Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Missing Robin

Robin (July 6, 1997 to August 31, 1997).

I'm missing her terribly today. You would think I'd be over it, almost ten years have passed, or that I'd wait until September first, when it usually hits me, but I've been missing her more and more this week.

Guess part of it is Heather going off to BYU, and Win driving her. Part of it is getting to bed too early and part is not eating in the place of emotion.

I don't know, I just know that I miss her. I'll probably be emotionally friable for a few days, will need to watch myself so I don't take offense or give it (and let me apologize here, right now, if I've managed to offend someone this week and haven't noticed). I'd say I'm not myself, but I'm not sure, on a day like this, what my self is.

From the lack of comments on my last couple of essays, I'd say that not being sure what my self is isn't the only thing I don't know, but it is a start on the topic.

Missing you Robin, wishing you were here.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Be Open

“Tell the people to be humble and faithful, and be sure to keep the spirit of the Lord and it will lead them right. Be careful and not turn away the small still voice; it will teach you what to do and where to go; it will yield the fruits of the kingdom. Tell the brethren to keep their hearts open to conviction, so that when the Holy Ghost comes to them, their hearts will be ready to receive it.”

The Prophet further directed Brigham Young as follows: “They can tell the Spirit of the Lord from all other spirits; it will whisper peace and joy to their souls; it will take malice, hatred, strife and all evil from their hearts; and their whole desire will be to do good, bring forth righteousness and build up the kingdom of God” (Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 1846–1847, comp. Elden J. Watson, Salt Lake City, 1971, p. 529).
That is part of a wonderful essay, a wonderful talk.

Click on the link and visit.

Be Perfect

In Matthew 5:48 Christ says "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your father which is in heaven is perfect."

The word in the Bible is Teles or Teleos (or Telos) and is a word meaning complete, finished or fully developed. It is also a word used to describe one who has been through an endowment or an initiation, one who is married and one who is fully adult. Looking at just the word "perfect" can leave one confused as to what Christ meant and just exactly what he wanted us to do -- or so many claim.

Because Christ wanted us to act, to do, to use his words to find meaning, this post is on one small part of what Christ intended us to do when he told us "Be ye therefore perfect." (as to which, a friend of mine says he also must have said "and I do to mean it").

A good place to start is Luke 6:36, where Luke records the same sermon in a slightly different way. Luke records: "Be ye therefore merciful, as your father is also merciful." He follows up with "forgive and ye shall be forgiven." (at 37).

Matthew also reprises this theme when he records Jesus as saying"But go ye and learn what that meaneth: 'I will have mercy and not sacrifice.'" (Matthew 9:13).

It appears that an important part of what Christ wants us to learn, and to learn how to do, is to have mercy. That in commanding us to "be perfect" he is telling us to learn what mercy is.

But the real question is what does that really mean and what should we really do? Everyone knows, for example, that "be reverent" does not mean much without more. That to "be reverent" is more than just another way to say "be quiet" and that the reason we are reverent helps us understand what we are to do on the inside as well as the outside.

The same process applies to that small part of being perfect that is being merciful. To understand the "why" of being merciful as a part of being perfect, I look to two scriptures.

The first is D&C 64:9 "Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another, for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin."

The second is D&C 86:5 "Behold, verily I say unto you, the angels are crying unto the Lord day and night, who are ready and waiting to be sent forth to reap down the fields."

Have you ever wondered how it can possibly be worse not to forgive someone than to be the one whose unrepented sins have provoked anger? What does that say about the mortal and the eternal worlds, about justice and mercy, and about us?

And what does it say about our world that the angels would just as soon see the day of judgment come without regards to giving any of us more time to repent and be found with the wheat instead of the tares? It is Christ who says to wait.

How and why we should be better than the angels and become more like Christ is the key to the mystery that is mercy.

People speak often of the mysteries of the gospel, but the mysteries are faith, love, mercy and patience (I use patience in the place of hope). These four are cornerstones to walking in the light and becoming like God. Combined with truth and discipline, they are the key to our souls and regaining our place in our heavenly home, to becoming perfect like Christ.

Well, Win is on the way to Utah with Heather for our oldest to start BYU, Rachel is asleep after a busy day and no television (she just did not have time) and I'm blogging on a Monday night when I'd be working out. We even had more rain. May the peace of God attend you like gentle rain on your souls, and may your days, in all their ways, be perfect.

Sunday, August 27, 2006


Technorati Profile

Finally getting around to this.

My other blog is finally running too, though I can't see anyone having an interest in it who reads this one.

apo mechanes theos

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Sudden Enlightenment 2: The Illusion of Control

Something that all sudden enlightenment systems promise, in one degree or another, is control. I had not really paid much attention to that until I was reading Stumbling on Happiness and the author writes about how important to human happiness a feeling of control is.

That contrasts nicely with twelve-step programs which seek to help people overcome compulsive behavior by realizing that they do not have control and God's admonition that faith and righteousness do not give us control over the path of this life.

I had never thought much on that until this week. I have generally accepted that I plan, I work and I do not have control. I'm happy anyway, finding peace and joy in the moment.

Not to say that I don't believe in planning. I buy insurance, I save, I weed the yard. I learned that planning, even if things never go according to the plan, helps make things go better. I just accepted a long time ago that my plans did not create any control.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


We now have rain.

It was wonderful, pouring down in a bright sky, filled with light, probably an inch or so fell in about half an hour, with a fair amount of wind.

I look forward to more.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

... for whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth ...

No chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Hebrews 12:11

My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord ... for whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. Hebrews 12: 5-6

Though he were a son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him. Hebrews 5:8-9.

It is easy to claim that Hebrews is the only book written by Paul. After all, it is a complex midrash and Paul claims to have had a classic mainline Jewish education. Hebrews is exactly the book you would expect from someone who has described his life story the way Paul does.

It is also easy, perhaps, to take Hebrews too far. To see all trials as gifts from God that make us perfect, rather than as reflects of an imperfect world, and to see Christ as "having been made perfect" (in the sense of "complete" or "finished" or even "perfect") by his suffering.

But there is some wisdom there, a sense of perspective and of warning, that takes me beyond what I know and cautions me to have hope, and patience and to remember in all things I can find God's love.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Judo Tournament, Send Lawyers, Guns and Money

I went to a Judo tournament in Hurst, Texas and competed in the masters division (for old guys). This year they were light on entries, so I ended up competing with two guys in their thirties, both about nine pounds heavier, 2% body fat sort of guys.

One was a grappler who had decided to go to Judo. Darn, he was strong, but I beat him on the mat with a pin. The other was a brown belt I've seen (but never worked out with). I lost to him by being pinned.

I also lost in the adult novice to a guy from our club. We were in the "light" division (heavy was 220+ pounds, medum was the 200 pound guys and the rest of us were light). He beat me cleanly.

I lost two pounds in the six minutes I was on the mats.

went home with the waitress
The way I always do
How was I to know
She was with the
Russians, too?

I was gambling in Havana
I took a little risk
Send lawyers, guns and money
Dad, get me out of this hyeah


From the song, Send Lawyers, Guns and Money

(I'm a lawyer after all, but I could use guns and money. The name of the song is better than the lyrics, what can I say ...)

After the tournament, Rachel and I drove to the airport and got there just in time to see Win and Heather. Their luggage got in about five minutes later and I loaded them up and we all went home. I'm so happy to be with them and they were glad to be back from New York. Funny, Win had walked 8-9 miles a day (or more) while in New York and as soon as it cooled off she wanted me to take her for a walk so she could just enjoy the walking without having to fight through crowds everywhere she went.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Pain, experience, joy, life; what is God giving us?

I have been reading Stumbling on Happiness (both the book, and the blog). It was one more recommendation from the Freakonomics guys, and a good one, (I like Freakonomics, both the blog and the book). They steered me to the Shangri-la Diet (which led me to lose seventy pounds) and a number of good thoughts.

But Stumbling on Happiness hits a number of themes, from a different angle, that are a part of grief and recovery, life, experience and joy. I've been meaning to write about some of them, from before I started reading the book, when Nine Moons had this post: Does God Give Us Trials, If So Why?

This will be a long post, and I still do not have a way to start that isn't in the middle.

I've been a game designer. Much to my surprise, I still have people who like my work, though I haven't done anything new for a decade. I always enjoyed designing games, and watching them be played, more than playing them myself, and after I was contacted out of the blue (by a sort of "where are they now" group), I took a look at modern games.

One thing that has really gotten my attention is that there is a huge difference between the perspective of the player and the perspective of the character that is played in a game. A player will put a character through all sorts of things to gain experience or to have an adventure, things that they probably would not want to put themselves through. Or would they? How much, in this life, are we both a player and a character?

Even more, the things I would enjoy in play, you might not. Things other people enjoy, I was perplexed by. Some people just do not have any interest in playing games of any sort (not role-playing games, not chess, not checkers or Settlers of Catan) and just walk away.

Daniel Gilbert makes the point that people define their lives in terms of seeking to be happy, and that most people, looking back, are generally happy with their lives. I've gone through a good deal of tragedy, yet I find myself drifting into acceptance and happiness, over all, with my life. I find myself wondering, if I were playing a character, and learning from the experience, what character would I prefer to play? If life is merely a few spare hours in an eternal afternoon, where we have the chance to learn and experience on the way through the process, what would I choose to learn, to understand, to become in my life.

I think that is a question that we all need to ask.

Especially, since if we are spirits passing through a material world, with this life and reality like a soap film bubble in the eternities, most of the things we consider pain, or hardship or rewards are trifles. What matters are the things that a game player might seek: perspectives, knowledge, experience, wisdom.

In that framework, and knowing that it is our weaknesses that bind us together, not our strengths, if we treat God like a gamemaster or an enabler of the story we wish to tell, the experience we are seeking, God isn't so much giving us burdens or barriers as he is giving us the life we seek and making what we (as players) desire for ourselves (as characters).

Surely the emotions we feel are strong and real, much like the thrills on the best of amusement park rides or the empathy and pathos we experience in the best of theater or cinema, but they are not -- at the end of the day -- ones to regret.

Pain, experience, joy, life; what is God giving us?! -- only the things we need and want and desire and for which, in the end when we have been made complete (telos; mature; holy; perfect; merciful, as Christ commands), we will be grateful.

Myogenic weight lifting, Shangri-la Diet.

Dave Smith and Stewart Bruce-Low wrote a paper on myogenic weight lifting and the theories of Arthur Jones, a charming renegade.
Jones (18) provided an interesting practical example of the efficacy of slow weight training for those involved in ‘explosive’ sports. In 1973, an Olympic weightlifting team was formed at DeLand High School, Florida. The team trained with only slow (mostly eccentric-only) weight training. Starting in 1973, and with no previous experience in weightlifting, the team established what is probably a world sporting record: the team was undefeated and untied for seven years, winning over 100 consecutive weightlifting competitions. Clearly, the experience of these weightlifters is very much at odds with the view of Cissek (91) and others that slow weight training is not effective in enhancing in enhancing muscle performance at fast speeds.
The essence of the myeogenic method is that you life once a week -- every seven days -- and that when you lift you take a one count on the positive, a four second (one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three, one thousand four) on the negative and you never release the pressure, on every repetition. You do a single set on each exercise, 8-12 repetitions.

I'm fifty. I started lifting about three and a half years ago because I had gotten terribly out of shape. I pretty much started with between forty and sixty pounds of weight on most machines. I'm now moving close the maximum on each machine (or more -- on the back machine I'm tossing sixty pounds of weights on top of the complete weight stack), except for my arms and shoulders which I did not work out for a couple of years due to a shoulder injury.

I promised to put my routine on-line for some friends, but it is pretty simple, takes about an hour, once a week. I was pseudo myogenic when I started (I tried to do three times a week and ended up, due to schedule and other issues, only able to make it once or twice a week -- and I was doing a four count rather than four seconds on the negative). Once I read the paper and applied it to my work-outs I started making real and significant progress.

I'm hoping to get my arms and shoulders (the lifts and the dips) up to max in another six months (I used to do three sets of eight+ pull-ups and fifteen one-armed push-ups with each arm, now I need assistance to do pull-ups or dips). I'm pretty much happy with my strength otherwise, just want to keep what I have.

BTW, if you want a book or two on the subject, here are some leading ones (I've not read them though):

Diet Links:
Gee, it has really been quite the trip since November of 2005, hasn't it? A good one though.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Friendly waiters in New York

Well, just like we had a great time in Paris, and the French were friendly, Win and Heather have had some very friendly waiters recently in New York. I miss them, but they are having a grand time.

What is the world coming to? Friendly waiters in New York!?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Kindness from strangers

I've returned a lot of money to strangers in my life. But this weekend, (on a Saturday evening) when Rachel was buying an ice cream at Central Market, she dropped her money (which I did not realize). A lady caught up with us at check-out and returned it to us.

The cashier thought that was the way things were, and it was nice to see the way he kind of took that sort of behavior for granted, though I was grateful. Rachel got a reminder to put money back in her purse instead of just drop it in a grocery cart ...

The lady who returned it was gone in a flash, and I was in the midst of checking out, but thank you, once again.

New York, New York

Win and Heather are well into their New York trip.

For humor's sake, here is the place they almost reserved a room at, until they read some reviews.

THIS PLACE IS A COMPLETE SCAM!!!! The apartments were more like hallways with cots and a hot plate for a kitchenette. I am appalled at what was advertised and what was truly there.


The sheets seemed to have been used and reused; not ironed in fact not even washed from prior use.

They ended up with something cleaner and safer and are having a great time. Wish I was there.

Saturday, August 12, 2006


There is nothing that compares to the love of a child sometimes. It gives every man courage and hope.

Houston Chronicle

Grant Petersen

This is a picture of Grant, Heather's boyfriend, getting a haircut for his mission. As my wife said, "he is actually a lot more handsome than that, though you wouldn't appreciate it."

What can I say? My taste runs to a blond in her forties, but Heather seems to think Grant looks just fine.

Which lets me write on a topic I see again and again "Why won't he/she just ignore how I look and see the real me?" You mean the one that is interested in them only for the way they look? Grant is a really good kid, better looking on the inside than the outside, and I think he will grow into a fine missionary in Seattle. One of the few people who is better off when people ignore how he looks and see the real person.

Plateaus are not failure

Too often we learn the lesson that plateaus are failure. That when we reach a static point in the learning or the use of a skill, that means we have failed. Part of maturity is to realize that plateaus are only plateaus.

When I first learned to type, reaching thirty words a minute was a major benchmark, and then thirty-five (required for a number of jobs). I now seem to type at about a hundred or more words a minute. Does having flattened out mean that I've failed? There are those who decide that they have failed at typing when they started to flatten out at twenty words a minute. At that point they just gave up, quit practicing and still hunt a peck.

This came into sharper relief with the Shangri-la Method or Diet I am using to move my set point. So many people hit their first plateau and then give up. At nine months this morning, my weight in showed sixty-nine pounds lost -- but I'd say about half the time I've spent on the diet, and about half of every month, I spend on plateaus.

I know, in a typical diet (that works because if you change what you eat you will lose weight for 2-3 weeks), the diet works for 2-3 weeks, then there is a plateau and then failure and rebound. It is why they call it yo-yo dieting.

But, I've learned the lesson that a plateau is not failure, and as I've looked at my life, I've realized that there are many plateaus. My walking skill has probably reached a plateau. I'm not getting better at walking -- and I don't care to spend more effort learning how to walk better -- but I don't consider myself a failure at it and do not expect to give it up. Life is filled with examples of that sort.

Yet, so very often, we look at plateaus with the lesson that a plateau is a failure. Much like sometimes "a cigar is only a cigar," a plateau is only a plateau, and sometimes it is a great place to look out and see the world from.

Shangri-la Diet version of this post here.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

It is my life, they are *my* emotions

A quick aside, I now have a Wordpress blog. It is completely off topic (as to this blog), being on negotiation. Having it will let me learn Wordpress (and I'm very open to comments and advice) and will also let me blog on a professional area that has been an interest of mine for a very long time without taking up space here.

is the url for it (and adrr.com is my website covering my hobby).

For my core grief essays and background information you can visit Living which is where I wrote before I had a blog (and before there were blogs).

I had someone ask me why I lived life without food as a buffer if my emotions were so much stronger. Well, they are my emotions. More importantly, almost all of them are positive. Yes, I have some very strong grief days, and some where I am friable, but I have so many, many days where I am just so much happier and so much in love.

That was the best thing to discover, just how pleased I was with my wife, and how happy with my family, that I was feeling, but not in contact with. I'm so grateful to have those feelings in my life.

It is my life, they are my emotions and I'm grateful.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

What were they thinking?

To quote from a much longer story:

The bizarre combination of Curry’s hostility towards the soldiers and her overt sympathy for Oren left me puzzled. What I realized, from watching her and other journalists like her, was that contrary to popular belief, most of these journalists are neither “pro” nor “anti” Israel. In fact, they are not exactly journalists at all, at least not in the sense that we have been taught to believe. They do not seem interested in reporting what is traditionally understood as news — that is, information that attempts to convey as complete and realistic an accounting of events as possible.

They can be more accurately described as entertainers, who stimulate their audiences with that which is factual and passing. The most striking thing about the producers and on-air reporters who show up in Israel is how deeply ignorant they are of the conflict and its history. This is not exactly their fault: It is the product of their job, which is to entertain rather than inform. The skills required of them are technical and theatrical, not historic or intellectual, and thus they do not approach their task with much in the way of rigor; they are looking for interesting personal stories and manufactured mini-dramas, whose correlation to reality is only occasionally discernable.
So, if you are ever left wondering what a reporter was thinking when they report about someone swallowed by grief, the answer is: they are not thinking. The war reporting is just an example, you will see it everywhere.

On a different topic, for links to a free recorded teleconference on the Shangri-la Diet and a summary of the teleconference with Seth Roberts, you can visit Lani's Blog.

Monday, August 07, 2006

... your wife is not ...

Women are different from men, in a lot of ways. But, your wife is not:

  • Your co-worker
  • Your mother or your sister
  • Another guy

Lots of guys think they know all about women because they have female co-workers. That just is not true. You will discover that there are many things about being married that are completely different from working with women.

Lots of guys think they know all about women because they have a mother or a sister(s). That just is not true. You will discover that there are many things about being married that are completely different from having a mother or a sister.

Lots of guys think of a wife as just another guy. That is just not accurate. Guys are pretty simple. Food, sports, sex and sleep. Kind of like having four food groups. Guys generally do not have hidden agendas and, there are lots of ways guys relate to each other that just don't work with women.

Multiple levels, is one of the places where a wife is different from a guy, a difference in relating. All of the things a wife is not come together once or twice a year if you are going to be married to a woman, because you can expect to have meltdowns, flash-overs or similar things as life adds up. Your partner will have times when she is either very angry or very sad or very hurt. But knowing about it is only a start, "What do you do when your partner is raging because they are hurting?"

Said otherwise, "What does a guy do when his wife hits that point of raging (driven by hurt) that happens when the stack of issues his wife has builds to overflowing, no matter how she tries to acknowledge, accept, nurture or heal? When it comes to head once or twice a year?"

With co-workers you will never see it. I've had lots and lots of female co-workers in the last thirty-five years. Never had an event like that. Female co-workers did little to prepare me for marriage. I've got a mother and a sister. Most guys with mothers and sisters never deal with meltdowns.

None of the guys I know act that way -- they don't have meltdowns. however, I'm in a men's group, and when a guy who was married for the first time late in life brought up this question -- thinking it was happening only to him -- and every guy in the room just smiled. We let him know he was not alone.

There are two sub-sets of times that your wife will get upset that are useful to know about.

The first is "'bumps in a crowd' sorts of collisions or hurt feelings" -- those small, accidental things that happen. Generally, the guy thing to do if someone points out that you've done something is nod "ok" and go on. The best way for a woman to look at it is like playing backyard basketball or walking down a crowded street.

Minor collisions or fouls are just nodded at and shrugged off. Most women shrug them off too, unless there is something else going on (and think the ones who don't shrug them off are drama queens or need Prozac). For a guy, you need to remember that if your partner says something about something like that (e.g. "hey, it hurt my feelings when you put the peanut butter in the fridge") you need to stop, look them straight in the eye (stopping whatever you are doing) and say "I'm sorry, it was my fault, I'll try not to do it again."

If they were bothered enough to say something (and they aren't a drama queen or just unhinged -- this is general marital advice, not psychotherapy and I'm not responsible if you married a drama queen), then you need to take it seriously enough to give a real apology, no matter what it seems like.

There is a three part apology message. Unlike the rule in basketball (where you don't stop what you are doing) or a crowd, if your partner feels she needed to say something, then if you want to care for her, you need to stop and pay attention to nothing else.

Then you say
  1. I'm sorry
  2. It was my fault (no excuses) and
  3. I won't do it again
(Hidden trap in number three: you may need to say I'll try not to do it again -- though you need to know if your spouse is from the side of the street where they expect you to try, or the side of the street where they use the word "try" to mean "I'll make a failing effort and do not really care." That makes a big difference out of a little word. Some expect it, some see it as diminishing anything you say).

The second type of time is "what do you do when the problem isn't the real problem (which is often why your wife is complaining about things that don't seem like real issues -- it is a warning sign)" -- and part of learning to be a guy is learning that when you deal with women their stacks are going to overflow (the old computer analogy) and it is all about to hit the fan. Part of what you sign on to when you sign on as a husband is to deal with those incidents with kindness and care.

You need to know first, that whatever the reason it is, since it is causing an emotional meltdown, the reason is "good enough." Second, that it may not be your fault (though we've all heard the message "it is always the guy's fault") and third, it may be your fault. Fault and justification aren't that important in your first response, the first thing you need to do is to not treat a melt down as an attack.

You start by realizing that meltdowns are going to happen every-so-often no matter what. It is just part of life.

Then, what you do is you find a way to react to a meltdown with kindness towards your wife and yourself.

Find a pattern that works. If you followed my advice about back rubs or foot rubs that have nothing to do with making a pass or sex, you can often rub her back (if she is willing to be touched). Or take her for a walk. Listen to her. Listen without defensiveness and without offering solutions. A guy complains to you, or a female co-worker complains, they want a solution. Your wife complains to you, she wants you to listen and acknowledge. She probably does not want a solution and offering solutions will probably not make things better.

A good pattern is to go for a walk or to have your wife sit and talk to you while you do the dishes. Find a way to go for walks whenever something like this happens or seems to be building up. When what is happening is that someone is lashing out because of pain, and that will happen, the key is to not take it personally, let it expend itself while you listen without adding fuel to the fire, and then reassure them of your love (remember that three part pattern, or recipe, about telling your wife that you love them?).

While you listen, realize that while you may not be at fault and should not take it personally, there may be things you are doing wrong. Regardless of when those sorts of things come out, you need to address them. Maybe you leave your dirty clothes on the floor instead of the laundry hamper. It isn't a big thing, but you might as well change that (you should have outgrown it by the time you were twelve, anyway).

Maybe there are other things like that. Little things, but they add to the friction in life. It just isn't worth it not to reduce the friction, but most women won't really mention them unless they are upset enough at life to let it all out.

On the other hand, maybe there isn't anything, except you've gotten a little out of synch. That just means spending more time communicating.

Maybe it is just build-up and you need to get past it. Or maybe there is also a real issue, like the anniversary of when her dad died, or the time you buried your child, or something similar. Maybe this never happens in your life (or never did until something real happened) or maybe you really didn't notice, being a guy, until recently that it does happen in your life. But it does, it will, and you can either make it better or worse.

Making it worse is treating it as an attack, fighting back or being dismissive and suggesting that she just take some Prozac and get some sleep, better diet and exercise. (I'm not suggesting that any of these are bad things, just that suggesting them is futile, dangerous and doesn't help).

Making the situation better is noticing when emotions start to build up and addressing those emotions with love, attention and support -- by being a husband. You listen, you are patient, you do something positive and you express love.

You have a duty to be patient, to be long suffering, to love and to serve, to care for your wife as Christ would. That is what it means to husband. Not to be in charge, or to exercise dominion, but to be kind and caring and to be responsible. The priesthood is the primal call to service, to be like Christ, to be the servant, not the master, to be a caretaker and a protector, to be a man.

This is one way to make sure you are doing that.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The drought breaks

It is raining in Dallas, a start, we have had a drought for so long.

Life since November 13 has been interesting. I've had a confluence of several things. First, with SLD et al., I've no longer had food as a buffer and I've felt emotion much more strongly. Second, Jessica died a couple weeks before she would have turned seven.

All of this last year I've had a six year old child dredging up feelings and emotions. It is a lot like the way life went as she took us through becoming two and reminding us of Courtney, only I'm older and thought I was more recovered.

Along the way she cut her hair off. This week she pulled out Jessica's pictures and she was struck by how much Jessica's short hair pictures looked like her. Indeed, I've been noticing it myself, over and over again.

All in all, this last year, since November, I've been much more emotionally friable than I have been in years. Things have hit me and required me to deal with life and emotions again, with more force and tumult and turbulence than they've had for years. The week following July 5th is always a difficult one. This year's week was a good reminder to me that I need to learn some lessons again from a different perspective, at another level, that I had more of life to learn.

I really thought that with February out of the way, I had made it clear of any more of those experiences. July was a lesson that I had more lessons coming.

So now I'm wondering how August 31st will go. In some ways that date brings me full circle on my calendar of grief (though a full year without hiding behind food will not occur until I hit November 13th again). Sometimes I feel like surely, I'm too old for this, too experienced, too balanced for new mistakes, new waves of raw emotion, new missteps -- but I'm not. I'll make more mistakes, need to watch out for minefields and triggers as September starts with Heather at college, learn new lessons, wonder if I can survive Christmas and the wait until Rachel turns seven.

I'll try not to do too much harm, try to keep finding life interesting, start a new project or two. August will be an instructive month. I just hope it isn't too instructive, and that the drought in my soul will find rain as well. It has been long enough.

Jessica (February 12, 1986 to January 26, 1993), Courtney (February 16, 1992 to December 26, 1993), and Robin (July 6, 1997 to August 31, 1997).

Things that made me think this week

From a friend:
Thanks for your comments. I think part of my ire about this kind of situation stems from my own experience. When I applied to Stanford for grad school, the graduate programs office sent me a stock rejection letter. Two weeks later, after I was mostly over the rejection, on Easter Sunday (during our dinner), a professor called from the psychology dept to tell me I was accepted with a full fellowship...
NO never meant NO again to me.
If you have guppies, put a bag of marbles in the tank with them (the ones you buy now come in mesh bags). You will shortly have an explosion of guppies (it provides a sheltering habitat that really works).

Saturday, August 05, 2006

In spite of weaknesses

As annegb and others have commented, a twelve-step program isn't going to help you with grief, though it may teach you something about talking to God and hearing God. They also don't help people quit smoking and they don't seem to have any effect on sexual orientation.

Twelve steps also do not seem to do anyone much good who just needs a multi-vitamin, a hair cut or help with compulsive depression (For depression, see cognitive therapy f9r adults and the similar related book for kids. There is also a handbook). But, if you are in bondage to drugs or alcohol (which is a type of drug) or in a relationship with someone who is, twelve-step programs seem to be the best hope.

They also provide an interesting perspective on "reality" and the variations of history and belief. To start with, Bill W, who founded AA is often reviled as a Nazi sympathizer who created a religious cult in pursuit of his infamous 13th step. The perspective that creates is completely false, and the reasons it is false teach a great deal.

Yes, AA had its roots in the Christian Oxford Groups. But, Bill W. parted ways with them long before they mistakenly embraced Hitler (one of the most famous, or infamous, neo-pagans of history), and it was their embrace of Hitler that completed the rift between the two groups. Interestingly enough, Bill W. started as an atheist, and while acknowledging God, always sought for a naturalistic explanation that left him embracing spiritual principals without religion.

He had weaknesses, including womanizing (known as the "13th step" by his critics) that emerged after his wife decided to cease having sex when he turned forty, but he recognized that as a weakness.

In my opinion, God worked through him -- and others -- in spite of weaknesses. A.A. works to heal alcoholics when nothing else does, and all it requires is honesty from them. The saddest thing is to meet people who have lost sobriety and returned to alcohol as the result of "learning" things (often untrue) that have caused them to abandon a program that worked for them.

I've never been an alcoholic, though I have known many. It passes sensibility that someone who escaped alcoholism would return because they felt a need to abandon AA because one of the founders had personal weaknesses -- and even worse, when the particular alleged offense isn't real (as noted above, Bill W. never endorsed or sympathized with the nazis and the OGs embrace created a rift in spite of the great amount of gratitude he felt toward them). To plunge back into a living hell because of a misreading of history is a tragedy.

As the Bible states "no one is perfect, not one." Peter's faith failed, he denied even knowing Christ and he was publicly rebuked by Paul for hypocrisy. Yet, he gave his life for the gospel and Christ received him home. Abraham had a crisis or two of his own, with truth and with his family, yet God forgave him and called him blessed in the end. Paul had a terrible history, yet his weaknesses did not make his testimony of Christ a lie, and did not make his calling false.

All of us are human, all are weak, all are flawed and in need of redemption. That does not mean that God can not work with us and that the light can not proceed from us to help others in a miraculous fashion. Instead the miracle is that God can and does work with us to let us help others, to share love and care and to walk in the light.

What if the Shangri-la Diet doesn't work for you?

First off, maybe it really doesn't work for you. That can happen with anything that works for most people. I had a friend who was immune to Novocaine. His dentist insisted that that wasn't possible. It was painful for both of them.

But, maybe there is a solution to why the Shangril-la Method (SLM or "slim") isn't working when you try it. This I'm going to go over some of the solutions that have worked for some people.

  • Reduce "ditto foods." Most people find that so-called ditto foods (high in flavor, always the same -- think chocolate bars or cokes) raise their set points. If you just reduce the ditto food -- replace eating snickers bars with penuche, for example -- that often makes a difference. For some people, the ultimate ditto food appears to be alcohol.
  • Look for, and reduce sources of flavor during your two hour flavor-free window.
    • snuff
    • breath mints, especially long lasting or super mints
    • mouth wash
    • gum
    • cigarette smoke, including second hand smoke
    • rancid, smoke flavors, or other flavors in the oil or sugar; vanilla in the protein (many "natural" flavor protein mixes have vanilla added in).
  • switch the type of flavor free calories
    • if you are using sugar water, switch to oil
    • if you are using oil, switch oils, or add a little bit of sugar water to the oil (only a teaspoon of sugar in a cup of water)
    • switch to protein powders (get some of the new rice protein and mix it 50/50 with supro flavorless soy protein, for example).
  • Get enough sleep. a number of people have reported that the diet quit working for them (or did not work as well) when they had long periods of time when they had to go without enough sleep. Consider some mild exercise (gardening, stretching, walking daily) -- that will help you sleep better.
  • Get enough protein and vitamins. Take a supplement if you need to. Take a vitamin and mineral supplement anyway.
  • Drink enough water -- stay fully hydrated. It is easy to just quit drinking sodas on the diet (a lot of people lose their taste for sodas) and not replace it with water.
  • Keep track of your weight. Especially at 2-3 pounds a month, it is easy to lose track of where your weight was. My favorite story of this effect was with someone who kept complaining that they had lost some weight at first, but none thereafter.
    • The first week's weight loss was first five pounds, then ten pounds, then fifteen pounds then twenty pounds. At that point, as we were talking, they realized that some of that weight loss had to have come after the first week.
    • I've noticed the same effect in my own life. I was plateaued in the high 170s ... unhappy about it because I'd been plateaued so long at 173 ... I'd moved from 178 down about five-six pounds and kind of not noticed it.
  • Use a food plan. That will make sure you get enough protein, enough vitamins, and exclude ditto foods. I use a food plan, with a lot of non-fat yogurt in it (I like yogurt) that my wife jokingly calls the heritage diet (since I have substantial Greek heritage from George and Lela Mylonas, my grandparents).
  • Ask yourself if you have real issues. You may need counseling or oa.org or to feel you "deserve" or "have earned" the right to lose weight. Face and work through your issues so they do not weigh you down.
  • Be consistent. Same time, same method. Your body will adjust to a method. If you change types of oil, each time you change it will take a week or so for your body to adjust to the differences (all oils are not the same, not even close, which was a surprise to me. I thought oil was oil. It isn't).
  • Use enough calories. Less is not more. If two tablespoons barely works, one tablespoon is not better -- three tablespoons is. The guy who was using teaspoons -- of sugar -- instead of tablespoons of oil -- wasn't having any effect because he wasn't using enough calories.
  • Take enough time for your set point to catch up with your weight. If you've pushed your weight below your set point by force of will, strict calorie restricted dieting and exercise, you won't feel the diet until your set point catches up with your weight. That can take some time.
  • Don't worry about plateaus. You will go through them over and over again -- but unlike a "normal" diet where a plateau = failure, on SLM plateaus just mean your body is getting ready for the next move in losing more weight.
Those are things and approaches that have worked for many people who were having problems (it is why the boards have a large section devoted to "why am I not losing weight").

I now have my wordpress blog at http://srmarsh.com/ -- it is on negotiation, which I don't expect to interest anyone here. I'll get started with posts there probably next week or so.

As do that, I expect my posting will slow down here and I will post more on relationship and grief issues.

As always, if you aren't seeing enough on the Shangri-la Method, visit the forums at http://boards.sethroberts.net/

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Relationship advice: knowing who other people are not and who you are.

Just as important as knowing who other people are, is knowing who other people are not.

talks about this, about how you are not your parents, and do not need to act like them, nor are you married to your parents. Do not treat your spouse (or to interpret what your spouse does) as if they were one of your parents.

Many people do that unconciously, and realizing when you are reacting to people in your past, instead of people in your present, is a major step.

BTW, a great essay on being humble is here.