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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Liz Newman is a Winner!

Congratulations to Liz. She won a copy of Psyche's Search by leaving a comment at
Liz is an accomplished author in the romance genre. Her book, An Affinity for Shadows, is dynamite.
I'm still running my blog contest. As soon as I get ten new subscribers, I'll be giving away another book.

Friday, January 27, 2012

On Life and Death and Misery

What a cheery title for a blog post, huh? We recently had something happen to our little town of 7,000 people that rocked it to its roots. Two well-respected men in their late forties, one an MD, the other a businessman, were charged with soliciting a young girl for sex. The allegations stated the girl was somewhere between 12 and 13 when the men started soliciting her. She just turned 15. Police had in excess of a thousand electronic communications as evidence against the two.

Needless to say, emotions are running high here. People are either firm in their belief that the accused had to be innocent or vocal in their denunciation of the supposed crimes. The two bailed out of jail about a week ago, bail having been reduced from $1M each to $750,000. Tuesday of this week, the doctor killed himself by lethal injection. Reading through the ingredients he used, it sounded a lot like what veterinarians use to euthanize animals.

The MD's attorney is up in arms. Says his client was innocent and that local assumptions of his guilt drove him to take his own life. I'm not so sure about that. The DA in Santa Barbara (where the victim lives) said some of the electronic communications alluded to a suicide pact between the doctor and the teenager. In today's paper, there was an outraged editorial from someone convinced of the doctor's innocence and a letter to the editor by someone equally convinced of his guilt.

I'm not here to be either Judge or jury. I do, however, understand human nature. The doctor had everything to lose. And he was losing his life in pieces. His hospital contract had been severed. He resigned from the local school board. If convicted, he would have lost his license to practice medicine. The DA alluded to even more charges forthcoming. I don't think the MD could deal with the shame of going from respected community member to suspected pedophile.

Because I spent years in a family practice residency training program as teaching faculty, I have a good understanding of MDs. They work amazingly hard to make it to the pinnacle of success in this country. And they create a closed society once they get there. They see themselves as special. And they are in lots of ways. But they're human, too.

I feel a great deal of compassion for the family the doctor left behind. I saw his wife Monday of this week. She looked terrible, even before her husband took his life the following day. I can only imagine what she's going through. And the two sons he left behind. I wish the doctor had been stronger. That he could have ridden out the vagaries of our justice system. Even if he'd spent a few years behind bars, at least his children would have had a father and his wife a husband.

As a therapist for so long it feels like forever, I've seen the fallout suicide wreaks in families. It's not pretty. I haven't even touched on the victim, but I'm worried about her, too. The doctor may have exited stage left to save his family the humiliation of what else might have surfaced by way of evidence. And to save them the financial burden of his legal  defense. But the wreckage he left behind will do incalculable damage to those who loved him. It's actually hard to say which is worse: the humiliation he would have suffered living, or his suicide.

I like to think, had he been just a bit stronger, he could have seen this thing through to whatever the natural conclusion might have been. As things stand, I'm just so sad--and angry, too. Waste always makes me angry. The doctor threw his life away because, among other things, he couldn't stand the suspicion or pity he thought he saw in people's eyes.

We're all simply human. We have our strengths and our weaknesses. My condolences to all whose lives are touched by this tragedy.

Comments anyone?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

As January Draws to a Close

This has been an interesting month for me. And a stressful one. What do you do when you see something you've given your heart and soul to heading for a disaster because others don't recognize its value? I've run a mental health program, not an assembly line turning out widgets. People's lives are at stake. While that might sound a touch dramatic, it's oh-so-true. Friends and family are urging me to walk away. To embrace my burgeoning life as a writer. In the end, I'm sure that's what will end up happening. In the meantime, I'm still working on budgets and cost reports and still seeing clients.

An old friend stopped by today while I was slogging through financial reports with a staff analyst. He just looked at me and asked, "Why are you still doing this?"

My answer was a simple one. "Because no one else knows how."

The heir apparent to my position was apparently chosen months ago. In all this time, she has failed to show even the slightest interest in what I do. There's been nary a phone call, or a visit. If the situation were reversed, I would have taken every advantage of picking the incumbent's brains to see what I could learn. Humility is the heart and soul of success. No one ever died from hearing something twice!

Maybe the new person thinks I sit around all day twiddling my thumbs. Maybe she believes she can do a job I spent years learning without any training. My prediction is she will run into difficulties, then blame me or one of my friends. That's how it often is in organizations. But ya know, you can only blame the last guy for a limited time.

Ah, but soon none of this will be my problem anymore. I've been intrigued that my private practice has been growing by leaps and bounds. I haven't advertised at all, and my phone's been ringing off the hook. I don't really want more than a handful of clients. Guess I need to brush up on those "just say no" skills I'm always recommending to others.

Wonder how I'll be feeling at this time next week? Freer? Maybe, but with a bittersweet edge. We don't always get what we want, though. Perhaps, like Mick Jagger said so long ago, "If I try real hard, I just might get what I need." And I am truly looking forward to no longer being responsible for a multi-million dollar program.

Has anyone ever had this type of experience? If so, please let me know about it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

My New Year’s Wishes For You

To kick off the New Year just right, I have a number of wishes for each of you.

1.      May you find true love. Or, if you already have it, may you cherish your partner. Make this the year they truly know you adore them.

2.      May you find the beauty and uniqueness in your children. They are the magic that sows the seeds of the future. Take time for each child every day. It doesn’t have to be very long. After all, how long does it take to give a hug and a kiss, look a little face in the eyes and say, “I love you.”

3.      May you find your perfect body. If you want to lose weight, start now. If you want to add regular exercise, there’s no time like the present. Start a special calendar and stick with it. Remember, the best food choices are minimally processed and the right portion fits into the palm of your hand.

If you want to gain weight, start slow. Strive for a realistic body image by asking people you trust for feedback.

4.      May you find the job of your dreams. Or, if you already have it, may you find challenges to rise to over the coming year.

5.      May you take risks. Nothing was ever gained from a position of absolute safety.

6.      May you learn something new. Something you always wanted to know about. Take a class, ask an expert, expand your horizons.

7.      May you find fulfillment by helping others. Remember the adage that was going around a while back about practicing random acts of kindness? Try to find something each day you can do for someone else.
Pick a project for each month. Outline it in advance and hit the ground with all fours. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Not much ever is, but you will feel amazing for having set goals and accomplished them.

Find time for you. If everything drains you and nothing fills you back up, life will begin to feel very hard. Even the busiest of us can snatch five minutes here and five minutes there. You’re worth it. Yes, you are. Put that five minute block in your calendar. It doesn’t matter if all you do is run to the bottom of the stairs in your office and back up again. That time was yours.
Modern life, especially in America, has turned into a major rat race. When I was young, people truly had leisure time. In the electronic age, we don’t anymore. Try to take vacations from the electronic wonderland you’re plugged into. Go out for a walk without your cell phone. There’s nothing so urgent it won’t wait for an hour. Better yet, take an entire vacation and only turn it on for a few minutes each day. I’m way too attached to my iPhone. I make myself leave it behind at least once every day. And I find I enjoy my gym workouts a whole lot more if part of my attention isn’t focused on all the engaging little sounds it makes. Ditto for meals. There’s nothing worse than trying to have a meal with a friend who’s paying more attention to her phone than to anything else.

I think my main goal this year will be adjusting to retirement. Without a set schedule, I find things slipping away. I lose myself in writing way too much. I need to balance the writing life with other things that fulfill me like my family.
What changes are you going to make in 2012? Shoot a few my way. I’d love to know.