In Child Development, Divorce, Drug Use, Education, Families, father, Grandparents, Marriage, Parenting, Religion, Schools, The Family, Values on September 19, 2014 at 8:20 am

road maps for lifeMaddi Gillel

Have you ever been trying to get somewhere, such as in a different city, state, or country? Did you have a map? Did you speak the language so that you could ask? We’ve all been in this situation. Some of us are born with a compass in our heads, some are born without one. This compass might be for direction-NESW direction – or it might be for one’s path through life. Do we need a map?

What makes the difference in someone who is well educated, well-adjusted, clean, articulate, talented, musical etc. AND one who is illiterate, dirty, poor, hounded by collectors, kicked out of apartments, and ‘kicked out’ of all polite, decent society?

I have a sister who just dealt all summer with a renter of this latter category. He is married and raising 2 grandchildren. His son lives with them also, who smokes non-stop. The head of the household is a hoarder, he’s dirty, smelly and greasy – and 70 years old. He was several months behind in his rent and the place was a mess–old cars parked on the lawn – you get the picture.

No one starts out in life thinking this is how they’ll end up, much less wanting to. Did this man follow a map for life? Or has he just wandered around wherever life took him?

I know a man who is around 40 and started using drugs when he was 14. He graduated from high school because his parents stayed on top of it. He has some college. He’s been married twice and is now divorced with two young children for which he has full custody. His emotional health has been jeopardized; he has a few skills for life but insufficient education and training. His spiritual life is difficult for him because he did not establish those habits and that lifestyle when he was young. Life, for him, is an uphill battle and struggle.

It was once pointed out to me in a class, that the most important decisions and direction for life are determined by the time a person is 20-21 years of age. This period of time is when someone has learned life skills. How to be a father or mother; how to manage a home; how to manage money and time; how to cook, clean, sew, mend, and nurture for women (Julie B. Beck said that the key to nurturing is homemaking skills) – and for the men, how to repair items in a home and yard; how to earn a living; how to be a good husband and father; how to function well in society by being a giver and producer rather than a taker and a destroyer.

 It takes learning, observation and action to become a strong individual and to build a strong family. This, in turn, builds strong children and grandchildren. This, in turn, builds a strong culture and society.

This is where we get back to our maps and compass. This is where principles and values come in. There are some things we do and are: honest, faithful to God and family, industrious, cheerful, generous, educated, clean, reverent, loving, considerate, courteous, dependable, kind, courageous, disciplined, grateful, responsible, refined, and patient.

When we don’t have (or use) our maps and compass, we are lost, dishonest, selfish, angry, immoral, drug/alcohol/tobacco dependent, illiterate, broke, lazy, disrespectful, rude, inconsiderate, cowardly, hateful, dirty, etc.

How we end up when we’re 40 or 70 years old all depends on what maps we used and the compass we consulted. There can be mid-course corrections, and thank goodness. It’s seldom too late, but the sooner we get back on course, the better.

 We can conclude that strong families become our map and compass for life. Wrecked families provide little direction and purpose. There are certainly exceptions in both situations, but the odds favor the strong families.





What, Me Worry?

In Diane Robertson, Drug Use, Education, Families, motherhood, Parenting, The Family, Values on September 18, 2014 at 9:29 pm

Mad MagazineRebecca Mallory

Anybody out there old enough to remember the old MAD Magazine icon Alfred E. Neuman? Every issue donned his face with the same goofy look of complete oblivion to life. Not a care in the world. That goofy face should have donned the cover of one of the greatest books ever written on needless worry: Dale Carnegie’s “Stop Worrying and Start Living” written in the 1930’s. It’s truths are as timeless and priceless today as they were then.

Some of these same truths were extolled in one of Diane Robertson’s latest UFI blog posts on Endurance. Thanks Diane. You are right. There is an abundance of pain, suffering, sadness, depression, and endless worry that can engulf you if you allow it. How comforting to know that you have the internal power to live happily and at peace amidst the world’s turmoil. Many believe, in fact, that our very purpose here on earth is to be tried and tested.

Will we actually learn the lessons and gain the “tools” to overcome adversity? No one is exempt from avoiding life’s difficulties. In fact we’ve all heard the old adage, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” Robertson described how giving birth ten times changed her fear of intense pain into a beautiful miraculous event. She compared that pain and suffering to other life challenges.  The pain is still intense, but as we mature and learn to endure, we begin to triumph over the pain. We become stronger.

But what if we don’t learn how to effectively deal? What if we choose, and yes, it’s a choice, to cower and shrivel in fear? (Let me say here and now that I am not a counselor or in anyway a professional know-it-all about mental health. I just speak from my own experience with family, friends, and acquaintances.)

Carnegie talks about the devastating effects of worry. Does it ever help any situation? As an accomplished worrier, I say no. He states that “Seventy percent of all people could cure their own sickness if they just let go of their fears and worries.” If you google the number of people in hospitals because of shear worry, you’ll be shocked.  Worry literally makes you sick and can kill you. “What if I lose my job? What if my daughter gets kidnapped? What if we lose our house? What if my child becomes an addict? What if my son doesn’t make the team?”

These are legitimate issues! But does it help to worry?

Just this past weekend, I spent three days at a beautiful cabin in Arizona quilting with friends. Three of these valiant women are currently dealing with a drug-addict child. It was interesting to listen to the different “stages” each parent was experiencing.

Their level of worry and fear was directly related to the amount of time this has been affecting their families. In these cases, all are sons. A consistent thread through each was no matter the amount of love, money, help, encouragement, bailing out, tough love, screaming, etc. the son continued to use drugs despite the desperation and attempted help from the family. Why? Because it has to come from the user.

If they choose to turn their life around, they will, if not, they won’t. That simple. So the more effort, blood, sweat, and tears the family member exhausts, the more worried and ill they become while the user seems to maintain the status quo mixed with periodic cocktails of quilt, remorse, sadness, blame and empty “This time I really am sorry.”

One mom told of her friend who became anorexic and weak over her son’s drug abuse until one morning, she was found dead in bed. Literally died of a broken heart. What a price to pay over a situation you virtually have no control over. One of these moms has been going through this with her son so long, she’s finally realized that she was giving power to her son to determine her life of happiness or sadness.

She is no longer bailing him out, giving him money, letting him live with her, etc. Sound harsh? He was using and abusing just as often before this decision. Ironically, another one of these cute moms was in charge of this fun event of ours. Yet after hours of preparation to make everything perfect for us, she got a call that her son had “used” once again and was in jail. She rushed home in tears to be with him in court the next day and “support” her son. She gave up her coveted time to relax with friends to be with him for the 22nd time. Yup. 22nd. Great or enabling mom? All the fear, worry, tears, and suffering on her part may influence him but will never change him. His mother’s great and sincere anguish is making her sick, and will never change him without his heart’s consent. The English poet John Milton penned the words:

                           “The mind is it’s own place, and in itself

                            Can make a heaven of Hell, a hell of Heaven.”

                                               (Paradise Lost 1667)

Though over 300 years old, truer words were never spoken.  Our minds are fiercely powerful for good or bad. And oftentimes, we create our own heaven or hell within our own minds. At one point Carnegie had consulted with Dr. Israel Bram about the best treatment for over active thyroid as it related to fear and worry.

This was printed and hanging above his office door.

“Relaxation and Recreation, The most relaxing recreating forces are a healthy religion, sleep, music, and laughter. Have faith in God-learn to sleep well- Love good music- see the funny side of life-And health and happiness will be yours.”

Many of us completely bypass the tender moments of our lives as we look beyond today. Live in the moment and chose to look only for the good in everyone and everything.

My plea for all of us is to take Dale Carnegie’s, Diane Robertson’s and Alfred E. Neuman’s advice and “stop worrying and start living”. Yesterday is in the past and we never have a guarantee of tomorrow. We only have right now. What have you learned today through pain, suffering, joy, love, loneliness, etc? Be grateful for the joy you are experiencing right now.  Make a note of it. Give thanks for it. Pay it forward and give someone else a reason to find joy in the moment. C’mon America! Look at that unique person in the mirror and ask, “What, me worry?”



A Rational Basis for Marriage

In Child Development, Constitution, Courts, Diane Robertson, DOMA, Families, father, Gender, Government, Homosexuality, Marriage, Parenting, Proposition 8, Same-Sex Marriage, Sexual Orientation, Supreme Court, The Family, Values on September 17, 2014 at 7:19 am

marriage one man one womanDiane Robertson

We live in a time that many refer to as an “age of entitlement”. There are books and papers written about parents hassling teachers to give their children higher grades, or bosses talking about parents calling them up to tell them they have to hire their kids. We hear how the rich, the poor, the elderly, the young, and the many specialized groups demand benefits and rights from the government or society as a whole. Everyone feels like they should be rewarded certain things just because they are, and not because they have worked for it. But we forget there is one thing every human being is entitled to. There is one thing every child should have legal claim to and that is their mother and their father. Shouldn’t the laws protect that claim? Marriage laws used to protect children, but that is changing…

A year ago I kept very close track of all of the lawsuits and all of the rulings going on about gay marriage in the United States and even in the world at large. But times have changed, particularly in the United States. Once the Supreme Ruled on DOMA and Proposition 8 lawsuits and rulings from various judges and courts took off. Nearly every one of these rulings declared that laws limiting marriage between a man and a woman were unconstitutional. This has even been true for lawsuits concerning polygamy. Feeling a bit tired of the debate, my careful watch of marriage rulings drifted. So, it came as a happy surprise when I read that a Federal District Judge in Louisiana ruled that laws defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman are constitutional.

Yes, that is correct! In 2014, September even, after multiple rulings in favor of same sex marriage, a judge listened to the rational reasons why a state should support conjugal marriage and ruled in favor of it! District Judge Martin Feldman ruled that Louisiana does not need to recognize gay marriage for their state or for homosexual couples who marry in other states.

He declared:

  • Same-sex marriage was “nonexistent and even inconceivable until very recently,” Feldman said in his 32-page ruling. For that reason, he said, it is not a fundamental right that states must uphold despite constitutional or legislative bans.
  • “The court is persuaded that a meaning of what is marriage that has endured in history for thousands of years, and prevails in a majority of states today, is not universally irrational…”
  • The Windsor decision, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, “references an amorphous but alluring ‘evolving understanding of the meaning of equality,'” Feldman said. Nevertheless, he noted, it upheld states’ rights to regulate marriage.
  • “This court has arduously studied the volley of nationally orchestrated court rulings” against democratically approved gay marriage bans, he said. “The federal court decisions thus far exemplify a pageant of empathy; decisions impelled by a response of innate pathos.”
  • “Louisiana’s laws and Constitution are directly related to achieving marriage’s historically preeminent purpose of linking children to their biological parents…”
  • If states can’t do that, Feldman said, they may not be able to prohibit marriage among minors, groups of people or members of the same family. After all, he said, “all such unions would undeniably be equally committed to love and caring for one another.”

The case is being appealed to the 5th Circuit court, one of the most conservative circuit courts in the nation.



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