Beliefnet
The Bliss Blog

 

I was following a thread on Facebook that began with this question from radio host DeBora M. Ricks:

“Should we spank our children? Is spanking ever the best discipline option? If you care about children, about how we’re treating them, then check this show out tomorrow, Wed., June 26!
Tomorrow  Anthony McCarthy talks to Marilyn Mosby, a former assistant prosecutor and wife of 7th District City Council Nick Mosby, who announced on June 21 that she will run for State’s Attorney of Baltimore City. In the 2nd hour he talks to journalist Eisa Ulen Richardson and Sherman Minor of The Family Tree about child discipline/whether there are any benefits to beating our babies. We wrap the evening up with co-authors of Doing the Best I Can: Fatherhood in the Inner City, Kathryn Edin & Timothy Nelson, with an exploration of the assumptions we tend to make about inner city dads. WEAA 88.9 FM, Wed. 5-7pm. www.weaa.org
My immediate, from the gut response was this:
“Nope, nope, nope. Spanking teaches children that a bigger and stronger person can control a smaller and more vulnerable person by striking them. It is confusing to a child to get any sense that hitting is acceptable for adults to do, and not for them to do. If an adult hit another adult out of anger, they could be justifiably charged with assault. Do parents really want compliance based on fear, intimidation or threat, or out of love and respect? It is also way too easy for it to get out of control. My two or three cents.”
She continues to say: “And there’s more. The author of the article “Knocking Some Sense” will be on the show tomorrow and per her research spanking trains a male child for institutional life/prison.”
I am a therapist who has worked for many years with abuse survivors, so this is a hot button issue for me. I tell them that the cycle stops with them. I have rolled my eyes when I have heard people say that they were hit (and sometimes more than just a little bit) and “I turned out ok.”  Hitting isn’t a reflection of love and concern, but rather a way to control the other person. I was never hit and I turned out ok too. I respected my parents out of love and not fear of being assaulted. I have also found that people who bully are often bullied at home and may feel they have no healthy outlet for their own sense of disempowerment. Anger management needs to be modeled, and sadly and sometimes devastatingly for many, it simply isn’t. And this goes beyond the act of spanking, to verbal aggression, name calling, and demeaning. Some damage takes a long while to heal.

Children Learn What They Live

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.

If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.

If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.

If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.

If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.

If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.

If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.

If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.

If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.

If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.

If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.

If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.

If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.

If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.

If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.

If children live with fairness, they learn justice.

If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.

If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.

If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

Copyright © 1972 by Dorothy Law Nolte

I was at a store a few years ago and witnessed an interaction between a mother and her young daughter. The little girl was having difficulty tying her shoes and might have been whining and the mother threatened to smack her. I had three choices at that point. I could have walked away and ignored it. I could have gone all social worker on her and told her that she had better watch her step which only would likely have angered her further and who knows what would have happened when she got the little girl home? Instead, I said to her, mom to mom, that I imagined she was having a really rough day and that I’m sure she didn’t want to hurt her child. Her face softened a bit and she shared that she was an overwhelmed, over-worked, financially strapped single mom.  I then bent over and tied her daughter’s shoes and wished them both well and went on my way. The mother said nothing else beyond that. A year later, no kidding, I’m back at the same store and I spot them again. This time, the child has her face painted with a pretty design. I approach them and ask if they remembered me. The mother said nothing again and the little one smiled shyly as I told her how beautiful she looked.
There may be folks who disagree with me on this subject, but it is one that I feel passionately about.
One of my favorite Natalie Merchant songs speaks to this subject poignantly. http://youtu.be/m39DWVFK-Bw–  What’s The Matter Here?

 

I am always learning something new from my clients in the Drug and Alcohol counseling program where I work as a therapist. Since many of them attend 12 step meetings, I am accustomed to hearing them use what I call ‘bumper sticker-ese’ such as “One Day At A Time”, “Let Go and Let God”, “We are only as sick as our secrets”, “Easy Does It” and “There but for the Grace….”  Today, we were speaking about what it takes to remain sober in the face of the challenges that they bump up against each day. One incredibly insightful young man said these words that put a smile on my face, “The juice is worth the squeeze.”  Think about it for a moment. What does it mean to you?

What comes to mind for me is the idea that anything worth doing is worth doing well. If there is something I desire to experience or attract into my life, I need to be willing to roll up my sleeves and  put my all into it. It might mean getting a little messy and pulpy. I may need to risk feeling like a drip. I might even be inclined to tell a knock knock joke…”Knock knock. Who’s there?  Banana. Banana who?  Knock knock, Who’s there? Banana. Banana who? Knock knock. Who’s there?  Orange. Orange who? Orange you glad I didn’t say Banana again?”  Worth the squeeze means a wonderful exchange for what I put into the endeavor.

I remember back in  January of  1981 when I was on a 10 day Outward Bound Course in New England; think snow, and bitter cold. On our last day there, we were asked to run up a hill where a treat would be waiting for us. I charged up the incline, drenched in sweat under my woolen pants, vest, flannel shirt and long johns by the time I reached the top. The delight was freshly made orange juice, ice cold and refreshing. Never before and not since, has it been that good. THAT was definitely worth the squeeze.

There are many things I wish for in my life. I can wait around for the perfect moment for whatever it is to arrive. I can wait until I am exactly as I want to be in order to experience true happiness. I would be waiting a looooonnnnng time.  I much prefer the proactive approach in which I set my intention, extend my reach, put legs under my ideas, take the steps, enlist support, put my heart and soul into it, be ‘all in’ and see it through to fruition (no pun intended:)

 

 

 

What if you saw this classified ad in your local paper this morning, as you drank your coffee, tea, chai, juice or in my case- fruit and veggie smoothie? Would your heart leap with delight because you were just waiting for this opportunity to step out on the stage of life or would it sink, because you aren’t sure who ‘yourself’ is?  I always knew who I was at my core, but oftentimes donned costumes so as to play various roles that were expected of me. Good girl, daughter who wanted to make my parents proud of me, friend who could be counted on, excelling at school student, highly competitive swimmer, vivid imaginista, loyal partner, co-dependent caregiver who exhibited ‘savior behavior’-who wanted to heal, save, fix and kiss the boo boos to make them all better, the go-to gal for answers to dilemmas, spiritual gypsy, the one to call at whatever o’clock to pick my brain (or whatever was accessible), fun playmate, silliness incarnate. But what if, just below the surface is someone who wants to break free of those roles and refuses to be typecast?  What if there is a wild woman who is way more sensual, outspoken, daring to be different and not attempting to blend in for fear of rejection?

I have role models in my life for those characters that I could play should I choose to be braver than I am at times. They brazenly and vulnerably share all aspects of themselves, feeling that to hide is to diminish the Divine creations that they are.  Yesterday, I was in conversation with someone I had just met and he made an assumption about me based on my appearance. I was wearing a dress, make up, sparkly flip flops, dangly earrings and very short cropped hair. Somehow the topic turned to sexuality and he commented that it was possible that I preferred women as partners because of my hair length. I smiled coyly and asked “How do you know whether I do or not, on that one criteria?”  I chided him for his stereotyping perspective. Whatever my preference, it is amusing to consider that someone would make that statement when people, whether Gay, Straight, Bi (or as I refer to it ‘fluid’) look various ways. The most masculine appearing woman might be straight as an arrow and the most ‘girly girl’ might be female-partner focused. The most effeminate seeming man, may prefer female partners and the most buff, Marlboro-man looking dude may be married to another man. My big question is why the heck should we care?

As I explore the various and sundry aspects of myself, I give full permission to simply BE, without limiting myself or being type-cast. I will always get the part of being ME.

bill murray photo: Bill Murray bill-murray.jpg
Inspired by this as posted by art therapist and coach Jennifer Gildred on her Facebook page since it speaks volumes about the courage it takes to be visible
Bill Murray  -on his acting teacher Del Close.
“Well, he was a guy who had great knowledge of the craft of improvisation. And he lived life in a very rich manner, to excess sometimes. He had a whole lot of brain stuck inside of his skull. Beyond being gifted, he really engaged in life. He earned a lot. He made more of himself than he was given. Came out of Manhattan, Kansas, and ended up hanging …out with the Beats. He was incredibly gracious to your talent and always tried to further it. He got people to perform beyond their expectations. He really believed that anyone could do it if they were present and showed respect. There was a whole lot of respect. He taught lots and lots of people very effectively. He taught people to commit. Like: “Don’t walk out there with one hand in your pocket unless there’s something’ in there you’re going to bring out.” You gotta commit. You’ve gotta go out there and improvise and you’ve gotta be completely unafraid to die. You’ve got to be able to take a chance to die. And you have to die lots. You have to die all the time. You’re going’ out there with just a whisper of an idea. The fear will make you clench up. That’s the fear of dying. When you start and the first few lines don’t grab and people are going like, “What’s this? I’m not laughing and I’m not interested,” then you just put your arms out like this and open way up and that allows your stuff to go out. Otherwise it’s just stuck inside you.”
Jennifer goes on to ask: “So my question (to myself) and to you:  Are you letting your good stuff stay stuck inside?  What helps you let it out for all the world to enjoy you more? One way for me is definitely playful improvisation.”
My instinctive reaction was to say, “Of course I pour all my good stuff out there, holding nothing back.”  That may be how it appears from an outside perspective, but on the inside, I am sometimes tremulous. The monkey mind has a field day with that one. “Play it safe,” it screeches, hurling a mushy banana. “Don’t reveal too much,” it wags its hairy finger at me. “What will people think if you share THAT  about yourself?,”  it howls wildly.  And yet, I witness others in my life who ‘dare to bare’ emotionally and verbally, risking rejection in the service of authenticity. Playing it safe and small, tiptoeing out into the world keeps me where I am now, which is ok, but the call of something more, as expressed in my friend Karen Drucker’s song, is irresistible. Do I answer it or remain pseudo safely ensconced in what is familiar and not too terribly risky?  It is the child who felt different and otherworldly, so she held back at times, within the push-pull energy of wanting to celebrate it as uniqueness. It is the teenager who felt awkward and not quite cool enough to hang with the ‘in-crowd’, but covered well, since all these years later, some of her high school friends thought she had it all together. It is the seasoned woman who spent decades in relationship caregiver mode, who now finds it easier to be a relationship expert than in a relationship. It is the professional writer and speaker who desires center stage to share the messages she has opened to, who sometimes wants to hide behind the curtain, lest she be revealed as an imposter.
I ask myself this morning, “Am I willing to put myself on the line, risking whateveh…. in order to be fully present?” It is so much easier to be the wind beneath the wings as a journalist and interview notables than to BE one. Although I am not afraid of physical death, I have faced what I would consider emotional obliteration and never want to return to that mode. That was so long ago and yet as I remember it, the feelings come rushing to the surface as if it was yesterday. Can I improvise, using the best of what I have learned in the interceding few decades to ‘unstick’?
 Are you willing to answer the call?  Just imagine the standing ovation.
http://youtu.be/GmZYWOgv0eI The Call of Something More (Karen Drucker) as performed by Cathy Angell