Psychology

A Sister is a Good Thing to Have

Maddening as they might be, a sister is a good thing to have. I should know, I’ve got one.

What’s a sister good for?

When we were young she was good for picking on, or, shame on me, for ignoring.

Now that we’re adults, I’ve found my sister to be a lot more useful. She’s good for lots of talk on the phone—she lives a thousand miles away.

She’s good for an honest opinion. Me, “What do you think of the new title for my book?” Her, “I don’t get it.”

She’s tops for creative ideas with fabric and other such. Bless her heart, she put up with me and made my wedding dress!

Keeping the family history alive too. Though sometimes we have different memories or perspectives on family events, it’s good to reminisce.

A sister is good for looking out for each other. We care deeply—that irrational blood bond—and we’ll always know that.

We just got to spend a few days together with the brothers-in-law, and it was amusing. Whereas I was usually the lead dog on family hikes, being the oldest, this time little sister was often in the lead and checking back with me to see if I was freaking out over the terrain, especially the series of ladders up a 35 foot canyon wall. (Not as bad as I feared.)

My sister has taught/is teaching me patience. After all, we didn’t choose each other. She was born into our family of four: Mom, Dad, little brother, and me. She was plopped into a crib in the heat of Texas, and I didn’t have a thing to say about it. Her arrival must have been quite a shock since it wasn’t long after that my parents pulled up stakes and moved back North. But, seriously, she must look stupefied at me sometimes and really have to put on her patient hat.

Everybody’s written about sisters. But nobody’s written about my sister—my unique sister.

My sister sent this card to me.

Thanks, Lisa! I love you too!

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Categories: Psychology | Tags: , | 8 Comments

Expectations of Spitting Dinosaurs

images“That wasn’t as cool as I thought it’d be.”

My grandson had expected the dinosaurs to spit at him. The ad promised there would be spitting dinosaurs.  But he had his cities confused—not at this particular exhibit.

Expectations. They can ruin our day.

Unmet expectations are bad enough—unacknowledged expectations can create a real ball of knots.

Let’s say a couple has the same argument over and over (who among us hasn’t?), and neither knows they’re working off different unacknowledged, unexpressed expectations. He expects she’ll go back to work after the kids are in school—why not?, his mother did. She expects he’ll do half the housework—her father did. Can you hear the arguments?

We run full blast, smashing up against our expectations, only to be disappointed. It’s no fun. If we have expectations that are met, well, we just think of that as things going along quite nicely, thank you.

Disappointments? Like the song says, “I just pick myself up and get back in the race.” That’s life.

But imagine running a race with poor eyesight—or, insight, as we say in psychology—learning to see inside oneself. Introspection. Self-awareness.

Back to my grandson. He got over his dinosaur disappointment in as long as it took to bounce to the next thing, which was ice cream.

 

 

 

 

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“Love and Respect”

Reuben, Reuben, I’ve been thinkin’ 
What a grand world this would be 
If the men were all transported 
Far beyond the Northern Sea! 

Then Reuben comes back with his rebuttal to Rachel. And round and round they go. Truly–where they’ll stop nobody knows!

This children’s song has been around since 1871, training us in the war of the sexes. I learned it in grade school and sang it with great fervor.

This war is exhausting, depleting, diminishing.

Did God really make us to go two by two, men and women together (stop, don’t start arguing here, that’s not my topic) to eternally be at war with each other? I think not. God made us that two-by-two way. And remember, He doesn’t make mistakes.

Ephesians 5:33 “Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

This scripture is the foundation text for “Love and Respect” by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs.

Eggerichs says we get on the Crazy Cycle and don’t (won’t) get off. Without love from him, she reacts without respect. Without respect from her, he reacts without love.

Then the kicker—somebody has to break the cycle—change thinking and behavior. (See a previous post, “A Little More Couple Psychology.”

“But…but…,” we say. No buts. If nothing changes, nothing changes.

Change anything in a relationship dynamic and you’ve got change. It may get worse before it gets better, as you pick up those spilled apples, but don’t quit if the change is in the direction you want to go.

Peaceable Kingdom

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Dr. Eastin’s Harley Pothole Theory

At the Harley-Davidson Museum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Dr. Eastin’s Harley Pothole Theory was born when, my first ride on my brand new 1200 Custom Sportster, I hit a pothole—a big one—smacked it so hard I thought I cracked the rim on the spoked wheel. The thing was, I was out in the country, no other vehicle in sight for half a mile in any direction.

Why did I hit it? It’s not that I didn’t see it! Reason: I was trying to avoid hitting the pothole, but I LOOKED AT IT TOO LONG!

When I took the Department of Transportation class to get my motorcycle license, I learned about this phenomenon. We go where we look, where we focus our attention. Therefore, when riding a motorcycle, one has to change one’s focus every so many seconds, or our body follows our focus, where we have our mind and our eyes. So to avoid hitting an obstacle, don’t look at it too long!

This was a great metaphor to pass along to my psychotherapy clients, since I’m constantly helping them THINK in more productive or deserved ways to drive BEHAVIOR that works better for them. Hence, Dr. Eastin’s Harley Pothole Theory.

One client said, “Of course, why do you think so many drunks cross the centerline and hit the oncoming car? They’re trying to avoid it and staring at it!” Another client, a pilot, told me it’s called TARGET FIXATION.

So, on a motorcycle, what you look at is where you go. (Don’t I know!)

And in life, what you think is how you behave.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We Are God’s Artwork, His Artists

A friend gave me the book, A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live by Emily P. Freeman.

The term art is painted with broad strokes. Freeman’s scripture-based premise is that we are God’s image-bearers, his artwork, and as such, it’s our task, our privilege, our terror, to find and live the individual artistry God has placed in each of us for His glory and the benefit of others. Everyone—even Dorothy, “the meek and small,” as she describes herself to Oz, The Great and Terrible—is God’s artist.

I’ve just started the book, but here’s a sentence that stopped me in my thought-tracks:

We’re desperately afraid of desire, terrified that if we consider for too long what we most deeply want, we will be confused about which desires come from us, which ones come from God, and how to tell the difference.

Bull’s-eye!

Daring to dream is God-given. And not following those dreams might be a waste of one’s purpose at best and disobedient at worst!

This same friend once said, “Are we going to be accountable for our unopened gifts?” Hmm.

I’ve known that God made me me for a reason: allowed me to develop certain interests, skills, and passions. Freeman gives us a gentle nudge, or kick in the pants, in the direction of doing something about it.

All right then—ready, set, GROW.

Categories: Christianity, Psychology, Writing | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

A Child-Like Heart

“Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18:17

A little child is—jDSCF1003oyful, guileless, trusting, dependent, eager, forgiving, curious, fascinated, playful, fearless, innocent, loving.

Are those the qualities required to receive the kingdom of God?

But what if joy, innocence, and all the rest, are wrenched from the toddler by thoughtless, self-centered parents?

Some of my psychotherapy clients are wary of relationships, don’t feel much self-worth, and are afraid God won’t pay them any more attention than their parents did.

So what does Jesus mean when He says to receive His kingdom “like a little child?” We adults can’t just set aside the weight of life: can’t cut out the thoughts and feelings burned in our brains that make love and trust a challenge.

Picture a child reaching up to Mommy or Daddy.

We were all born with that innate need to be picked up and held. Then picture some big, I mean really big, hands reaching down to pick you up—fulfilling your need.

I’m no biblical scholar, but it seems to me Jesus is saying simply, “Reach up to me. Come.”

O come, little children, O come one and all,
To Bethlehem haste, to the manger so small,
God’s son for a gift has been sent you this night
To be your redeemer, your joy and delight.

from the Christmas carol, “O Come, Little Children”

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Beautiful?

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” This wisdom was penned by Margaret Wolfe Hungerford in her 1878 book Molly Bawn, though the phrase has floated in some form through our literary history since about the third century BC. Truth in the perfectly crafted sentence.

Example: My dad thought his pug dog was beautiful. Sorry, but there’s an ug in pug. (Don’t go all schoolmarm on me—I know it’s u-g-h.)

Glaucous-Winged Gull

Glaucous-Winged Gull

Another example: My brother-in-law refers to seagulls as “winged rats.” True, they’re messy, noisy, and pesky, but I  find them captivating.

The day I took this shot, I must have taken a dozen photos of the raucous Glaucous. Then I tweaked and cropped those photos so I have enough for a gallery show.

Last example: I’ve actually heard snakes called beautiful by some misguided, weird, downright blind people. Believe you me, you won’t find a picture of a snake on this blog!

Categories: Photography, Psychology | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

If You’re Not All You Want to Be…Yet

If you’re not all you want to be…yet…as this hysterical video says, “Be more dog.”

I love cats, but sometimes they’re not…well…dog enough. So having a dog too rounds out my dog versus cat need.

But what about when I’M not dog enough?

Get up, get going, kick yourself in the pants, reach for those goals, just do it, don’t quit…you’ve heard all that before.

So…

Like I tell my psychotherapy patients, “If nothing changes, nothing changes.”

Someone should have told Walter Mitty, “Thinking plus thinking equals nothing.”

Categories: Pets, Psychology | Tags: , | Leave a comment

It’s Too Darn Hot!

Here in Wisconsin we’re having a hot, humid, horrible patch. It makes me want to scream. Don the striped pajamas and be a prisoner in my house. But instead of our usual inertia and complaining about the weather, last Sunday we hopped in the air conditioned truck and took off on a drive in the country. We ended up at a beautiful county park that was new to us.

The breeze was just right to keep the horse flies and mosquitoes at bay. I wandered down to the lake where a family of geese scuttled into the water. Too hot for a walk, I ambled around the edge of wildflower meadows, snapping photos. The profusion of flowers was breathtaking.

We ended our day sitting on a patio overlooking a river, eating a gelato—a double.

The day got me waxing philosophical. If I had stayed indoors, cowering from the heat and humidity, I never would have delighted in the wildflowers. In fact, I would have missed the peak bloom of the season.

There’s a life lesson in here somewhere.

Fill in the blanks for yourself.

“If I had……, I never would have…….”

 

 

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“There’s No Place Like Home”

How do the ruby slippers relate to God? Follow this yellow brick road with me, and you’ll see.

ruby slippers on the yellow brick road“There’s no place like home.”

For years I’ve said that if I clicked my ruby slippers, I’d end up in the Highlands of Scotland. To me that’s meant that I absolutely love it there—feel at home—long to be there.

Home is where the heart is. One of those trite, but true sayings.

We think of our heart as the seat or expression of our emotions. Really, our heart is what we think, since thinking drives our behavior. Our emotions are then a byproduct of thinking and behavior. In other words, our heart is what we think, where we put our attention.

When you think of home, do you think of a place, people—where you live? The Bible makes numerous references to “home” as a person’s dwelling place.

Here’s another definition of home as a noun: a place where something flourishes, is most typically found, or from which it originates.

But the definition I like best is of  “to home in on”: return by instinct to its territory after leaving it, move or be aimed toward (a target or destination) with great accuracy, focus attention on.ruby slippers

Now we’re getting to God. When my attention is off of God, when my mind wanders in the world, takes the wrong turn on the yellow brick road—I’m lost—homesick. I don’t care what it is that pulls me away, I’m still pulled away. Not home.

To be at home with God I picture being in Mary’s place, sitting at Jesus’s feet. When Martha complains to the Lord about her sister, Jesus responds: “Martha, Martha,” (or insert your own name) the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41,42) Mary is focussing her attention on Jesus.

photoThese are my ruby slippers. My granddaughter gave them to me for Christmas. I squealed with delight when I opened her gift. But I have to keep the slippers in my closet because one of my cats likes to kick-fight with them, and I’m afraid the slippers will lose. Every time I look at my ruby slippers I think of Home. “There’s no place like home.”

Worshipping the Lord, paying attention to Him, thinking about Him, aiming toward Him. That’s Home.

Categories: Christianity, Psychology | Tags: , | 2 Comments

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