Archive for December, 2021

December 30, 2021

Last Mercury column of 2021

by Rod Smith

May 2021, despite its challenges, losses, griefs, depart with our appreciation so we can roll out the red carpet of grace to welcome 2022.    

If today you had a meal, took a walk, even if it was a few steps, may you be filled with gratitude. 

You are rich!

If you have a place to live, a space to call your own, or you live with people who have offered you hospitality, may you be filled with gratitude and joy.

You are wealthy! 

If you have talked with kind people today and been able to return kindness and enjoy shared humor, may you wallow, yes, wallow, in the profound grace you have been afforded. 

If you have been able to earn your living today or are benefitting from a career from which you have retired or living off the benefits of the hard work of a spouse or parent then give thanks and dance for joy. 

Please, please, be ardently aware there are no self-made people. If, and while, you and I think of ourselves as “self-made” we will ooze arrogance and selfishness and prove to make 2022 not only difficult for those who love us but also difficult for ourselves.

December 26, 2021

Doldrum Days

by Rod Smith

I call the handful of days between Christmas and New Year the Doldrum Days. Perhaps I had heard it somewhere or it is a product of my imagination. 

Mr. Hockey, my high school geography teacher, taught us about the Doldrums, the lack of driving winds around the Equator as I understood it. 

The elements from above and below the Equator were somehow canceling each other out, making it tough for sailing ships to get wind in their sails. 

The days between Christmas and New Year are then for me aptly named. 

One year is pulling up ahead revealing its potential pressures. 

The old one lingering, trying to avoid its inevitable exit. 

It is last-gasping and we are in the middle, often exhausted and wondering why we may feel as if we have no wind in our sails. 

I am planning to use these days to rest. 

I don’t mean sleep all day although it is an appealing thought. 

I am going to rest from self-imposed pressures. I am going to rest from feeling as if I have to meet every personal deadline, the minutiae of housekeeping, and so forth. I am going to let the lack of currents take me nowhere. Then, around 36 hours prior to the arrival of 2022, I will reset my sails, chart a map for the coming year.

December 13, 2021

Unkindness to elderly parents

by Rod Smith

 I have noticed a theme emerging: adult sons and daughters dominating and being severely unkind to elderly parents. 

If you are an adult son or daughter inflicting this kind of pain on your parents, I beseech you to stop. 

You’re doing yourself no favors, never mind the pain you are inflicting on a parent or parents.

I have heard this behavior excused with, “she was a terrible mother and she deserves it”  or “he worked all the time when I was a child, I can’t be available whenever he wants.” 

I’ve also heard things like, “you have no idea what I have put up with, he’s lucky I talk to him at all.”

 I implore you, please stop. Unkindness now will fix nothing of a painful past.

 If it’s humanly possible, search your heart for grace and forgiveness even if it is underserved.

 It’s an extremely rare parent who sets out to hurt their child. 

It’s an extremely unusual mom or dad who intentionally created an unhealthy relationship with you, their child. 

If you’re able to find forgiveness and exercise grace, you will find welcome freshness entering your life.

It is possible. 

I’ve seen it many times. 

Turn to loving rather than paying back or settling scores and grace will re-enter your life in ways you never imagined.

December 8, 2021

Stutter and other fears

by Rod Smith

People who have read my work probably don’t know that I am a chronic stutterer. 

Chronic does not mean I always stutter. It means it is always a possibility and it is managed, not cured. 

The occasional person who has known me a long time will ask how I got over it.

My plan of attack became an approach for many issues I have faced. 

Please, insert your own issue or fear, and I hope you will find this helpful.  

I read as much as I could about stuttering. Then, I moved from the research and wrote honestly, even brutally about my experiences. 

As much as possible, I became an expert about my issue. 

This exercise took a few months and did wonders for the scared little boy within me.  

These were the keys: Be brutally honest. Look issues in the eye. Address scary things head-on. Difficult and scary situations might not go away but they will back down. 

If whatever it is, digs in its heels, don’t back down. 

Remind yourself that you are much more than a stutter. 

Put yourself at ease by talking about the very thing that is difficult at the moment. 

Make a plan. Be prepared. Become a resource for others

Does this approach always work? 

Of course not.

December 7, 2021

Things that usually reduce anxiety

by Rod Smith

Reconnect in person with old friends and family with whom you have really good memories and do a little re-living the past together. Try not to venture into gossip or into unresolved areas of conflict. Recalling the good times is soul-soothing.

Rearrange a room or two in  your home. Do a little deep cleaning at the same time. Get rid of clutter and things you know you will never use again. Sometimes you have to focus on making your space as beautiful as possible. Doing so is likely to ease your mind of anxious activity. 

Write about your life in short vignettes capturing moments that are important to you. Allow the vignettes to lead into each other like stepping stones across a pond. Don’t be overly concerned about grammar until you are well into the process and even then remind yourself you are writing for yourself. It is the process of recalling and writing that is important. 

Make phone calls to people who have loved you and those whom you have loved and express your thanks. Prepare for the calls so that you do not get hooked into unresolved matters or gossip. You are calling to express your love and your thanks and that is it.

December 5, 2021


by Rod Smith

We were snowed in and I was somewhat caught up with my housekeeping and the laundry was all done and folded. 

My younger boy was in his room downstairs and the older one was at work.

And, it came over me. 

I began to miss my sons, both of whom were very reachable. 

One was so near I could hear his television. 

The other had already called and texted several times during the day as is his normal routine. 

I realized I was missing an era, the times they were both on top of me, getting in my way. I was missing them running all over the house, chasing each other, doing cart-wheels and landing on the sofa, skateboarding from the kitchen to the living room. 

I was missing their rapid shift from fast friends to seeming enemies they so mastered and I was missing how they’d immediately made up as soon as I tried to play peacemaker.

The baby years, the toddler years, I was missing the us we were, and it all seemed to hit me at once, a kind of emotional jet-lag taking its toll.

Oh, I love them exactly as they are. 

I want them to be exactly where they are.

But something deep inside was longing for what was.