May 12, 2021

Dear High School Graduate

by Rod Smith

• Your High School career is ending; your education is beginning. Brace yourself.

• You didn’t get to cap-and-gown alone. Thank your parents, teachers, coaches, with abandon, even returning to thank your earliest of teachers.

• Your parents are the most important people you’ll ever know. Like it or not, they are perfectly designed to shape you.

• Learn about money and how it works. You will spend your whole life working for money, or, money will work for you. Which would you prefer? If you want money to work for you, save as much as one-third of every dollar you ever earn. Do this and money will see you are in charge. That’s when it will offer you respect and begin to work for you and not against you.

• You don’t have to choose the “right” university, the “right” subjects at tech or the “right” job. You’ll never get everything right. But, it is helpful if you are sincere. There’s no wasted time if you’re sincere.

• Before you can take the long, scenic, “road less traveled” you sometimes have to take the road most traveled. Embrace the ordinary until you are equipped to identify and enjoy the extraordinary.

• Too much too soon in any area of your life will almost always hurt and haunt you.

May 12, 2021

Emotional wellness

by Rod Smith

Emotional wellness, but for the severely unwell, is something you can self-monitor, much like you can take your own blood pressure. Nobody is healthy all the time; few are unhealthy all the time. Most of us have good and not-so-good days. May this column lead you to reflection and a day of joy and greater emotional health. Please don’t use these lists to classify others.

Healthy people: Promote freedom and discovery. They are open and clear about expectations, move on efficiently after disappointment. They forgive others. They are aware that they can be misguided and are open to correction. They are steered, guided from inner values and ambitions. Healthy people are grateful to others and know how much they need others. They try to keep their word and truth is important to them.

Less healthy people: Display jealousy, possessiveness, and revel in secrecy and gossip. They collect scars, wounds, hurts like trophies. They hold onto resentments and anger. They usually have to be right and win arguments and are shaped by outside pressures and others. They want to appear self made, as if they need no help from anyone, or they “leech” off others as if they are the responsibility of their friends. They tell lies quite easily, as if it’s normal.

May 11, 2021

Fundamentals regarding all relationships

by Rod Smith
  • Every overreaction, poor attitude, expression of anger will have an equal, opposite reaction no matter how much love there is between or among you.
  • People are designed for freedom. Get in the way of someone’s freedom and you will pay for it. It may take years but it will cost you.
  • The person who most wants whatever from another person (time, sex, a beach walk, a loan, long intimate chats over coffee) places the other in a position of power. This is why pleading and begging are so unattractive.
  • The stronger, more mature person of any two people in a relationship will be the one who seeks forgiveness and reconciliation when a relationship is derailed. While the focus is who is right or wrong and who needs to apologize first and who started whatever, the people are not ready for reconciliation. Reconciliation seeks reconnection not victory.
  • Mutual attraction is about matched levels of maturity or immaturity. People of dissimilar levels of maturity will hardly notice each other. Equally needy people will attract each other like powerful magnets and the attraction will feel like a match made in heaven – at least at first.
  • Love and control cannot co-exist in the same relationship.
May 10, 2021

Stand up men and boys, there’s a Woman approaching:

by Rod Smith

Deep within her person, soul, bosom is the power to nurture, inspire, dream, and bring beautiful and magnificent dreams and plans to fruition. Listen to her voice. Listen and hear what she’s saying and what she is not saying. She has intuition – hindsight, insight, foresight. If you embrace and respect her intuition and allow it to shape and challenge your thinking, you will be wiser for it. You will save yourself considerable conflict, anguish, error, and money.

If you have the guts, backbone, wisdom to offer her unstrained equality, undiluted mutuality, pure respect – all of which God already affords every woman – it is you who will be enriched. It is you who will benefit. It is you who will find yourself more complete. And, when you develop the necessary fortitude to respect all women everywhere, you will find a place of growth and understanding that courageous, insightful men have always known, have always found safety and retreat.

Get out of her way and remove your petty prejudices harbored so long and she will shape a nation, nurture leaders, lead a nation, turn a profit, feed a community, and, if you are available for it, she will teach you to love.

May 10, 2021

Conversation starters for parents of young adults

by Rod Smith
  • As much as I am able you have my absolute and complete forgiveness for anything and everything you may have ever done or considered harmful or hurtful or painful to me. As I learn more about forgiveness I will take it to new levels with you whether you are aware of it or not.
  • You are free to love anyone you choose in a mutual, equal, adult relationship. I give you my full backing and support. As you develop your most important relationships I will be very willing to also learn to love the people you love.
  • People in families have odd ways of holding each other back. It is often done in the name of love. Where you think I may be doing this to you, tell me so I can stop it. I want to clear the way for your greatness, not be a stumbling block in your path.
  • You are at least ten generations in the making. These short years I have had to parent you are powerful but not nearly sufficient to unearth all the gold within you. That takes a life-time of discovery which I hope you will enjoy. Even the rough parts of our unique histories can become incredible strengths.
April 27, 2021

The Every-Parent’s challenge

by Rod Smith

I am a parent, sometimes father, sometimes mother, often both at once. I am not a detective or a policeman. My children need a parent not a live-in larger-than-life law-enforcement officer. I’m a parent, protector, provider, encourager, and guide.

I am a person who is also a parent. Parenting is a role I am more than willing to play. It is very much part of who I am but it does not define me. I have interests, passions, parts of my life that do not necessarily include my children. I love my children enough to maintain strong friendships that pre-exist being a parent. 

I am a parent but I’m also a son or a daughter, a brother or a sister, and a friend to many. I love my children enough to keep them out of every nook and cranny of my life and I love them enough to stay out of every nook and cranny of their lives. 

I am an adult. The best way I can hope my children will become successful adults is if I am one. I cannot legitimately expect my children to become better at anything than I am unless I’m willing to lead the way. My challenge is to be the adult I hope my children will become.

April 26, 2021

What kind of day will you have?

by Rod Smith

Will anger overwhelm you, or will gentleness and kindness and peace be your guide?

Plan ahead.

These things can be planned.

Will bitterness and resentment blind you, or will goodness and forgiveness for others light your path?

Plan ahead.

You can decide now, before you head out the door.

Will randomness lead you to nowhere in particular, or will it be a day you move nearer to achieving your long term goals?

Plan ahead.

All you need to plan is a pencil and paper.

Planning ahead will not remove all excitement and joy from your day. It’s more likely to increase both. Decide who you will be today before circumstances dictate who you will be.

When, and if, you take care of destructive and overwhelming emotions, as far as you are humanly able, and you move purposefully into your day, you will set in motion the possibility of creative and joyful “interruptions.”

A day packed with inner turmoil, crowded with survival mechanisms, is unlikely to welcome unplanned joy from any helpful source.

I urge us to take our rightful places in the driver’s seats of our lives. No permission is required. My life, my responsibility. Your life, your responsibility.

April 22, 2021

Beautiful things we can do for our children of all ages

by Rod Smith
  • As much as you are able, live a full, complete life. Our children enjoy seeing us fulfilled. When we are not there is an unspoken pressure that somehow they are responsible for making it right.
  • Offer freedom, space, room to grow. This is tough because we really don’t want our children to hurt. It’s likely your sons and daughters will be as willing to learn from you as you were to learn from your parents.
  • Give privacy, offer trust. How much you trust is up to you. How much privacy you afford is up to you. It is not up to what they may or may not deserve.
  • Love, welcome their friends even if their friends do not embody your values. Rejecting their friends can lead to greater issues than welcoming them.
  • Allow, even encourage, your children to correct you. Welcome their insights into what you can do better. We all have a lot to learn and teach.
  • Free them from the impossible burden of having to “complete” you. Complete yourself so they are relieved of the pressure.
  • Listen to what they will not or cannot say. Be sure it is not your own voice you are hearing. I have often thought I had heard my sons when I was really encountering my own unaddressed issues.
April 18, 2021

Before you head off to bed tonight……

by Rod Smith

Sometime today…….*

• Reach out and make a new acquaintance. Look for the possibility of finding a new friend. It will take a moment of courage and potentially offer you a joyful return.

• Drop a note in traditional mail to someone who is not expecting to hear from you. Recall a wonderful and shared memory. It will take a moment of effort and offer you unexpected joy.

• Reach within, see what relationship-repair you may need to offer anyone in your circle of family and friends. Get to work. Do your part in facilitating healing and reconciliation. The stronger person usually is the first to initiate.

• Repeatedly resist all urges to strong-arm others, exercise power, or get your way. You will be amazed at how relieving it is to know life will go on, you will be loved, you will be included without having to make it all happen.

• If you are really discontent in your relationships or career take some time to assess what it will take from you to find the relief and make the changes you think you want. No matter how radical the shift or necessary the change, it is possible to do it all with love and kindness and respect.

* All five embraced here. If I hit one or three – and spread them out over a few days – I’ll consider it a success.

April 15, 2021

How to spot a good person

by Rod Smith

It’s quite easy to tell who you are dealing with if you know what to look for.

Good people clean up after themselves. They tip well, open doors for others, hold back on expressing their opinions until they have heard all sides. 

They are kind to people who can do little or nothing for them. They don’t try to impress people with their wealth or accomplishments. 

Good people respect the elderly, and say please and thank you a lot. They respect experience. They listen a little more than they speak. You don’t hear them calling others idiots unless there is real and objective evidence for it and even then they are quite guarded about it. 

Good people connect with others much more than they cut people off. They don’t have a relationship scrap yard. They give others the benefit of the doubt. Rumors stop with them. 

A real clue to trustworthy people is how they treat immediate and extended family. A man who speaks poorly to his elderly mother is probably quite brutal to lots of people even if he tries to hide it. 

That’s the odd thing about us. 

We leave clues about who we are all the time and believe me, I don’t always like the tracks I leave.