In the early 1990’s, a middle-aged health psychologist, Ed Noffsinger, Ph.D., developed a serious illness—pulmonary hypertension. For a period of several years he found himself exhausted, lying in bed for days, barely able to breathe. As time wore on, he felt angry, alone, and frightened. His wife was sympathetic, but she was taking care of their three young children and her ill father. She didn’t have much time or attention to listen to Ed’s fears and concerns. Also, he was very frustrated with the health care system. It was hard to get into to see his doctor and when he did, his visits... Read More
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In the last 10 years, political ideology in the United States has become highly polarized. The right, center, and left seem to live on different planets. During this decade, the government has frequently ground to a halt. No one is interested in compromise. Republicans and Democrats alike are trenched into their positions. Each side is passionate about why they are right and the other side is wrong. The government has been on the brink of financial default several times. It hasn’t been a pretty picture. At times, it’s become downright ugly.How do partisan politics affect you and I in... Read More
This Christmas holiday, I joined a battalion of kids and adults at the movie theatres to see the latest version of “Star Wars”. In 1977, Diane and I stood on a long line in San Francisco to watch the original. At the time, its special effects were stunning. Harrison Ford, a new actor, was brilliant as the swash buckling Hans Solo. We were all captivated by the “force”, which channeled the power behind mind, body and spirit. It had elements of Eastern spiritual traditions, like meditation and yoga, which were newly introduced in the West, popularized by none other than the Beatles. Bruce... Read More
As we say goodbye to 2015 and greet this New Year, it’s a good time to count our blessings and be grateful for whatever goodness has come our way this year. Tonight and tomorrow, many of us will be celebrating Christmas with loved ones. It’s not about the presents we give or receive. It’s all about love, our connection with each other, and the kindness that we bring to our friends, family, co-workers, and community.
One and all, have a happy holiday. And thank you for reading Family Talk and sharing it with your community. I am grateful for all the support and kindness that I... Read More
Mary is a high functioning, highly competent school principal who is always running at 500 miles per hour. She has three young children of her own too! Balancing the demands of running a school, getting her kids to their after school activities, and trying to get a healthy meal on the table is a constant juggling act. Lately, though, it seems like she is feeling more tired, emotional, and ragged by the end of each day.
Mary’s challenge—she feels that she has to live up to everyone’s expectations! She always says yes to every request. When she can’t, she feels disappointed in herself... Read More
Facebook, in addition to other social media sites, has become the meeting ground for friends, acquaintances, and co-workers to gather. Worldwide, 1.5 billion kids and adults, hang out on Facebook’s corner. It’s mindboggling!
There are many upsides to this digital den—keeping up with family pictures, news from friends and relatives, or sharing recent adventures. It’s a way of communicating life’s changes, big and little, with scores, or even hundreds of people, with one picture or message. I love to see new photographs of my grandnieces and nephews! Watching videos of their first... Read More
My good friend, Steve, died last week, 8 months after his diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. I spent many hours with him over these last months, trying to provide him with support and companionship. It was very painful to watch him slide towards his death. At the end of his life, the cancer had stripped him of every ounce of muscle. He was skin and bones. He was able to die at home, surrounded by his family.
Steve died at 64--my age too. Last year, he happily retired from work. He was looking forward to spending more time with his young adult children, catching up on years of reading... Read More
Technology, culture, and psychology come together and create new social customs. In the 1960’s, color televisions and TV dinners brought families together to eat dinner in front of the TV. Video games in the 1980’s created a new form of social connection for kids. Personal computers transformed the social landscape of communication—email and on line chats. The Internet launched all of us into an information age that we could barely imagine. Facebook changed the meaning of staying in touch. Now smartphones have taken us into an entirely new social universe—texting and instant... Read More
Larry, a middle aged man, sits in my office, talking about Al-Anon, the 12-step program fashioned after Alcoholics Anonymous for family and friends of individuals with alcoholism or chemical dependency. He tells me his story---“I got a phone call from my son’s school when Joey was 14 years old. He was caught drinking at school with his buddies. At the time, I thought --“boys will be boys”, and didn’t think much of it. The progression of the disease is slow, so it was hard to see. But as time went on, more signs of his drinking problem appeared. I got called in the middle of the night that... Read More