November 12, 2018

Plan your inner life before you plan your day…..

by Rod Smith
Who and what you will BE each day is vastly more important that what you will DO each day. So, plan. Decide, first thing in the morning, on your emotional state. Strategize about planning HOW and WHO you will be and therefore you will also be planning who you won’t be. When you have decided HOW you will be, planning what you will DO during the day will probably go a lot easier.

Here’s a portion of yesterday’s column:

Kindness, patience, happiness, hospitality, the willingness and ability to forgive others and afford others the room to be imperfect are inside jobs. They are states you establish within your heart (soul, spirit, mind) and then choose to have as a platform that informs the manner you will respond to life and others.

You can: 
  • plan to be in charge of yourself and not of others
  • plan to NOT let the behavior (or misbehavior) of others derail you
  • plan to be the most generous, kind, and forgiving, person you know
  • plan to allow others their imperfections and not let them upset you  
Will things always go to plan? Probably not. At least if you have a plan you increase the chances of enjoying a fruitful day free of victim-thinking and victim-living.  
November 12, 2018

Inside job

by Rod Smith

Some mornings when I retrieve my son from his 6am basketball training I stop Jack’s Donuts for a tiger bun ($1.09 each).

Last week a middle aged man stood and the door and screamed into the busy shop, (yes, people line up for donuts at 6:10am).

“Who drives the blue Toyota?”

A customer nearing the front of the line raised a hand.

“Well how do you think I am going to get into my car when you park so close?”

My quotation omits his harsh, angry language, and fails to impart the bitter contempt in his voice.

This is on a dark and cold morning in a donut shop!  

Kindness, patience, happiness, hospitality, the willingness and ability to forgive others and afford others the room and space to be imperfect – are inside jobs. By “inside jobs” I mean that they are states or places you establish within your own heart (spirit, consciousness, soul) and then choose to have as a platform that forms and informs the manner you will respond to the world around you.

I guess the angry man at the donut shop has quite a life. I bet he’d try to convince any one who challenged his outbursts that it all really was someone else’s fault.

November 11, 2018

Stay or go……?

by Rod Smith

Relationships can set tone and trajectory for a lifetime. Almost all significant relationships, especially romantic relationships, will face moments that require a decision and the decision becomes a defining moment in the life of the relationship. While such opportunities for defining moments are usually delivered in conflictual situations, some couples are able to make them quite proactively. Either way, each person must decide to walk away or toward and be willing to face the consequences of the decision.

When to walk away, sometimes for a while, sometimes forever:

  • Where there has been violence of any kind or degree.
  • Where there has been betrayal and infidelity – sexual or financial.
  • Where there’s an addiction (and they usually come in pairs) where your staying is enabling or facilitating the addictive cycle.

When to walk toward and try again:

  • Where your feelings of fear and abandonment are familiar to you and have persisted within you in preceding relationships and now they are surfacing again.
  • Where there’s been genuine and visible change and it’s been for reasons other than trying to make you stay.
  • Where rash or impetuous decisions have caused you great pain and resulted in much regret in the past and you’d prefer to not repeat the pattern.
November 6, 2018

Generosity – the challenge remains

by Rod Smith

I have seen some remarkable acts of generosity:

  • A visiting speaker from England (to South Africa) did not receive honorariums when he came to speak to churches. He’d give them. He’d preach around the country and give out large sums or money wherever he preached. I know that one evening before he flew back to England he asked his host (a man I knew personally) if he owned his house and proceeded to take thousands of British pounds in cash out of his pocket, “Here, pay the bank off tomorrow. I am not taking all this back to England,” he said.
  • I was greeting a congregation at the door one Sunday morning and a man placed a wad of hundred dollar bills into my hand as he whispered a name of who he wanted to receive it. The thousand dollars saved the recipient of much anxiety having just lost his job. He never knew where the money came from.
  • The brand new car I drive was delivered to my house (in the USA) on a truck from the generous hand of my brother (who lives in Australia). The only thing I paid for is the personalized license plate. It reads “BROGFT.”

Please send me your similar true stories.

The challenge remains: Become the most generous person you know.

November 3, 2018

Are you here?

by Rod Smith

Your relationship may need some help if:

  • You find yourself sighing when you know you have to spend time together especially if you are unable to have someone join you to make the time easier to endure. You are both practiced at making sure you have someone with you to help you get along.
  • You are able to predict what each other will say, you finish each other’s sentences, and you think you have heard everything he or she has or will ever say. You talk over, belittle, interrupt, and regard each other with contempt.
  • Some of the things you partner talks about can trigger your anger in a split moment. Conversations can rapidly escalate to where voices are raised and foul and derogatory language is used. Cutting jokes or observations about each other are commonplace.
  • One, or both, speak negatively about the other to “outsiders,” to your children, to your extended family. One of you says things like, “I wish you’d treat me as nicely and kindly as you treat _____ (fill in the blank)” and it could be anyone from a friend to a total stranger.


If you recognize anything about your behavior from the above markers, please, get help. There is no reason to continue with unhealthy patterns. While there’s life there really is hope.

October 14, 2018

While they, and we are young

by Rod Smith

If at all possible, and, from as young as possible:

Allow your children to be exposed to things multicultural, multiracial, and multilingual. Take the lead and they’ll probably follow.

Expect your children to be responsible for their actions, moods, successes, and for when they miss the mark, especially when it comes to good manners. Assume the lead position so they have someone to follow.

Expect your children to be kind to the ill, the elderly, those alone, those disenfranchised. Initiate, then model such behavior and they’ll think it’s a way life.

Encourage your children to speak their minds, especially if it means speaking up to you. If they can speak up to you with kindness, respect, and forthrightness, they’ll be able to hold their own with anyone, anywhere, and most of the time.

Get yourself out of the way so your children can taste the joy of discovery and learning. And, as much as possible, remain present and engaged as they also discover just how safe you make their worlds. Traverse this paradox while you’re as young as possible and the inner force that propels your sons and daughters into life will find your welcome rather than your surprise or resistance.

I will remind my treasured audience that I am my first audience. Everything I write pertains first to me.

October 5, 2018

Daughter unhappy at school

by Rod Smith

“Yesterday my daughter (14) told me how unhappy she is at school. She says the other girls are picking on her and leaving her out and being really mean. Up until last week she was very happy and talking about her best friends and planning weekend events. This week it has all changed. Do I go into the school? Do I phone her friends’ mothers. How do I fix this?”

I’d suggest you watch things for a while. The change you have seen in the matter of days could also change back – and then all your interventions will come to nothing. Relationships can shift in a matter of days as you have attested. Work on managing your own anxiety rather than trying to reduce your daughter’s discomfort or alleviate her unhappiness. The more she can face herself for herself the better. These are life-long skills best learned as early as possible.


Also, I think it is wonderful that your daughter is free to confide in you. Protect this relationship. It’s a treasure. At the same time try to avoid protecting your daughter from learning the lessons only life is able to teach.   

October 1, 2018

How to mend a broken heart in seven easy steps….

by Rod Smith

Don’t skip a step:

  1. Wail. Spew as much raw emotion as humanly possible. Do it privately in bouts over several weeks. Rent a room in a rural cabin if you must, but cry every available tear. Un-cried tears will turn to poison and make you bitter, angry, cynical, hard, and sarcastic. Don’t deny your heartbreak. Doing so will create backlash in future relationships. This step may take several weeks.
  2. Step one will leave you exhausted. So, rest. When this is reasonably accomplished (it is seldom perfected), purchase several blank journals and leave no stone unturned as you reconstruct your heartbreak on paper. Write as much detail as you possibly. Get your mind off what he or she (or others) did do, or what he or she (or others) did not do. Focus attentively upon your role you played in the romance’s decline and downfall.
  3. Read respected books. I love Harriet Learner’s “Dance” series and David Schnarch’s Passionate Marriage and The Sexual Crucible. I also like Cloud and Townsend’s Boundaries. Ask people whom you already respect for their favorite “relationship” writers, then get to work. If you do not consider yourself a reader, become one.
  4. If, having followed all of the recommendations thus far, you detect some momentary desire for retribution or revenge, or, if you find yourself wishing for some serious illness to inflict your ex, go back to the beginning of this list and start again. The teeniest morsel of desire for revenge will blind you forever. Get rid of it.
  5. Value your integrity above any relationship. Tell the truth about who you are. Decide what you want. Remind yourself that it is you alone who makes decisions about who you will be with, what you will or will not do, and how you will spend your time and resources.
  6. Embrace the fact that broken hearts seldom fully mend. Pain is often the companion of deep, powerful love. While hearts do not always mend, you can be wiser in the future than you were in the past. Take a close look at your expectations, boundaries, and your reactions to the unavoidable conflicts that accompany all significant relationships.
  7. Move on, but not into a new relationship. Allow at least six months for your recovery from any broken romance, even if the romance itself lasted only three months. Following the breakup of longer relationships, allow substantial time to pass – even a year or two – before you think of embarking on a new relationship.
October 1, 2018

In so many ways we are all the same….

by Rod Smith

Take a close look around you. No matter where you are in the world you will see that the people you meet (and the masses you may only see from a distance) are not too different from you. They may speak different languages and dress very differently from you and have lots of behaviors you do not understand, but, in essence they are in many ways just like you. We all want:

  • Respect, a place at the table, and acknowledgement and respect that comes with simply being.
  • To belong, and for our occasional absence to be noticed and missed.
  • Meaningful conversations, authentic affirmations, and affection appropriate to the relationship.
  • To be heard and to hear others; to have an opportunity to hold and to express an opinion and for that opinion to be heard and respected.   
  • Meaningful work; work that counts, that makes an impact, that doesn’t feel like a waste of time and energy and work that is rewarded with a livable wage or salary.
  • To live in peace and to have your belongings protected and your reputation protected and respected.
September 29, 2018

We are moving house…..

by Rod Smith

I have spent this entire past week moving out of the house the boys and I have lived in all of their lives. I can’t decide if it has been a freeing or depressing or a large dosage of both. Book by book, box by box, sock by sock, and memory by memory, I moved through our beloved old house (built in 1885). I have found myself lingering over the phases, recalling things I didn’t know were buried within me. Some memories are funny, some are sad, very sad. All of them together form the backdrop of who we are as a family and a spring-broad of who will each will be in the future, both alone and together. Cries of infancy, giggles of toddlerhood, and the preteen tussles over homework and later yelling matches from different rooms about who has the remote and who let the dog out without checking to see if the gates were closed and questions like “am I the only one who knows how to pack the dishwasher?” echo off the walls. Today I unloaded the dryer for the last of thousands of times and found myself a little tearful, not so much that we are moving house, but because all change demands loss, not matter how wonderful the gains.