Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Adam smoking his pipe after the package opening.
Some of the wreckage from package opening on Christmas.
Fred taking a picture of who knows what on Christmas Eve (must be Christmas Eve - presents are still under the tree).
Sofi taking a picture of Aaron and Liz on Christmas.
Sofi watching over the snacks on Christmas
Thein cooking on Christmas in her American Eagle hat.
Wreath on the ceiling at the Philbrook Museum of Art.  The things dangling from the wreath are feathers - I guess because we're Indian Country.  Whatever!
Aaron taking a picture of the landscaping at Philbrook Museum of Art
Pretty good Christmas lights in my neighborhood.  I think there's a light on every leaf on the tree and bushes!
Old Warehouse Market -art deco building.
One of the famous art deco buildings in Tulsa - an old warehouse market.

The famous praying hands at Oral Roberts University
Oral Roberts University Prayer Tower
Oklahoma Surgical Hospital - interesting to a design student like Sofi.
Aaron and I by the lobby Christmas tree at Oklahoma Surgical.
Aaron and Sofi by the lobby Christmas tree in the lobby of the Oklahoma Surgical Hospital.  We were checking out the design since Sofi is a design student.
Sofi, Aaron, Bec, Adam, Thein around the fire pit at Aaron's graduation party.
Another pic from the 1959 mini reunion at Christmas

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Victim Thinking continued

I did a little online research into victim thinking and learned that that personal world view usually comes from trauma where the person really was powerless.  However, when that stance turns into a way of life, it is incredibly damaging.  Although it has its perks - like: blaming others makes you feel "right," self-pity gets you sympathy from others (up to a point), it keeps you from being responsible for directing your life.  You unconsciously create situations where you're a victim so you can keep your role going.  The most noticeable thing about a "victim thinker" is that they are constantly complaining and blaming.  It's their main or only topic of conversation.

Life is full of situations where we really are powerless - tornadoes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters, for example.  But we ARE in charge of our responses to those disasters.  Victim thinkers whine about their fate and look for someone to blame.  Non-victims (responsible people) take charge and make things better.

Lots of philosophers and spiritual gurus will tell you that the answer to victim thinking is forgiveness.  I think though, that the beginning of the answer is to take charge of making things better.  When I'm working on making things better, I'm not blaming and complaining.  Then I'm more likely to forgive when I'm not feeling hopeless, helpless and full of rage. 

"...in my vehement determination to no longer be a victim, I held the hostility that perpetuated my pain.  Once I realized this, I experienced a spiritual awakening in the form of a deep desire to let go of those feelings that were poisoning my life...I gave up my bitterness and regained my life."   Hope for Today.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Victim Thinking

Every once in awhile I re-visit something I already know and am amazed at how powerful it is.  Usually it's something I read in one of my meditation books or something one of my sponsors reminds me of.  Just recently I read that "resentment marks the spot where I felt like a victim."  I wanted to have that tatooed somewhere on my body where I could see it all the time.  Just today one of my sponsors emailed me a reading from The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie on not being a victim, and yesterday another of my sponsors reminded me that I was dealing with someone who can only see herself as a victim which keeps her from ever taking action to solve her problems (if you take action and solve a problem, you're not a victim anymore).

I spent the first half of my life thinking like a victim.  I felt hopeless and helpless and enraged.  When I came into a recovery program and they began to teach me about not being a victim and taking responsibility for my life, I got really mad because I couldn't see that they weren't telling me that everything was my fault.  Little by little I saw that I could change how I thought and how I behaved, which would in turn change everything around me and that that didn't mean that my circumstances or other people would necessarily change.

There was a television program I watched a little bit of a couple of years ago.  I can't remember what it was called but it was about parents who had out of control, acting out children, and the show sent a nanny to their house to help.  I was amazed at the parents - they were angry when the nanny showed them how to improve their parenting skills so that the children could rely on their parents to teach good behavior.  The parents saw themselves as victims of their children - saw the children as "bad" and expected the nanny to straighten the children out.  Of course, that isn't how it works.  Parents are responsible for their parenting skills, and the reason the children were acting out was because the parents were not parenting properly. 

Usually there was a confrontation between the nanny and the parents where she had to explain that they either wanted to use her expertise to solve the problem or they didn't.  If they didn't, she was leaving.  If they did, they would have to do as she suggested.  Since it was a tv show, the parents agreed to at least try her suggestions.  They usually consisted of providing structure to the children's day so that they could anticipate what was expected of them.  Included in the structure were fun things to do as a family so that the bond between the parents and the children was nurtured.  The children were also given responsibilities as members of the family - like picking up their toys, taking their dirty plates to the sink, helping set the table, taking out the trash, - reponsibilities appropriate for their ages.  There was usually a chart hung up somewhere that showed whether the responsibilities were taken care of and there was some kind of positive thing that happened if they were.  That might be extra television time, extra time on the computer or something like that.

The parents were to teach the children what was expected of them regarding eating, sleeping, dressing, etc.  Fighting and other kinds of acting out were to be followed by time out, where the parents put the child in a "time out place."  The parent explained to the child why the child was going to time out and told them how long they would be staying there - one minute for every year of age.  Of course, the children who were used to running wild would not stay in the time out place.  The nanny taught the parents to say nothing but just pick the child up and put him or her back - no matter how many times it took.  Of course the parents hated this even more than the children and wanted to give in, but the nanny wouldn't let them.  In an amazingly short period of time, the children learned that if they wanted to stay out of the time out place, all they had to do was refrain from acting up.

One of the common problems was kids who wouldn't go to bed, which resulted in mornings fraught with stress because the kids were too tired to get up and go to school.  Usually the kids had trouble at school because they were so tired.  The nanny used the same technique for that problem:  the parents explained to the kids that bedtime was at whatever time would give them plenty of sleep and let them be able to get up in the morning in plenty of time for school.  A bedtime routine was instituted - a bath followed by story reading was common. Then the parents were to put the kids to bed at that time. 

Of course, the kids immediately got up and tried to talk the parents into letting them stay up.  The parents were to just say, "it's time to go to sleep" and put the child back in bed.  The nanny usually recommended that the parent sit by the bed for two or three nights to make the child feel more secure.  Also, that made it more convenient for the parent to put the child back in bed every time he or she got up.  The parent was not to talk to the child at all after saying one time that it was time to go to sleep.  After the third night, the parent was to sit by the door for three nights and then after that leave the room entirely.  The parent was to put the child back in bed how ever many times it took until the child fell asleep.  Some kids were really stubborn and the parent had to put them back to bed twenty, thirty, even fifty times.  It didn't matter, the parent just kept putting them back to bed.  Usually the kids were falling asleep right after they went to bed by the third or fourth night.  Amazing. 

When the parents stopped being victims of their children and became willing to learn some new ways to parent, the problems were solved.  This example applies to my life over and over.  I had to laugh at how convinced the parents were that the kids were the problem and not themselves.  I lived my life that way:  if I wasn't happy at work it was because of my boss or co-workers, if I wasn't happy in my relationships it was because the other people were not acting the way I wanted them to, and on and on.  I tried to solve my problems by making other people behave the way I wanted them to.  And I did that for years and years without ever noticing that it wasn't working.  Thank God and the people of the program for showing me other ways to live.  Now when I try to work with newcomers to help them see how they can change their perspective from victim to responsible adult, and they fight like tigers to convince me it's not their fault, I can share how it was for me when I was living the way they are and what it's like for me now that I'm not a victim.  It's a far better life, for sure.  There are enough troubles in the world that I don't have control over without creating a bunch more for myself by victim thinking.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Living in the Past

I've discovered that writing a memoir is a lot like living in the past.  That seems pretty obvious, I know.  The thing is that in order to write about something, I have to sit still and really remember how I felt, what things looked like and for the time that I'm writing I do feel like I'm there again.  Right now I'm writing about the death of one of my children.  I'm not liking it much, but I've made a commitment to do this based on the urging of lots of knowledgeable people in my life.  So, onward I go.

What is the knocking?
What is the knocking at the door in the night?
It is somebody wants to do us harm.

No, no, it is the three strange angels.
Admit them, admit them.

D.H. Lawrence

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Keeping it Simple

I absolutely love the idea I got from Steve Pavlina of making goals so tiny that it would be impossible to fail.  I've managed to ramp up both my writing time and exercise by making itty, bitty, teeny, tiny goals - 15 minutes a day each.  I'm up to over 30 days with each of them and needless to say, progress is being made.  I'm fairly sure that the 15 minutes a day of writing has almost always ended up by being several hours.  So maybe the problem is procrastination and the solution is doing something even if it's almost nothing because it gets me started.  Whatever.  I'm hoping this keeps on working. 

...we of this world are pupils in a great school of life.  As Bill Sees It

Monday, January 17, 2011

New Year

Always at the new year I think about what I might want in my life this year.  I don't make resolutions - I have too much history with breaking them - it's depressing.  But thinking about what I want - that's another story.  This year I want to fill my mind and heart with love and serenity.  I want to ignore all the crap that seems to be going on in the world and around me.  I want to see if I can stay 100% positive all the time.  Well, that may be too lofty, but it's worth a shot.  I wonder how I would feel if I stayed 100% positive.

I pray to learn the way to see myself as a child of God, bearing in my heart and mind the dignity and grace He has conferred upon every one of His children.  Let me learn to live up to this picure of perfection - a little at a time, but always going forward.  One Day at a Time.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


My friend from high school, Mary Ann and her husband, Bob.  We were at the NHS mini-reunion in Joplin.  Obviously it was Christmas time.

Well, that's it for now because I'm having a challenge figuring out how to get the last batch of pictures posted.  All my computer is giving me is this picture.  There are a whole bunch more.

Friday, January 14, 2011


Oklahoma weather is exciting, fun and a pain in the you know where.  The snow is pretty much gone in my yard, except for a tiny little patch in the shade by my trash cans.  The temperature is above freezing and we're out of the teens at night which means I can stop wasting water by letting my kitchen faucet drip all night.  So I have less to think about.  I don't have to remember to put on my heavy coat when I go out so that I don't softly scream when the wind hits me.  Exciting.  A lot like when the summer temperature gets down in the low 90s from being 100 plus.  I wonder what people do in places where the sun shines most of the time and the temperature is 72.  I'm guessing they don't think about the weather much which gives them nothing to be grateful for when it moderates to something more bearable.  I'm grateful today.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cautious Optimism

I think, I hope that I'm back to what passes for normal with me and can start to do something besides sleep and eat again.  The bug I had was vicious and I felt really sorry for myself until I heard what other people had been going through.  It has just taken me longer to get back on my feet than I could ever have imagined.  However, I can now put away the Christmas decorations since everyone I had presents for has gotten their presents. Plus I can get back to my real job - which is getting my book written.  I've finished part one of one story - wonderful and yay for me.  I've written enough now to have a sense of how much more I need to write - I figure I'm about 1/8th of the way finished.  I love the flow of it - I'm not stuck worrying about this and that about how I should do it.  I'm just writing it (and going back and editing earlier stuff as I go along).  I've decided that my goal is to get the writing done and do something with what I've written by the end of this year.  I will have a lot better idea of what else I want to do with the rest of my life once that's done.

Until I finish the writing, I'm not worrying about whatever else I should be doing.  The ongoing work of advocacy for my kids (40ish adults) is time consuming, but there will be an end to some of it at some point.  I continue with that but the writing always comes first.  The only thing I lack in that department is getting my lap top to work right so I can email stuff to myself.  The email isn't working, and I hate to take it back (again) to where I bought it.  I've annoyed that poor guy until he probably hates to see me walk in the door.  My idea is to leave the house and go to where there's free WiiFi and write where I can't get up and do laundry or something.  I will get a lot more accomplished, I'm sure. 

So Step 1 toward my goal really needs to be:  get my laptop email working.  Hmmm.

Thursday, January 06, 2011


A friend gave me a copy of a book by Whoopi Goldberg - a series of essays on her "pet peeves."  As you can imagine, she had a lot of them and wasn't shy about the four-letter words, etc.  I am enjoying reading it.  Maybe all of us should write a book of the things that seriously annoy us and give it to everyone we know.  I'm joking but it might turn out that we agree about a lot of things.

Whoopi thinks that airlines should not serve alcohol because a lot of people on airplanes can't stop with two drinks.  She says that in this time when so many people are nervous about flying anyway, having an unpredictable drunk on board really increases the nervousness.  She also thinks that we should study up on the airline regulations before we go to the airport so that we don't have to act shocked about what's required.  Her thought is that the people manning security do not need a bunch of whining about the regulations since they are not the ones who made them.  We should smile and be polite.  She advises packing light so that we can get our carry on luggage on the plane without a bunch of drama.  People with small children should prepare them for flying so that they're not so likely to be scared.  Take them to the airport first.  Let them see pictures of the inside of a plane.  Take things along for them to do.  Practice good airplane behavior with them for a period of time similar to the time they will be on a plane. 

Whoopi also thinks the way we use cell phones is crazy.  People expect us to be available all the time now - answer the phone whenever it rings, night and day.  She thinks that's unhealthy.  We should have periods of time when we don't answer the phone - like when we're busy, with other people, in a crowded place, when we need solitude, when we're reading or watching a movie, etc.  We can return calls eventually.  No babies will die while we're out of reach - unless we're on call or something.  She thinks everyone should stop thinking that other people should just answer the phone the minute they call and stop leaving messages like, "I'm worried about you because I can't get hold of you." 

I kind of agree with her on this stuff. 

Saturday, January 01, 2011


As a coach and as a sponsor, I talk to people about their problems with other people frequently.  Plus, of course, I've had my share of problems with other people.  The more I talk about it the more I see that those problems are incredibly simple - black and white - nothing complicated at all.  But our irrational thinking patterns - usually developed as a result of our emotional problems - cause us to miss how simple it is. 

Dr. Phil says that resolving problems boils down to finding a solution that both people can agree to.  Very rational, right?  The thing I've observed is that there's no way that's going to happen.  Why?  Because both people want their own way and they both want the other person to be the one who is the sole source of the problem.  Often they want the other person punished for what they perceive as bad behavior as well.  So the power struggle ensues.  Too bad.  No good outcome is possible.  Their heads are stuck in the, "I'm right, and you're wrong, and as soon as I can force you to admit that and give me my way, the sooner I will stop yelling at you."  (And I want you to suffer for your bad behavior to even things out.)  Hmmm.  I'm still waiting for someone to tell me that worked for them.

For example, I hear a lot about power struggles over money.  Money is a black and white thing.  There's income and outgo.  There's building a prudent reserve for future needs in case or when we are not able to earn money or for unexpected expenses.  It seems to me that fairness would be a good way for two people to work this out. 

There's a book by Jerrold Mundis that outlines a simple way for two people to work out a fair way to manage their money.  Since most people have unequal incomes, joint expenses would be divided proportionately to their incomes - unless, of course, one person is sitting on her/his butt and not generating any income at all, or working beneath his/her capability.  Joint expenses are defined as those that both people use - shelter, food, vacations, jointly owned property, etc.  Things that are not joint are individual transportation (cars, gas, insurance, repairs, etc.), child support for children from previous marriages, etc.  Each person takes care of their own individual expenses.  Jerrold adds in the concept of value for work - like if one person runs the household and does childcare and the other is employed or if one person does the bulk of the work running the household.  The dollar value of this work is included as income.  The value is decided by what it would cost to hire the work done - cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping, child care, lawn care, and so forth. 

It makes me sad to hear over and over that people don't want to set something like this up.  It makes me think that what they are really wanting is to take advantage of the other person, or that they are too lazy to do the work.  Probably, though, they are just too stuck in their emotional problems about money to do the work of finding a fair way to proceed. 

But even when one person is totally unwilling to work something out, the other person can decide what he or she thinks is fair, communicate that and then proceed - for example, pay 2/3 of the house payment, utilities, property insurance and taxes, 2/3 of the groceries (up to a fair amount by his/her standards), 2/3 of all jointly enjoyed recreation and vacations (that he/she agrees to), do all yard work, see to it that cars are serviced, arrange for or repair household problems, etc.  He/she will handle his/her car payment, her/his clothes, individual recreation, medical and dental expenses, etc.  She/he pays 2/3 because he/she doesn't want to share in the running of the household like cleaning, cooking, laundry, etc., plus he/she makes more money.  Even though there's no mutual agreement, one person has at least made a guesstimate at what's fair to both people, and lives by that.  Then the other person knows what to expect.

The usual situation is that the money arrangement isn't working, but both people feel like they would be the loser if the arrangement were re-negotiated.  Usually, one or both want what they suspect would be unfair and so try to use a power struggle to get what they want.  So many arguments over money could be completely eliminated, the divorce rate would go way down, the happiness level would go way, way up, stress-related health problems would decrease, among other things.  But no.  We just keep on refusing to quit arguing from our emotional problems instead of using fairness and rationality to solve money issues.  Sad.

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