For My Mother

Unnaturally cold, a marble face

No blood flowed

When cutting her breastbone

Hot stumpy fingered hands

Will never grasp again and twist

Until whipped back as if from a coiled spring

And then to blame that wrung thing

For the pain inflicted in return

Malice that cut another’s quick

Until like a wild animal, they simply bit

What she sowed, so did she reap


Fone World, High Street

My view

Earlier in a post, I mentioned Dave Stimpson: My laptop screen broke this morning. I was scanning a bar code and it went dark. So Dave is doing that for me. It will be fixed by Tuesday. I am so grateful for Dave. Such a great guy. Not many like him. At age 31. He is rare.

How wrong I was! He is not fit to run a dolls house let alone a store.

He gave me his bosses email so I could address law breaking issues that go on in the company.

The police got involved it was that serious.

Now Dave cannot take responsibility for giving me the email address. He makes nasty faces and horrid words when I go with my warrantee.

Not kind, not professional, no friend of mine!


Sustaining A Sexual Connection

When I had a consulting room, I often saw a couple or one of a couple saying that sex had gone out the window after, say, fifteen years of being together.

always found this sad as the best sex is when you really get each other, when you are friends. Not when you are starry eyed first in love. That is when we explore and say we are pleased when maybe we are not.

So you made it as a couple for years but if you are not touching each other as you pass in the kitchen, cuddle as you watch TV, can’t wait to share your day with your partner, then sex becomes infrequent and eventually non existent. Don’t let this happen.

The secret to whether your sex will last is if you cuddle after sex says Emily Nagoski, Sex Educator at Smith College. If you cuddle intimacy is sustained and you will look forward to your next sexual communication.

A healthy sex life long down the road is about the pleasure of each other’s skin touching. It is emotional presence for each other. Being fully present, attentive, communicating.

Hurt feelings and resentments prevent good sex. Deal with minor conflicts quickly. Keep short accounts with each other. Don’t go to bed angry at one another. We can’t last with make up sex.

If you are a serial monogamist or divorcee, examine how you approach sex and intimacy. No one dreams of being a third or fourth wife/husband. It happens, but something is missing.

Beware of casual misogyny; ‘life’s a bitch’, life is like a BWA — a beautiful woman with attitude.

Such sayings have no place in the mouth of a good man.

Women, you need a Good Man.

So much depends on men. How they are raised, who they hang out with, whether they watch porn. No teenager learned anything good from pornography.

Don’t watch it together. It has no place in your sex life.

So the secret to lasting sex lives is skin touching skin. No resentments and no misogyny. Here’s to your good sex life.

Published in The Good Men Project


Take Time Out

We all work and live in fairly busy places, although some of us are fortunate to have open country near us. We need to see greenery regularly. Making our way to a park or field is urgent for our mental health.

Even in a city there are parks and green spaces. Make time to get there and just be. No running or jogging.

Be. Be in a green space. Regard the trees, the blades of grass. Look for critters that crawl or fly. They keep our planet healthy.

The green outdoors help keep your mind healthy. It washes away your stress and worries, at least for a while. The green outdoors heals your soul and allows you to shed the cares that weigh you down. It’s a place to be just you, to remember who you really are, what you want from life, who you love.

A place to rest your mind and refresh your being. Breathe in the cleaner air. Fill your lungs with it. Feel the peace. Absorb the stillness.

Nature is mostly green because green is calming. Green is restful. Take the calm and the rest. Relax. Chill. Sit and gaze. Drift away from your day. Be present in the green. Notice what you have never noticed before or reconnect with a childhood you forgot.

Do this as often as you can. You will worry much less. Feel less stressed. Instead, you will a new person. You will want to go back to that green. You may change your job, move out of a city. There’s no telling what being in the greenery will change in you.

Published in The Good Men Project


Looking For Fixes

In life we often go through high and lows. A few ‘off days’ and mostly good days.

If we are diagnosed with depression we are usually given a tablet to take that causes us to become numb, or we look for reasons. Why?

Before modern medicine began dishing out Zanex in huge quantities, people had to live with it. Some killed themselves.

History is filled with outstanding writers, musicians, artists, and many other creative skilled people who suffered terrible despair. They sat it out. They journaled about it.

When you accept defeat as your only victory, dawn comes over the horizon.

How can something truly superb come from someone who has never known the depths of sorrow? Or grief, despair, or solitude? How can we expect no more than average to come from an average mood?

Never fear the darkness, a candle will extinguish it.

Look at Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Freddie Mercury, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, May Sorton, Elizabeth Bishop, Virginia Wolf, Dylan Thomas, Van Gogh, to name a mere handful who experienced despair. Apart from Dylan Thomas they sat it out. The jury is still out on Van Gogh.

If you are a parent you need to disguise your desolation, as I can attest. The thing is that light comes when you need it. When you accept defeat as your only victory, dawn comes over the horizon.

There is no list to give, no advice to write. Just sit it out. When the time comes you will be stronger and brighter.

Men don’t fear the feeling of failure. You have not failed, you are human. Despair is human nature. So is depression.

Attend the small things; washing dishes, changing clothes, normal daily habits.

This, too, will pass.


The Mystery Of Healing

While I was researching my Ph.D. I worked in a recovery unit just North East of L.A. I was responsible for a group of people who had abused some type of substance, or had suffered some sort of mental crisis.

It was mainly men, about a dozen, and a handful of women. Most were referred by a mental health worker or family.

The men, with scarce exception, loved me like a sister. I showed them respect, was present for them, sat with them as they cried, listened to their hopes.

Yes, men cry. They have loss, regrets, rejection, grief, just like women do. Crying somehow helps healing.

Healing is a mysterious process. We all go through it differently. We each are unique. Our stories are unique.

Men respond to respect, or Unconditional Positive Regard as taught by Carl Rogers. It is not regard, it is not kindness. It is a model used in counseling and other therapeutic relationships.

Men respond to being heard, validated for their positive traits. In the last two generations men have lost their role. Faced with feminism, often militantly, they feel displaced and emasculated.

Often coming from single mother homes they have lacked a good male role model. These men grow up with no clue how to relate to women appropriately.

Men respond to appropriate trust. Compliments on a task well done. Being asked to help with some thing practical.

Women should not teach men how not to be misogynist, unless they are the mother. Men need to learn for themselves and then help other younger men or sons.

Men are far more intelligent than most women realise. They just need the right tools to learn. Men’s brains are different to women’s.

Men and women are compatible but men need friendships with men first. Men who lots to offer in being a good man.

Male friendships are more straight forward than those of women. They can handle some constructive criticism, some ‘hey man, you messed up big time there’. Not all the time though. They need strokes too — compliments.

If a man can cry in front of me, he can most probably cry with a close friend. Never jeer. Never tease tears. Value them like a diamond.

I don’t have all the answers for healing. It is a mysterious process and takes time. I have seen so many processes, none the same.

We need to make room for men. We need the good ones. We need more to learn from men how to be good men.

Published in The Good Men Project


Introversion Is No Excuse

We grow up and then leave home by one way or another. If it’s by going to university we are more likely to become less introverted than we were as children.

I prefer introversion. It’s my safe place. However, I now extrovert almost as easily because of the roles I’ve had in life. It’s important to remember that introversion is a preference and not a setting. We should all be able to step away from the preference just as we wear different colors. If we like blue, there may be a lot of blue in our wardrobe but we can’t wear only blue. That is, if you don’t want to be laughed at.

When I was first asked to host a seminar I was horrified. It had been fine to put it together with phone calls and emails, but host it was another thing. I did not flinch but got out three outfits that gave me confidence and, on the first morning, stood in front of a crowded conference hall and took the microphone.

Yes I was scared, but I am brave. By the end of the third day, I felt almost at ease making announcements to introduce speakers or say where refreshments could be found. I later became a guest speaker at seminars.

So, you see, we do not break when we are needed to extravert. We just dig deep for courage and do it.

I am tired of hearing how Annabel needs three days alone after coffee in a group. Or how Lancelot must wear headphones on the subway in order to not speak to anyone. If at 25 you still do this, yes, I exaggerated, you are very immature.

Maturity is doing what is needed at the given time. Yes you can meet your boyfriend’s parents without a six month build up, or go on a group trip. You just make the most of any time to be introverted. That does not include locking yourself in the bathroom.

Be a grown up. After all, we expect an extravert to be quiet at a funeral or during a play at the theater.

I gave birth to the most extraverted little girl. I thought I would go nuts. But no, I enjoyed every waking moment of her. I would give a lot to go back to her early years.

Introverts, please wake up and grow up. Stop letting your friends down. Stop making excuses, and above all, live!


Sun And Moon

I need sunshine for my day
its warmth and light

all colors seem bright and cheers my way

Sunrise and sunset are welcome
sunset in August less
days shorten, goodbye best days in the sun

Moon is more constant
the Moon is mine
peace and light, it shines and stars dance

I like the night, dreams and sleep
No matter if it rains
No watching the creep of stormy clouds

Moon is my lover sweet
no jealousy of stars
they are there to keep unlike the Sun

Moon speaks of romance
but real love stays
Night is a chance for skin to touch skin

Published in The Lark


Play With Your Children

When a woman gives birth to a baby, parents are made. It is their responsibility to care for and teach that tiny human how to be a decent, well rounded person.

Playing with your children is a great way to teach while having lots of fun. Your children don’t even realise they are learning.

Playing soccer, catch, bike riding, board games, all have rules. As children grow the rules apply more and more. Soccer has rules even in a family or neighborhood setting. Yes, I know the offside rule. Bike riding involves safety and looking after the bike.

As a family, you will need to adjust the informality of games so that by the time your children reach school they can handle being on the side that loses. But games teach about life too, and give many opportunities to talk about what is fair and unfair, kind and unkind, sportsmanship and gamesmanship.

Just playing catch is great fun, especially if you have a dog. Your dog will want to catch that ball and retrieve it if it is dropped.

When children see their Dad having fun, and Mom too, they realize that grown ups can be great company and being adult is not necessarily boring. When the neighbors join in relationships are bonded. Trust is built, and happy times shared.

Yesterday, I walked a tree-lined path and met a man holding his nine week old daughter. She was gazing at the light through the branches and leaves. I could see a love of nature growing in that baby girl. That her Dad had lifted her from her pram to cuddle her as she wondered touched my heart.

My own daughter used to crouch and watch insects in the grass. She did this for long periods. I rarely interrupted as I wanted her curiosity to be satisfied.

Children are sore losers. They can’t help it. A parent can gently show how to be magnanimous in defeat as well as victory. As Brian O’Driscoll ( Ireland Rugby Captain for many years)once said, “I didn’t mind that he took me out, that’s his job. I do mind that he didn’t make sure I was OK”.

So games of all sorts teach our children. They love to have Dad rooting for them, coaching, teaching skills. Driving them to games and matches when it’s possible.

If you are a Dad with a disability, don’t worry. Just show up. Your children’s friends parents will pick up the slack. (I don’t mean that in derogatory terms.) Hopefully, other parents will fill in where you are unable. After all, it takes a village to raise a child.

Let there be more laughter than tears. More squeals of delight than disappointments. Keep being there. Be fair. Do no favorites. Laugh with your children above all else, and be sensitive to their individuality.

Published by The Good Men Project


Better Leaders

Chamorro-Premuzic says that we should not ask for more women leaders but why men over estimate themselves. Indeed, whether in business or politics, incompetent leaders have negative effects on their followers and subordinates, causing low levels of engagement, trust and productivity and high levels of burnout and stress. Just Google “my boss is” to see what most people think of their managers (and maybe, just maybe, you’ll feel a bit better about your manager). You’ll see words like “crazy,” “abusive,” “unbearable,” “toxic,” and other words that are too rude to repeat.

The first reason is mistaking confidence for competence. We tend to assume confidence is the same as ability, but there is little overlap between the two.

The second is our love of charismatic leaders, especially since the 1960’s. Maybe it started with John F. Kennedy. Certainly, Tony Blair had charisma in his early days but that gave way to greed and lust for power.

The third is our acceptance of narcissists. Trump and Blair, and possibly Boris Johnson are narcissists. They tap into our own narcissism because generally we admire the rich and famous. Yes, that’s right. You admire narcissists. Look at all the power Hitler had due to his charisma and his good fortune at a time in history when Germany was on it’s knees but had armory intact.

We need competence in all forms of leadership. Business, council, charity, etc

So how do we stop these incompetent leaders? First we must look for what qualities make people better leaders. There is a pathological mismatch between the attributes that seduce us in a leader and those that are needed to be an effective leader. If we want to improve the performance of our leaders, we should focus on the right traits. Humility, competence, ability, and integrity. This would also lead to more women leaders.

We should also mistrust our instincts. That’s right. Our instincts are wrong. We get hypnotized. We see panache and fall for it.

To improve the quality of our leaders we should not lower our standards. This will automatically produce more women leaders.

We need training in unconscious bias, and a dogged persistence for the right person. Only by ignoring confidence and looking for integrity and humility will we find good leaders. At work as well as in politics.

Published by Politically Speaking


Who Cares About You?

Life is difficult. Some of us navigate it more easily than others. Some of us had bad parents or no parents. Others of us live with illness or someone close to us has illness. Mental health problems may linger, grief may overwhelm us.

Hopefully, we have people who love us to make life easier. Being loved helps us to thrive and do well. We don’t need to have powerful jobs to do well in life. Whatever it is we do, if we live with gratitude and look for joy in everyday things, we can be happy.

Love or kindness is not always what we think it should be. Someone I care about says she is an empath so when I wrote about empathy, she cut me out of her life. You see, being an empath is of no use to anyone. I make no apology for letting her read the truth. I owed it to her.

I just saw the title of a piece here on Medium. It was ungrammatical so I let the author know of his error. I was horrified to see that lots had read the article but had not been kind enough to point out the mistake.

When we allow someone to inadvertently look stupid and say nothing we are unkind.

We teach our children to do things right to the best of our parenting ability. Often their abilities will far exceed our own, like my daughter who can dance beautifully and gracefully in three disciplines, can do all sorts of water sports, and runs distance for her school. While she was growing up I always admired her ability before I pointed out an error. Whether it was playing the piano or almost setting the kitchen alight. Yes, really. Fourteen year olds tell each other daft things and then carry them out. “Warmed nail polish remover” is not a thing.

Not long ago, I visited my godmother on the spur of the moment. I bought some sandwiches on my way in case it would not be convenient. On arrival, I checked to make sure it was OK to arrive unannounced. It seemed it was. However, after her son arrived for lunch he came and told me how tired she gets. I already know this and thought it odd. I gradually realised that while I had been welcomed with smiles and hugs, my godmother had privately complained to her son. That was unkind to me and caused me to trust her less.

If she had said that it was not a good day, her kindness would have made us both happy.

Yesterday, I commented to someone on the status of Northern Ireland. Instead of listening to my point of view and addressing it, they just left. I was taken aback as we have spoken about it before. I did not learn anything new, and they remain entrenched in a false belief.

Yesterday I wrote about Deep Listening. We cannot go through life without listening, not just waiting for your turn, or we will be lonely and headstrong. We need humility to listen to those who speak to us. How else can we repair a relationship?

Point out the errors of others with grace and kindness. Even if they are a stranger. You may save their life, or just their dignity.

Published by The Good Men Project