Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Holiday seasons are always hard times with grief. Mother's Day can be too much to bear for some, but most enter what is almost a tangible valley for the time from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

One of the keys to surviving such periods is forgiveness. Forgiving yourself and your spouse. It is hard because emotions drive one deeper into being hard and because every event brings with it the echoes of every prior event. History compounds itself into a terrible weight.

But, forgiveness also offers more. It is a way past recrimination and the past. It is a tool to avoid the crushing pain of the present. Forgiveness is a guide to the future we wish to create in the light of what is best in the past.

Combined with the Jewish version of the Golden Rule ("Be Kind"), forgiveness is the star of hope in every season. We draw close to what we can become with each other in a marriage and others who are dear to us in our grief by finding kindness and forgiveness in each step of the day. It has helped me survive the losses of the past and I think that forgiveness and kindness is much of what has made my present something I am grateful for and my life with my family such a source of joy.

May the world be kind with you this season, and may you find forgiveness as you need it, both in giving and receiving, with others and with yourself.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

We are not recommending this diet. On the face if it, if you had to cook up the ultimate stereotype of a wacky fad diet for use in a comedic novel or film, the Shangri-La Diet would fill the bill.

Basically, you don't eat anything (other than flavorless water) from 8:30 to 10:00 a.m. and then you have either a quarter cup of sugar in a liter of water or a half tablespoon or so of extra light olive oil (without the water). Then nothing with any flavor until 12:00 noon when you eat lunch. Repeat at 2:00 to 2:30 p.m. in the afternoon and listen to what your body tells you.

Often done in connection with a twelve step program.

The batscience is interesting, but batscience at present. On the other hand, for some people it really works.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

At this time of year, I need to express gratitude for the love of my life, my wife, and for my children who have given me reason to live.

There is a great working poem on prayer at the blog of my favorite saint, Ozarque.

At Must Love Books, there is a great metaphor.

I've been meaning to write about the negotiation class I taught recently. It reminded me of how grateful I am for many things.

I'm curious what others are grateful for.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Church exists to help its members, the members do not exist for the Church. That seems so simple. The Church is not the way, but it is the guide and support on our way, and the key to it. Much like the Sabbath day became for some, I worry that some people have replaced the goal with the tool. That is why Christ had to point out that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. The same is true of the Church.

We have Church, like the Sabbath, as a gift from God, not a prison or a taskmaster.

Though, thinking of the Sabbath I remember looking at graduate school materials and reading how Harvard's MBA students were encouraged to take a "sabbath" of sorts, half a day off on Sunday to relax from their labors.

We need surcease and respite, desperately some times. It is so very important that we find it, as a part of survival.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

We had a lesson on service today and got into a discussion of some people and things they had done. A friend paused, then said "that reminds me of my wife." I thought, that reminds me of my wife too. We both smiled.

Service is very important, and that is a feeling my wife shares, and one that makes me so very happy to be married to her.

When couples lose a child, they usually divorce. Last number I saw was over 90%. The experience is just so destructive, everything falls apart.

To survive it helps to keep moving forward. A good friend told me that, before Jessica died, that you had to remember those who were still living and decide if you were going to lose them as well as the one who died. If not, you had to keep moving forward.

For many, moving forward means not only staying in motion, but finding goals, "to do" lists. At times "to do" lists slowly evolve into "to fix" lists which can become "things to be unhappy about" lists.

Gordon B. Hinckley, spoke about that recently, reminding people to be grateful for each other rather than to spend their time finding fault and reasons to change each other.

It is an important lesson, especially for those who are overwhelmed by grief. By being grateful for each other they can strengthen each other when they need it the most rather than adding to each other's burdens and pain.

We can be grateful for each other, and reflect on the reasons for that gratitude, like Dave and I did about our wives this day.

Friday, November 11, 2005

My wife pointed out that in our community, pet dolls have replaced baby dolls as the toy for kids who want something to nurture, much as pets have replaced children for many. It is probably a significant moment of some sort, and appears to be more than just a local trend.

I'm curious if anyone lives in an area where that change was not complete this year -- there are baby dolls, but the prime promotional space goes to the pet dolls instead of the baby dolls as you walk in the store.

Comments and feedback welcome.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

One of my co-workers remarked that in every marriage there are terrible problems that are caused by silly things, and that all marriages have to survive those to flourish.

I realized that in my own life, the terrible, real, things had somewhat overshadowed the other problems. The long string of deaths and attempted recovery and death and attempt and death ... that all blended in together to usurp many of the normal problems.

After all, I was a typical undomesticated man, married for the first and only time at age 29. My wife was a marvelous creature from another planet (or so it seemed to me in so many ways).

A friend of mine blogged about her own life, where she truly felt like someone from another planet.

Ah, youth..... and culture shock

My brief life as an extraterrestrial, part 1
part 2
part 3
The husband question.....

In any situation of severe trauma, change or grief there are things to live through, times where we find ourselves strangers in a land that seems familiar. One of the most common experiences for those who have lost a child is to feel alone, strange and no longer a part of the culture of their birth, divided by the experience, dealing with people who can not understand, in spite of good will (or the lack of same).

I think that Suzette's experiences provide some perspective, a different way to look at things, a way to understand that somehow helps to fit and hold and sound and see through the fog. I would note that while she doesn't mention it in these posts, she has also buried a child and a husband.

Not much else to say, except I love my wife all the more now.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

I was asked to judge a negotiation round again this year and enjoyed it. It is interesting to watch people who have not been changed by practicing law, but the best part is the discussion that occurs after the self-assessment -- watching the students as they suddenly "get it."

While I was there I was asked to guest lecture in a class and to address a dispute resolution group and saw a large number of old friends and students. It is rewarding to see people I've taught in successful careers.

I have always found it valuable to teach people across levels. From post-graduates with multiple degrees to business clients to junior college students and even kids (meaning five and six year olds) I've always enjoyed teaching, and learning from those I am teaching. I'm looking forward to both the junior college class and the professional association. I will learn from both.

Irrational Ideas -- #1 -- just think of this next time you see an irrational essay or person.

The 12 Irrational Ideas -- the original essay about Albert Ellis that prompted #1.

BLieter points out:

DSM-IV-TR says the most useful way to distinguish the personality disorders for differential diagnosis is this:

Histrionics are coquettish
Antisocials are callous
Borderlines are needy
Schizotypals and paranoids are socially withdrawn
Narcissists are grandiose
Oh, both Narcissists and Obsessive-Compulsives are perfectionists, but only narcissists believe themselves to be perfect

Useful for considering the various types of problems some clients can cause and how to deal with them.

Funny, the week my Mom suggested this is what she was going to do, a web site shows up to help you calculate the numbers.

Anyway, some random posts, ones that might help someone learn something.

Interesting non-LDS essay on abortion

One more.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Sometimes you can't decide if it is good news or bad news. On the one hand, the diagnosis of Heather's condition appears to have been wrong. From a condition defined by symptoms and with a known progression and resolution, but with a still undetermined causative agent, she has gone to "nope, not that" -- but getting better quicker.

I think she learned a good deal from the experience of being a 10% or so, and appreciates the recovery. She has always been empathic, but being so sick she couldn't even shoot, had to drop some classes and realized that she might miss graduation from all the days she missed from school, I think that taught her something.

Luckily I was ahead at work before this all started, but it gave me some rough days too.

My wife always thinks of me as minimizing the bad or the chance that something will go bad. I don't, really, but I always tend to downplay the seriousness of things from both ends. I've noticed that most people tend to inflate a little, and that means that until people get to know me, and just assume that I'm inflating a little, much of what I say gets a double discount, once from me, once from the listeners. I'm still learning to overcome that, something I was taught as a kid (and was a good lesson then).

I'll say I'm relieved at how my oldest is recovering, and you can all understand that I'm understating how I feel. I'll leave it at that.