Archive for February, 2020

February 18, 2020

The 3 Ds

by Rod Smith

The Mercury / Wednesday

The three Ds

Distance, darkness, disease (feeling unwell) – these three henchmen working together are bad news.

Some years ago the boys and I were in Hawaii when I began to experience dreadful, very sharp stomach pains. Hawaii really is quite heavenly but if you are not feeling well even Hawaii can feel like the other place.

Distance plus disease does that. Distance from home amplifies the disease and the belief you have one.

During daylight the pain – sharp as it was – seemed to come and go and things felt somewhat tolerable.

At night, and when in the dark, the pain would hit and my mind would run marathons and before long I’d be convinced I was dying. I repeatedly told myself I should never have adopted the boys, very bad idea, only to die on them while they are sleeping in paradise. I visualized my body-bag being loaded into the hold of the plane, my sons peering at it through the United economy window, orphaned boys returning from paradise as confused unaccompanied minors. I could see, right there in the darkened room, tearful and fretting flight attendants fussing over them, plying the boys with ice cream to distract from seeing dad rough-handled onto the conveyor belt below like overweight luggage.

Darkness, disease, distance – were doing their work.

When you are far from home and not feeling well and it is night – things always seem worse.

When we arrived home I told my doctor I was dying.

“It’s not that easy,” he replied.

The next day I passed a kidney stone.

February 15, 2020

There are things worse for children than divorce

by Rod Smith

The Mercury / Monday

There are things worse for children than divorce….

• Being caught in the crossfire between warring parents.

• Switching armies, territories, uniforms, depending on who you’re with.

• Being super-over-protected when the hyper-vigilance is really geared to suggest the other parent is negligent by comparison.

• Hearing constant threats about court and custody and money.

• Not knowing what you can talk about depending on where you are and who you are with.

• Having loyalties tested because your significant adults regard your willingness to be with them as a signal of their success.

• Having to face weird punishments if you leak information you didn’t know was secret.

• Having to learn by observation about passive/aggressive behaviors but being punished if you actually use any such behaviors yourself.

• Hearing both parents say they never speak badly about the other parent but you know the truth.

• Loving one parent’s new man or woman but feeling like a betrayer because of the love you feel.

Imperfect Antidote: Do everything possible to be honest with your children and to be respectful and cooperative with your ex. It’s a process. It’s a journey. There is hope.

Last call for a handful of seats: Women’s Breakfast on Wednesday, March 11, 2020 (9 to 10:30am) at the Butcher Boys Restaurant, Hillcrest. Book at R120, continental breakfast.

February 13, 2020

Will you be my Valentine?

by Rod Smith

Cut and paste for your Valentine card or romantic conversation. Please tweak to make it more romantic. 

Ten ways to love you. I will:

  • Not cut you off from your family or friends.
  • Take care of myself so I am in good shape to love both of us. 
  • Do nothing that can be considered controlling because I know love and control cannot coexist within the same relationship.
  • Seek acts of intimacy that we both desire and enjoy. 
  • Encourage you to pursue your interests, hobbies, and passions. 
  • Do all I can to listen and hear you and I know the difference between the two. 
  • Fight off any twinges of jealousy I may feel and I will not blame you for any of my feelings – they are mine. I own them.  
  • Support you to get further education.
  • Not allow forgiven material to resurface between us. 
  • Regularly, for extended periods, several hours at a time, turn off my phone so we can really be together.

I shall be speaking at a Breakfast for Women, 9 am to 10:30 am, on Wednesday, March 11, 2020 at the Butcher Boys Restaurant, Hillcrest. Book now at R120, continental breakfast. The venue changed in order to increase capacity. I am humbled that the extra space is selling fast.  


February 9, 2020

Who holds the key to change in a family?

by Rod Smith

Differentiation of Self is central to my approach to therapy. This is a term coined by the reputed founder of the Science of Family Therapy, Dr. Murray Bowen. In short, Bowen, a psychiatrist, tired of treating individuals for what was, to Bowen, clearly a family or a group issue.

Controversially, Bowen would hospitalize an entire family because one member displayed mental issues.

Dr. Bowen believed that emotional, mental health, and family problems were not “inside” the thinking or lack of functioning in the symptom bearer – the person who was said to be ill – but rather the “problem” resided within the relationships of the family or group.

Differentiation of Self is the capacity to:

  • Remain and individual while also being an integral part of a larger group.
    Be responsible for one’s own life and choices.
  • Stay committed to important relationships in the face of disagreement and conflict.
  • Express thoughts, feelings, preferences, agreements and disagreements, despite natural group or family pressures to conform.
  • Remain on track and committed to goals while respecting maintaining relationships with important others who would rather you were less ambitious.

Murray Bowen observed that the key to a family’s health was the person (or persons) who were working on their levels of differentiation.

February 1, 2020

Effective Leadership

by Rod Smith

The Mercury / Monday

Effective leadership, like surfing, is an art.

While no surfer, I have known and observed many and have often concluded that surfing too, is an art.

While there are techniques, skills, things wise and unwise in both, both are sophisticated art forms.

My observation may be laughable given your proximity to the ocean and I’d be happy to hear if I am wrong.

I do know surfers “read” the weather, the water, and the resultant cumulative conditions. I know surfers “read” each other and obey an intricate set of unspoken mutual expectations and are particularly aware when a novice paddles by.

And, they love it all!

The artful leader is the same.

The artful leader loves leadership concepts and learning about leadership, loves people and empowering others.

He or she loves the process of leading and is acutely aware of the “weather” and the “water” of the organization and the experience or lack of it of those whom they lead.

The artful leader is primarily committed to self-leadership knowing that without such awareness he or she is – excuse the cheap continuation of the comparison – sunk.

[I will be in KZN and available from March 7 to March 12, 2020 to speak at your school, church, fundraiser, or event – please email me if you are interested.]