Archive for May, 2012

What You Don’t Say Sends a Message! What is the Non-verbal Message?

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Insight of the week: communication between people, especially spouses, is challenging.  Anybody disagree?  And the most complex of all is when you say nothing – because you are saying something.  Non verbal communication is most potent because the real message is subject to misinterpretation. Therefore, be very clear with what you don’t say.  Make sense?  Stay with me.

Non verbal communication can be positive and effective or negative and destructive.  Better be sure which form you use.

A sampling of some negative-destructive communication would include:

1. Roll of the eyes.

2. Glare.

3. Smug look.

4. Shake of the head.

5. Tongue stick out (that’s really cheesy).

6. Slap.

7. Back turn.

8. Walk away.

9. Your IQ finger pointed upward.

10. Frown.

11. Sneer.

12. Etc…

Do you or someone important to you use any of these non-verbals?

Needless to say this blog attempts to encourage the positive and eliminate the negative.  Have you heard the song “When you say nothing at all” by Allison Krauss? Some of the lyrics include:

“It’s amazing how you can speak to my heart.

Without saying a word you can light up the dark.

Try as I may I could never explain

What I hear when you don’t say a thing.


The smile on your face lets me know that you need me.

There’s a truth in your eyes sayin’you’ll never leave me.

The touch of your hand says you’ll catch me if ever I fall.

You say it best when you say nothing at all.”

May I suggest some positive non verbal messages:

1. Loving eyes

2. Warm look

3. Smile

4. Hug

5. Tender touch

6. Welcoming body

7. Enthusiastic greeting

8. A cuddle

9. Sensual Embrace

10. Fabulous love making

11. You add your own special positive non verbal

May you do your best to convey a positive message with your non verbal communication style.  It may be helpful to ask the other person what s/he receives from you when you are not saying anything.  Attunement and congruent non verbal communication make for a productive connection!


“The unexamined life is not worth living”   Socrates

Your Child “Moves On”: A Tear Falls. Life Continues

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

You love your child.  You give your heart and soul to him or her in the process of child rearing.  The emotions of deep love, occasional disappointment or anger, run deep.  After all this is YOUR child!

I would like to focus here on a particular phenomenon.  This is related to your adult/child.  It is about the emotions felt when your adult/child leaves home to go to college, the military, or to begin a life on his or her own in the work force.  Do you remember moving him or her into the dorm or apartment?  You now have an empty bedroom – and to some degree an empty heart.  That is not to say that there is some relief from the watchful eye and rigors of parenting.

Our son Kris and daughter Brittany come to visit us with some regularity.  Our son lives in Atlanta, our daughter in Mooresville, NC.  Both share busy lives with their respective spouses, Cara and David.  We love it when they take time to come and visit with us.  We share the experience well – catching up, boating and golfing, special dinners, etc… Time is well spent and flies by.

And then it is time for them to leave.  A warm prolonged hug, exchanged “I love you”s, and a final wave.  The car pulls out of the driveway, the front door closes.  A sad feeling comes over me.  Tears well up, as they do now when I write this. I do what I can to stifle this melancholy.  It isn’t easy.  Part of my heart is in that car that just drove away.

I know that it is not just me feeling this.  I’ve exchanged misty eyes with my wife on such occasions.  When I have visited my mother I have seen her moistened eyes which she
tries to conceal, and then releases the tears behind the closed door.

I shared my recent experience with my daughter when we met up for dinner not too long ago. Her empathic eyes welled up as she told me she had similar waves of sadness as she drives away.  She said we have such a close family and she misses not being with us as often since she moved toCharlotte.

Dear Reader, do you know what I am talking about?  Have you experienced this phenomenon?  If not you have missed the bittersweet experience that emanates from a loving
relationship with your child.  If you have had the experience then you know what I am writing about.

The wave of sadness is of short duration usually.  Life and emotions move on as the present reality of everyday existence emerges.  It is these occasional experiences that remind me, and you, of the deep love we have for our children.  We are so fortunate!


“Stuff Happens”: How Do You Handle “Bad News”?

Saturday, May 19th, 2012

Periodically in life you get “bad news” – a kick in the teeth that you did not expect. The painful message may be related to your health, relationship, career, children, parents, finances or whatever.  The news can touch the very fiber of your being  – emotionally/spiritually. A kick in the head!

Over the years I have witnessed many responses to “bad news”, both personally and professionally.  I have tried to share in people’s pain and attempted to help them make the best choice possible under the prevailing circumstances.  Always there are choices.

Often people blame as a first response.  The list of those blamed may include God, spouse, boss, family, friend, etal.  Often related to blame is anger which is usually aimed at one of the above mentioned culprits.  And then there are those who sink down into fear and depression as a response to the “bad news”.   “Woe is me” and the pity party begins and, sometimes, never ends. “Life is not fair!”

There is no question that the “bad news” is painful, often excruciatingly so. As you experience life over time there are many hurtful moments.  What counts for survival and ultimate satisfaction in life is how you respond to these hurts. What are some of the more positive responses that could be chosen?

Let me remind you of some cliché’s that you have probably heard and may serve as motivators:

“If life hands you lemons, make lemonade”

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going”

“When one door closes, another door opens”

(One that I can’t stand is: “This must be part of God’s plan; it is not for us to try and understand it”.  This is a ridiculous platitude that somehow suggests that God zaps into the universe picking out certain people to hurt for the purpose of  ?  Sure, that’s what the God of Love does!)  A more realistic statement is:  “S___ Happens”  (the missing letters are tuff, in case you were wondering about the bumper sticker cliché’) Some things have no
explanation that makes sense.

Attitude, focus, and behavior adjustment are important responses to the “bad news” You cannot change the “bad news” once it has arrived.  Hopefully you can be pro-active in doing things that will minimize further “bad news” from arriving and prepare yourself to move forward.

A therapeutic response, if at all possible in the recovery from shock period, is to focus on the “good news” that exists in your life.  What are the positives
that exist in your life?  Who are the loving people who care for you and are there to support you through this travail? What good things make up your life? I encourage you to write down these things.  Such attention to them can gradually shift your focus from suffering to gratitude.  Most people have many factors in their life that are positive and help them to “change the channel” from present despair to hope for the future.

Yes, illness, divorce, death of a loved one, spousal-parents-kids, health, and financial issues do bring “bad news” sometimes and such news can drop us to our knees for a spell.  But the person of faith and resilience gets up and challenges life’s headwinds with new resolve – grateful to be alive and have more opportunities to experience the “good stuff” available for those who are able to move ahead.  Hopefully you have, or will develop, that capability!

Doubt: Got It? Want It? Capable of It? Scarey?

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Did you ever see the movie “DOUBT” starring Meryl Streep.  Riveting.  It had many Oscar nominations. It has a great story line and incredible acting. It impacted me in several thought-provoking ways. How about you?  Have you seen it?  Your reaction?

DOUBT is a personal movie for me.  I have lived much of the way of life portrayed in the film. I grew up Catholic.  I was an altar boy (filled the cruets and sneakily tasted the altar wine); was slapped around by the nuns (but got my grammar correct); became a priest (tried to bring love and compassion to a stodgy church while never touching an altar boy).

In the seminary for five years I studied the Bible and how it was formed, Christian History, denominational spin offs,  and how Dogma and Church practices were developed – all emanating from the simple teachings of Jesus. As I learned more I moved from the faith certainty of my youth (“Yes, Father”) to the doubt of my seminary trained adulthood.

One of the themes of the movie was tolerance.  Tolerance invites openness, freedom to explore, and non judgment of others who may live a different form of existence or belief system.  It is the opposite of intolerance – dogmatically proclaiming truth and condemning those who differ.  Some people are threatened by DOUBT, their own or that of others.  Their fear leads them to resort to the safety net of rigidity.  They have “hardening of the categories”. Their motto is “don’t confuse me with the facts”.

Faith is a wonderful thing to have – as long as you understand that faith is a “leap” (as the Protestant theologian Kierkegaard taught). Faith has no certainty or logic about it.  It is a belief – a hope – that something exists. It cannot be objectively proved. (Confer Merriam – Webster dictionary)

Doubt is to be sanctioned and encouraged in a free and diverse society.  It, hopefully, means a person does not take things for granted, buy into something just because s/he was told that XYZ is true.  Gullibility can lead to painful consequences. Doubters can be searchers after truth – open to dialogue and greater understanding. Unfortunately doubters can also be dogmatic, which is oxymoronic behavior.

In the film a man was judged, vilified, gossiped about by a dogmatic woman who “leaped” to a conclusion based on her “intuition”.  She ruined his life and noble ministry and in the end cried as she expressed her “DOUBT”.

And you, respected reader, do you have doubt in regard to any facet of your life – in  whatever or whomever you have faith?  God, Church, denominations, institutions, your
fellow human beings, individual people?  What do you believe?  Who do you believe in?  Are you tolerant, a seeker finding your own beliefs and practices?

The movie DOUBT is provocative and invites reflection on many levels.  My hope is that this article suggests the same to you – the freedom to doubt – and not judge (“There is only one Judge” – and you ain’t it!) as you come to conclusions about what is right for you to believe and live faithfully – and, perhaps, even share with other seekers of truth who may also be free enough to DOUBT.

“The unexamined life  is not worth living”    Socrates

“The Gift of the Mentor”: Given or Received. Have You Had That Opportunity?

Sunday, May 13th, 2012

A mentor is someone who believes in you, sees your potential, and offers encouragement andadvice.  S/he can be invaluable iassisting another person to reach his or her goal.


I was fortunateto have had one.  When I was finishing myMasters degree at Georgia State University an esteemed professor, Dr. KenMatheny, impacted my life.  He asked meif I might be interested in the Doctoral program.  I was taken aback, yet flattered, by hisinquiry. He encouraged me to apply.  was fortunate to be accepted and then I chose him as my major professor.  In that role he guided me, sometimeschastised me, on through the completion of my Ph.D.  I will always be grateful to this person.


At this time serveas a Mentor toa number of people and feel honored to do so.Assisting individuals in assessing their potential, seeing options thatmay be available, clarifying choices, realizing consequences, and making wisedecisions is a privilege and responsibility I value.


Too many peoplethink they know more than they do.  Theydo not want to be confused with facts and options.  Stubbornness and false ego also presentobstacles to good decision-making regarding their next step.


What challenges are before you at this developmental stage of your life?  Is a new direction needed in your life: health, dating, marriage, family, career, financial, recreational, spiritual?  What is your need? A competent caring mentor may well assist you to positively move forward.


If you have had a mentor in the past, perhaps you want to again thank him or her for the contribution made to your life.  Perhaps you are a person who is capable of mentoring someone else.  You might want to make yourself available. Everyone has a gift or talent to share in order to assist another.  What might be your gift?