Archive for the ‘books’ Category

Do You Want To Raise A Kind Child? Here’s How

Monday, April 2nd, 2018

We as parents know from experience that in the big picture of life, kindness and happiness are closely linked. Kids, however, do not have the life experience to see this big picture. In their life with friends or at school, retaliating against the kid who teased them often seems like the better choice. The more we can explain and model the inherent benefits of kindness to both others and themselves, the more this dynamic will be clear to them.

This is another area where research is our friend. Numerous studies have shown that even among middle schoolers, those who practice kindness are more popular, happier and less likely to be bullied.

More.

A real struggle for the soul of America is going on. I hope that we can remember to value the qualities that have truly made us great, a country that others look up to because we value truth and justice. Rearing kids to have good values, to be kind, and emphasizing it in our own lives, is crucial. Without human decency the country rips apart into a Mad Mac world. That is not the America that most of us signed up for. TRW

A starter guide for Shadow Work that actually works

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018

Via Ivy Rose Latchford writes:

From what I was reading at the time, most people felt that the shadow included the worst parts of ourselves, and in order to be successful, the seekers would need to integrate these characteristics into their personality.

This didn’t really make sense to me. Why would I want to integrate my jealousy into my personality? I understood figuring out a shadow aspect, accepting it, and working on it, but I wanted to be less of my “bad” characteristics—not more.

After many years of introspective work, I’ve found that it is about integration. However, integration can happen naturally once you discover the root of the shadow.

I’ve found that there are three major steps to shadow work:
1) You have to do the work and dig down to the roots of the shadow.
2) Unravel the reasons why it’s one of your shadow aspects.
3) Allow it to naturally integrate.

More.

The Real Causes Of Depression Have Been Discovered, And They’re Not What You Think

Monday, March 12th, 2018

Johann Hari, author most recently of Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions, writes:

The more I investigated depression and anxiety, the more I found that, far from being caused by a spontaneously malfunctioning brain, depression and anxiety are mostly being caused by events in our lives. If you find your work meaningless and you feel you have no control over it, you are far more likely to become depressed. If you are lonely and feel that you can’t rely on the people around you to support you, you are far more likely to become depressed. If you think life is all about buying things and climbing up the ladder, you are far more likely to become depressed. If you think your future will be insecure, you are far more likely to become depressed. I started to find a whole blast of scientific evidence that depression and anxiety are not caused in our skulls, but by the way many of us are being made to live. There are real biological factors, like your genes, that can make you significantly more sensitive to these causes, but they are not the primary drivers.

And that led me to the scientific evidence that we have to try to solve our depression and anxiety crises in a very different way (alongside chemical anti-depressants, which should of course remain on the table).

To do that, we need to stop seeing depression and anxiety as an irrational pathology, or a weird misfiring of brain chemicals. They are terribly painful – but they make sense. Your pain is not an irrational spasm. It is a response to what is happening to you. To deal with depression, you need to deal with its underlying causes. On my long journey, I learned about seven different kinds of anti-depressants – ones that are about stripping out the causes, rather than blunting the symptoms. Releasing your shame is only the start.

More.

MY TIMELY NOVEL (CREATIVE NONFICTION), READING THE SIGNS: A PARANORMAL LOVE STORY

Sunday, January 14th, 2018

MY NOVEL–
READING THE SIGNS: A PARANORMAL LOVE STORY

Ted Jones, campus chaplain and English Professor in downtown Denver, doesn’t need more problems. His life has been full of them. More than a few of the clergy seem to think of the church as a sex club, and those who administer the English Department are vipers. Yet, at the beseeching of the spirit of an old woman who appears floating near the stained glass window of St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church, Ted soon becomes involved with Sharon, the deceased woman’s grown granddaughter.

Damaged though she is, Sharon responds, trying to return the steadfast love that Ted offers. After her grandmother died, she lost that capacity in herself and couldn’t find it in any of the people who professed to love her.

Although Sharon and Ted’s trials are multiple, their love forms the crux of the novel. Such love reaches beyond time and space as we normally conceive them, to involve intersecting planes of existence that touch both past and future.

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While fiction, and centrally a love story, it is essentially true. My experiences teaching at CU Denver and the Episcopal Cathedral stick very close to the facts. In light of the current #MeToo movement it is most timely.

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The novel ends with a vision of meeting Sharon on the fields of eternity:

For a moment, my earthly sight blurred with tears, I glimpsed Sharon and me. We stood on fields of gold, there, where chronos meets kairos, and earthly time rolls into eternity.

Link to Amazon Reading the Signs page. Here you can examine the cover and read some pages of the book.

Signed copies are also available from me. See WRITING page of this site.

The opportunity to fail–the best gift we can give our children

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

Mo Issa writes:

My parents gave me love, and lots of it, but often faltered in giving me direction. However, the best gift they gave me was the opportunity to fail, and then learn from those failures.

That opportunity not only made me stronger, but also instilled in me a sense of responsibility and independence that has helped me in every aspect of my life.

I look at today’s generation and sense a mood of entitlement. They expect things to be done for them. They shun responsibility and avoid making decisions.

After reading Jessica Lahey’s bestselling book, The Gift of Failure, and with much reflection on my own parenting over the years, I wish I could get my kids back for another four years (yes, I miss them that much!) so that I could change my ways.

I was trying my best as a parent and thought I was a great father. On reflection, however, many factors affected my parenting, not least of which was ego and and a pull to acquiesce to society’s norms.

Do we want our kids to get the top grades, get onto the varsity soccer team, and be around the most popular people because of us—or them? How do we define what is “best” for them, anyway? Is it not based on our criteria and values, rather than theirs?

When we impose our likes, dislikes, and values on our kids, we rob them of their individuality and their own experiences. As Lahey says, “When parents try to engineer failure out of kids’ lives, the kids feel incompetent, incapable, unworthy of trust and utterly dependent.” They are, she argues, unprepared when, “failures that happen out there, in the real world, carry far higher stakes.”

I love the title of her book—The Gift of Failure—because learning how to navigate failure really is the greatest gift that we can bequeath our children. Especially when we also give them our undivided love and complete support.

Through failure, they will learn life-long lessons they could never learn otherwise.

More.

Who Gets to Choose Which Childhood Experiences Are ‘Appropriate’?

Friday, November 10th, 2017

Fom Christina Berchini’s thoughtful article:

Hard as some parents and guardians might try to shield their children from life’s difficulties and cruelties, other students bring adult issues to our classrooms. I certainly did. My students certainly did. An “appropriate” text, then, is also a text that honors this reality. Students who see their experiences ― however difficult ― reflected in the books they are asked to read might be provided with a coping mechanism through literature.

For example, the well-known young adult novel Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson addresses the issue of teenage rape ― a problem that Anderson’s supporters argue needs to be discussed. Children and teenagers lucky enough to live blissful lives ― the kind of lives my colleague assumed to be the rule, and not the exception ― are also served well by texts that illustrate the real trials and tribulations of childhood and adolescence. Such texts help to build empathetic classroom communities with a more complex understanding of the world, whether or not students have personally experienced such complexities.

Earthquakes, hurricanes, drought, flooding, and fire

Thursday, October 19th, 2017

No matter what the media or your friends and family are telling you, we are at the threshold of our own man-made “hell,” and the Devil Winds are here to remind us that no one is immune.

Earthquakes, hurricanes, drought, flooding, and fire—we are spiritually, morally, and physically out of balance. The winds are a symptom, amplified by the warming trend, igniting a fire in our souls. It is time to tend to our communities, to come together to aid our fellow humankind, and to simplify our experience.

More.

Study says thinking about dying can be healthy

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017

Some people think of death as the terrifying thing at the end of the road. But as we know, death is natural and inevitable.

So, whether you’re writing your will or daydreaming of how awesome your funeral is going to be, a new study says thinking about your own death can be healthy.

More.

For centuries Western Culture encouraged people to meditate on their ends, so that they might live better, more thoughtful, and godly, lives. This has always seemed to me (TRW) a good idea.

The Fundamentalist Christian Chokehold On America

Saturday, September 30th, 2017

The fundamentalist chokehold on American politics seeks to destroy the religious and cultural plurality on which the country, and the Declaration of Independence, was based. These theological divisions – which pit believers against non-believers, and those who believe correctly against those who don’t – are a major contributor to America’s sharply divided politics. When someone believes he or she holds absolute truth, there can be no compromise, no middle ground, and no discussion.

Fundamentalism – Christian, Islam, or any other religious ideology – is the antithesis of progression. Fundamentalism’s dangerous anti-science stance threatens the world’s environment, reduces the efficacy of American education, and leaves citizens unprepared for life in a global economy. Fundamentalism is shrouded in ignorance, backed by authoritarianism, and places an enormous amount of trust in individual leaders. To free us of the religious chokehold, citizens must recognize, and actively vote against the powerful political machine of the Fundamentalist Christian right.

More.

Five Myths about Self-Love

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

From Sarah Lamb’s insightful essay:

I hate self-help books. Well, I do now. I hate them because they tell us how we should be. They tell us, if we only did things this way—the author’s way—then we will be happy and truly understand what it means to love ourselves. The day I gave up reading self-help books was the day I loved myself for having too much coffee. It was also the day I gave up trying to live someone else’s answer.

It was the day I started to walk away from someone else’s truth.

My occasional overindulgence makes me human. I sometimes stay up past my body’s desired bedtime watching Netflix or perusing Facebook or writing, doing yoga, or talking on the phone. And the next day, when I wake up and feel groggy or wired and tired, I know it was my choices the previous night that led to my current state. I know I caused some sort of suffering for myself—and I love myself for it.

Self-love isn’t what a lot of those self-help books profess it to be, according to my inner guru anyway. It isn’t about being in a constant state of perfection—eating just the right amount at each meal, and exercising before the point of fatigue, and not drinking alcohol at least two hours before bed, and not raising your voice when your best friend pushes your most triggering button.

Self-love isn’t about not having too much coffee. It’s something more than turning away from our humanness—it’s about accepting it.

But before we get there, we have to bust a few myths about self-love that have been floating around since the dawn of the term itself. Some might resonate for you and others might not. We are all guilty of embracing certain ones over others. We all have our preferred conscious and unconscious defenses against this thing that we feel so frightened about.

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Thomas Ramey Watson is an affiliate faculty member of Regis University's College of Professional Studies. He has served as an Episcopal chaplain (lay), trained as a psychotherapist, done postdoctoral work at Cambridge University, and was named a Research Fellow at Yale University.

In addition to his scholarly writings, he is a published author of poetry and fiction.

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