Archive for February, 2011

Valentine’s Day: What Does It Mean to You? Others Responses Are…

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

     The Hallmark calendar tells us that February 14 is the day to celebrate our romantic relationship.  We are to celebrate with cards, flowers, dinner, chocolates, jewelry, etc… What does Valentine’s day mean to you?  In what direction does your Cupid arrow fly? Or, did you lose the arrow?

     I’ve asked a number of Lake Oconee residents what they plan to do on this most special romantic day of the year.  Some of the responses follow.  No names will be used but you may recognize your neighbor in one or two of the responses.

  1. “My husband doesn’t have a romantic bone in his body.  If he remembers he’ll probably get me a new dust buster”.


  1. “My wife expects too much.  I can’t please her no matter what I do.  She’s too high maintenance. I gave it up four years ago”.


  1. “I avoid it.  I don’t have anyone special in my life. I’ll watch some X rated videos that night and fantasize under the covers”.


  1. “Single women get needy that day.  I’m going to pick up a chick at Hooters and bring her and a twelve pack to my apartment for some valentine fun.”


  1. “I’m going to spend the night with George Clooney (video), now that he’s single, and three bowls of ice cream.  I’ll feel good”!


  1. “I’m going to put on my Victoria Secret teddy, slip some Viagra in his champagne, give him a full body massage, and get some lovin’ – I’m horny”.


  1. “Valentine’s day is a good reminder that I am fortunate to have this special person in my life. I love her dearly.  I want to show her that in a very special way”. (Alright, I’ll confess, this one is mine)


     Any of these responses fit you?

     I hope you are one of the lucky persons who has a romantic relationship in your life and that you will celebrate it in a way that makes your loved one feel valued and special.  If no romantic partner is available, may you give all of that love in your heart to someone else special to you.         Happy Valentine’s Day!

What Touches Your “Soul”? Transcendent Moments

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

To be fully alive a person seeks to reach one’s zenith, one’s full potential.  Psychologist Abraham Maslow wrote of a human being’s hierarchy of needs.  At the apex of his need hierarchy was self-actualization, transcendence.  Most people do not attain that fullness of life, but do have experiences that give a taste of what that level of experience is.  All of us have a need to reach beyond ourselves, to touch the sublime.  The road varies from individual to individual.  Over the years I have asked people what touches their soul, takes them to a higher plane.  Some of those answers follow – the sublime and the irreverent.  Each is given an opportunity to be heard.

My wedding day/night.  Birth of my child. “Amazing Grace” done reverently.   A moving meditation. Walking on the beach at the ocean.   Joan Baez singing “Kumbaya”.   Marital coupling.    A solemn National anthem. Runner’s “high”.    My pastor’s sermon. My child snuggled in my lap.  A quiet night under the stars. Pavarotti “hitting it”.    My hole in one. Chipper Jones hitting it.   Sea Dream in the Greek Isles. A Pot “hit”.   My dog’s greeting at the door. My child’s wedding.       My first grandchild. Michelangelo’s David.   A tantric moment. Sunrise.    Sunset. Out on the lake.    Snuggling close to my spouse. Overlooking Lake Tahoe on skiis.   My parent’s passing. Reflections at a friend’s funeral.     Organ playing in an Italian cathedral.  A cold Bud after tennis.  Receiving Communion.   A touching cinema moment.   Optimism about recovery.  Acts of kindness.  Solitudinous solar exposure.  Sensual symphony.  Country music.Feeling God’s loving presence.    Packers winning the Super Bowl (Guess who?!)

Obviously people have a variety of experiences and verbalizations relative to the question of “what touches your soul?”  Which ones speak to you?  What would others be that are unique to you?  Share them with someone who is special to you.  It could be an interesting conversation, and, more importantly, lead to another soul touching moment.

Guilt Can Be Very Destructive!

Saturday, February 5th, 2011

     Guilt – self imposed or inflicted by others – can be a destructive weapon.  Now, before any of you who may be self- righteous or feel that I may be encouraging sociopathic, or non remorseful, behavior, read on.

     Guilt has been, and is, used by some parents, teachers, preachers, as well as certain religious or cultural institutions to control and manipulate people and their behavior. A guilt- ridden person is a shell of a person, feeling unworthy and incapable of loving.

     I grew up Catholic and many of the priests and nuns did their best to assure me that I should feel guilty and may go to Hell if I ate meat on Friday, masturbated (solo sex is a nicer term), touched the Eucharist with my fingers, used birth control, had sex outside of marriage, etc…  Fortunately the confession box was nearby to save my soul.

     Thank God I spent five years in the seminary where I had the opportunity to study moral theology and Church history so that I could learn where some of these odd teachings developed.  These were enlightening and freeing years.  “The Truth shall set you free.”

     In my experience as a priest in Decatur I remember well people coming to confession every Saturday and confessing their “sins” from many years ago.  One woman in particular would say, “Forgive me Father, I let a boy touch my breast fifty two years ago.”  She still felt guilty.

     Certainly there are actions that are wrong and deplorable.  People need to learn to do the right and moral thing.  Sometimes people fail, and they need guidance, as well as suffering the consequence for wrongful acts.  Punishment has its place.

     Some people like to judge, criticize, and guiltify others  It makes them feel good.  As long as they can put someone else down, they can feel superior and righteous.  They forget that there is but one Judge, and that all of us have a speck or two in our own eye.

     If you screw up, say you are sorry, ask forgiveness, and move on.  If you are a person who continually feels guilty, forgive yourself.  Then let it go.  The baggage of guilt is heavy indeed. I find way too many people in my practice have great difficulty in forgiving themselves and letting go.  They continue to put themselves down because of mistakes made in the past.  Tough to go forward when your head is turned backdward!

     Each of us would be better served by looking in the mirror and seeing the likeness of someone created in the Image of Love – and continue to strive to evolve into a person who is a full participant in that Spirit.

Question: Who feel the most guilt – Baptists, Catholics, or Jews?  (e-mail me your opinion)

Loneliness: Does It Work For You or Against You?

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

     Loneliness is one of the most pervasive pains in our society.  Yet, “I’m feeling lonely” are words shared infrequently between people.  There is a certain uncomfortableness and negative connotation associated with being lonely.  Loneliness is very personal.

                                             “Have You Ever Been Lonely?”

Most of us remember the song, most of us have experienced various episodes of loneliness.  Pause for a moment, reflect on your loneliest times.  Where were you?  Why were you lonely?  What were the circumstances of your life at that time?  What did you do about your loneliness?  Perhaps:

You were married, unhappily, and both of you were sitting together – disconnected       Christmas, your birthday, Valentines – and no special person to share it with.

The day of your divorce; you went, and felt, alone.

You came home from work, tired and frustrated, or you just got a raise, and nobody was there to share it with.                                                                                              

 Your last child went off to college; the “empty nest syndrome” was felt.

Sitting in a lounge wishing someone would say “how are you?” – and mean it.

A loved one passed on, resulting in an empty heart.

Sunday afternoon, you are alone and thinking “everyone else is with a caring someone”


“Feelings” is another song that evokes emotion.  Loneliness exists, accompanied by a myriad of feelings – depression, anger, fear, hurt and isolation.  Negative, hurtful feelings can lead to disastrous consequences.  Oftentimes, people cope with loneliness in very self-defeating ways.  They build “fences” around themselves so that they are not vulnerable to another person.  They turn to the “unconditional love” of pets instead of people. They do not let anyone love them so they eat or smoke too much, turn to drugs, drown their sorrows with alcohol, do emotionless “one-nighters.”  The malls and movies get their share of people killing time, hiding with the masses.   Television helps dull the empty feelings of loneliness.

                                            “Bridge Over Troubled Waters”

There is a bridge over these painful waters of loneliness.  Loneliness actually can be a unique springboard to expand self-understanding, personal growth, and happiness.  Enhanced self worth, personal responsibility, creativity, and spirituality all can result from loneliness – if a person will do the necessary introspection.  Loneliness is not to be run away from, rather it is to be fully embraced.

     Clark Moustakas, in a wonderful book entitled LONELINESS, says “ loneliness is within life itself, and all creations in some way spring forth from solitude, meditation, and isolation.”  These moments “give an individual the opportunity to draw upon untouched capacities and resources and to realize oneself in an entirely unique manner.”  Loneliness is a necessary condition for developing one’s full potential of personhood.

You must be able to be alone with yourself, independent, before you can truly connect at a deep level with another.  Otherwise you have a needy co-dependent relationship that will run out of gas and result in greater loneliness.

     Being alone, sometimes lonely, and taking responsibility for one’s own existence and ultimate happiness is terrifying for some, freeing and challenging to others. Accept the opportunity for growth and loneliness will be a facilitating ally.

 “You come into this world alone, you go out alone.  Along the way you hold hands with various people, for different periods of time, in varying degrees of intimacy, but ultimately, you are alone”