaper. Yes. I know. It’s a big claim. But what I am telling did not begin with me. It began thousands of years ago. If you’ve been reading my work for length of time you will identify common themes. Here we go:

  • Forgive everybody as much and as deeply as possible. All spirituality is local. That means it begins with you (and me). Resentment and grudges bung up the works. Forgive, and you will feel better already. It will unleash a lot (or a little) of heaven into your life.
  • Work hard each day at being the most generous person you know. Give away things like money, possessions, authentic praise, due credit. Don’t gush. Just be honest and generous. By morning tea you’ll be reaping the rewards.
  • Gently, firmly tell everyone who you are and what you want and what you don’t want. Transformation is limited if you abdicate responsibility for your life. Take it back, no matter who has it.
February 5, 2017

When an elderly parent dates….

by Rod Smith

Women (and men) who date later in life after a long marriage has ended through the death of a spouse often have adult sons and daughters who understandably treat the parent as if she were a teenager once more – and not a very wise one at that.

The parent is often severely cautioned. The pursuer is regarded with suspicion. Mom is warned about moving “too quickly” or it is chuckled that she is “acting like a teenager.”

Perhaps it’s the fact that the person has had no other relationships at all of an intimate nature for so very long that the adult sons and daughters wonder whether the parent has the necessary discernment to take care of herself.

Yet, there are dangerous relationships.

There are people who are after power and money who have an eye for the vulnerable.

There is a case to be made for caution when a new relationship follows a long marriage. Grief tints lenses. Novelty can feel like love.

I’d give full credence to a unified cautionary voice of wise and caring adult sons and daughters.

If those who have loved us longest and deepest think something is a bad idea or deserves caution I’d suggest we listen – whether we are 70 or 15.

February 1, 2017

Loving “permission”

by Rod Smith

Loving couples offer each other permission even when permission is not required:

  • Permission to mourn losses both great and small.

The loving partner says, “I will not diminish your grief or try to talk you out of it or hurry you through it.”

  • Permission to have all the friends needed, both male and female.

The loving partner says, “I will not determine your friendship circle any more than I would expect you to determine mine.”

  • Permission to be with family as much or as little as is desired.

The loving partner says, “I will not get in the way of pre-existing relationships and will honor the people you loved before you loved me.”

  • Permission to dress in any manner desired that is both pleasing and is comfortable.

The loving partner says, “I will not presume anything about your choice of clothing except that you must find it both pleasing and comfortable otherwise you would not wear it.”

  • Permission to speak your truth even if it doesn’t match with my experience.

The loving partner says, “We all have our own filters through which we see the world and I am not going to tamper with yours.”

February 1, 2017

Letting children help themselves

by Rod Smith

Allowing children of all ages to face the inevitable challenges that come their way:

  • If you “help” and run to their aid, your assistance and anxiety suggests your children are incapable without you.
  • Your anxiety becomes another task or challenge your children must endure. They probably have enough on their hands without having to assist you with what you are facing. Make things easier by getting out of the way.
  • When children adjust and accomplish things without their parents’ help the children get the helpful message that they are capable of facing tougher and more crucial challenges in the future.
  • Your children are probably going to be better at life and facing life’s challenges than you are. Letting them face things without you shows them that you believe in their abilities and are more invested in their success than you are in their dependence.
  • Your children deserve the freedom to explore the world and to discover their capabilities. That’s close to impossible if the parents insist on paving the way for them.
  • Your children need you to step in, and nothing should stop you, if your detect cruelty or neglect or bullying, otherwise, do the loving thing and let them face whatever it is without you.