most people fail to see Cookie Monster under the bed

girl scout cookie monster

By 1911 thousands of girls and boys were learning that to live the guiding principle of Scouting was to Be Prepared.

Pre-humans’ known world was tiny compared to ours, but the desire to spread personal and cultural seed remains the same. While it was once possible to hide in the bushes or run away from a bully, today there’s no place to hide.

Behavior genetics (nature/nurture) identifies the complex interface between biology, personality, and society when identifying a bully. Sadly, such knowledge can be misunderstood or fail to be put into timely action.

Scouts should be helpful; understand their heritage, and have respect for the rights of others.  Scouts ought to be positive leader-citizens whose purpose is to think out beforehand any situation that might occur, know the right thing to do, and be willing to do it.

Some grown-ups blank out when it comes to remembering what they learned from playing peek-a-boo:   Having your eyes closed doesn’t mean you’re invisible or, by extension, that something bad won’t happen simply because you ignore it. After all, monsters do live under the bed.

For example, at the turn of the last century the major powers engaged in what was later vowed to be the war to end all wars.  When it was over, World War I accounted for almost a million deaths from combat alone.

Less than 25 years later almost the entire world was engulfed in war.  Like other countries who chose to forget those early childhood lessons, America was awakened by a terrorist attack.  On December 7, 1941, 2,335 servicemen died in 110 minutes.  America vowed to “Remember Pearl Harbor” and never be caught off guard again.

World War II’s battle deaths would reach 15 million and introduce the world to “genocide”, a word not in existence until 1944.

But World War I didn’t end all war, generations have been born who don’t remember Pearl Harbor, or the reason we have come to know about genocide.  On September 11, 2001 America would host terror again when 2,753 people died in the World Trade Centers.

Forgetting principles, letting infamy be redefined as genocide, and leaving aside our vows to remember history show a lack of learning, insight, and spirit that invite terror again and again.

It’s enough to make any Girl Scout cookie crumble.

Kathe Skinner  is a Colorado Marriage & Family Therapist specializing in couples work.  Married to another military brat, they live in Colorado Springs among airmen and soldiers whose job it is to be prepared.  Find out more about Kathe Skinner’s work with couples on www.coupleswhotalk.com

Copyright 2015, Being Heard, LLC

DO YOU NEED YOUR THERAPIST TO BE HUMAN?

robot“I can’t work with someone who’s broken,” he said calmly.

The young man had just read my Disclosure, a description of rights that, as a Marriage & Family Therapist, I’m legally required to give all clients.  Although it isn’t necessary, my Disclosure also relates that I have multiple sclerosis; I don’t want clients to wonder whether my stumbling is about a liquid lunch.

Broken, he said.  BrokenI never imagine anyone thinking of me as “damaged” – hell, even in my most self-pitying moments I don’t think of myself in that way. 

I was temporarily speechless; did he really say that? 

“Tell you what,” I said when I was sure my response wouldn’t betray my hurt, “think about it until next time.”  Then I went home and cried.

At our final session he admitted what had evidently been in his mind for the three months we worked together.  He was glad he’d given me a chance.  “I found out I was broken, too,” he told me.

That young man understood that no one is perfect, not even therapists.  That healers can be in need of healing, too.  By making it “normal” to have flaws —  even serious or disabling ones (his anxiety and my m.s.) — the young man was able to let go of the stigma of emotional distress, the impossibility of being perfect, that was behind his anxiety in the first place.

I still disclose my disability to clients although the passage of twelve years has made symptoms apparent that were once easy to hide.  I fundamentally believe that clients who come to therapy often do so because they feel alone with how they feel; as Roy Orbison sang, the feeling is that we’re the “only one” who experiences the depth of pain we do.  How secretly pleasing to know that the someone who slips-up, isn’t always self-assured, or doesn’t always behave the way the experts’ books say is your own therapist!

How healing to know you’re really not the only one.

Kathe Skinner is a Marriage & Family Therapist specializing in couples work, especially with those whose relationships are impacted by invisible disability or chronic illness.  She’s been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis for over 35 years.  At home in Colorado with David, her husband, and their two hooligan cats, Petey and Lucy, no one in their household believes in Kathe’s perfection.  Find information about the Skinners’ upcoming Couples Communication Workshop at www.beingheardnow.comand Kathe’s other dynamic practice and programs at coupleswhotalk.com.

Image Courtesy of supakitmod at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

© 2015, Being Heard, LLC

RUNNING BLIND

guilhermina guide 3

Super-star athletes are polishing their personas with the advent of the Summer Olympics to be held in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.  One of them, Jamaican mega-medal winner Usain Bolt, has the gracefulness of a natural athlete. With his perpetual smile and generally good nature, Bolt is no pushover.

One doesn’t get the impression that Usain Bolt would promote something disagreeable.

Despite his gifts, or maybe because of them, Bolt also demonstrates a remarkably generous spirit, e.g., his 2012 embrace of double-amputee Oscar Pistorius, who competed against Bolt.

At a recent promo event, Bolt paired with Brazilian Paralympic multi-medalist Terezinha Guilhermina as her guide runner. Vision-impaired para-athletes compete under strict guidelines that may include use of sighted guide runners. Guilhermina trains and competes with guide Guilherme Soares de Santana; tethered at the wrist, she runs blindfolded as they match each other in speed and timing.

This high-speed dance is like a successful relationship: Trust is essential.  Good communication is quick but subtle, successful only with lots of practice.  Even when a compatible partner is found — no easy task in itself — the tasks are twice as difficult, twice as demanding.

If you’ve ever run a playground race with one leg joined to another person’s you begin to understand how tough it is to run as one.

Even so, Bolt expressed concern that Guilhermina would fall over or be unable to run fast enough. Both fears were unfounded.

Like running in synch, when an able-bodied athlete joins with a para-athlete, one shadows the other. Both understand the effort, sacrifice, and ability that has brought them to the medal podium.  As in a good marriage, there is mutual admiration and respect; knowledge that the differences are not diminishments.

Now for the preachy part:  There are two separate and unequal worlds when it comes to sport.  Usain Bolt, personable as he is, sells because of his able-bodied ability, not his smile.  Paralympic athletes sell to the larger audience only when paired with Olympic athletes; it doesn’t matter that their talent, drive, focus, and commitment to excellence are the same.

“Blade runner” Arthur Pistorius got more ink because of his fall from grace than from his rise to it.

Societal disequity is an old story and not just one about disability. Overcoming innate human suspicion and dislike of what is different requires conscious and concerted effort.  The nudge may come from decades’ worth of disabled vets with their can-do mentality, greater numbers, and the societal bequeathing of a high moral ground.

Personally, I’ll take it any way I can get it:  If the result to being paired with an able-bodied celebrity is lasting inclusion and a broader definition of human value, then drop the red flag and let the sports begin.

Kathe Skinner is a Marriage & Family Therapist whose private practice focuses on couples, especially those whose relationship is complicated by invisible or visible disability.  Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis for nearly 40 years and understands that athletes go beyond themselves to compete.  With two world-class cat nappers, Petey and Lucy, Kathe and husband David live in Colorado where she doesn’t ski.

Read more about their Couples Communication Workshops at www.BeingHeardNow.com.  While you’re at it, check out our newest site, www.CouplesWhoTalk.com.

A RITUAL THAT DOESN’T WORK.

resolution

Who came up with this idea, anyway?

Blame the Babylonians and Romans who used their new year to reaffirm allegiance to the gods as well as to lesser but still powerful mortals like kings or emperors.

Much later, in 1740, John Wesley developed a religious alternative to holiday partying.  These watch night services were held as a renewal of the covenant with God.

Resolutions ran with a powerful crowd.

Ironically, less powerful are today’s resolves, which are about inwardly personal behaviors rather than loyalty to something greater than ourselves.  Resolutions about mental health and wellness concerns like partnering, parenting, drinking, drugging, smoking and eating are peer- and culture-expected but given lip service.  In an attitude of predetermined failure, resolutions about important behavior changes are almost expected to be broken and quickly forgiven when they are.

Promises expected are promises unkept.

That’s how I feel about New Year’s Resolutions.

Besides, I think most of us change not because we’re supposed to, or even want to, but because we choose to, sometimes for not-very-good reasons.  Change is something much greater and often tons more weighty and harder to handle than a New Year’s resolution.

Those choices and changes can’t be scheduled for a certain day, like January 1st.  That’d be about as meaningful as marriage vows made in an arena full of other couples.  If that’s anything like the resolutions actually kept, about half of those couples are headed for a split after only a month together.

Sitting here at the end of December, I’m in solid company:  According to a 2013 CBS poll almost 70% of Americans don’t make New Year’s resolutions at all.

I just hope none of them were married in an arena.

Kathe Skinner is a Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice where she specializes working with couples looking for change within their relationships.  She and her husband David live in Colorado with their two change-aversive cats, Petey and Lucy. 

copyright, 2014, Being Heard, LLC

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net