June 25, 2019

The power of surrender

by Rod Smith

When you surrender control…

1. You will shift the balance of power and be re-energized. From expending valuable energy on the wild-goose chase of “fixing” others to deploying it where you have some power by working on yourself.

2. You will gain confidence in the areas that you can influence, instead of the dulling, draining, and desperate experience of having to keep the world and all its concerns on track.

3. You will join humanity rather than separate yourself and judge it – you will accept your failings and frailties and discover you can do the same with others.

4. Your anxiety will plummet, your joy will be rejuvenated, and your need for control fade while you are (slowly) delivered to a beautiful new place called Being-More-Human.

5. You will find your natural place in your family and community rather than have to arm-wrestle the world for significance.

6. You will not only be able to stop and smell the roses, you will be able to plant and tend roses, and have bunches to distribute to along the way.

7. You will be loved for who you are and, believe it or not, it won’t be because you made it happen.

June 23, 2019

Phones and yawns…..

by Rod Smith

The Mercury / Monday

“My wife and I disagree when it comes to two children and mobile phones; one lives overseas and the other in Cape Town. When visiting, I had to constantly tell them put their telephones in company. My 33-year-old continues to play with his mobile phone and playing card games and holding a two-way conversation and she does not object! Also, when they yawn, I always told them to place their hand across their mouth but this has fallen on deaf ears. I have complained and this last weekend made a decision to say nothing about this mobile phone playing, to a point that my conversation with him was limited. To be quite honest I felt that coming home was a waste of time. Having said this to my wife she was in tears that I could think like this. Having spoken to other fathers, parents should be on the same side so that the children ‘know their place’.”

Your frustration is clear. But, you do not have children. Your sons are adults and parenting has ended. Love, embrace your sons exactly as they are. Their “place” is one of equality in every manner with you, yawns and all. Their poor manners expressed toward you is no reflection on you or your wife.

June 16, 2019

Observer……

by Rod Smith

The Mercury / Tuesday

What’s on the inside is what’s important……

I observe and listen. I can hardly help it. With that I do try to reserve judgment and often question if my assessments are really a window into what I need to learn about how I myself treat others. I conclude that how we speak to other people and how we treat all other people is a window into our own being and says nothing about others.

• The man who is rude and demanding in a restaurant and who belittles the server is revealing volumes about himself no matter how poor the service or the quality of the food. The adult tantrum is worse than the service or food could ever be. There are kind ways to express dissatisfaction.

• The woman who gossips about her friends and badmouths their husbands but switches and is all polite and kind when in their company is declaring just what an unhappy person she is. Her inauthenticity will be her downfall.

• The coach (any sport, any level) who yells, swears, cavorts on the sidelines reveals nothing about the team but everything about loss of perspective and a refusal to grow up. Imagine how he treats those he loves!

As I said, I am constantly evaluating. “Am I accurate or peering into a mirror?’ is the question I ask myself.

June 12, 2019

Fathers Day – honoring absent or abusive fathers

by Rod Smith

The Mercury / Wednesday

Fathers Day is coming……

Honoring parents appropriately is a healthy activity whether your experience of them was good, bad, really bad, or non-existent.

Since Fathers Day is almost here let me focus on fathers.

If you have or had a loving, present, involved father, you will have no hesitation or difficulty honoring him.

Let me address those who did not:

Your father, whether you knew him or not, is the most important man you will ever know (or not know). Like it or not, he’s breathing in you. His genetics echo in you. He’s in your mix. He leaks into your conversations. He appears in your dreams and aspirations, whether you know it or not.

His power over you is probably compounded if you reject him or the very idea of him.

You may ask, how do I honor a man I never knew, a man who rejected me, damaged me, or a man who – add your own experience….?

I’d encourage you to take time to acknowledge that, despite his flaws, fears, failures, even crimes, you do have life and you are a functioning person. You do have skills. You are here. You do have the capacity to see and enjoy beauty and the capacity to love, all of which would not be so without his contribution.

This is a very tough message, but honor him for your sake, not his.

[Seldom do I labor so long over content and even hesitate once it’s written. I expect some pushback but I’ve written what I truly believe. One good thing about a newspaper columnist is he or she is easy to ignore.]

June 7, 2019

You are already more healthy than you may feel or think you are…..

by Rod Smith

If you read this and you retain any comprehension of its contents and if you detect a smidgen of desire for greater emotional health, there are things I know about you.

No matter how confused you may feel or how complex your relationships or how “down” your deepest lows or “bad” your worst mistakes and choices have been, there are aspects of your life that are already healthy, successful, and highly functional. And, if you work at it, I know things can improve for you.

How do I know?

You are reading this! You’ve gotten this far in your life. To get to here, now, you have had to have had many successes along the way. To be able to open the paper and read you have already struggled and succeeded at so many challenges. You have already had to forge ahead and make your mark when others would have preferred you to do otherwise.

Identify your strengths and skills that delivered you to this point in your life (yes, make a list) and you will see your golden keys already within you for a better, greater future. Go ahead, accept your weaknesses but give them very little attention. Work on your strengths, not your weaknesses.

Your arsenal of inner strengths and resolve will deliver you into the land of greater promise.

June 3, 2019

Buck stop stock take

by Rod Smith

The Mercury / Monday (getting it in early….!)

Buck-stop analysis – note to self and any who are willing to grow (up)…..

• I am the one common factor in all of my relationships be they personal, intimate, professional, or casual. If things are not proceeding as planned or desired I will take a good hard look at my role in whatever is happening.

• I cannot afford to be a by-stander when it comes to my own life. If I am passive and adopt a whatever-will-be-will-be attitude to others and to circumstances I cannot legitimately complain if I feel like a victim and others treat me as one.

• How I respond to what happens to me is often vastly more important than what happens to me. While I will count my losses and grieve when necessary, I will re-assess, learn from my errors and from others, and move on as efficiently as possible. Scar-counting and bruise-nursing and poor-me droning has a limited shelf-life and is exhausting to endure and for others to witness.

• Reinvention is possible. Many have achieved it in the past and many will do it in the future. If I am so-called “stuck” a little courage, sufficient desire, and enough clean pain, will probably be enough to launch a few healthy and new beginnings.

• If my gains (financial, status, or whatever) diminish or demean others I must desist and repent.

May 25, 2019

Do you live around excessive use of alcohol?

by Rod Smith

The Mercury – Tuesday

If you live around the excessive use of alcohol but are not the one who drinks….

Every relationship feels temporary.

If things are going poorly, or things are going well – anxiety is still ever-present. Conditions can switch in a heartbeat.

Everything seems to exist on platform of anxiety because “normal” feels as if things are about to fall apart.

Any expressed conflict, even the slightest disagreement, feels like relationships are about to unravel.

Everything is a trade. Nothing is really as it may seem. You have to look behind and beyond all requests, demands, and pleas, in order to see what it is that a person (any person) may REALLY want.

All love is held in suspicion and there is no such thing as unconditional love – love comes with a price and you are always the one footing the bill.

Even if repeatedly told that an issue, any issue, like causing someone to be drunk or trying to get someone to be sober, or feeling responsible for the lack of money in the house, or being the cause of the conflict in the house, is not your responsibility, or yours to fix, you nonetheless feel the pressure of all of it upon your shoulders.

Any of the above true for you? Please, reach out to Al Anon in your area.

May 19, 2019

Love others

by Rod Smith

The Mercury / Monday

“Love one another.”

Sounds so simple. Like parachuting (“jump out plane”) and golf (“hit ball in hole”) and really good chess (“move pieces”); like ballet, and tap dancing, writing a book, and playing the bagpipes.

Just try it – anyone of these activities. All are more difficult than most imagine. “Love one another” is more challenging than all the activities I mentioned.

Perhaps you’ve discovered this to be true.

Try to enter the world of others, hear others, wash feet, hear people’s voices, I mean really listen and hear and listen and love and listen and serve.

Yes, serve.

Serve in a way that only empowers and doesn’t at all dis-empower – which is a skill really worthy of development.

Love and serve and help and support in ways that do not rob others of their dignity and yet does not create unhealthy dependency.

Serve in a way to enrich others.

It’s a tightrope.

And, forgive. Yes. Really forgive. Forgive with the love that covers a multitude of errors.

See the complexities of other people’s lives and do not walk away.

See the errors and unwise choices and the results of unwise choices others have made and not give up with a shrug or a contemptuous attitude.

Love when it is neither appreciated nor reciprocated.

Love even when it is rejected.

Love, even when the act of loving makes an enemy of the person whom you seek to love.

This is not uncommon!

“Love one another.”

This is perhaps the greatest challenge each of us ever faces.

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(Un)related pic…… I adore the picture but I love Thulani’s tagged comment the most:

May 16, 2019

What brings you joy?

by Rod Smith

The Mercury / Friday

What brings you joy?

It doesn’t take much to please me:

• It brings me inordinate joy, even quizzical joy, to find a lost sock and to reunite it with its mate.

• It’s a shot of pure joy when either of my sons asks me how I’m doing or how my day is going.

• I really like it when friends, whom I introduce to each other, end up doing something wonderful together.

• Being in a position to send a little cash to another country to buy a third-world child’s soccer boots and a soccer kit and knowing the child will be part of a team delivers a joy I can hardly begin to describe.

• Having sufficient excess income to be able to tip well knowing the server is a single mother working several jobs to make ends meet is thrilling to me.

• Meeting the sons and daughters of couples whose wedding I performed and feeling somehow and oddly connected to their very existence makes me really happy, especially when they are unaware of the connection.

• It’s a huge source of joy to me when I see my sons being enjoyed by their friends and embraced by a community and valued by people I don’t even know.

Please, let me know some of yours.

May 14, 2019

Loss, grief, mourning

by Rod Smith

The Mercury / Wednesday

Loss, grief, mourning

A few things I’ve seen, known, experienced about significant loss, grief, and mourning:

• Grief can go into hiding and emerge months, even years later, as something quite unexpected – like anger, disappointment and/or cynicism, or kindness, joy, softness, and appreciation.

• Time itself doesn’t heal, not usually. Some grief is never “healed” and some losses never find “closure” but the lack of both does not necessarily mean survivors will not or cannot live full, productive, beautiful lives.

• Replacing a loss with another person “too quickly” may we’ll be unwise, unfair, irresponsible (all things I’ve heard) but it doesn’t feel that way for the one who has suffered and insisting on it is usually alienating and counterproductive and rip already suffering families apart.

• Mourning has a life of its own, at least initially, and it’s best not tamed by the untrained.

• When a person who had suffered loss declares he or she’d rather not talk about “it” the desire is best respected.

• Our uniqueness as individuals is also reflected in how people respond to difficulties associated with significant loss and it’s ridiculous to approach a grieving person with a step-by-step generic packaged formula.

• Non-possessive warmth, listening ears, and a hot cups of tea may be the most powerful gifts a person can offer one who has suffered loss.

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My evening walk