Friday, November 20

Self Evaluation..."

For the past several months Judi and I have been serving as facilitators for a weekly on-going, 13 week Divorce Care recovery support group. The purpose of the program is to provide for the men and women in attendance the guidance along the path toward healing after experiencing the emotional pain of separation and divorce.

Even though Judi and I have been married going on 27 years, we consider ourselves to be uniquely qualified to shepherd this group, as we both ourselves are products of previously failed marriages. We understand the physical, emotional and spiritual trauma that accompanies a marriage implosion. Just as there are predictable stages that an individual will traverse at the loss of loved one through death, so are these same phases applicable as the result of a failed marriage. What we watch for and attempt to evaluate in each participant, as they progress through the 13 week course (many of whom repeat the course several times and are always welcomed to be part of the group as long as they choose), is how well each over time is dealing with and evolving away from the emotions of profound anger, depression, and loneliness that are the earmarks along the guided path toward moving productively forward again with their lives.

The greatest majority of the new course attendees come through the door with their raw emotions displayed prominently on their sleeves. Many a box of facial tissues have been utilized in the initial weeks of a new divorced person's participation in the group as each begins in their own way and in their own time to "open up" and share about the pain they have suffered and are continuing to experience. As a rule, we have witnessed that as time passes and each person becomes more trusting of themselves and their fellow course participants, glimpses of the individual's unburdened personalities begin to shine through. It is not unusual for any number of weeks to pass before an participant will feel free enough to enjoy a touch of levity at themselves or in agreement with another's unbridled humor. We recognize that at that time such a freeing up of the spirit, is a most important milestone in the person's positive steps towards recovery.

In that vein, each week Judi and I make available one or two page handouts that correspond with each of the 13 discussion topics. This past Tuesday evening the topic was "New Relationships." For the newer group members to entertain the mere thought of developing a new relationship is sufficient to evoke gales of laughter if not groans of abject repulsion. The fact remains, however, that the greatest majority of individuals who experience a divorce will in the future venture into the establishment of a relationship with a person of the opposite sex and most will eventually remarry. The lesson to be learned is to not do so too quickly, as 76% of second marriages also end in divorce unless very careful consideration is given over an extended period of time to assure that the second person one marries isn't a carbon copy of the first. With that thought in mind, I distributed to the participants the following hand out that appeared on the Women's Day Web site, entitled "How To Find Out If He's 'Marriage Material.'" (My responses are in red.)

1. Does he make you laugh? According to Judi, that is one of the first things she liked initially about me and continues to appreciate after 26 years of marriage.

2. Is he mechanically inclined? Can I fix a car? No, but I can certainly remodel a house. I think that qualifies me, but that talent has also caused friction between Judi and me over the years.

3. Has he gotten over being a mama's boy? That stopped the minute I moved out of my parent's house at the age of 18.

4. Is he nice to his mother? I'm being honest much as I can tolerate being so without her driving me to regularly consumed strong drink.

5. Does he have a life independent of yours? Yes. Judi and I share many of the same interest, but are free to pursue other avenues that are unique to our personalities and talents. For me, it's golf...once a week if we can afford it and it doesn't interfere with a previous mutual obligation.

6. Can he remain romantic? On a scale form 1 t0 10, with 10 being "very romantic," I probably score a 3, if I'm lucky. My idea of being romantic is being attentive, but Judi keeps reminding me (and I'm still learning) that fixing her tea every morning like clockwork still leaves room for vast improvement.

7. Will he buy you personal items at the grocery store? Yes, if asked, but I would prefer not to. Once Judi sent me to the local drug store to pick up a particular box of hair color so she could highlight her hair. I finally found the right isle and was confronted with every imaginable shade of dye ever invented. To make matters worse, as I let my eyes scan row after row of this color and that color, there were two women next to me who were engaged in the same task. They appeared, however, to know exactly what they were in search of. I finally gave up and said, "Okay ladies, I need help. Can you find (whatever the color was ?") One of the ladies immediately reached down and choose the box I was searching for. "Here you go, you poor soul," she said. I expressed my appreciation to her and lamented, "I'm sure glad I wasn't sent here to pick up any feminine hygiene products." As this same woman began to walk away, I heard her mutter under her breath, "Men are so useless." At that particular moment, I had to concur.

8. Can he admit he is wrong? Yes, but I do so, admittedly, reluctantly. But that is a personality trait that stems from my childhood and is another story for another time. I'm still working on being in tune with Judi's expectations so I don't have to find myself in that predicament.

9. Does he compliment you in front to others? Yes, as well as brag on Judi when she isn't within earshot. This is a lesson every man should learn and practice. Still, as with every good habit, I could do more so.

10. Will he dance with you? Yes, but only after much prodding or after several shots of sarsaparilla.

This one handout evoked additional worthwhile insights and discussion among the group members...and no little opportunities for shared laughter. Divorce is a tragic experience, but it is not a life sentence. With the valuable tools provided by the Divorce Care curriculum and with God's spiritual leading, Judi and I have witnessed many previously broken lives cobbled back together once again. New hope and a profound sense of self-worth have been the end results for the greatest majority of individials who have choosen to be faithful attendees and who have endured the necesary time of required healing as they passed through the course to go out on their own once again to embrace a newer and more fuller life of promise that awaits each.

For those who may be at this time in the throws of a separation or divorce, or who may know of a person or persons who are experiencing the same trauma, please take the time to check out There you will find a fuller explaination of what the Divorce Care recovery support program encompasses and a location near you where a group is meeting. There is life after divorce. You just need to learn how to get there.

Thursday, November 19

"Let's Be Honest, Shall We..."

Newsweek magazine has stirred up a hornet's next this week by commandeering a previously published photograph of Sarah Palin that originally appeared in Runner's World, which, unless you are attempting to read this post in braille, shows her in a pair of black runner's shorts from which her very shapely and tanned legs are prominently displayed. Ms. Palin, upon viewing the re-published photo, declared it to be sexist. From a purely political point of view, I concur.

Mrs. Palin has been a lightening rod for relentless liberal media criticism since she first appeared on the national stage with then Republican Presidential hopeful John McCain as his fresh-faced Vice-President running mate. Sarah's propensity from the outset for being plainly spoken didn't then and doesn't now play well with the self-proclaimed intellectually elite who currently populate the progressive, socialist Democratic party, nor with liberal mass media outlets, such as Newsweek, who unabashedly kowtow to and promote this conceited brand of consolidate power by the few over the masses. Mrs. Palin doesn't play well with these types of people, and her willingness to recognize a pig adorned with lipstick when she sees one rubs these arrogant snobs raw. In a word, "Good."

Except for the other easily identifiable fellow travelers in the liberal media, it is obvious that Newsweek, in spite of its attempt at clarification to the contrary, deliberately selected this particular photograph in a thinly veiled attempt to depict Ms. Palin as processing a minuscule few recommending attributes other than an empty, albeit attractive, head attached to a very fit and trim body. Well, Newsweek, you got part of the equation correct. Mrs. Palin is indeed a very, very attractive lady. But to suggest that her appeal to the mass of newly rejuvenated conservative followers is based solely on the fact that she looks good in a pair of running shorts is, to coin one of Sarah's favorite epithets, ""Bull crap!" It's not that the liberal media doesn't "get" Sarah. They do, and her continuing plan spoken assault on their ivory towers of elitism scares, yes, the "bull crap" out of them. They know that she is and will continue to be a force to be reckoned with, even more so now that she has begun the much anticipated national tour promoting her number one best seller book, Going Rouge.

Whether or not Mrs. Palin will be able to sustain her present popularity with the conservative segment of the nation's populace and also attract a significant increase in the number of disenchanted Democrats and independents between now and the run up to the 2012 presidential election can only be speculation at this early juncture. Should she elect to toss her future ambitions toward a run for the nation's highest office will require that she make a deliberate and concerted effort to become more astute in the intricate nuances of national and international affairs. Given that Sarah is indeed easy on the eyes for those (me included) who recognize feminine beauty when it appears before us, the false portrayal that she is little else belies the fact that genuine gravitas is also among her appealing attributes, easily recognizable for those who would strive to be as serious in that pursuit as her equal rather than merely producing more paper good fodder that serves no other beneficial purpose than to line the bottom of a bird cage. Newsweek, you've found your calling.

Wednesday, November 18

"Let's Do A Little Catching Up..."

Admittedly I've allowed too much time to pass between posts over the last several weeks. So, I'll take this opportunity to catch all of my many faithful readers ("Okay guys...all of you come out the phone booth now.") on events that have transpired or will be on my plate in the coming weeks.

First... My candidate for the next mayor of St. Petersburg, Bill Foster, won the city-wide election on November 8th, beating his opponent, Kathleen Ford, by a margin of 53% to 47%. Not that my impassioned editorial diatribes in opposition to Ms. Ford's candidacy played even a minuscule role in Bill's ultimate victory, I am nevertheless very pleased that the majority of my fellow citizens recognized that a steady and proven conservative approach to running the fortunes of St. Petersburg is more desirable than Ford's offering of progressive upheaval. But as the St. Petersburg TIMES pointed out in a past editorial, it is far easier to get elected than is the task of actually governing the city. Bill will have his hands full as St. Pete's third strong mayor in addressing (read: appeasing) the expectations of the 47% who voted for Ford, who have legitimate, if not narrowly defined issues, that lie still bubbling beneath the surface of discontent. I am confident that Bill will give a fair hearing to all of these issues and will do his best to achieve a consensus of diverse opinions that will continue to move this city forward through this difficult and challenging economic climate.

Secondly... Daughter Megan and her main heartthrob, Greg, will be moving to Chicago on December 14th. This turn of events has come as a result of Greg being offered and accepting the position of Director of National Leadership Training for his college fraternity, Sigma Chi. Now the crisis de jour in our household is helping to get these two young folks prepared for this new chapter in their lives, a task that at the moment involves daily lengthy phone call from Megan to Judi, who listens patiently as Meg describes the myriad of details that must be attended to prior to their scheduled departure, most of which presently sound to me to be at loose ends. I'm sure, knowing my daughter's tenacity, all will be resolved in due course.

Judi announced has that in lieu of exchanging Christmas gifts this year, we would instead fly up to Chicago on Christmas eve and spend the holidays with Greg and Megan. Being the dutiful father that I profess to be, I've agreed to this plan, although I do not look forward to the bone-chilling wintry weather that I am sure will envelop us upon arrival. I haven't bothered to wear socks since last February and the idea of having to wear a heavy winter coat for any other reason than as part of a Halloween costume is repulsive to me. Still, I'll soldier on for the good of the order.

Judi, who is somewhat geographically challenged I've learned, was talking with her brother in Columbus, Ohio, filling him in on the pending move of Megan to Chicago. Don mentioned that he and his wife had visited Chicago and enjoyed the beaches there. This apparently threw Judi off her kilter, as she couldn't imagine that there was any body of water anywhere close to Chicago that would require a beach. Judi had the mistaken impression that Chicago is located somewhere in the middle of the state of Illinois and she knew for a fact that there couldn't possibly be a beach in that location. Two words: "Lake Michigan." This prompted Judi to find an atlas and low and behold, not only is Chicago not situated in the middle of the state, it boarders one of the largest of the great lakes. "Who knew?" she proclaimed. "Exactly," I replied. I have a pretty good sense of direction, being able to navigate where I want to go by having an awareness of compass headings. For us, the beaches on the Gulf of Mexico are west of us. I just point the car toward in that direction and know that sooner or later we'll run out of road. I may go around my elbow to get to my thumb, but I sure know that Chicago is northwest of St. Petersburg and it has a few beaches along a by-way known as Lake Shore Drive. I'm glad Judi isn't going to fly the plane when we travel there next month. God knows here we'd end up. Later...

Friday, November 13

"Just What We Suspected..."

For those who have been bothered by or even noticed that I have been absent from posting anything new to this blog, my apologies. There's been a ton of things that have crossed my awareness that otherwise would solicit a comment on my part, but, alas, they, for the most part, have had to do primarily with the continuing derogation of our nation at the hands of our elected Washington officials. As my father was so fond of repeatedly saying to me, "There comes a time when you have banged your head over and over again against a brick wall that you realize there isn't any future in repeating the practice." It, therefore, appears that no matter how much I rant and rave at the total lunacy continuing to be propagated by the arrogant elitist in our nation's capital, I, at this time, can do little to stem that relentless tide. So, I'll do my best from this point forward to pick my battles where I believe they can best serve a greater cause.

Just so you don't fall under the mistaken impression that I have forsaken all interest in the politics of the day, I am providing for your viewing enjoyment and scrutiny the photograph above which was only recently clandestinely smuggled out of the White House. Here for the first time is a photograph taken at a staff party of all of Obama's czars. Sleep well tonight, fellow citizens... We are in safe and capable hands.