Stored Body Emotions

As you can see from my website, one of my specialties is Somatic Psychology, how issues are held in the body. Emotions are separate from our physical and mental bodies in that they are signposts that provide a window into our inner psyche, but that are also intimately connected to both the physical and mental bodies.

This is somewhat easy to see for the mental construct, if we experience strong negative emotions about something, we will label it “bad” and try to not place ourselves in a position to experience those same emotions again and the opposite is true for positive emotions. Less well understood is how emotions are held in the body.

I explain this by saying to imagine we are talking and, with no warning, I lunge at you. Naturally, your limbic brain will perceive this as a threat and before your cortex can interject that maybe I am playing some joke on you, your body will respond in a flight, fight, freeze, or feign death response, usually the former two unless the threat is perceived as too huge to even respond.

Another example that I sometimes use is when we round a corner and a child jumps out and yells, “boo!” Either way, your body will tense up to either move away from or to absorb the seemingly eminent assault. Because the threat was not real, we will either end up laughing about it or you will get angry and yell at me; both responses involve releasing the pent up energy that momentarily flooded your body, dissipating it and the adrenaline and cortisol that was released into your body. Watch two dogs or cats after they engage in play fighting; they will shake to release that same energy from their bodies.

When energy from some trauma is not released, it is stored in the body. This is easily seen in what we call big “T” trauma, a sexual or physical assault that causes the person to freeze in the presence of the perpetrator. It can also be seen after a major car accident where the driver is frantically checking their rear view mirror or side windows searching for another possible vehicle about to hit him or her. Less noticeable, but just as present in the body, are small “t” traumas, such as constant minor bullying.

In a somatic psychotherapy session, this pent up energy from some small traumas can be easily released with various techniques, but that energy can also be released by physical movement, such as a massage, yoga, running, etc. Ask any long term massage therapist or yoga teacher and they will be able to tell you of a client/student that begins to softly weep during a session. It has happened to me and did so again the other morning.

Since I believe the passage in 1 Corinthian “For we are the temple of the living God,” I take care of my body, along with eating healthy, I usually exercise three time a week and practicing yoga three or four times. I believe in an earlier blog I related that eating healthy, moderate exercise, and eight hours of sleep could almost match the healing of any psychotropic drug prescribed for mild cases of depression, anxiety, etc.

So yesterday I was doing weight lifting for the chest, and a song came on the radio, “Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks. This was one of my best friend’s favorite songs, along with “Time to Say Goodbye” by Andrea Bocelli/Sara Brightman, and probably more mine than his, “Friends For Life” by Gary P. Nunn. The two country songs we would sing together whenever on the radio/CD or when attending a concert. Not only was “Friends in Low Places” playing while exercising, but it was a live recording, so extra long and included audience participation; both the length and hearing others sing along did me in!

Michael died about ten years ago, the brother I never had, and all these songs have been tough to hear and not cry, but I have gotten better at not bawling in public with time passing. Further, his passing came at a time when I was committed to really living life, to stop being a middle of the roader. That way of living was safe, never having to experience real pain, but it also blunted any real happiness. Really opening up to what I felt when Michael died was excruciating, and it also helped me relish all the good times.

As the old saying goes, time heals all wounds, but an extended live version, coming in the middle of exercise concentrating where my heart resides, it was too much; grief overwhelmed and I lost it. Even with all the releasing of that trauma around his death that I have done over the years, there is still a hole in my heart that I can fall into ten years later.

Further, here I was presented with a diametrically opposing conflict, my authentic-self wanting to grieve and the social mask of “be a man,” “don’t cry in public,” and, worse, in front of someone I only know only in a business setting, my personal trainer half my age! Luckily, I defaulted to my authentic-self, although I was helped somewhat by the fact that we were alone in a back room! Even while tearing up, I could still feel the battle going on between letting it out and conforming to social norms. I was grateful that I honored Michael, all our shared experiences, and myself. I am also grateful that my trainer was aware of how powerful shared auditory experiences during concentrated exertions can bring forth a release of stored emotions and that he honored my loss.

Continue Reading

No-No Words!

No matter which side of the political isle you fall under regarding the current news story about transgendered people using the restroom of their choice, I am more interested in the fact that adult professional newscasters cannot bring themselves to use anatomically correct terms for male genitalia. I am not sure where this comes from, but I have a couple of ideas.

What I am talking about is the use of terms such as, “male parts,” “male equipment,” and even, “male junk!” What is the big deal about saying the word “penis?” In describing almost any other part of the male body, newscasters and the general public use anatomically correct term; we say arms, legs, ears, and usually even buttocks. But when it comes to genitalia and their functions, everybody seems to hedge, whether talking about a male or female body!

One reason is probably due to how we talk about our bodies to our children, especially very young children. We used euphemisms for many things, potty for bathrooms, beddy-bye for sleep, and, of course, peepee for urinating. Also prevalent are fingies, tootsie, footsies, etc. when talking with pre-verbal and very young children, but all the euphemisms gradually fall way after children turn five or six. So why do these culturally inoffensive words that deal with our genital also not fall by the wayside?

Another reason probably is the puritanical history of our country, with strict codes of ethics and morality until the 1960s. I remember as a teenager growing up in the south, my father telling me to turn on the water in the sink when urinating to mask the sound coming from the toilet! Like, what else would I be doing in the bathroom for about two minutes! Like women did not need to urinate themselves and would be so scandalized to hear a male urinating; of course, he did not use urinating, he said “passing water!” And this is so ingrained in us, that even I forget at times and use words like potty and poop.

So many taboos fell away in the 60s and 70s with regards to ethics and morality, especially sex, but here it is half a century later and a newscaster cannot say penis! Even more astounding, not only are we still using terms such as pee, poop, and little girl’s/boy’s room as adults, but we’ve made up new euphemisms that we would yell at our children for using!

Boobs, tits, knockers, schlong, one-eyed wonder, Johnson are just a few. Doing a quick search, I found over 200 synonyms for breast and 2000 for penis! While this discrepancy can be partly explained by needing different words due to the physical condition of the penis, whether it is flaccid or erect, I would bet that the majority of all these euphemisms come from men and their insecurities surrounding anything to do with genitalia and sex!

And what is it with the movies? Vulvas have been shown in films since Last Tango in Paris came out in the early 1970s, but very few penises ever make it to the big screen. If they do, it better be quick and flaccid, otherwise the movie will garner an X rating. Sure, you might say, the vulva is usually hidden by pubic hair whereas a penis could be seen through the pubic hair, but I would bet this phenomenon is either misogynistic, male insecurities around their genitalia, or both!

I am absolutely amazed at the dearth of knowledge or, worse, the misinformation people have about sex in general and their bodies in the, so called, information age. Working with children, teens, young adults, and even those in their 50s, it is truly sad to witness the embarrassment shown if, due to some information they have imparted, the subject of bladder and bowel movements have to be addressed in a session. Forget having an honest discussion about their sexual lives until about the third or fourth time it is brought up! One way to start combating this just to use correct terminology with children, no matter the body part or function. But first, adults will have to get over their fear of using the no-no words!

Continue Reading

Binge Music Favorites

Over the last few months, I have had an opportunity to engage in “binge” listening to some of my favorite performers. I do this usually when driving for many hours by myself and I will go through an artist’s entire collection that I have on iTunes. This first happened last year when driving home from the birth of my granddaughter and I listened to Chris Wall.

Chris is a Texas singer-songwriter that writes what I call Texas country, but others call progressive country or Americana. Nothing like the pabulum that comes out of Nashville; in fact, he has a verse in a song that states, “I’d rather be a fence post in Texas than the king of Tennessee!” I agree! I once heard that the reason Nashville country all sounds the same is they market test every song on a scale from 1-5, throwing out all 1s and 5s; turns out those are people on the tails of the bell curve and tend to either hate or love songs, but not in between. I fall into that group!

So, here I was in music heaven tooling down the highway listening to Chris and, ironically, stopped in his hometown of Austin about the time I finished all his albums! Despite his talent and repertoire, like another Texas singer-songwriter Ray Wiley Hubbard, he is known for one wacky, not-so-great (at least in my opinion!) song that another group got on the Country Top-40 chart!

Speaking of my opinion, I know my tastes in music are strange, but then I guess in many ways I am too! I recently sent an email to a British colleague to ask him a cultural question in which I described myself as, “an eclectic mix of anti-USA puritanical thinking, quaint southern US/Texas charm and traditionalism, progressivism, and roll-your-eyes New Ager” and my music reflects that.

The easiest way to describe what I like is to do so in the negative; I do not like any “hard” portions of genres, be it rock, jazz, country, R&B, classical, etc. Further, my favorites really do not fall into so much an individual ranking, but more by grouping. I like Texas Country, New Age, and World music the best, and then Rock, the rest of Americana next, followed by Jazz, Classical, and Alternative. I know, the definition of eclectic!

On Facebook, I have seen posts that ask, “If stranded on a deserted island and you could only listen to one performer/group, who would it be?” Up until now, I have always answered Yanni, but he has just been the first among many equals. Right beside him are Brian Crain, George Winston, David Anthony, Suzanne Ciani, Enya, and my new favorite, Paul Cardell, but they are only in the New Age group!

In the Texas group (every bit as much “top tier” as New Age and along with Chris Wall, I love Michael Hearne (he, Shake Russell, and Jimmy Stadler wrote the song Suz and I chose as our father/daughter wedding dance!), Gary P. Nunn, Shake, Tish Hinojosa, and Michael Martin Murphey (his early music, not so much his new albums). Under  the World genre, it is Jessie Cook (some call is music Jazz), Rondo Veneziano, Bau, Willie & Lobo, and Isreal Kamakawiwo’ole (okay, he probably should be in Americana, but I have him in World!).

There are no real Jazz, Classical, and Alternative performers I am really excited about, but in Rock, there are, of course, the Beatles, Beach Boys, ELO, the Moody Blues, CCR, and ABBA. Yes, I know some of you are gagging and going to quit reading with the mention of ABBA, but it is true, if stuck on a deserted island, I would be just a happy always listing to them.

I feel they have great lyrics and tunes and on a recent long flight, I got many of them in! Hate the movie, but love the play, Momma Mia, seeing it several times. So that is my life in the music fast lane. Now if I could only 2-Step to Angel Eyes!

Continue Reading

Asking Questions II

Or… Practice What I Preach!

One of the wonderful mysteries of life is how both synergistic and coincidental it is. Of course, I would find this so as I believe that the quantum physicists are correct, everything is energy and, on this plane, Newton’s law of motion also applies to how energy moves. Namely, what we put out in thoughts, words, and actions comes back.

I also believe that our innate nature is to constantly better ourselves, hence that energy, whether we are trying to or not, is generating opportunities to learn and grow each day; we simply have to become more aware, stay more in the moment to discover most of those opportunities. Sometimes we recognize a growth occurrence as it unfolds or, as happened in this case, a failure in staying aware or present.

My last post was on asking questions and, it seems, that blog was also directed to me! Even though I know this and teach it, sometimes I am a student all over again. A yoga instructor that taught me likes to say, “To teach is to learn all over again!” Well, the universe gave me that chance yesterday.

We are in Anaheim celebrating my sister-in-law’s and her daughter’s birthdays, and we were enjoying their Disneyland birthday present. I went to the men’s room and, when leaving, saw a gentleman enter that was blind that had paused just inside the entrance. I asked him if he needed help, he accepted, and if he needed a urinal or toilet, and it was the former.

I guided him to a stall, showed him the partitions and said my goodbye. So, how is this like the last post since I did ask if he needed help? Thinking about it later, I realize that I had used what I consider incorrect terminology and that the most important question had been left out, “Can I be of further assistance?”

First, he did not need help. For me, help is when someone cannot do something, like lifting something too heavy for one person or helping a child with schoolwork they do not yet understand. This fellow was perfectly capable of finding the urinals, even if doing so in a strange bathroom may not have been easy. I should have asked if he needed assistance. Yes, I know it is a minor distinction and that a definition for help is to assist, but words have energy and there is that part of helping that indicates inability. And then I made an assumption.

I now know that I reasoned that having gotten him to a urinal, that was all that was needed; how about asking him rather than me supplying an answer, albeit unspoken. That is the error on my part; he does not know if the urinal is a manual or automatic flush model or, now, one of the waterless ones. From sounds, he might know where the lavatories are, but not the location of the soap and towel dispensers, which can also be manual or automatic. And how about the trashcan or easily finding his way back to the door and ensuring no child come barreling through the door and runs into him?

He may well have said that he could take it from that point, but I never gave him a chance. From the feel good I had of being of service, and I am not taking anything away from that, I could have been even more of service by asking a simple question. Even though I feel I do know this, I had a fabulous lesson and reminder that I need to be ever vigilant, ever aware. I used to think that being aware to that extent would be exhausting, but actually, it makes life both easier and more meaningful!

Continue Reading

The Art of Asking

“I never learn anything talking. I only learn things when I ask questions.” Lou Holtz

This morning, as I was walking the dogs out to the end of the driveway to collect the papers, a young fellow on his way to high school slowed, rolled down his window, and said, “You have a couple of great Irish Wolfhounds!” I thanked him and mentioned they are Labradoodles. As he pulled away, I thought back to my own teen years and remembered clearly how important it was to me at that time to sound learned.

This isn’t to condemn the young guy for stepping out and making a statement. In fact, I find many young people are reticent to talk to people they don’t know, so kudos to him for acting neighborly and communicating! Nor was he completely off the mark, we have had many people think that they were either Irish or Russian wolfhounds; being first generation Labradoodles, they do not have curly fur like the later generations. Being an educated guess, I definitely would not put him into the category of the Abraham Lincoln quote I used in an earlier blog, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

I also do not know for certain that this teen was doing what I did back when I was his age, that is my own bias, but I do see it in many teens, especially boys. And although many times it indicates low self-esteem when we present ourselves as an authority, as was the case in my life before my 50s, I have no idea that this was the case this morning. However it does point to something that I have learned and could benefit many people.

As I have also mentioned in past blogs, our perceptions in life our totally dependent upon our experiences. We see, hear, think, and expect what we have already experienced. As we have already learned much by the time we are teens (but not near as much as we think at that age!), it is natural to delineate the vast amount of information that we are receiving through our senses, pigeonholing that information into easier to understand categories. Even when faced with something totally new, our brains are constantly searching to find like patterns from the past.

Unfortunately, this can result into what is called a closed system, categorizing new experience that we have into an old familiar group, and then shutting out the possibility of there being a different explanation for that experience. An open system, while it might initially categorize a new experience like one from the past, is open to the possibility that that categorization is incorrect and seeks clarification. Too many of us fall into the former closed system.

That is because, whether real or perceived, the older portion of our brain is constantly searching for threats. This closed system helps us to survive, let’s a look at an easy example. If we lived in Africa and had seen a female lion attack another human, and then we happen to chance meeting a jaguar, the older portion of our brain does not want the newer, thinking and analyzing brain to wonder, “gosh, I wonder if this new animal that looks like that lioness, really is a kinder, gentler kind of cat? Our limbic brain quickly categorizes the jaguar as being sufficiently like the lioness, despite the differ color, as a threat to our safety, energizing us to flee.

The key to learning as we get older, is to revert back to our early developmental ages and question everything. Utilize the positive aspects of a closed system, but recognize that it may be closed. Treat every experience as if it were new; allow the limbic brain to do its work of comparing and categorizing, but then question the process. Had the young guy this morning done this, he might have stated and then questioned, “You have a couple of great looking dogs; they look like Irish Wolfhounds, are they?”

This inquiry is fairly benign as it dealt with my dogs, and did not reflect specifically on me. What if, however, someone makes a statement about you that you categorize as hurtful when in the other person’s mind they are actually paying you a compliment? We all have had the thought, “what did he mean by that?” Having a closed system keeps us from enjoying the differences in people. I have a friend that I met in a spiritual setting that, had I not met him there, was so different from me that I quite possibly would have dismissed him as a flake. Not allowing myself to be a closed system, I got to know this person, and we had many enjoyable experiences over the years.

This lets us draw on our experience, while still keeping our thought system open in order to continue learning. Keeping in mind that when we apply our categorizations to others without asking questions, we do not allow ourselves to really know the other person. As I have stated before, we can use “I” statements and questions to inquire without putting our interpretation on the other; then, keeping an open mind (system) and really listening without judgment, we will enjoy a more complete understanding of the other person.

Continue Reading

Election Causation Error II

Or, “You Don’t Have To Believe Everything You Think.” I have this saying on a bumper sticker on the back of my truck. It is amazing what we can interpret from seeing, hearing, or feeling something, which may or may not have any basis in reality because we would be making a generalization from a snapshot. This concept came back to me the other morning listening to Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, on NPR. But first a little diversion…

Over the last several years I have found this radio program, while entertaining, has become more and more condescending to what I call the vast middle-class situated between the two coasts. I am not sure if indeed they are becoming more condescending or if I am simply more aware of what and how things are said. If you’ve never heard the program, they have several sections, played before a live audience, and having three guest entertainers, usually comedians.

I have already covered in an earlier blog my thoughts on how jokes really are not funny, but many comedians these days seem to delight in putting down their fellow humans, especially those they regard as beneath them. I have heard and read in the past about the ivory tower that “intellectuals” inhabit, mainly in the huge cities on both coasts, plus Chicago, but most especially New York City.

I know treating those we think below us with contempt is basic human nature, but it was brought home to me the other night watching a documentary on one of my favorite writer and director, Nora Ephron. Great film by one of her sons, but boy did it point out how those she associated with seem to consider themselves in a class above the rest of us. And this affliction really does seem to pertain to those in the visual, auditory, and written arts.

So back to the radio show in which they were yukking it up over Donald Trump’s “on the record” meeting with the New York Times in which he supposedly spoke over and over about the size of his hands. However, the dialog was not video or audio taped, with just a transcript released. I apologize, but one more aside. Back in the 90s, I had the unfortunate experience of participating in several lawsuits, but they were before it was standard procedure to videotape a deposition.

I became extremely adept at answering questions which, when reading in a transcript, seemed like the answer was succinct. Had you been present, you would’ve heard the sarcasm and contempt in my voice, which never made it to the printed page. Even better, when the attorney challenged me, I simply stated, “What do you mean?” making her or him look stupid.

So I can imagine, only knowing Trump from a few videos and quips, how he was (or thought he was!) probably being funny and self-deprecating. However, the joking inflection of his voice would not have made it to the printed page. And yet these comedians drew a conclusion over the sterile written words in the transcript, that Trump was actually serious and still obsessing over Rubio’s hand size correlation rather than trying to be funny.

Not only did they make the classic mistake of drawing a conclusion from a correlation (you may remember that since being raked over the coals in my dissertation process, I am attuned to and have encountered many such fallacious arguments!), but also they did not even recognize the context. Either that or they purposely chose to cast that meeting in the dimmest light possible. Or both! So much for the self-professed superiority of the performance intelligentsia!

Continue Reading

Another Election Goodie!

One of the benefits of writing a dissertation is learning to avoid the trap called “correlation does not imply causation.” I know many of my fellow grad students that, like me, got nailed by their committee by committing this error! The rebukes were swift and intense, so much so that we all learned our lesson and utilized critical thinking before drawing another conclusion!

One example often used is the admonition not to buy a red sports car because police ticket red sports cars more than any other vehicle. While this is true, it is not the color of the car; it’s the drivers. Young men tend to drive faster than any other demographic, and they also tend to prefer red cars to other to colors. It is this demographic group that garners more tickets, irrespective of the color of car they are driving!

Election time provides a plethora of folks violating this trap in trying to promote their candidate or denigrating those they do not support. The other day on Facebook, a distant Canadian relative did this. Based on her past posts, I know that she votes the Liberal party in Canada, lots of anti-Harper and pro-Trudeau memes and comments.

She posted a video of a Texas Tech University journalism major asking random students historical, current event, and cultural/entertainment questions. The historical questions were centered around the Civil War and asked when it occurred and who were the combatants; the main question about current events was, “Who is vice president of the United States?” Unfortunately, there were very few students who could answer these questions.

The cultural/entertainment questions were: “What show did Snookie appear in?” “Who is Brad Pitt married to?” “Who was Brad Pitt married to before?” Every student was able to answer these questions correctly!

The caption to her post was something like, “And we wonder why these kids are voting for Trump?” There were only two comments on her post as I caught it fairly soon after she put it on Facebook, and they both made references to the intelligence of Texans. As an aside, it’s interesting after I made a succinct comment based on what I’m writing here, not one other person chose to make a post! Unfortunately, my relative not only violated the causation/correlation rule but logical deduction to boot!

I dismissed the latter comments to simply being parochial, usually centering around the two President Bushes. Funny how we do not hear any ignoramus Texan style responses to Lloyd Benson, Ann Richards, or Wendy Davis in the political arena. I also never hear derogatory comments about the education level of Tommy Tune, Jerry Hall, Matthew McConnaughhay, Tommy Lee Jones, Jamie Fox, or Sissy Spacek, to name a few actors!

Unfortunately, this dearth of knowledge is symptomatic of the lax education standards across the country, not this university in Texas. Just look at any old Jay Walking clips when Leno was the Tonight Show host or some of the responses to Jimmy Fallon’s questions of people on the street! The same is true on the other coast; I saw an article showing a similar lack of historical and current events knowledge in Ivy League schools juxtaposed against 100% correct answers regarding celebrities. It makes you wonder about the admission requirements for Ivy League schools.

But worse, my relative doesn’t even check out the demographics on who is supporting Trump; it is older white males without a college education! She is actually maligning Bernie Sanders and her liberal causes because his supporters are mostly young white college students! While this might be a bit harsh, my Canadian relative might have heeded the United States Civil War president’s admonition, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

Continue Reading

Regulation States

For those of you who do not know me, I was born and raised in Texas but moved away for 15 years, returning in 2012. Man, did I miss the music scene and good Tex-Mex! I thoroughly enjoyed my time in New Mexico, Oregon, and Florida; while I never expected to move back to Texas, it has been an interesting experience. Along with the previous states, I have also spent some time in Louisiana, albeit quite a while ago when my grandfather was alive, and now own a second home in the Sierra foothills of California.

So I have experienced two bluish-purple states and two reddish-purple states, with Texas and Louisiana now having morphed into solid red states and Florida not far behind, and two solid blue states. New Mexico seemed to me to be just like Louisiana, but Spanish rather than French, but I digress. I found it constructive to assess the business climate in all the states and, until moving back, always felt Texas was very pro-individual and pro-business. That now comes with a caveat.

While I will not dispute the economic numbers that Texas has put up as compared the other states, especially the blues states, having now moved back, I find that Texas has almost as many inane regulations California and Oregon; Texas just regulates different areas of our lives!

Forget the abortion case in front of the Supreme Court; I am talking about more mundane situations. When we first moved back to Texas, the entire South was in a severe drought. We had no sooner unloaded our RV at a rental home when a fire broke out about eight miles away. As the fire advanced towards our neighborhood, we simply reloaded several boxes into the RV in case we needed to evacuate; while experiencing the disruption of an evacuation alert for several weeks, luckily we did not have to leave.

Last summer, a fire broke out in the county of our California home, this time, we were ordered to evacuate. Fortunately, the winds shifted when the fire was only a few miles away, and then it blew back on itself. Having experienced these two fires within a few years of each other, it presented a stark dichotomy.

Here in Texas, where supposedly regulations are kept to a minimum and individuality celebrated, we were told that if ordered to evacuate, we had 20 minutes to leave. Otherwise, we would have been arrested. In the short time we have owned our second home, I jokingly call the state, “the People’s Republic of California,” because of the numerous and overbearing regulations I have already encountered. Unlike Texas, when the “mandatory” evacuation was put into effect, had we wanted to, we could have stayed in our home! We could not have left the evacuation zone and then returned, but we could have stayed! Go figure!

On the other hand, in California, you can buy wine and hard liquor in a grocery store or drugstore at any time of the day, seven days a week. Due to the influence of churches, in Texas, you can only purchase alcohol between 10:00 AM and 9:00 PM, Monday through Saturday! I have a cousin that owns the first liquor store just on the other side of a “dry” county, so he not only gets business from those around him but everyone in the southwest corner of the adjacent county! Not many individual rights when it comes to staying in your home or choosing to consume liquor!

Last night we went to a concert at a winery in Texas, and the myriad of rules surrounding alcohol was astounding. The winery owner stressed that if any outside alcohol was brought onto the premises, the Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission could shut them down! The business is doing everything right, but an irresponsible visitor can cause them to lose their license. How is that for being pro-business?

Unfortunately, we are not actually talking about more or less regulation; just that red Texas simply chooses different areas to regulate than blue California! I like to quote Dennis Miller when he says (and I am paraphrasing), “Back in the 60s, we protested “the man” and all of “the man’s rules.” Now we have grown up to become “the man” on steroids!”

Continue Reading

Lies and Damn Lies!

This morning at the gym, while I was “cooling down” from exercising on a stationary bike, I happen to see a news feed going across the bottom of the television tuned to the Fox News Channel. It stated that Hollywood actors were claiming they would leave the country if Donald Trump was elected president. Wow, now that’s a huge newsflash!

I can’t remember if I actually heard this in the last two election cycles with either McCain or Romney, but I do remember hearing the same thing back when George Junior was running both times. Normally, I mock psychotherapists who “diagnose” anyone in the news without actually having had a session with that person, as it is highly unethical, so I’ll keep my comments strictly to observations; what a bunch of spoiled children. Oops, sorry, I guess I just maligned spoiled children!

Doing a quick cursory check, it seems that an actor’s education level fall into a bell curve, just like every group, if a bit lopsided. There are a few at the top end of the curve that have postgraduate degrees, and then a few more in the next statistical deviation with STEM/business bachelor degrees, followed by a large group with bachelors in drama or general studies, and then tapering off to a fair amount with a high school education. Even those with no college degree were sure to have taken a large number of acting courses.

This information isn’t to knock any actor’s ability or intelligence, it is just to point out that like everybody else that has not made a career of politics, their utterances on anything other than acting is simply their opinion. Would anyone expect that my doctorate in clinical psychology would make me an expert on economics, meteorology, diplomacy, or even acting?

I am always amazed when people quote actors on the environment, politics, or other subjects as though they are somehow brilliant in that subject due to their fame! It is just their opinion and, I have observed, usually fairly shallow and devoid of facts.

I used to think people different back in Leo Tolstoy’s day which led him to say, “Ignorance in itself is neither shameful nor harmful. Nobody can know everything. But pretending that you know what you actually do not know is both shameful and harmful.” An even better Tolstoy quote on this topic is, “There are two types of ignorance, the pure, natural ignorance into which all people are born, and the ignorance of the so-called wise. You will see that many among those who call themselves scholars do not know real life, and they despise simple people and simple things.” Nuff said!

Have you ever seen a list of what most “A” level actors require in making or promoting their movies? Their contracts spell out the number of assistants, drivers, food likes and dislikes, the size of their hotel rooms, what vehicles must transport them, and even what candy must be in their dressing room/trailer!

They are constantly complaining about the 1%, and yet they are in the 1%. They are regularly berating the rest of us on race relations, when their own industry is deemed racist. They are forever harping on women’s rights, when male actors make more than female actors. They lecture us on gun and sexual violence while appearing in movies that features, even glorifies, that very violence. And lastly, they profess to be concerned with the environment while flying private jets or riding in limousines to many of their appearances. What a bunch of hypocrites!

And now that Donald Trump might be president, they’re going to leave the country? Oh boo-hoo, and as we like to say in the South, “Don’t let the screen door hit you in the butt on your way out!” Worse, along with being hypocritical, they are liars. Funny how Robert Altman, Alec Baldwin, Elton John and others that promised to do so, didn’t leave when George W. was elected. I guess giving up all their perks and millions, built on the backs of all of us “commoners” was just too much, so they stuck around and “gutted it up” while George Junior was president.

As I have said before, quoting Don Miguel Ruiz, words are magic; we can use them for white magic or for black magic. Lies are both black magic to those who hear them as well as to those who speak them. While I might not relish a Donald Trump presidency, one upside would be to watch these prima donnas have to eat crow again.

Continue Reading

Ginsburg’s teaching moment to the United States

Yes, she penned her tribute to her fellow Justice, Antonin Scalia, but I hope that every citizen of the United States reads and really ponders what she wrote; doing so would go a long way in healing this nation. I have been amazed how, over the years, the public rhetoric has diverged, many words on harmony, cooperation, and inclusiveness accompanied by many words and actions of scorn, vindictiveness, and down right hate.

Justice Ginsburg starts her tribute with, “Toward the end of the opera Scalia/Ginsburg, tenor Scalia and soprano Ginsburg sing a duet: ‘We are different, we are one,’ different in our interpretation of written texts, one in our reverence for the Constitution and the institution we serve. To bad our current politicians cannot emulate this. This is respect; this is true friendship, to disagree so vehemently at times, but always with deference.

Ginsburg continued, “…when I wrote for the Court and received a Scalia dissent, the opinion ultimately released was notably better than my initial circulation. Justice Scalia nailed all the weak spots—the ‘applesauce’ and ‘argle bargle’—and gave me just what I needed to strengthen the majority opinion.” Wow, what a concept, reverential, dutiful, and civil disagreement in which we support and even assist while diverging. Yet we live in a culture that revels in name calling, put downs, and libelous and fallacious accusations.

Several years ago I read the transcript of the Kennedy-Nixon debate and was amazed. I remember Nixon as brilliant and an astonishing forward thinking (although I disagreed with many of his policies), but also as mean spirited and vindictive. Imagine my wonder to see him praise JFK, calling him “my esteemed colleague,” “my friend.” That is not what I hear from our representatives and senators today. Many people were shocked to hear then vice president Chaney tell Senator Leahy to “F-off” when Leahy tried to exchange pleasantries with him. Now, I do not condone what Cheney did, but considering what Leahy had said about Chaney, his former fellow Senator, on the Senate floor no less, I can understand why Chaney reacted this way.

We cannot live a double standard and, as I always teach, words have meanings and consequences. For many years, I have read and heard that the Republicans are the party of hate. And yet, when I read the postings of my many Democrat and Republican friends on Facebook, they see to be the flip side of the same hate coin; I am saddened that we as a nation no longer embrace what Justices Ginsburg and Scalia practiced daily; and for over thirty years!

I read several years ago how many young people would never even date someone from the other political party, how narrow-minded and intolerant. Kudos to Mary Matalin and James Carville who are showing how spouses can both love and disagree and to even Dick and Mary Cheney, a parent loving and respecting his daughter although they are so politically divided.

Bravo Justices Ginsburg and Scalia! Thank you for showing us how we can live with one another, even those with whom we disagree. One of my all-time favorite, sorely missed, opinion writers (although I disagree with her many times) was Molly Ivins; I am somewhat relieved she did not live to see the extent to which this nation has devolved. In 1995 she presaged our current condition when she stated: “When politicians start talking about large groups of their fellow Americans as ‘enemies,’ it’s time for a quiet stir of alertness. Polarizing people is a good way to win an election, and also a good way to wreck a country.”

Continue Reading