Archive for December, 2012

“I Know I’m Going Nowhere and Anywhere’s a Better Place to be”

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

The above words were penned and sung by the folk story teller Harry Chapin. Chapin was a master at creating songs that spoke of the human condition.  His most famous song probably was “Cat’s in the Cradle”, one that most every adult man knows. The titled verse comes from the song, “A better place to be”. It was a tragedy that he died so young.  In a “better place”?

The year 2013 is opening up with its annual beckoning to you and me regarding what we are going to do to make our lives better in the upcoming year. In order to go forward you need to know where you are and, thus, what might well be improvement. So, respected reader, I ask the question, “where are you in your overall well being?”  Are you “nowhere” or “anywhere” or are you clear-headed, focused, and intentional as to what you are doing in your life? Do you have a positive direction leading to optimal being with regard to your life’s plan as you create a “life worth living”?

If you are “nowhere” or “anywhere” what might you do to get to the “somewhere” of your liking” When I work with individuals or couples I start out with a simple analysis consisting of different categories of life’s existence evaluated on a ten point scale. On the scale zero is “the pits” and ten is “heavenly bliss”. The client is to answer each of the following with a number somewhere between zero and ten.  The categories consist of:

  1. Overall happiness with all things considered
  2. Marriage (if married); romantic involvement (if single)
  3. Sex ( quantity and quality)
  4. Parenting satisfaction
  5. Career satisfaction
  6. Overall health
  7. Life style
  8. Financial
  9. Spiritual
  10. Others, if applicable

I invite you to answer with your own numerical assessment. Then ask yourself why you came up with that number. Perhaps there is an area or two that could help move you from “nowhere” or “anywhere” to “somewhere” desirable as you go forward into the next year with an optimistic attitude and pragmatic game plan.  If you are able to do that you will have a


“The unexamined life is not worth living”    Socrates

Holiday Weight Gain? Try a Healthy Slice of Life Style!

Wednesday, December 26th, 2012

How did your waistline survive the holidays? Gain a few? Do you sometimes, or often, struggle to take a healthy control of your eating?  Eat too much?  Binge?  Eat the “wrong” foods?  Obsess over your weight? Bulimic/Anorexic? Resigned to being fat? What are your thoughts going forward into a new year? What might be some of the psychological reasons that you are challenged in such an essential part of your daily existence? For as you know, “you are what you eat”!

Susan Biali, M.D., states that she “was obsessed with dieting and calorie-counting, which turned into compulsive eating and a powerful addiction to sugary fatty goods in my 20’s and 30’s – even though I had both a medical degree and a degree in Dietetics (Human Nutrition). It takes more than knowledge to develop a healthy approach to eating”.  Since then Dr. Biali has studied “the roots of compulsive eating patterns.”  She lists “five reasons why you can’t control your eating”.  Any of these fit you, Respected Reader?

  1. YOU CAN’T TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HUNGER AND APPETITE: Before you eat, do you ask yourself if you are really hungry? Where is the urge to eat coming from – your stomach or your mind? Can you tell the difference? Will something healthy suffice?
  2. YOU LET YOUR MOOD PUSH YOU TOWARDS FOOD: The next time you reach for something too sweet, salty or fatty, ask yourself what you are feeling. Are you sad, bored, or stressed?
  3. AT THE SUPERMARKET, YOU LET YOURSELF BUY THINGS THAT SABOTAGE YOU: Make a pact with yourself not to buy problem foods when you are out shopping for groceries.
  4. YOU DON’T PAY ATTENTION WHEN YOU HIT FULL: Eat slowly and continue to monitor yourself to see if you are getting full.  Then quit!
  5. YOU DON’T GET ENOUGH SLEEP: If you get less than seven hours sleep a night your brain actually starts producing appetite-stimulating hormones, and you’ll feel hungrier throughout the day.  Lack of sleep also affects your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar and can make you susceptible to diabetes.

Okay, now that you have gotten tips on you to control your eating habits, let’s turn to learning how to eat healthily. It is one thing to not eat the “wrong” things or eat too much. It is another challenge to eat the “right” things that help you to be maximally healthy – physically, emotionally, and mentally.

Personally, besides my wife who does a great job of managing our diet, I am particularly inspired, motivated, and directed toward healthy eating by a person who is very special to me. She is a certified Fitness Instructor and certified Life Style and Weight Management Consultant.  She also is a expert food blogger. The special person is our daughter, Brittany, whose web site of inspiration and knowledge is  AHEALTHYSLICEOFLIFE.COM. (Get the title tie in?) Her company is N.E.W. Lifestyle (New, Exercise,Wellness).  Brittany has thousands of people reading her blog because it is filled with information, humor, and pictures to motivate healthy eating. I invite you to take a daily peek at her web site and see if you can benefit from such a daily dose.  Many people in my practice have begun to do so and report positive results in their eating and overall life style habits. May you also benefit!

Bon appétit!

Christmas Memories Leave a Significant Imprint on You!

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

The Christmas season is in full bloom. Decorations are up, colorful lights sparkle in neighborhoods and Christmas songs fill the airways.  Jesus and Santa vie for attention.

Christmas holidays past and present are impactful.   Holiday memories are some of the most basic and powerful of your existence.  Holidays are about FAMILY- the starting point and most important influencers of who you are as a person.

Family experiences, and their consequent memories, are extremely impactful on your emotional life.  They dramatically affect how you experience the holidays year after year.  Also, holiday emotions are the “tip of the  iceberg” for related emotions affecting your life even when you do not know it.  Emotions are the primary energy of interpersonal relationships.

Ask yourself, what is your gut feeling about the holidays?  Are they feelings of joy and excitement or of melancholy and depression.  Do you want to celebrate or isolate? Perhaps they are a period of blocked feelings. If you are a person who looks forward to and welcomes the holidays, you probably had a happy childhood within your family.  There probably was a lot of love, caring, fun, and thoughtful gifts present in your household.  You probably are continuing valued family traditions.

You may, however, be one of those persons who did not have a positive experience growing up, but have decided to make deliberate conscious choices to do things very differently in your family.  You want to erase those painful memories with new and positive experiences and have them  become encoded in your brain.

If you are a person who dislikes the holidays, feels blue, and wants them to quickly be over, then search for your negative childhood experiences.  Now may be the time to feel, grieve, and heal such pain.  The holidays can be the occasion to break through your unconscious defense mechanisms and change the way you experience the holidays

The holidays are an opportunity.  They can be the occasion for enhanced love and sharing within yourself and with loved ones.  They can be the stimulus for getting in touch with buried emotional pain that needs to emerge into wholeness and happiness. Self awareness and sharing these feelings can add a whole new dimension to this year’s holiday for you and those with whom you most intimately share your life.

May you create some new and special memories this year – Merry Christmas!

Who and What Have “Inspired” Your Life? Here’s Mine.

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

During this past week I found myself using the word “INSPIRE” a couple of times. I wrote my daughter Brittany saying that her web site and blogs  (ahealthysliceof daily inspiring me to be more aware of my health by eating more wisely and exercising more often. Also, I told my wife Sherry, who gets up and walks for an hour in the morning, that she inspired me so that I am doing more biking. Plus, her continual positive attitude inspires me to continually see the bright side of life.

This awareness got me to thinking about INSPIRATION.  Merriam-Webster offers these definitions: “act of influencing or suggesting opinions” and “the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions”. Such inspiration leads to behavior, often in new directions. People and beliefs are two motivating forces in INSPIRATION.

I began to reflect over the course of my life in an attempt to capture some of the PEOPLE and BELIEFS that have moved me to the “next step” of my journey through life. I found it interesting what popped into my head.  May I share some of it with you?

The first PEOPLE that came to mind, naturally enough, were my parents. Their solid values, work ethic, and sociability particularly made an impact that I still feel imprinted in my being. Inspiration occurred.

Another Inspiration was my religion. Cradle Catholic defined my early BELIEF system. Catholic schools, one through twelve, daily Mass, being altar boy, mumbling Latin phrases back to the priest deeply wired my brain. This inspired wiring led me to become a priest after deferring it to a social time at the University of Wisconsin and receiving a degree in Economics.

Seminary training and the priestly life altered my BELIEF system. The more I learned about the Bible, Church history and present reality, as well as pastoring  people struggling with such teachings on Limbo, the sinfulness of meat or Friday, birth control, and masturbation the more I felt I needed my “next step”. I did not feel that I could preach and teach in a religion to which I could not totally subscribe.

Still impassioned, my idealistic BELIEF system was modified as I went toward a profession that involved Counseling  people.  A significant PERSON inspired and mentored me, for which I am eternally grateful, on through my Doctorate.  This led me to a career in Higher Education and private practice. In time I went fully in private practice to which I am clearly passionate about.  It is a privilege to assist people with the PEOPLE and BELIEFS that need further clarification and direction.  I try to help people listen to their inner Spirit and live a life of meaning , integrity, and loving union.

Currently my wife Sherry, son Kris, daughter Brittany and some other wonderful PEOPLE  INSPIRE me in the varied dimensions of my life. Socrates and Zorba the Greek INSPIRE my left and right brain to be existentially attuned to evolve in healthy and joyful manner.  Also, there are a few theoreticians that continue to jostle my mind and stifle any lazy drifting toward complacency.

This reflective examination around the word INSPIRATION has been a worthwhile exercise.  I invite you to do the same. It canbe an interesting reflection.

Who and what have inspired you over the years?  Currently where does your inspiration come from? Who and what will lead you into further wisdom and expanded life style?

“The unexamined life is not worth living”         Socrates

A Birthday Tribute to Our Son Kris

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

I wasn’t sure that I ever wanted to be a father until I was! To this day I remember well the moment that my son, Kristopher John, was born into this world. De Kalb General Hospital and Dr. Hardy, an OB-GYN that Sherry had worked for, were the birthing agents.

While waiting for Kris’ grand entrance I tried to support and comfort Sherry.  Also, I took the time to write my thoughts and feelings. I was keyed up, ready for the delivery. And then he slid out! The miracle of conception and birth. Our first born – a Son!

Upon reflection of Kris being my Son, I’ve come to a greater realization of my being a Son -  born to a Father. Now with Kris the “Stathas” reproductive evolution continued.  The reality of being a Son and being the co-creator of a Son has had a powerful impact on me. I believe there are many other males experiencing the same reality. Being aware of some of the things I received and those that I did not receive from my Father, I pledged to be present, loving, and mentoring to the best of my ability.

Kris has been a delight. I could not have asked for a better Son. Kris is, and has been, intelligent, handsome (his mother’s genes!), caring, motivated, responsible, and successful. He knows how to figure things out and gets the task done, overcoming any presenting obstacles. Part of his responsible “finish the drill” attitude comes from the stubbornness factor inherited from one of his parents. ( I confess)

Kris and I have had many wonderful Father-Son times. I have watched, and sometimes coached, him during his athletic years. One highlight was going to the World Series in Oklahoma when at thirteen he played on a team that won the State of Georgia title. Now golf is his primary athletic challenge. It is a real treat to play golf with him –most of the time. He has inherited a high frustration level that results from that occasional errant shot. (Wonder which parent he got that from?)

When Kris and I get together, and we continue to do it regularly, we catch up on our usual topics – sports and finances. Occasionally more personal thoughts are shared. Kris is a fairly private person. “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”. I enjoy that every get together begins and ends with a hug and a “love you’’ exchange. Don’t remember having that with my Dad.

Currently Kris is happily married to Cara. She is a wonderful woman and great wife for Kris. And, next May she will deliver their first child – baby girl Stathas. Kris will be an exceptional father.

Respected Reader, may you accept this personal expression and sense the love I have for my Son and how proud I am of him. I have been blessed by his life joined with mine. I did not have this special connection with my Father. Did you?  Sons and Fathers are a unique relationship.  I hope your story is, or could become, one of such a special bond as Kris and I have. It is so worth the effort put in by both Father and Son.

Thank you, Kris, and Happy Birthday! I love you.