Archive for May, 2009


Refining our skills

May 30, 2009

How do we get better at things?  The only way I have discovered is by practice and experience. 

I have found that life’s trials give us skill-refining practice and experience. 

How does a boxer get better?  Is it not through sparring?  And through fights with other boxers?  I doubt if there is a boxer out there who ever got any better at his skill without going through much sparring and many fights.


Tiger Woods Masters 2009

What about golf?  Hasn’t Tiger Woods’ exceptional skill level created a new standard of achievement for today’s professional golfers?

I have been going through some hellish circumstances lately.  Work has been very challenging.  Our company is finally feeling the effects of this recession.

I have had sleepless nights, and grouchy moments.  Depression and anxiety have been knocking at my door a lot lately.

If ever there was a time to accept that this is a time to practice and refine my skills of recovery, this is it.  In fact, keeping a “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger” mindset, actually makes the trials somewhat thrilling.

Just like Phil Mickelson and Geoff Ogilvy improving their games by playing head to head with Tiger Woods, maybe this is my time opportunity to strive to be better than I ever was.

Any dead fish can float down stream or be swept around by the tide.  But the strong can swim against the current.

So maybe this isn’t just tribulation.  Maybe this is just another training experience to become something better than I ever was.





Unreal comparisons: CSI Miami sets us up for failure

May 17, 2009

We often “compare our insides to other people’s outsides”.  And in doing so, beat ourselves up for not being as talented, attractive, successful, happy or likeable as them.

By this I simply mean that we often compare the little we know of others by observing their limited external appearances to our comprehensive internal knowledge of ourselves including our secrets, hurts, and shortcomings.

My blog friend, Lores ( recently posted about how some people appear successful on the exterior while we appear to ourselves as unsuccessful.

This is somewhat ironic because my wife and I recently gave up watching CSI Miami.  From time to time, we sit together after our long work days and unwind with an episode.  More recently, we began laughing at the overwheming and continuous BS portrayals of life. 

According to the show, the vast majority of people in Miami are rich, young, and attractive.  Oh ya, and all the women somehow are able to show cleavage and none has yet to be groped by a perpetrator or colleague.

emily procter CSI calleighLets start with the most conspicuous character…. the lovely Miss Calleigh Duquesne. 

She has the amazing ability to strut onto a crime scene in heels and flowing, dangling hair that never goes out of place.  And of course, cleavage to spare. 

A particularly unique talent she often displays is her ability to walk on a sandy beach with said heels.

I know some female cops.  Not one of them shows up to work dressed like this.  Unless they are undercover doing entrapment.

I wonder how many women working careers compare themselves, whether knowingly or unknowingly, to an unrealistic portrayal like Calleigh?


CSI: MIAMIWe also have Dr. Alexx Woods. 

Now come on…. would the Miami Dade County really allow their coroner to let her hair dangle into the blood pool of a crime-scene corpse? 

I am sure most of us didn’t even notice there was a corpse in the picture did we?… cause I eye got drawn to those ever-visible…. tits!

But she did put gloves on…. Thank God!  We wouldn’t want to taint evidence or be unsanitary!

Ok, so help me out…. she took time to choose her ensemble, wrestle her boobs into an over-worked push-up bra, apply makeup (presumably in the hummer on the way to the crime scene), put on latex gloves, but didn’t tie her hair back? 


 jonathan togo csi miami ryan wolfe 

It is not just the female characters that set the unrealistic expectations.

Jonathan Togo’s character, Ryan Wolfe, continually shows up in the trendiest ensembles, complete with neck tie?  Since when?

Check out this little Gucci number Wolfe is sporting. 

Who pays the dry cleaning bill when the arterial spray lands on his lapel?


Television and entertainment has been painting these unrealistic perspectives for as long as they have existed.  We all know their portrayals are unrealistic, yet I still wonder to what degree repeated viewing continual bombards the subconscious and leaves us feeling like crap? 

Is it any wonder depression, anxiety, suicide and body image/eating disorders are rampant when we continually feed our minds with these impossible standards?

megalyn echikunwoke dr tara price csi miamiI will say that I was encouraged when the Wolfe character came out with his gambling addiction, and more recently, the new coroner Dr. Tara Price had her prescription drug problem revealed.

Yet all woven through the greater un-realities of shows like this.

(Note the dangling hair, hoop ear rings, perfect makeup, fashionable clothing, but just to keep it official, latex gloves.)

I am all for striving for the best.  My wife and I work hard in our careers, We keep fit, we work on our marriage and parenting, and we are grateful to enjoy many positive results.

Rarely are the realities of these real results meaningfully portrayed on shows like CSI Miami.  So rather than scoff at the un-realities and misrepresentations of life, we’re tuning out and focusing on real life and real success.

This gives us real growth and real happiness.




an alternative to self-pity.

May 10, 2009

Self-pity is sneaky and often invisible.  We often engage in it without a full awareness.male-in-self-pity-while-drinking-at-a-bar

Self-pity has snuck its way into my thinking and often expresses itself when I say or think…

  • This isn’t fair.
  • Why me?
  • You don’t understand.
  • He can’t speak to me that way.
  • I’ll show him.
  • Or the ultimate sneaky maneuvers of self-pity… exaggeration, sarcasm, and overstatement:
    • All I do is pay taxes
    • She never listens to me
    • My boss is a complete idiot
    • I am the only one who does any work around here
    • Nobody returns my calls

I am not saying that every time I say or think these things I am expressing self-pity.  I am saying that whenever I do say or think these things, it is a warning sign for me to check my heart for self pity.

Think about the times we are sarcastic, overstating or exaggerating.  Do we not often in doing so, point in the direction of self pity?  I believe we often, if not usually, do.

I post this because I have been falling into this trap lately.  I am under a lot of stress with some work issues and I find when in this kind of a circumstance, self-pity tries to sneak in.

By posting it, I am getting it out there.  Shining light on it. 

Fortunately, self-pity is like a mushroom.  Rooted in bullshit and growing in the dark.  So shining light on it usually kills it.

I find a good alternative to self pity and any of its representative statements is to just say, “this hurts”.  By doing so, we are not letting self pity take a legitimate hurt and amplify it into some elaborate creation.

If we just acknowledge the pain, we can then seek help to deal with the pain on a meaningful level.  By exaggerating or making other unrealistic statements, we are contorting manageable pain into unmanageable self-pity.

So I prefer to just leave things at “this hurts”, and then seek help in determining why and what to do next.





Stuck with one another?

May 9, 2009

“All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality”, Dr. Martin Luther King.martin luther king

This quote speaks clearly of the point that we are communal creatures and we cannot avoid being in “mutuality”, even if we wanted to.

Lets face it, we are herd animals.

Mutuality implies that there is reciprocal interaction and exchange between people. 

So does it not stand to reason that if we cannot get along with others, that we are kidding ourselves that we are functioning in  healthy ways?

Is there anyone who you consider to have a successful life but whose relationships suck?  So therefore, are relationships not key indicators of of emotional and spiritual health?

And if life is not about relationships, what is it about?




Thinkers think, talkers talk, provers prove.

May 5, 2009

Ever met anyone who lives in the world of ideas, theories, and words?  Yet does not spend much time in life living with real people and real circumstances? thinker

Typically people like this “live in their heads”.  They have little practical experience with how the complex ideas and theories they think about and read about actually apply in every day life.  They are theorists.  Academics.  Without the proving ground of real life.

I have a friend who is fixated on particular legal issues.  He is disabled so he spends his days researching these issues and arguing his complex theories on-line with others.  His pattern is read-think-argue.  But seldom live-experience-prove.

One day I got a glimpse of how impractical his life was.  I was giving him a ride  for which he, of course, printed out a map from mapquest and planned the “optimum route”.  This map to me represented his theory or idea of how we should get to our destination and of course not the practical truth of the journey.

Having practical knowledge of the area we were in… as I had driven in the area for many years… I pointed out that his map did not properly show a freeway that had no crossing where he anticipated.  Of course, he argued that the map (theory) said it did.

It actually took showing him to convince him that there was no crossing where he felt there should have been.  His theory was wrong.  It did not bear meaningfully in real life.

Upon closer examination of the map, it did show a thinning of the line over the freeway which proved to be a pedestrian overpass, not a vehicle overpass.

So we altered our route to the next clearly marked vehicle overpass.  Which I happened to know was under construction and suggested to him that I knew this from experience.  However, he was so prone to living by theories, he insisted we try this route shown on the map.  Once again, practical experience proved to show something different than the theory alone.

In both cases, the thoughts, theories, or arguments proved some level of truth.  Yet were incomplete in their practical application as my friend had thought they should be.  His theories were not tested in the real world.

I found as an alcoholic, one of the common thinking patterns was to theorize life in how it “ought to” be.  I lived in a world of impractical expectations and ‘shoulds’.  The problem I found was that I was partially right a lot of the time.  This partial correctness only served to cosign many of my misbelief so I remained stuck.

I find the argument hobbyists on the internet to be the same way.  Big on read and think.  Small on experience and prove.

It was not until the painful results of believing unproven truths hurt me enough to be willing enough to open my mind and accept that life existed beyond the confines of my thinking and theories.

Today I find that all the thinking and talking are incomplete without the living, and doing which result in proving.  Proving what the theories and thoughts actually are and how they apply to life as it is, not how I wish or imagine it to be. 

In learning this kind of open-mindedness, life is far less complicated.  I argue less with my self or anyone else and am happy to let God and life prove what is or isn’t.


The relationship dance?

May 3, 2009

pushmepullyouSomeone once referred to the patterns of a relationship as a dance.

The interactions, reactions, ways in which we respond to one another, … all of the habitual dynamics seem to form what can be described as a dance.

The dance I hate the most is the “Push-Me-Pull-You”. Named of course after the fictitious character from the original Dr. Doolittle movie from the 1960’s.

Fictitious, yes.  But one meaningful and telling feature of the fabricated photo is the look of dumb-oblivion on the two creatures’ faces.

Meaningful because the Push-Me-Pull-You dance is largely done on the unknowing level… and is done repeatedly, continuously.  We just get in a habit of acting and reacting with and to each other, often in ways that are like a continual taking from one another.  A continual effort to make our point or sway the other person to do what we think they should do.

Expecting someone else to change is always easier and less painful than looking at ourselves and doing the work to change our part.  This, I believe, is why blame tends to be our default.  It is subconscious pain avoidance and self-preservation.

Is this what any of us want in our relationships?  Probably not.  But do we not often live them out this way?  I know I can plead guilty to this to a large degree.  It just happens over time if we do not get help with our self-awareness. 

Another contributing factor is the propensity to blame.  It is easy to do and I experience it in all relationships.  If the first thing we think about in a relationship struggle is what the other person is doing wrong, then we are likely engaging in the PushMePullYou dance.

It is a hard habit to break.  But the reward is the ability to have functioning, satisfying relationships.

I say this because I am in the middle of some issues with my wife.  They are not big deal-busters, but they are painful and prolonged.  I find my first reaction is to think of how she should change.  I know this thinking pattern is not healthy.

So what I did today is shut off those thoughts and start calling around for some outside help.  I got “out of my head and into my fingers”.  I dialed the phone.

I first called an AA friend who is happily remarried for over 20 years and has gone through through huge challenges in his blended family relationship that they survived and thrived thereby.  His advice based on his experience was,

“As long as you and your wife are on opposing benches and blaming each other, the problems will never be solved. 

Getting on the same bench and solving the problem together, no matter which of you is the primary cause is the only way to do this without turning it into a blame battle”. 

So my next call was to the counselor that we had used in the past.  They are unavailable indefinitely, so I did something very simple…. I did a web search for all counselors in our geographic area and left messages for a half-dozen of them asking if I can do a brief introductory phone consultation given that I don’t know them and they don’t know me.

At least I have set the ball rolling to shorten the list of possibilities for counselors we can see in hope to find a good one.

None of these actions involved blaming my wife.  None of them involved self pity. 

All of them were “something different” than what my habitual thoughts and feelings wanted to do.  Growth invariably involves doing what we have not done before.  And usually starts with a few simple things we CAN do.  Like dialing a phone or doing a web search. 

Who knows what huge victories a few simple actions that are on today’s “Can Do” list will lead to.  These are seemingly tiny things but if I am grateful to be able to do them, then they can act as a gateway to the bigger part of the solution.

I just know that doing the same old thing, particularly blaming, will get us no where.  Likewise, doing nothing will get us nowhere.

Here’s to doing things differently.