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Entries from December 2007

12 Relationship Rules for the New Year

Relationships are powerful in our life. Good ones can help us thrive and reach heights of happiness, depths of fulfillment and help make our wildest dreams a reality. Bad ones have the opposite effect. They can destroy the soul; deplete our energy, self-worth and resources. Medium ones have the potential to be good and those are the ones that can benefit from therapy...as long as both partners are committed to making the effort.

Try out these rules if you're in a relationship that could benefit from a little improvement. Print them out or email a copy to your partner and promise each other that you'll follow the rules. It's a great opportunity for the New Year.

1. I’ll face my emptiness; you need not fill me up.

2. I will trust, and I’ll tell you when I don’t.

3. I will be there; you can count on me.

4. I will tell you if I’m leaving.

5. I will let you know my thoughts and feelings to the extent that it is possible.

6. I will be vulnerable with you as often as I can.

7. I will disagree, and I’ll stay when I do and I’ll say when I do.

8. I will comment on my reality. I can speak aloud about what I see and hear.

9. I will take the consequences for what I say and do.

10. I'll be receptive to giving and taking.

11. I promise to respect your struggles and have compassion for yours as well as for my own.

12. I shall understand that my needs for intimacy may be different from yours and I can respect and rejoice that you have found your own creative expression.

(Rules are from “Rules for Relationships” tape by Marilyn Mason, Ph.D. April 17, 1990)

The Greatest Gift I ever Received: 4 Tips for Perfect Gift-Giving

The holiday season is here and the calendar isn't the only thing reminding us that Christmas is around the corner. There are more coupons and sales catalogs in my mailbox than bills and credit card offers (okay, maybe there's more of those too). The other night a friend announced their horror with going to the mall. It took them a whole hour and half just to get out of the parking lot. We all shuddered. Yes, Christmas is here and, whether you celebrate it or not, you can't seem to escape it anywhere. Amidst all of this hustle and bustle, I began reflecting on gift-giving and defining a formula for picking out the perfect gift for someone. It's subjective, but here's what I came up with for this blog...

First, I asked myself what was the greatest gift I ever received? A smile crept over my face as I recalled several fond gifts through the years. One was a book given to me by my parents when I was young. It was "Fifty Years of the Movies." I was an old movie buff and the gift made my soul sing. How did they know? I didn't even know to ask for such a thing. Another gift was a long white coat that I had seen in a store window. It wasn't even a special occasion. The giver just remembered how I admired it. Another was a surf board on Christmas morning a few years ago. I had no idea that I would get it and I almost fainted when I saw it. I LOVE the ocean and TRYING to surf. It was gorgeous and I squealed for joy (literally!). But my most favorite of all are the hand-written notes and handmade cards from my daughter. I have kept every one of them she ever made. I cherish her handwriting (especially watching how it has changed as she's grown up) and her most loving words. Yes, I even cry with joy. So, do these recollections create a formula? I think so.

My parents noticed my interests (even before I could define them...I didn't even realized that I drawn to old movies). They saw my soul and selected something that I would like. The bonus is they paid attention to me and my interests. It wasn't a situation where I had to tell them what I like. Point #1: Get something that the person has a special interest in or is drawn toward.

The second memory was about my white coat. I saw it in a window and loved it. It wasn't even a special occasion. Point #2: Select items that the person noticed...and don't be afraid to share surprises randomly!

The third point relates to the surf board. Am I a good surfer? NO. In fact, if someone was going to give me something I was "good" at, I'd get walking shoes and silverware for eating (practical, but boring). Point #3: Get them what they want to learn to do, not just what they're currently good at doing.

The last memory--my favorite--is from my daughter. She is the joy of my life. She's also my purpose. Anything she gives me is great because it's from her. She's also an EXCELLENT gift-giver because she knows all of these points. Point #4: Keep tending to those special relationships in your life because those are the gifts that keep on giving!

Happy Holidays to all!

Benefits of Alone Time

In this fast-paced, productive-driven society, it is easy to forget to take time for yourself. I'm talking about REAL alone time too, not time spent watching TV, perusing the Internet or playing video games. It's time with yourself where you can get reconnected with your soul. It's daydreaming, meditating, walking outside and smelling the flowers (or feeling the cool wind on your face in this weather). It's critical to get connected with yourself in such a manner, yet we often overlook the benefits of such time...putting it off to do something else that seems more important at the time. But we lose--and we lose BIG--if we don't take the time, for it's during these times that our hearts tell us how we feel, what we want and where we want to go. It's like a retreat or a board meeting with your soul that has lasting health and spiritual benefits. That's why the ORIGINAL definition for "alone" was "all one". Taking alone time helps you become ALL ONE in spirit, body and mind. It guides you to a life of congruence...and quite frankly, makes my job unnecessary.

How to Move on from War

An anniversary arrives tomorrow. But it's a grim one--December 7th. Pearl Harbor was bombed and the U.S. entered WWII. President Franklin D. Roosevelt called it "a date that will live in infamy."

How does a world get over the grief of the atrocities that happened in WWII? There are SO MANY victims and so much UNPROCESSED grief that gets handed down through the generations like genetic predispositions to diseases. We can heal by remembering the events and learning from the stories. For instance, The Shoah Foundation does an excellent job capturing moving accounts from Holocaust survivors and their families. We can honor them by listening and remembering and grieving the pain.

There is a caveat though.

Anger can fill us up along with a desire to take revenge when we hear of such unjust attacks on humankind. However, in order to truly achieve peace, our primal instinct to fight back needs to be checked by our higher level of reasoning. If not, we run the risk of perpetual escalation and nonstop violence. That's why we listen to the stories. We learn the lessons from the past and try not to repeat them. Remember the definition of insanity is doing the same behavior and expecting different results.

Remember. Grieve. And don't repeat.