Category Archives: Hope

Divorce, Recession-Style

A number of news sources recently reported that (sniff, sniff) people just can’t afford to get divorced anymore, what with mortgages upside down, and diminished family income.

Furthermore (more sniffs), in most cases, the couples have to stay together under the same roof just to make ends meet.  No longer can divorced spouses count on maintaining a lifestyle.  No longer are kids summarily thrown into visitation chaos and feelings of abandonment….and that, obviously, is a good thing.

One of the sadder aspects of my three decades plus on radio talking to people in some sort of crisis is the growing realization that many people see adversity as a motivation to turn on each other, rather than to turn to each other.  I understand husbands who feel depressed when they can’t adequately support their families, and I understand wives who feel desperate because they worry for the well-being of their home and children.  But I don’t understand turning away from each other at a time when both need support and hope.  Each spouse needs to (as Archie Bunker often said on “All In The Family”) “stifle themselves” and try to buoy up the other’s state of mind.

In trying to make the other person still feel valued, competent and loved; in telling your spouse that you know that, ultimately, you can count on him/her; in letting your once “dearly beloved” feel your support, makes not only them feel better, it makes YOU feel better.

I’m sure everyone reading this has some sort of strain or stress in their marriage.  Generally, it’s something that can be overcome if you both pull together and put aside your individual resentments and fears long enough to follow through on your marital vows to love, honor and cherish.

When Others Are Hurting, Can You Still Have A Good Day?

A number of people have expressed to me that they feel somewhat guilty that their lives are so blessed and/or peaceful right now while people are being blown up in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other places – and by their own countrymen!  Or that people are suffering and dying by the tens of thousands in Haiti in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake.

“How [they ask] can I dare to have a good day when all of this is happening?”

I think that’s a good question asked by decent people. 

The answer is simple:  what choice do you have?

Shall you undermine yourself and those who count on you by crumbling under the awareness of this cruelty of people and nature?  Does that add to the miserly of the world?  YES.  Does that minimize the misery of the world?  NO.

Your job is to do and be your best and to bring light into darkness in your own mind and home, and among family, friends, and community.  Where you have the wherewithal and the expertise to extend that to deserving people and places, do so because all humanity benefits by your action of caring – if not aided directly, then at the very least inspired by your example.

Where you can’t extend yourself to some place around the world, be cognizant that compassion and love in a circle around you has a ripple effect to help perfect the world for whatever moments of bliss might exist.  They add up. 

Whether close at hand or off to a distant land, when you extend mercy, you do an act which magnificently defines humanity.

When Someone Believes in You

There’s an interesting program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro that aims to keep 12 to 18 year old girls in school, minus the sad drama of pregnancies or abortions.

The program is sponsored by College Bound Sisters.  Girls in the program attend 90-minute meetings every week, at which they receive lessons in abstinence and the use of contraceptives, and they receive one dollar per day that they are not pregnant.  The money is deposited into a fund that’s available for collection when they enroll in college.

Obviously, there are many who will say “Hey, bribery is not the correct way to handle such behavioral issues.”  But slow down and think about it – when a 12 year old believes that one dollar a day is a great incentive, it tells you two things:

1. the gentle maturity level of such young girls
2. how so very many young girls are hungry for direction

Keep in mind that 3 out of 10 young women become pregnant by age 20, and the costs associated with teen pregnancies exceed $9 BILLION annually.

So, what’s their track record?  According to the co-director of the program, 6 of the 125 who have been enrolled for 6 months or longer have gotten pregnant or otherwise dropped out since it began in 1997 (and it only costs $75,000 – not billion – to operate the program).  Recent graduates have left the program with up to $3,000 saved up for college.  Basically, the representatives of the program say “If someone believes in you, there’s no end to what a lot of people can accomplish.”

This reminds me of a patient I had years ago, who went from “ditzy” behavior and drug addiction to clean and sober.  She completed college and advanced nursing training, and has been employed ever since.  A little ego in me caused me to ask here, “What made the difference here?”  I thought she’d point out some brilliant intervention of mine.  Nope, not at all.  She pointed out that I had believed in her when no one else did, that she had respected me, and I respected her potential.  That made the difference in her outlook and choices.

So, when you’re confused as to how to really help someone, just believe in them, and let them know it.

Susan Boyle Wows Everyone…Almost

I love Susan Boyle.  I’ve never watched any of those “Idol,” “Model,” or “Talent” shows.  The only reason I know of Susan Boyle is that she has hit the news big time.  For those of you, like me, who don’t keep up with these shows, Susan Boyle made a big hit on “Britain’s Got Talent” as a singer.

Unfortunately, the news was two-fold:  boy, is she ever unattractive, and boy, can she ever sing.

Susan Boyle is 47, overweight, flabby, and has graying, frizzy hair, bushy eyebrows, and a blubbery face.  Susan Boyle also has the singing ability of an angel, giving a performance of the Les Miserables tune “I Dreamed A Dream”  that has made her an instant star with more than 20 million views on YouTube.

Now the debates rage:  should she or shouldn’t she get some kind of makeover to look prettier on camera?    The United Kingdom’s Guardian published a “no, she shouldn’t; she should stay natural” comment from one of their most “done over” women stars.  Others are repulsed by her looks, and can’t imagine that beautiful voice coming from such a plain, frumpy woman.

Many of those 20 million plus YouTube views very likely occurred simply because of that incredible contrast.  For many, it was like watching a geek or freak show, so they could laugh at her lack of physical attributes, without, of course, looking in the mirror themselves.

Me?  I give her lots of credit for being more focused on her voice than on her lack of beauty.  She is definitely not attractive.  Should she get face work to match the scores of women who all look like they came out of the same factory:  the puffed-up face, abnormally protruding cheeks, and lips that look like the rump side of an orangutan?  I wouldn’t advise it.

Clearly, this is not a woman of means…yet.  So, getting her hair colored and calmed down, learning some makeup tips, and having clothes which best compliment her ample figure is something that is probably in the works now, which means that she’d be spiffing up what she has, and not getting surgically transformed into a vision which will make the snide snickers go away.  Making the best of what you have is admirable and advisable; getting re-made into something nobody is, is not admirable nor advisable.

And the main point is that she has a beautiful voice, and a tremendous amount of talent.  If she were “pretty,” I wonder how many YouTube hits there would have been.  Gosh…I long for the days before television and the Internet, when only the quality of what a person had to offer was revealed.

Endurance, Not Therapy, Is The Answer to Some of Life’s Challenges

How did we as a people get so “knee jerk” about going into therapy every time we face a challenge or disappointment?

One caller to my radio program was having her three year old son tested for muscular dystrophy, a devastating illness, and the results wouldn’t be coming for two weeks.  She wanted to know how to “cope” with the two week wait.  I told her that she was simply going to feel stressed and scared – that was normal, and was to be “endured.”  She, like many others realizing they had to feel some emotional pain for a while, asked if she should go into therapy!

I asked her what she thought the folks who blazed the trail west in covered wagons did when people died of illness or accident, or if the Indians attacked or food got scarce?  Did they all line up in front of a therapist’s tent to express their pain and look for a magic cure to get through the sometimes unpleasant realities of life, or did they pray, hold onto each other and ultimately….endure?

She laughed, and said, “I see what you mean.”

We are sturdier creatures than we take credit for.  I am a licensed therapist, and there are, indeed, situations in which individuals cannot endure, due to a distinct compromise in a person’s ability to be rational, such as mental illness or severe trauma.  In these situations, I refer people to mental health professionals. 

But most things in life that we must deal with often are best served with some love, some advice, some prayer, and an acknowledgment that sometimes life just doesn’t feel good for a while.

I have told innumerable callers that there is no quick fix for a bad situation – and sometimes, there is no “fix” at all.  I tell them also to turn to each other (family and friends), rather than turn on each other with resentment, frustration, or anger.

Much of life must be endured.  There is still always beauty, such as seeing the flowers among the fertilizer, and there is always light (hope and alternatives).