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Steven Kalas

Lessons could be learned from ‘Philomena’

I see the film “Philomena” and I am deeply moved. So much so that I go home and spend several hours researching the true story of Philomena Lee. I’m able to sort history from the inevitable artistic license modern filmmakers cannot not indulge.

Making us lie down a prelude to our eventual death

I’m trying to enjoy my burrito supreme from Taco Bell while watching the back of Colin Kaepernick’s jersey as he runs away from Green Bay Packers toward another back-breaking first down. This effort in contradiction makes me irritable, and my fit of pique spills out to my Aussie shepherd, Kelly the Wonder Dog.

Therapy’s agenda is based solely on the patient’s needs

When someone is in therapy, should the therapist have an agenda or a curriculum after determining what the patient’s issue is/issues are? It seems that talking about what’s on the patient’s mind each week will only lead to a bunch of disjointed sessions and won’t lead to resolution of the underlying issue. Who should be in the driver’s seat during therapy? Who should determine the direction of the discussion? The patient or the therapist?

Parents always botch some aspect of child-rearing

Last Sunday’s column told a story the moral of which was essentially this: Never underestimate the power you have as a mother or father rearing a child. Whatever power you think you have, I promise you that the child’s view of you is bigger and more powerful than that!

We are all walking wounded

In my post-divorce dating career (two years), I’ve met at least three women (well-educated and in their 40s) who are still bearing significant open wounds caused in childhood by their fathers (just my opinion, but it seems pretty clear). It makes me think several things: 1. the incredible influence and power that parents have over their kid’s entire lives; 2. why are these educated, high-functioning people still carrying these wounds at this point in their lives? 3. what wounds am I walking around with from childhood? 4. what wounds am I inflicting on my kids? 5. most important, how can I help my kids overcome these inevitable wounds so their adulthoods won’t have very much anguish?

The spirit of Christmas lives on, even in fake branches

I’m sitting in the darkened room, illuminated only by the glowing lights of a Christmas tree. My Christmas tree. It’s peaceful. And provocative. It soothes me … and evokes melancholy. But, as odd as it might seem, I actually treasure the melancholy. Christmas is joyful but wistful, too. Hopeful but filled with poignant longing.

Expectations are the highest form of respect

Really appreciate your column of Dec. 4 ( … up until the final line, where respect is associated with having high expectations of others. If you respect them, you will have no expectations of them. Respect isn’t about imposing or judging. Those things are the opposite of respect. Respect is about honoring, listening, being open to who the person is right now. Expectations are a form of soft cruelty. They limit the person’s right to wake up as any form of person they choose. They chain a person to other peoples’ “expectations.” True respect is a form of love, of appreciation.

Suli Breaks' disdain for education saddening

He’s 19. A college guy. He is always on the cutting edge of the music emerging from his generation. I hardly ever talk to him but what he’ll say, “Listen to this.” And I like that. He’s one of the few people I trust to keep me appraised of emerging musical trends, given that I no longer trust commercial radio to keep me appraised.

Love others by respecting them, respecting yourself

As a writer, you spend your life hoping for the next pithy aphorism to spill out of your fingertips and onto the keyboard. The great one-liner that punches you in the face. Clear, concise, and colorful. But such literary gems don’t exactly parade two abreast through every paragraph. When they happen, it’s like magic. You more give thanks than take credit.

More back and forth on the Redskins issue

I recently engaged a reader’s question about the on-and-off controversy over the NFL name Redskins. P.T., a friend of both the reader (A.K.) and myself, responded. His letter, greatly edited for space, follows in bold face, with my rejoinders …

Thank God for giving us ways to express gratitude

In the eerie glow of my laptop, sitting in a cheap hotel in Green Bay, Wis., I pull up the file containing my last will and testament. It’s addressed to my beloved and to my children, whose duty shall be to execute it, should I encounter the Proverbial Bus.

It's never too early to do serious introspection

I’m 21 years old and came across (your column) ( ) about someone describing themselves as intense and overwhelming to other people. He was eternally disappointed that people felt he was too demanding, too hard to deal with, taking too much energy away from others. I’m writing you because I feel I have the exact problem this man had described to you. I’ve never read any advice targeting this so well. It felt very validating that someone out there, too, feels the same way.

A span of emotion and notes of grace between the gavels

I have a lawyer friend. A friend, that is, who just happens to be a lawyer. And she invites me to spend the morning at criminal court, observing. And I say “yes,” the same way I agree to a lot of things in life. At age 56, it’s not much different from when I was 6, and a boyhood friend said, “Wanna poke this stick into that ant pile?” Why, sure! I’ll have a go! Let’s see what happens!