It has been reported that for many years, a whale has been cruising the Pacific from central California to the Aleutians, calling out with a voice unlike any other whale's, and getting no response. “The solitary wanderer emits its metronomic calls at around 52 hertz, a tuba pitch that is, nonetheless, far higher than the calls closest to it - those of the giant blue and fin whales.” The call, possibly a mating signal, suggests that the animal lives in total, and undesired, isolation.
The song of the whale is a song we are all singing. To cry out and have no one respond is the remotest condition of being solitary. With unconscious exertion, it seems our pain can be elevated to a place…out of our awareness. Sometimes we become inaudible.
We then try to live in a world that allows for a double-consciousness, one that W.E.B DuBois names as something that is seen “through the revelation of the world, always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, measuring one’s soul by the tape of...
At the end of the summer, I found myself on babysitting duty. The last thing I expected was to experience something I often find happen in my counseling office. My sister needed me to watch her 2-year-old daughter. The way the places and time worked out, I met her in downtown Chicago and spent the morning with my niece, Addison, while my sister was at an appointment. I found myself with the dilemma of what do you do with a two-year-old for an hour in the middle of downtown. Fortunately, there were countless donut shops available! I told Addison we would eat donuts and go for a walk. This little child knew exactly what that I meant. Once we arrived at the donut shop, she searched for the vanilla sprinkled donut and pointed. As we were sitting (donut crumbs covering her face and fingers), she waved and greeted every person who walked into the door. Some were elderly people, some were small kids, some came in for a quick bite between meetings and everyone smiled in her direction. After...
Recently, I had the honor to speak to a group of over 200 men about the impact of pornography on emotional health and well-being. It can be a sensitive topic and I applaud those courageous men for participating. It is a topic that most do not want to openly explore because of the feelings of shame and embarrassment when the conversation invariably takes a moral turn.
However, it is an important topic where a little knowledge about it can go a long way in terms of understanding its impact and taking active steps toward health.
Estimates suggest that:
more money is spent on pornography than the four major U.S. professional sports combined.
thirty percent of pornography users are women.
pornography increases marital infidelity by 300%.
Research is showing that shifts in societal acceptance of pornography runs along generational lines with young adults more likely to accept pornography as good for society. What is considered pornographic is shifting liberally with:
As I listen to Bach’s cello suite No. 2 in D minor*; I reflect on human suffering and appreciate the slow solace of the music; a contemplative space, encompassing crevices of pain, as the lament carries throughout the song. A graceful plateau looms up ahead to surface for a time and the song feels hopeful; as in the healing process. The suite carries back down into deep valleys, portraying a calm stillness in ambiguity, where darkness and light exist simultaneously. It vacillates swiftly; then slows to an almost complete stop, where it can be felt that the song has ended, though it hasn’t. It softly resumes with more beauty and reverence than ever, before coming to its conclusive imminence, thus leading to the end. To me, this song emulates the journey of healing for the human soul.
I was desolate. The pediatrician called us with the request to rush our baby girl to the ER. We had just been to the doctor for her first check up and the blood tests re...
“If your tears had a voice what would they say?” – Irvin Yalom.
I have a complicated relationship with tears. There are times I wish to cry and cannot, and times I have summoned up all of my power to hold back tears, yet they form, burning, and I wipe them away as soon as possible. There are times my tears come in a trickle and sometimes they burst forth in sobs. Times I wipe them away and times they are deeply comforting to have on my face. There are times when I hide them from others, and also times when I hope that they are seen.
As a therapist, I find tears to be incredibly dynamic and complex. Some tears come from pain, relief, anger, shame, and joy. Sometimes from all at once!
For a while I have been contemplating the significance of tears. Tears are uniquely human experience. Why, out of all creatures, do humans have tears? Do they come from weakness or strength? And in Christian tradition, why will Jesus wipe every tear from our eyes? Will we...
I have been a therapist for a long time and every time I see individuals or couples who come to counseling when the relationship is in trouble or the individual has a broken heart, I can’t help but feel sad and empathic with them. I often ask myself, there must be something that people could learn to help them protect, avoid or identify the not-so-good behaviors or “red flags” for themselves before the heartache and loneliness come to play.
There are so many people of all ages who enter into relationships each day and see, but chose not to acknowledge, that something is not quite right with “mister or miss right.” The warning signs or “red flags” staring them in the face, but they may chose to ignore them or find excuses to not see them.
Many people come to counseling to help them work on the hurt after the damage has been done.
Here are some of the red flags you must acknowledge and I highly encourage you start to run when you see them and don’t look back, run…run…..
"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." – African Proverb.
Just before my wife and I were engaged she studied abroad for 6 months. About four months in to our time away she mailed me a card with that quote. It resonated with me then, and it resonates with me now.
Especially, every time my family of four, with two young children, gets ready for the day. There is no "fast" when leaving the house!
I often want to move fast, especially when it comes to areas of brokenness in myself. But I've learned over the years that long-term healing comes from inviting others to join with me in my internal journey.
Humans have an innate desire for connection but a propensity towards isolation - particularly when it comes to our internal worlds. Statements such as "I've got to get myself together" or "physician heal thyself" highlight that in our places of pain, shame, or confusion, we tend isolate from others. We are taught (especiall...
I was on holiday in Indonesia last year, a journey that introduced me to a culture completely new and compelling. I’d been invited by my American friend, who was an excellent tour guide, translator, cultural facilitator and menu advisor, having lived there 30+ years. After spending a couple of days at an off-shore national park, we were invited to stay overnight with the family of one of her Indonesian colleagues. They lived in a rural area and worked the land some distance away. Three generations lived in several houses along their road - well-built structures, tidily kept. The house we stayed in had dirt floors, some of which were covered with large sturdy plastic sheets printed with colorful advertising. The kitchen floor was bare dirt and had a small cooking fire burning in the corner. We were shown the bathroom, a typical Indonesian all-tile space, outside the back door, near the goats and chickens.
The extended family welcomed us warmly, offering chairs in the small living room...
I have a sweet tooth. I remember having an affinity for sweets for as long as I can remember. I didn’t have much sweets growing up, though. They were just not a normal part of my early years. I really can’t explain how I developed this sweet tooth but I know it is alive and well within me. My temptation of choice: tiramisu. The fluffy, coffee-flavored, chocolatey decadence is my kryptonite, and I can’t remember ever turning it down. I once bought a 7-pound tiramisu cake from Costco, you know the ones that are intended for a party setting (read: For a LOT of People). I ate the entire thing by myself in one week – that’s 1 pound per day. I don’t know whether to feel proud or disgusted. That was back in my younger days. If I did that today, there would be serious consequences.
I’ve made a concerted effort to cut back on sweets in recent years. It’s just not healthy, and the latest research is increasingly...
In November I had a baby. She is, as the nurses proclaimed when she was just born, spunky. She is also sweet, observant and just so delightful. I was thrust into motherhood and felt all the things I expected to feel – excited, scared, and incredibly tired. What I did not expect was the uncertainty. Yet as I began to settle into this new role there was a lingering sense of anxiety under the surface. So I read the books, I read the blogs; I talked to friends, and tried to figure out this thing called motherhood. I was looking for someone to tell me how to do it. And there were many who were willing to do just that. Your daughter is fussy at night? Follow these three steps to calm evenings. She won’t take a bottle? Six simple tricks to encourage bottle feedings. It is alluring, isn’t it? Yet despite all the answers others gave and legitimate wisdom from those who have gone before, I was not satisfied. All of the books, all of the blogs, all the advice, though helpful, were...