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Steven Kalas

Leaving life, reminding others to treasure theirs

Four years of my professional life were spent working in hospice. Director of bereavement and pastoral care. Simply put, four of the best years of my life. Creative, energizing and a daily learning curve. A downer? Absolutely not! Quite the opposite. More hopeful, inspirational, meaningful.

Breaking down, repairing and rebuilding

I fell in love with basketball at a summer baseball camp at Northern Arizona University. I was 8 years old. We happened by the gym during “free time,” and I found myself in a pickup game. It was like I’d played this game in a previous life. I became impassioned.

Love happens in a flash; keeping it gets tricky

First love is a life-changing experience. It happens to most people in adolescence. I waited a bit longer, 22 years old when I, by way of introduction, hit a sunbathing Gamma Phi Delta with a Frisbee. Actually, my friend threw the fateful disc, he and I on a wide expanse of grass behind the chapel at Southern Methodist University, living large and youthful in the spring sunshine.

Knowing difference between complaint, criticism

I can’t get sloppy or casual with this guy. His brain is smart, thorough and relentless. He’s a bit intense, but so am I, so maybe we’re a good fit. He wants nothing more (and nothing less) than to be a good human being. And, someday, he’d like to be a good mate and life partner in a terrific relationship.

Western religion breeding ground of neurosis

Cousin 1 says he believes the guilt his Catholic family taught him was important for his emotional development. Cousin 2 disagrees. She says that same family’s teachings about guilt did nothing to enhance her inner voice for right and wrong. Interesting discussion. But, when I get caught eavesdropping, they toss the debate in my lap.

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.