Archive for December, 2008

December 29, 2008

My new book…

by Rod Smith

A is for Autonomy — a brief, powerful reminder of 26 ways (A to Z) to be more healthy, more defined, more yourself, in your closest relationships

Order through link on the right

Order through link on the right

This book is a must read if you are trying to find and maintain your voice in your most intimate relationships.

Each letter will provoke you to greater personal power.
Each letter has a short description of the principle promoted.
Each letter will make you want to get up and live.

“I am going to read this every morning, just to keep me on track,” Jennifer (Durban, South Africa)


December 26, 2008

A challenge at New Year

by Rod Smith

As always at New Year, and especially this week between Christmas and the New Year, I do a lot of thinking.

dsc_06421. Please join me in making 2009 the most useful and fulfilling year each of us has ever enjoyed. I am going to pray to live a life of deeper grace and appropriate generosity. I am going to give more.
2. I will do all I can to turn my insight into determined action. There is little point in seeing or understanding a problem if I do nothing about trying to correct it.
3. I am going to try to live more in the present and the future, than I do in the past.

What will you do? Please let me know.

Thank you. I am very aware of the enormous privilege I am afforded in writing this 200-word daily newspaper column which is published in South Africa and the USA. It is also widely on the Internet. The latest statistical analysis, according to one of many web sources, show that a large percentage of the web-readers are in Australia and Canada. But the column is still geared to its initial readership: The Mercury readers of Kwa-Zulu Natal.

December 23, 2008

The challenge to make someone’s Christmas….

by Rod Smith

dsc_0642My father, E. W. G. Smith, loved Christmas. We could get him into a Father Christmas suit anytime of the year. He and Jimmy Ross, the jazz pianist and our neighbor, would use the same old and tattered suit and visit each others children with old pillowcases thrown over their backs – even in August.

Come Christmas Eve and dad would sing about the “little boy that Santa Clause forgot.” Real tears would stream down his face. I knew he was crying for his own lost boyhood. I knew he was the boy that Santa Clause forgot, and I knew he was the boy who went home to “last year’s broken toys.”

He did something about his own deprivation by providing for others: I vividly recall my father packing large boxes of groceries from the shelves of his general dealer shop in Blackburn Road and placing them anonymously on the doorstep of a family he knew to have hit hard times.

And now, all these years later, I challenge you to seize the day. Go ahead, get out there, and make someone’s Christmas through exercising your own deep desire for generosity – I know it is in there, it comes with the human package.

December 22, 2008

Heeds mother’s advice in a tough situation….

by Rod Smith

“As I write my girlfriend is on holiday with her two daughters and her ex-husband. She planned the trip to be with just the girls and when they went to pick up something from his house he was already packed and asked to leave with them. Not wanting to cause a fight in front of the girls, she said it was fine, and they left together. They are away now. She tells me she has no feelings for him and she wishes I were there instead. She wants to have a good relationship with the ex for the sake of the girls. I will pray to God and let Him guide me as He always has. If she is truthful, then everything is fine. In my gut, I know that boundaries take time to establish themselves. I have been trying to take my mom’s advice, “Get to know her, focus on yourself.” I feel at peace. We are neither married, nor engaged. We can change our minds at anytime. If I find that she has lied, or is untrustworthy in anyway, I will move on, having conducted myself in a kind, and unselfish way.”

I love your mother’s advice. Such thinking will save you a lot of pain and avert a lot of damaging anger.

December 19, 2008

A husband writes…

by Rod Smith

“I recently told my wife that I love her but do not feel in love with her. She took it quite well but was hurt. She told me that I was depressed and that I needed to go to the doctor. So I did and indeed I was depressed. There was another woman. I met her on a plane. I became infatuated with her. After two or three weeks of chatting with her on Facebook I came clean to my wife. I knew that what was going on in my head was not adding up. That was about six months ago. I have been in counseling for about that long. I am seeing the problem is with me. She has her problems as well like sex once every three months. We’ve gone nearly a year without sex once and six or more months several times. Still, I refuse to get a divorce. We’ve been married for nearly 12 years. We have three young girls (6, 4, and1). They are so dear to me. I believe I would rather die than see their little hearts broken. I know what that feels like. There are so many sad ending. I want a happy ending to our little story. Someway, somehow I have to fall in love with her again.” (minimal edits for word-count)

December 14, 2008

Coping with inevitable change, and trying to understand why some things seem never to change….

by Rod Smith

dsc_0642Everything changes. You turn around and something has moved, someone’s charging higher prices, or neighbors you really like move to another neighborhood. Of course it happens in personal relationships too. This person’s in love (when he always thought it had escaped him); another person’s alone when always thought he’d love and be loved forever.

Yet, some things remain dismally the same: your weight might be your constant battle. Your in-laws might still be too demanding. Your son, after all these years, continues to hate homework. Try as you might, you just can’t seem to be as affectionate and “open” and intimate as your partner wants you to be.

Take heart: you’re fully human! Pick your battles, embrace approximation (getting your way only sometimes, settling for a little less than perfect, realizing that life is a process and some things take a long time), and relax. Take action, even a little action, over the things that seem fixed or immovable, and embrace the changes over which you have no control.

Open your hands, don’t grasp, clutch, grab, or try to manipulate the future, your children, or anyone in your sphere of influence. Then, when change is foisted upon you, and you remain fully aware of how powerless you are to change your more unpleasant realities, you will, at least, have grown in grace.

Order it now... link on the right

Order it now... link on the right

December 13, 2008

My new book: A is for Autonomy / A – Z for Healthier Relationships….

by Rod Smith

is now available. Please go to link on the RIGHT to make a purchase.
This little book ($8.00) is a perfect stocking stuffer for a person who wants to be more aware of cultivating healthier relationships. At 4″X7″ and 30 pages, it is a quick read through the alphabet of helpful relationship reminders. Buy in bulk ($5.00 each after 10), use it for a small group, use it to help you meditate on how to be clearer and more defined…..

Email me or follow the link on the right, and I will make sure your order is delivered as soon as possible.

December 12, 2008

Mobile (cellular) phone manners

by Rod Smith

1. Turn the phone off when you are in meetings, at the theater, or while you are paying for your groceries.
2. The person present (in front of you) gets your attention over the person absent (at the other end of the phone).
3. Don’t text, read text messages, make or receive calls, play electronic games, when you are in a conversation with someone or having a meal with someone.
4. If you expect an “important call” that will warrant taking a call while you are engaged in another conversation, have the decency to announce your intentions ahead of time.
5. If you must use the phone in a public area, talk quietly.
6. If you happen to call a “wrong number” have the decency to apologize.
7. Turn your phone (and computer) off for the entire weekend — give your family your undivided and un-distracted attention.

December 10, 2008

Twins, moving toward father, and away from stepfather…

by Rod Smith

“My twins (15) have always been close to my husband who is their step-dad. Now, recently, they seem to be going against him and wanting to be with their (biological) dad. Their father has been absent for almost all their lives and their step-dad has been a father to them. Why would they now want to be with someone who has done so little for them and almost reject someone who has done so much? What must I do? This doesn’t make sense at all.”

dsc_0642You are applying simple logic to very complex dynamics. Your children are apparently obeying the call of their invisible loyalties. I’d suggest (unless there are circumstances you have not divulged and he is in some manner dangerous) you get out of the way and provide a platform for them to better know their father.

Avoid being the go-between for the children and their stepfather. If your husband has come this far with the twins he can probably handle the shift in their loyalties. Ultimately I believe things will settle, and the children will know who he is and how much he has already loved them.

December 9, 2008

If we are “one flesh” isn’t his emotional life also my responsibility?

by Rod Smith

dsc_0642You say we are each responsible for our own emotional health. I read that I am ‘one flesh’ with my husband. Surely I bear some responsibility for his emotional health? (Online question)

Go ahead. Try it. While you are at it, lose weight for him. Get him over his anger. Make him patient in traffic. Make him work more or less, depending on your needs and circumstances. Tackle, on his behalf, any one of the challenges each of us must individually face, and see how successful you are. Before you can say “Jack Robinson” (actually it might take quite a few years) you will be riddled and crippled with anxiety.

One flesh, united, soul mates, joined at the hip – use whatever picture works for you – but avoid taking on what is NOT yours to take on and avoid taking on the things you have no power to change. Resisting attempting to solve what are his issues (and his alone) does not make you less “one flesh” or less loving. I should think it is a greater demonstration of love and respect to “hold your own” while your partner is working through difficulties. Issues that are sufficiently powerful will readily take you both down. Then how much help would you be?

You can, of course, provide a context where your husband is supported in any of the individual challenges he must face but, like each of us, he has to take responsibility for his own emotional wellness.

Be responsible to him (do what is right and good) and not for him. Care about him, and not on his behalf. If this is too overwhelming for him, professional help is highly recommended.