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.
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Last Sunday I wrote a column I hoped would pay appropriate tribute to a great man, Nelson Mandela. He is an inspiration to me. To all of us.
My mom was a reader of your column. She even wrote to you a number of years back.
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
Really appreciate your column of Dec. 4 (tinyurl.com/m4sjxoj) … 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.
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.
I wanted to compliment you on today’s article (tinyurl.com/kgryauc). I especially liked Tony Gaskins’ quote: “You teach people how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop and what behavior you reinforce.”
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.
What an interesting array of letters I received in response to last Sunday’s column about the tragic death of Jeremiah …
I’m looking at a photo of me, age 6, and two childhood friends. In the picture, I am lying on the floor, watching television, head hanging from the far left edge of a pillow. That’s because I’m sharing the pillow with my two friends, Mokey and Coco.
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 …
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.
I’m 21 years old and came across (your column) ( http://www.reviewjournal.com/steven-kalas/intense-personality-may-simply... ) 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.
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!
I found myself reading another article today on the Internet about how the (National Football League franchise) Washington Redskins have a racial slur as a name. I have been watching this story for a while now, and I honestly thought it would die out by now. I’m am curious as to why, as the years go by, I see more and more special interest groups making huge fusses about small issues. I mean, come on, I have been watching football since I was a very young boy. I was always aware of the term “redskin” as a derogatory term used toward Native Americans in the past but never once thought to myself that the Washington Redskins football team had any motive to name their team the Redskins in order to put down or taunt the Native Americans of the United States. I honestly feel that with each generation passing, the skin of our children gets thinner and thinner. Pretty soon you won’t be able to do anything without offending some small special interest group.
My first season with the Nevada Youth Football League is coming to a close this week. Not mine, actually; rather, Joseph’s first season. Age 11. I’m just the dad standing on the sideline. But it’s been a wonderful ride for me, too. To quote my little sister, herself a mother of two boys, “The only thing better than scratching something off your bucket list is watching your children scratch something off their bucket list.”
Many wives are mean to their husbands. And I’m not talking about lazy, abusive or selfish husbands. I’m talking about men who are devoted to their wives, who work honorable jobs to support their families, who go out of their way to try to please, often conceding their own wishes to keep the peace, and who are good fathers and good citizens. But instead of appreciating this kind of husband, they make undercutting remarks, often in front of peers. They demand more help around the house, then criticize or belittle the manner in which tasks are completed. They want them to be involved fathers but they attack their methods of playing with or caring for the children. They freeze their husbands out of their beds because they feel if their husbands wanting to have sex with them means they’re just depraved pigs who only want their selfish “needs” met. These are the same women who, likely during their courtship, went to great lengths to procure a proposal and a ring from just such a man. To what end? To ultimately create an atmosphere of resentment in the home she was bent on creating with him?
They arrive at my office in conflict. He has taken serious umbrage. She is terrified of his umbrage. Wounded and made sick by it. “I am sick of not being trusted,” he says. He is deeply offended.
Last Sunday’s column ( “To ‘affair proof’ marriage, stay connected,” Oct. 21, Las Vegas Review-Journal) was inspired by a website touting extramarital affairs as an alternative to divorce. I noted the irony of “preserving” the institution of marriage by diluting its meaning.
For every email I receive from an inquiring, appreciative, or unhappy reader, I get 30, 40, sometimes 50 unsolicited solicitations from public relations or media marketing firms using language like “I was wondering if you were working on a story …”
Recently, you recommended finding a good grief counselor to one of your readers. How do we find someone like you and not someone like I saw? Two weeks after my husband’s death, I was sent by my primary care doctor to see the grief counselor at my HMO. When I tried to choke out words to tell her how scared and sad I was feeling, she jumped up, went over to her tote bag and pulled out a CD, saying, “This is what you need. It will help you with all your sadness and fears. Just turn it on by your bed as you are going to sleep.” Did she really think I was going to listen to a CD in my sleep without knowing what’s on it? She said, “At first you’ll hear celestial music, followed by a lovely celestial voice.” She would introduce herself as my Fairy Godmother and tell me she was there to take away all my fears and replace them with peace and happiness. I swear on a stack of C notes that is exactly what she said.
As I often do before a speaking gig, I call my contact once, twice, three times to ask the same question: “How long do I have to speak?”
When is a person ready to leave counseling? What do they need to learn or achieve or grow toward? What about someone who is in counseling for an extended period, longer than what should be needed for whatever issue they have?
When the American colonialists united to say a decisive “No!” to British rule, they flew several flags under and around Old Glory. Anchors. Eagles. Minutemen standing over the banner “Give me liberty, or give me death.”
When is a person ready to leave counseling? What do they need to learn or achieve or grow toward? — T.F., Detroit, Michigan