Archive for June, 2017

June 26, 2017

Wedding preparation red-flags

by Rod Smith

I’ve participated in an inordinate amount of weddings as a former musician – perhaps even yours at the Oyster Box Hotel – and many, many more as an officiate at Tabernacle Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis. Helping a couple prepare for their big day has always been one of my greatest joys.

Here are a few red flags that I have observed as couples prepare for marriage:

“I can’t live without him.”

“She gave my life meaning.”

“He’s promised to stop drinking (gambling, smoking, dealing in drugs) once we are married.”

“I love him but I can’t stand his mother.”

“He’s not helping with the wedding preparations – he’s leaving it all up to me.”

“Marriage is just a piece of paper.”

“There’s a court order so he can’t see his children. But he gets all angry if I want to talk about it.”

“I can’t get him to be anywhere on time no matter how much I try.”

“I know it’s his third marriage but he says all his other wives were crazy.”

“Her ex is still one of her best friends and I am ok with that – for now.”

“Age is just a number.”

“Her mother says this is her (her mother’s) wedding,”

(All expressed – some exaggerated for impact)

June 24, 2017

I wish I was more like Rod Smith

by Rod Smith

It’s well known that actress and movie star Cindy Crawford said she wished she looked like Cindy Crawford. Her comment was in response to seeing the digitally edited posters of herself. I love her honesty. Reading this some time ago, really struck me.

There’s many a day when I wish I looked more like Rod Smith.

While I am certainly motivated to practice what I write and live my message with my family, friends, clients, readers, and colleagues, there are days that I fail at some of the most fundamental things I teach and promote. When this truth seeps into my awareness – sometimes denial blocks it for a few days – I wish I looked more like Rod Smith.

But, I pick myself up, and I dust myself off. I look at myself squarely in a mirror. I try to assess what’s going on, not in terms of immediate, obvious behavior, but in the depths of my thinking, in the recesses of my life where shame plays hide and seek, and where motives collide. I examine my heart, the seat of my emotions, and pass what I find through my head. This usually gets me back on track to being more and more like the person I really want to be.

June 18, 2017

Healing rifts; finding forgiveness and reconciliation

by Rod Smith

A few thoughts about forgiveness and reconciliation in a family

  • No matter what the cause of the schism, breakdown, or avoidance in a family, it takes the stronger, the most mature family member (nothing to do with age) to initiate healing and the conversations necessary for it to occur. Adding a little humility is also very helpful.
  • When divided family members are focused on who started it (the fight, the division) or who is at fault, the family is not ready or sufficiently mature for reconciliation. The person who wants forgiveness and reconciliation will be more focused on healing than on what caused the problems. Humility helps.
  • Forgiveness takes one person; reconciliation requires at least two. The more mature person (nothing to do with age) can forgive before the other person (less mature) is ready to be reconciled. Humility can be the bridge.
  • Family estrangement, except in extreme or unusual circumstances (a history of violence or any form of abuse) serves no one well. Enduringly emotional health is almost impossible for the person who is cut off from his or her family of origin. Humility heals.
  • Expressing the willingness for reconciliation to a loved one is often the first step of vulnerability and humility that starts the process of necessary healing.
June 16, 2017

Gifts we can all offer….

by Rod Smith

The greatest gifts we can offer each other as spouses, intimates, friends, and as colleagues:

  1. The truth as we perceive it: knowing that events, feelings, circumstances, history, and responses to everything are in the heart and the eye of the beholder. Everyone has his or her own set of lenses, lenses colored and distorted by a myriad of variables, immediate and historical, which are shaped by rational and irrational life-experiences. Even though we may not agree on the truth and its precise shape, offering another truth, as he or she knows it, is a gift of love.
  2. The time to be heard: knowing that being heard and understood do not necessarily mean agreement. Hearing, too, is in the heart of the hearer. Everyone’s ears are filtered through a myriad of variables and experiences, some immediate and some ages old, but the gift of love we each can offer is the willingness to put aside differences and listen.
  3. The freedom and space to be distinct: knowing that there exists a strong pull toward sameness in thinking, feeling, and interpreting, and a strong pull toward togetherness. It’s a gift of immense value when we open our hearts to those in our spheres of influence and encourage the love of freedom divinely imparted to every person.
June 12, 2017

Letter to my child

by Rod Smith

The Mercury – Thursday

Every successful person was once your age. The scientists you have read about, the writers whose books you have studied, the artists whose work you have admired in the galleries of our city, the dancers you have seen perform, and the athletes you watch on TV – all of them, every last one of them, was once your age. 

The men and women who are our friends – the people who visit our home and whose homes we visit for meals and for important days in our year, like Christmas and New Year – are successful people. They are lawyers, teachers, artists, psychologists, preachers, university professors, pilots, and accountants. They too, were all once your age.

Nothing, my dear child, nothing and no one can hinder your imagination for your great future, but you. 

My hope for you is that you will take a concerted look around you and see that according to your talents and developing skills, interests, and loves, that the only hurdle toward achieving your dreams is you. 

Some will try to stop you, even in the name of love. Don’t allow it.

Imagine your great and unfolding life my child – and I am here to give you all the love and support of which I am capable.

June 8, 2017

There’s a clock….

by Rod Smith

​There’s a Westminster wall clock ticking and chiming in our TV room as if it’s been in our home for generations.

It hasn’t.

Not only has it only just arrived from South Africa, by the sheer determination and efforts of my sister and her army of kind friends, Westville horologist, Rudi Berkhout, cleaned it up, repaired it, and it’s working for the first time in decades.

I could go into detail about the shipping process, or the packing complexities, or of having to have it fumigated before it could travel or about how it was lost on arrival in the USA – but I won’t. 

I’d rather you know about the love and the care my grandparents’ clock received at the expert hands of Durban’s own Rudi Berkhout.

From the minute Rudi received the clock from its years of storage, Rudi kept me informed of every detail as he brought it back to life. His amusing narrative, his obvious love of perfection and detail, were all documented and photographed daily as the clock was painstakingly and lovingly resurrected.

Thank you, Rudi.

The chimes of my childhood now reverberate through our home and, believe me, there’s something very beautiful about that when you are this far from your homeland and this far from childhood.
 
Rudi can be contacted at Rudi@berkhout.co.za    

June 7, 2017

Power balloon – a very simple but powerful metaphor

by Rod Smith

P is for Power

Every person has been given a Power Balloon that represents an allotment of power. This is the power to have a voice, to decide, to be, to have opinions, have fun, learn, experience, to be autonomous, to be intimate, to be fulfilled and to love. Within every person’s capacity (power) is the ability to do research and to decide things for oneself, to worship, pray, accept, reject, remain free of abusive relationships and to create and enjoy safe relationships.

Every act of manipulation, of cruelty, of “over-functioning ” and of “under functioning ” is the denial of the power of another or of others.

People, for various reasons, will try to burst your balloon, boost your balloon, take your balloon, give you their balloon or render your balloon insignificant. Resist such acts from others and resist doing such acts to others. Care for your balloon only; leave others to the divine task of caring for and nurturing their own balloons. This is not selfish. Think of how selfish it is to say to someone, “Here, let me take away your power from you,” or, “Here, I do not want to take care of my own life but you have to do it.”

Not even God will take your balloon from you. Your balloon is God-given to you for your care and nurture. (God has God’s own balloon to care for). The power for you to be fully human is yours and that power should be offered to no one under any circumstances and the position of exercising power over our own lives should never be abdicated except in extreme situations of medical emergencies.

Every baby and child has his own balloon to be respected as much as the balloon of every adult. This, of course, does not mean that babies should be caring for themselves or that children must be given their every whim. Reaching such a conclusion is to misunderstand the concept of what it means to have personal power. The art of parenting a baby, of nurturing children involves respecting and nurturing their sense of personal power.

Parenting is exercising the kinds of discipline and care that do not diminish a child’s self-worth or distort their capacity to discern and appreciate the power that is their birthright. Anything less is to “spoil and child.” It is to “spoil” their capacity to see and know themselves with accurate personal assessment.

June 6, 2017

Shame is a silent, debilitating companion….

by Rod Smith

Shame has pernicious intent for our lives. It lurks; it’s imbedded in our language as in, “You should be ashamed of yourself,” says the parent or teacher, and it casts its debilitating shadow and cuffs itself to the shamed hearer.

Here are some means it uses to set up house and does its work of life-long restraining:

Abandonment: “See, if you were good enough (prettier, cleverer, slimmer, taller, shorter) he or she would have stayed. It’s your own fault you are alone.”

Trauma: “You deserved it. If you’d been more alert (agile, aware, fatter, thinner, taller, shorter) then you’d not have been selected as a victim. What happened doesn’t happen to all children or adults so it’s your fault.”

Guilt: “What you have done is not only bad you are bad for having done it or even for thinking about doing it (no matter what “it” is). You are forever defiled and you will carry this around forever. People can see it on you.”

Shame-based living is tough and wearisome.

Shame is lessened, even expelled, through the exposure that authentic vulnerability brings.

Shame drives people into further acts of shameful behaviors.

Vulnerability in a community loosens its grip and ushers in well-deserved freedom.

CONTACT ME VIA COMMENTS IF YOU DESIRE A FACE-TO-FACE CONVERSATION VIA THE INTERNET

 

June 5, 2017

My boys….

by Rod Smith

June 4, 2017

Why I write….

by Rod Smith

I am sometimes asked why I write about 200 words a day for a growing audience both in hard-copy newspapers and on the web.I will tell you 5 reasons:

Reason # 1. I get a high, a thrill, call it what you will, when I know someone has read my column and made the decision to live more meaningfully, more determinedly, more powerfully. I know things often work in tandem, and sometimes the column is a necessary catalyst to get someone out of a pointless orbit and into something more rewarding and purposeful. The fact that I hardly ever know the person (sometimes I do) or even what country he or she is in makes it even more rewarding for me.

Reason # 2. It’s a little tiresome for me to hear strong talk about sin as smoking or drinking or sex before marriage (I’ve worked in church circles a lot) – when the real sin, in my mind (without appearing to endorse any “traditional” sin) is the failure to fully live, to fully use ones skills and talents, to live at half or even quarter potential. If a handful of readers move towards greater effectiveness as a direct or indirect result of anything I have written I will count the daily joy worth every minute. (Reason 2 sounds a lot like Reason 1 — aah, a theme!)

Reason # 3. I grew up reading The Mercury – a South African morning newspaper – and my favorite section was The Idler. It captured my boyhood imagination that one person could “talk” to so many people every day for years and I wanted to do the same. After a brief visit in 2000 with the then editor, Dennis Pather, I was in. “You and Me” has been published every weekday since, usually in the top right-hand corner of the op-ed page and on opposite ends of spread where The Idler still appears.

Reason # 4. I LOVE Family Systems Theory and know that its application to any issue, in any culture, will bring desired reasonable change directly proportional to the willingness of the person or family to “stay” with the change they wish to see occur.

Reason # 5. I have and have always had an almost insatiable desire to communicate. Even if I am in an airport terminal (or on a bus or in a waiting room) I want to call a meeting. I want to challenge people to get to know each other, I want to get people motivated to “do” something. The web, a column, and an audience is perfect for me to express my inner desire to reach out and communicate. It’s not about money or reward – it’s about the desire to influence and to be connected.