Mary’s Story – The Pain of Childlessness

Desires of a Barren Woman By Emily Hurd

Mary’s Story – The Pain of ChildlessnessA lifetime longing for life in one’s belly
is not a joyful life.
The most wonderful love can’t fill this void
no matter how hard he may try.
For what sin am I punished,
That I may never enjoy,
clinging to my breast, a blonde haired baby boy?
To know the love of a sweet child,
and the feeling of being whole-
These are the things I’ve always wanted to know.

Mary sat at her dressing table and brushed her hair carefully as she had most nights of her 57 years. She smiled as she looked in the mirror; and, she liked what she saw. She was wearing the nightgown that Joe had given her on their 2nd honeymoon five years ago.

Joe was out walking Gilbert and Sullivan, their adopted mutts. He didn’t know it yet, but when he got home, he was going to get “lucky.”

As she brushed, the mirror carried her back over the years as it often did. But the memories weren’t painful anymore. They were just the building blocks that made her life so special now.

She and Joe had grown up in devoutly Catholic homes just a few blocks apart. They had both gone to the same parochial school; then she had gone to the girl’s high school and Joe had gone to the boy’s high school. They were dear friends all through high school. Their lives were good in those days.

During college, they had dated more seriously and began to plan a future together. They were both going to work for two or three years to build up their nest egg and then start their family. Both wanted lots of kids because that was how they had grown up – big families, with lots of friends around all the time.

Theirs was the first wedding among their college circles; and there were lots more over the next few years. Weddings were always fun and offered such hope for the future for all of them.

Mary kept working after they started trying to have a baby in earnest.

Before long their married friends were expecting their first children. Mary and Joe were excited for them.

Then some of those couples started having their second child. Mary was still excited but a little anxiety started to creep in.

Family dinners were beginning to have the stigma of Aunt Mary and Uncle Joe. She truly loved and enjoyed their nieces and nephews but loving them didn’t fill the growing dread of her being unable to have her own child.

After a few more years, Mary convinced Joe that they should at least get a medical evaluation to see if there was a reason they could not conceive. They did several times; and the results were always the same: no apparent medical or physical reason on the part of the male or female that would prohibit or inhibit conception.

The root of bitterness

Mary found it easier to send regrets to invitations from other couples than it was to feel the pain in her heart as she sat and listened to them chatter on about their children. Oh, they tried to be kind, but it was natural for them to talk about what meant most to them: their children.

Mary and Joe were both advancing with their jobs. Joe was in sales with a well-established regional company and Mary was in human resources with an national company. Money wasn’t an issue but Mary read somewhere that stress could be an issue in conception. She was able to get a 12-month leave of absence to try to relieve the work-related stress.

Unfortunately, she was reminded every time they tried that she had to get pregnant in 12 months; then 11 months; and so on; or she would have to return to work without any a baby to come home to.

It hurt a lot when she was reminded each month that she was not yet pregnant. She took to her bed with a bigger burden of pain than her regular monthly discomfort.

They tried all the infertility treatments that church doctrine allowed with no success. There was a lot of embarrassment and a lot of dignity and money spent in these attempts.

Joe traveled a lot in his job and Mary began to look forward to the nights he would be away. She could be free to cry or scream or curse at all the unfairness they were suffering.

It was getting to the point that seeing a pregnant woman or a woman with her children in the mall would cause her to clinch her jaw and taste the bile rising in her throat.

Drinking and drugs were so repulsive to her that she wasn’t tempted to use them to mask her pain.

Instead, she would take to her bed, curl into a fetal position, and clutch the pain within her as if her womb was aching for the baby it would never carry.

She could get through the weekdays because work was a sufficient distraction. Nights and weekends were awful.

Mary didn’t know who to blame.

Some nights she blamed herself; other nights she blamed Joe. The most painful nights were the ones when she blamed God; her guilt was overwhelming.

Confession didn’t help. The priest would tell her to remain true to God and do the appropriate penance but nothing would ever really take the pain away.

She finally decided that she was never going to bear a child; but that didn’t ease the pain of the loss she felt continuously.

Joe suggested adoption but she had no desire whatsoever to adopt. She wanted a baby to form in her own body, to birth it, and then watch it grow up; something like all their brothers and sisters were enjoying.

They started another round of weddings with nieces and nephews; and another round of pain at the prospects of the newlyweds against the impossibilities in her own life.

Over time, she had lost all desire for Joe and he had reluctantly moved to the bedroom down the hall. She obeyed the church edict in her spousal duties; but the church couldn’t make her enjoy it.

The day came when she told Joe that she had taken a promotion with her company that would require her to move to the home office in the mid-west. She didn’t want Joe to move with her.

Joe was dismayed and explained that he understood her lack of desire for him but he didn’t understand why she wanted a separation. He committed his love to her and reminded her that he had promised twenty years before to stand by her “for better and for worse.”

If she needed to move, he wouldn’t stand in her way, but as far as he was concerned, they were still married.

His commitment to her actually made her feel more guilty, but she didn’t let on. They’d both done a lot of acting over the years, especially Mary.

They explained the separation on her job and the demands of his career; and family and friends accepted it with appropriate sympathy for both Mary and Joe.

Making Changes

Mary got settled in her new apartment and plunged into her new job. She felt a little more peace due to the excitement of making a change. Days were busy but the nights were still filled with more of the same pain and longing.

She still felt the same despair when she saw women with their children. There was a park across from her apartment and most evenings she cried as she sat on her balcony listening to the children laughing and playing in the park; knowing that she would never hear the laughter of her own child.

Professionals had told her years before that she needed medication for her anxiety but she had always refused. She didn’t like having to take pills just to live her life.

There was a church a few blocks from her apartment and she decided to go to Mass one Saturday after she had been there a few months.

She looked forward to the mass and she went early so she could have confession and take the sacraments. The priest listened as she described her anger and pain. Then he said something very strange.

He absolved her and told her that an appropriate penance would be for her to look into Hannah’s Sisters. She could find a brochure in a rack in the narthex.

Mary learned that Hannah’s Sisters was a group for women who were living through emotional pain regardless of the source of the pain.

The original group was for barren women and was named for Hannah, the barren woman who made a vow to give her child to God if he would give her a son. God honored her request and her son, Samuel, lived to become a great prophet and high priest for Israel. You can read Hannah’s story here.

The brochure had contact information. When Mary awoke the next morning after another night of tossing and turning, she decided to call the woman.

She called that evening and they made an appointment to meet for coffee the next day.

Margaret, the Hannah’s Sisters leader, was waiting for Mary. They got their coffee and found a place where they could talk undisturbed.

After exchanging pleasantries, Mary asked her about the group.

Margaret explained that there were only three members at the present time.

Mary asked, “Why are there so few members? Surely there are more women hurting around here than that.”

”Of course, there are,” Margaret replied, “but we don’t keep them around for long.”

“What do you mean!”

“Mary, we’re not a social club. Women don’t use us to provide an on-going social function like so many self-help groups. We want to help women overcome their pain, and when they do that, they can make the appropriate decisions to be reconciled with their families and friends.”

“I’m not sure I understand,” Mary said doubtfully.

“Mary, if there were a way that you could be free of your emotional pain in just a few weeks, would you be interested in knowing more about that?”

“Of course,” Mary answered, “but I doubt that’s possible after what I’ve gone through.”

“Mary, we care a whole lot more about where you want to go than about where you’ve been. In fact, we will never ask you about the source of your pain. If you want to learn about a simple and effective way to be free from your pain, whatever is causing it, come by the parish hall tomorrow night at seven o’clock and we’ll explain everything to you.”

The next evening, Mary joined Margaret and three other women on couches in a small room off the parish hall.

After introductions, Margaret explained that every week they review the three Life Principles and share their progress. She explained that they never talk about their problems because dwelling on past hurts always makes the hurt worse.

Most emotional pain is caused by rumination. In many cases, the original cause of the pain occurred far in the past. And if the pain is ongoing and there is no solution to the problem, then ruminating on it can cause more anxiety with inevitably leads to stress, depression and even physical pain.

She explained that the life principles they teach offer an easy way, that anyone can use, to deal with the negative thoughts that cause so much emotional pain.

“You asked yesterday, ‘why so few members?’”, Mary reminded her. “We’ve had over two hundred members over the years; but as they become successful in applying these principles in their lives, they don’t need us any more. So currently, we only have three members; four, if you want to join us.”

Mary nodded and Margaret went on to explain the three principles.

Three Life Principles

Life Principle 1 – Whenever a thought enters your mind that makes you angry, sad, or bitter, you simply say to yourself out loud, “I will not think about that.” When the thought comes back, and it will, you say it again, “I will not think about that.”

“If you prefer, which I do, you can say “I take this thought captive,” because that phrase comes right out of the Bible.

Each time we dismiss a thought, the thought is compelled to go away because that’s the way we are made. We own our thoughts and we do not have to think about anything that hurts us.

Margaret explained that this idea had been around for thousands of years. “We simply do not have to let negative thoughts control our lives,” she said.

She explained that each time we “take a painful thought captive,” we create a little bit of peaceful space in our emotions. As you take more negative thoughts captive, you create more peaceful space.

“The reason this works so well is Life Principle 2.”

Life Principle 2 – When you consistently practice the first principle, negative thoughts will pop up less and less often until you really don’t think about them at all.

She explained that we all have a part of our mind, called the subconscious, which has the role of helping us be happy and content. If our subconscious thinks that we are happy thinking about negative things and getting all worked up all the time, it will keep feeding us those negative thoughts so we can be happy.

But if our subconscious hears us saying “I take this thought captive” consistently, it concludes over time that we don’t really want to think about those things and it will stop sending those negative thoughts to us. It’s like our subconscious blocks those negative thoughts automatically.

Doing this consistently replaces your habits of anger, sadness, or bitterness with a new habit of peace.

Life Principle 3 – Use your habit of peace to make the best decisions for you and your future. She explained that this is true freedom: the freedom to do what we need to do when we need to do it to become the best that we can be.

When we’re not spending all our time thinking about painful things, we have peace. We can use this peaceful time to think about ways to get along better with others, to do the right things, and to reconcile with our loved ones.

Margaret said that she’s sure these principles work because she has shared them with women for over 20 years. She said they all have learned to break their habits of anger, bitterness, victimhood, or whatever and create new habits of peace.

Margaret handed Mary a card. The card had the Three Life Principles on one side and blocks for each day of the week on the back. She explained, “Every time a negative thought pops into your mind, I want you to say out loud to yourself, ‘I will not think about that’ or ‘I take this thought captive.’” If you’re someplace where it would be weird speaking out loud, put your hand over your mouth like you’re covering a cough and say softly, ‘I take this thought captive.’

“Then put a check card in the block every time you dismiss one of your negative thoughts. Each week when we meet, we review how each of you is doing. I predict by the end of four or five weeks, you will be making very few check marks on the card because the Life Principle 2 will be taking effect in your life. The question now is, ‘Will you do this?’”

Mary must have looked a little skeptical because Margaret suggested,”Mary, I suspect that you have a negative thought right now telling you that this stupid idea will never work for you. This is a good place to start taking it captive.”

Each of the women shared her results of taking their thoughts captive for the previous week. Each had fewer negative thoughts that the week before. One girl, who was in her seventh week said this was her second week with no negative thoughts at all.

Still skeptical, Mary said to herself several times driving home and that evening, “I take this thought captive.” Each time, the thought went away briefly.

When the painful thoughts of childlessness barged in like they did every night, Mary took them captive out loud. She was amazed when each thought went away. They came back, like Margaret said they would and she took them captive again. After doing this several more times over the next half hour, Mary dropped off to sleep; the first time in years she had done so without crying.

The weeks passed quickly. Mary made good progress and she was excited as the number of negative thoughts diminished daily.

Mary found she had time to think about Joe and about the fact that she would never have children.

She called Joe one week and asked if she could come home that weekend; she had something to tell him. Joe was definitely puzzled; but he readily agreed to pick her up at the airport on Friday.

After freshening up at their house, Joe took her to her favorite restaurant and they enjoyed a very nice meal. Over dessert and coffee, she explained to Joe what she had been doing at Hannah’s Sisters.

She told Joe that she was at peace with the fact that she would never be a mother. And she then asked Joe to forgive her for all the pain she had caused him over the years. With tears in his eyes, Joe forgave her and asked her to come back home to him.

Her heart was full as Joe paid the check and they walked to the car. For the first time in years, she was actually enjoying being with her husband; and her heart was doubly full that God had given her a faithful husband who had continued to love her in spite of the trouble she had given him.

Out of habit, Joe started down the hall to his room until Mary touched his arm and said, “Joe, will you sleep in our room tonight?”

It took a few weeks to ease out of her position at headquarters and for a spot to open back in the office where in their home town; but the company made it happen for her.

She used that time to talk with Margaret about making Hannah’s Sisters a formal, legal organization that could expand into a number of locations where its alumni were living. Almost without exception, the women who had learned to live without pain were eager to share the Three Life Principles with other women.

She heard the front door open and Gilbert and Sullivan scampered across the living room and kitchen to their beds in the mud room. She heard Joe start down the hall. Joe may be lucky tonight, but Mary dimmed the lights thinking about how lucky and truly blessed she was – she was free of pain after hurting for years and she was helping other women find their freedom, too.

The end.

This fictional story introduces a principle that has been around for thousands of years. In addition to the Bible, philosophers like Confucius, Marcus Aurelius, Shakespeare, and others have written or spoken about our wonderful capacity to train ourselves not to ruminate on negative thoughts and to minimize the effects of emotional or physical pain in our lives. The danger of ruminating on emotional pain is, in addition to more pain, stress, depression, anxiety, emotional issues, and worse.

Children as well as adults can easily understand the simple Three Life Principles. The principles work for many negative emotions that result from almost any negative thinking.

 This concept is explained fully in an online eCourse called Finding Personal Peace The course leads you through these life principles and also covers topics like making good decisions, and dealing with serious stuff like death, illness, abuse, and addiction.

The eCourse leads one through a process of turning the habits of negative emotions into the habits of peace and freedom. You can read other short stories on life issues by searching the category, Short Stories, at the right. You can start with the course today and begin to find more personal peace in your life immediately.

All the best.

Copyright 2014 Birmingham, Al USA. All rights reserved.


Jarel’s Story – A Teen Deals with Sickle-Cell Disease

Jarel’s Story – A Teen Deals with Sickle-Cell DiseaseJarel was worried. He was 18 and starting college in the fall. Jarel also has sickle cell anemia and in a few months would be moving away from Dr. Tom, who had helped him learn how to manage his disease with a minimum of pain. He didn’t know what he would do without Dr. Tom.

An idea had been building in his mind for several months. He’d done a lot of research and he was ready to present it to Dr. Tom.

So he called and asked for a visit. When Dr. Tom asked him if he was in pain, he laughed and said, “No. I’m just planning ahead.”

Jarel had had sickle cell anemia since he was three. Actually it had been there all his life, but it started to manifest itself at age three with intense pain. Sometimes he could only scream because the pain was so bad.

His mother would frantically drive him to the emergency room wailing all the way that she had given her son this terrible disease and she should be punished.

The basic treatment he got was morphine to kill the pain; and then sometimes they would do scans to see if they could find where the disease was flaring up. Sometimes they would put him in the hospital to treat the crisis. Sometimes they just sent him home.

When Jarel was 9, he and his mom moved to larger city and he met Dr. Tom at the university hospital where he had gone when Jarel had his first episode in his new home.

Dr. Tom helped Jarel with the pain and the crisis, but it was when Dr. Tom said he wanted to meet with Jarel and him mom that things started happening differently.

First of all, Dr. Tom lifted Jarel’s chin up with his finger and looked him squarely in the eye.

“Jarel,” he said, “Do you want to get rid of a lot of this pain?”

“Yeah,” Jarel had answered, “it hurts a lot.”

“Jarel, I promise that if we can work together as a team and fight this pain together, we can make most of this pain go away. Are you willing to be on the team with me?”

“Yes, sir,” Jarel brightened. Nobody had ever given him any reason to hope that things could get better.

“Jarel, we need your mom to be on our team. Do you think she would want to help us make most of the pain go away.”

“I think so, Dr. Tom,” he said as the both looked at his Mom, Sondra.

“Doctor, I don’t like the direction this conversation is taking. I don’t want you filling my boy’s head with foolishness!”

“Sondra,” Dr. Tom said softly, “I would never say or do anything that I thought would hurt Jarel.”

“Please, Mom,” Jarel begged, “I hurt so bad sometimes.”

“Okay. But I just can’t get it out of my mind that I gave him this disease and I’m causing my boy to hurt.”

“We’ll deal with that later, Sondra. Right now let’s talk about what we all need to do to make this team work for us.”

“Each of us has a role, and Jarel, yours is the most important.”

He picked two cards up from his desk and gave one each to Jarel and his mom. It had three rules typed on it. Jarel remembers wondering how Dr. Tom already had Jarel’s name on the card.

“Jarel, there are three things that you have to do faithfully. Let’s look at your card together.”

Rule 1 – Every time a thought about pain pops into my mind, I will say out loud to myself, “I choose not think about any pain.”

Rule 2 – I will visit Dr. Tom at least once a month for a follow-up and I can call him anytime the pain makes me want to cry.

Rule 3 – Every time a thought pops into my mind that makes me have negative thoughts or makes me sad, I will say out loud to myself, “I choose not think about that.”

“Jarel,” Dr. Tom explained, rule 1 is to train your mind to help you deal with the pain better. Rule 2 is to help me learn more about you and how I can help you. And Rule 3 will help you deal with any other negative issues that pop up in your life. If you don’t keep these rules, especially rule 2, I cannot be part of your team. Do you understand?”

“Yes, sir. This will be a lot easier than I thought it would be.”

“This is important, Jarel. I must see you every month and I will trust you to call me when you decide you need help with the pain. If I don’t see you every month, then I can’t help you and you’ll have to find another doctor. Do you understand?”

“Yes, sir.”

Doctor Tom picked up two more cards and gave one to Jarel and another to his mother. It’s was labeled Sondra’s Rules.

“Now, Sondra, let’s look at your rules. They are just about as important as Jarel’s rules.”

Rule 1 –    I did not give Jarel his disease. Anytime I start thinking that I have to say to myself, out loud, “I choose not think about that.”

Rule 2 –    If a thought about Jarel’s pain enters my mind, I will say, “I choose not think about Jarel’s pain.”

Rule 3 –    I will make sure that Jarel keeps his appointment every month; and I will trust Jarel to tell me if he wants me to call the doctor.

Rule 4 –    Every time a thought pops into my mind that makes me have negative thoughts or makes me sad, I will say out loud to myself, “I choose not think about that.”

“Sondra, it’s important that you let Jarel become the owner of his pain; and it’s important that you do not remind him of his pain by asking about it.”

“Sondra, you must understand this! If you fret and worry about Jarel’s pain, you will magnify his pain and make it worse.”

“It’s also important that you be a positive support for him by not dwelling on other negative issues.

“Finally, it is critical that I see Jarel every month. If he misses two months in a row, I won’t be his doctor anymore. Do you understand?”

“Yes, I do.”

“I suggest that you each keep your cards maybe on the breakfast table so that you can each say your rules out loud to yourself three or four times a day.”

Dr. Tom picked up two more cards and gave them to Jarel and his mother. These cards read, Dr. Tom’s Rules.

Rule 1 –    I will do everything in my power to find the most effective way to minimize Jarel’s pain.

Rule 2 –    I will always believe Jarel if he tells me that he needs my help with pain.

Rule 3 –    I will do my best to help Jarel learn how to live a long and productive life.

He laughed and said, “Even after 20 years, I still say my rules out loud to myself at least three times a day.”

They ended the visit and Sondra set a date that she would bring Jarel for his monthly appointment. They left with their cards in their hands and Jarel left with hope that his life was going to get better.

Each month, Dr. Tom would give Jarel a thorough examination. Sometimes Jarel thought his fingers were going to probe all the way to the bones in his legs and arms. Sometimes, Dr. Tom would put his hands on Jarel’s muscles and joints and close his eyes. He would hold his hands there for several seconds. He said that he was “listening for heat from the disease. There were always blood tests and sometimes scans or x-rays.”

After a couple of months, Jarel settled into a routine.

He had discovered that he really wasn’t thinking about his pain as much as he had. When he did sense pain, he would say out loud to himself, “I choose not think about any pain.”

He also discovered that if a thought popped up that made him feel sad, the sadness would go away if he said out loud to himself, “I choose not think about that.” And the negative thoughts were happening less and less often.

It took longer for his mom to stop asking him about his pain. He would have to remind her, “Mom, when you ask me about my pain, I have to break Dr. Tom’s rule about not thinking about pain; so don’t ask me about it.”

“Trust me, Mom, if I need you to call Dr. Tom, I will tell you, okay?

He would have a couple of crises a year, but they weren’t as bad as when he was younger and usually a short stay in the hospital got him cleared up.

Jarel also discovered that he liked school. He did really well because he wasn’t having to deal with so much pain and prolonged hospital stays for his crises; he could focus on learning.

He enjoyed math and science; and he really loved reading biographies of people like Dr. Ben Carson and others. He decided that he was going to college, and that was what caused him to start worrying.

Jarel learned that his life was so much better than many other kids with sickle-cell. A lot of kids’ disease got worse when they went through puberty, but Jarel had an easier time because of the Rules. Kids often got better treatment in their crises than adults. Adults often couldn’t get the help they needed in an ER because they were presumed to be there looking for a drug fix.

He learned of cases where the patient had been treated with morphine for the pain only to discover after it was too late that the pain was from appendicitis or a bowel obstruction or something else. But too often, when the morphine stopped the pain, it also stopped the examination. So major problems would sometimes go unnoticed.

He decided he wanted to major in Public Health and he won a full scholarship to go to a school that was about 500 miles from home. He was concerned about keeping his monthly appointments and about what kind of treatment he would get there if he had a crisis.

Then an idea sprang into his mind and over several weeks, it grew to something he wanted to share with Dr. Tom. So he had called for an appointment.

After Jarel and Dr. Tom had caught up on current events, Jarel led the discussion.

“Dr. Tom, I’ve won a scholarship and I’m going to a college in Durham this fall. I’m worried about continuing your protocol from that distance. It’s helped me so much and I need it to continue.”

“That’s not a problem, Jarel. I can refer you to specialists there and you can continue under their care.”

“There’s more to it that that, Dr. Tom; let me explain.”

“I have friends and relatives who have this disease and they are not able to manage it as well as I can. Your approach seems to be unique, especially with the auto-suggestion that you used with me and my mom.” Jarel laughed. “I bet you didn’t know that I knew that word, did you?”

He continued. “I’m concerned about the millions of kids just like me who are living on morphine or high dosages of methadone, or whatever, and who have no real hope of ever becoming a well-functioning adult. You’ve figured out how to manage the disease very effectively for me and your other patients; but you can’t be everywhere at the same time.”

“So here’s my idea,” and he handed Dr. Tom an outline.

He explained, “Nobody knows for sure what will happen to our healthcare system in the future, but one thing for sure, physicians will have to be able to make a good living or they will do something else.”

“I don’t know for sure, but I suspect that there aren’t a lot of doctors who have a protocol like yours to help kids like me.”

“Point 1 –  If you haven’t done so already, would you write a book or a white paper that explains your protocol in terms that any primary-care physician or family doctor can understand and accept? You have developed something that works and it needs to be shared.

“Point 2 – Ultimately, I have to be responsible for my healthcare choices. When I get to college, I will approach a local primarycare physician and give them my history. I’ll then show them your protocol and ask them if they will treat me precisely according to the protocol including the auto-suggestion rules and everything. If they agree, I’ll be their patient; and I’ll commit to finding enough sickle-cell students for their practice so they can afford to devote the time to us that we need. I want them to succeed.”

“If they won’t agree to use your protocol, I’ll thank them and go to the next doctor. “

“Point 3 – I believe that most, if not all, the people who agree to be treated under the protocol will have results similar to mine. Since all the patients are students, I’ll talk to the physician about sending every one of those patients away with a copy of your protocol and this model so they can use Point 2 to recruit a primary care physician wherever they go for graduate school or work. In just 3 student generations, just 12 years or so, there could be dozens or even hundreds of primary care physicians all over the country using your protocol.”

“Point 4 – To support this growing number of physicians using the protocol, you could create a consortium to support and encourage them. The members would pay a fee to keep up with the latest developments. You could start with a periodic newsletter and website. You could add videos that could be distributed by a private YouTube account. Later on, you could host seminars that perhaps could get approved for CME credits. You could have much more than just the satisfaction of helping others.

“I want to major in public health and I want to use this model for my Master’s Thesis.”

“I read a book about FedEx founder, Fred Smith, who got a C on a term paper about the model for Federal Express. His professor said it would never work. Well, the professor was wrong. There will be people who say this won’t work, but if you can put your protocol on paper, I believe it will work.”

“I’ve convinced that other sickle-cell patients can have the success I have using your protocol. I’m also convinced that primary care physicians all over America can build a strong practice using this idea. I’m going to show them the benefit of “paying this idea forward” as their patients go out into the world and we will all prosper.”

Dr. Tom was amazed. “How on earth did you come up with this idea, Jarel?”

“I took economics this year and I’ve spent a lot of time on Google. I’ve learned that any idea that succeeds must be a win-win situation for all the parties. “

“Patients win by having consistent and effective health care with less pain wherever they live. “

“Primary-care physicians win by building strong, unique practices with sickle-cell patients. “

“You win if you are able to build a consortium of all those doctors that could support the use of your protocol across the country.”

“Dr. Tom, I know that you’ve made lots of presentations and applied for lots of grants to build sickle-cell centers around the state. You’ve told me about that.”

“The difference in my plan and yours is that my plan is patient driven. I want the care I’ve had to continue even after I leave here. Remember I’m the one in pain if I don’t get the care I need. And the primary-care physician is the one who can benefit financially by treating enough patients like me the right way. If I can direct just 8 to 10 of my African-American friends to him, he can afford to help us all.

“This may not work, but I want to start by finding a primary care physician in Durham who will treat me the same way you’ve treated me since I was nine years old. I’ll do the same thing wherever I go for graduate school.”

As Dr. Tom considered Jarel’s idea, he thought about the scared, screaming nine-year-old and his equally scared and guilt-ridden mother who brought him for that first visit. This was perhaps the most conclusive proof that his protocol works and Jarel seemed to have a great idea for taking it forward.

Jarel was ecstatic. He was launching his dream to help sickle-cell kids in every community in America find relief for their pain.

Life was good and getting better!

Click here for more information about sickle-cell anemia.

Note to parents:

This story is based on conversations with a nationally recognized hematologist-oncologist in our community who specializes in sickle-cell treatment in children and teens and who uses a concept similar to the one herein to treat his patients.

This fictional story addressing a major health issue introduces a principle that has been around for thousands of years. In addition to the Bible, philosophers like Confucius, Marcus Aurelius, Shakespeare, and others have written about our wonderful capacity to train ourselves not to ruminate on negative thoughts and even to minimize the effects of pain in our lives. The danger of ruminating on pain is, in addition to more pain, stress, depression, anxiety, emotional issues, and worse.

Your children can understand the simple principle that “if I choose to think a lot about something that gives me pain, I can just as well choose not to think about it.”

This concept is explained fully in an online eCourse called Finding Personal Peace

The eCourse leads one through a process of turning a habit of sadness into a habit of peace.

The concept works for many negative emotions that result from negative thinking.

Copyright 2014 Birmingham, Al USA. All rights reserved.


Relationships – Life is a Team Sport

The old adage says there’s no “I” in team. Relationships need to be that way.

Relationships - Life is a Team Sport

Relationships – Team Building Together

Defining egoThe self, especially as distinct from the world and other selves.”

An issue that affects many relationships is that ego gets in the way. We often put our personal needs ahead of others. We think of ourselves first. Decisions are made on what’s best for us.

In 1973, Robert Ringer wrote a book entitled, “Winning Through Intimidation.” The title alone bothers me.

If someone wins then by implication someone loses. If we win by intimidation, it implies that our ideas are not accepted on their merits but rather on who shouts the loudest or applies the most powerful leverage.

Ringer says that his intent was to help individuals learn how to avoid being intimidated. He even changed the name in a subsequent printing to “To Be or Not to Be Intimidated?: That is the Question. “

Nevertheless, the original title has stuck and it seems to reinforce the natural inclination that the biggest, the strongest, the mostest wins; and the smaller, the weaker, the leaster loses. That premise, burned into the psyche of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, has caused immeasurable damage to relationships in our generation.

The equation for a good relationship that has each person giving 100% of themselves to the relationship, has no room for intimidation. It allows no room for ego. It grants no license for one party in the relationship to lord it over the other party.

Why the emphasis on ego or self?

Beyond it being a natural inclination of most of us, there are several reasons for self to want to prevail.

  1. On the school yard, the smaller or less coordinated are bullied and ridiculed.
  2. On the team, the younger, weaker, and lesser skilled ride the bench.
  3. The under-achieving child is often belittled by an unthinking parents or relatives.
  4. The dreamer is said to lack focus and to be weak.
  5. A domineering parent sets the pattern for future domination.
  6. Living in a family of takers sets the mental switch creating another taker soon.
  7. Not quite fitting in creates a determination to write the rules themselves someday.

These seven possibilities and a host of others have created a couple of generations now where winning, where prevailing, is the goal, the prize. This mindset does not bode well for any relationship.

Breaking the pattern

With a lifetime of experiences and often emotional pain that says “win or else,” it can be difficult to change the way we think. Why should we change anyway? “I’ve spent a lifetime getting to a point where I can make them respect me, and I like it.

The reason we have to change is that we simply can’t be happy living without relationships. But good relationships need to support the mutual needs both parties instead of promoting the BIG one over the LITTLE other.

Our experiences, especially the painful ones, remind us every time we dwell on them; that we have to stand up for ourselves because nobody else will. A good relationship has the strength of the partner standing up for us while we stand up for them.

Patterns of the past have taught us to do what’s right for us and let the others catch up. A good relationship has each party doing what’s right for the other. There’s great comfort in knowing that someone has your back.

Base life on reality not on negative thinking

If we dwell on the need to take care of ourselves today because no one else did when we were vulnerable, our relationships will fail. Yet, the reality is nobody is treating us like today. It may have been many years, but the memories are a fresh as yesterday, because we probably thought about them yesterday.

If we’re governed by the idea that I had nothing to contribute then and I have nothing to contribute now, even though I’m in a relationship, it will be hard for that relationship to prosper.

Better to learn how to manage all that negative thinking from the past so it can’t damage the reality of present and future relationships. That’s what Finding Personal Peace offers – a way to manage all that trash thinking that makes us angry, depressed, selfish, sad, and worse.

Focus on the team of relationships by getting the self-centered thinking out of the way and you’ll begin to see reality, peace, and hope in all your relationships.

Focus on the reality of strong relationships today being far better that re-thinking the losses of yesteryear.

Go for it!

Relationships - Life is a Team Sport

Thanks for reading our blog today. I invite you to respond in several ways: (1) Comment in the space below if you agree or disagree with what I’ve said. A dialogue could be interesting for all; (2) Share the post with your friends using the buttons below; and (3) sign up to get an email with each new post. There’s a place to do that on the right. Then you won’t have to remember to look for our subsequent posts. Thanks again!

What Will You Give Up for Lent?

Making change usually means giving up the old and taking on the new.

What Will You Give Up for Lent?

Peace is the Promise of Lent

I grew up in a non-liturgical church which didn’t celebrate Lent. It wasn’t until just a few years ago that I was part of a congregation that celebrates Lent. So I had a lot to learn.

Lent is a forty-day liturgical season that initiates the most sacred part of the Christian year.  Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and concludes Easter. Sundays aren’t counted for some reason.

The word Lent actually comes from the Old English lencten, which means “lengthen.”  It refers to the lengthening of the daylight hours that occurs in the northern hemisphere as spring approaches.  It is in this period of transition from late winter to early spring that the season of Lent falls.

Forty is a number that has a lot of Biblical significance. It rained for 40 days. Moses was on the mountain for 40 days receiving the Ten Commandments. Israel wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. Elijah went 40 days into the wilderness. The people of Nineveh fasted and mourned for 40 days in response to the preaching of Jonah. Jesus fasted in the desert for 40 days after which he as tempted by Satan. Jesus was among his disciples for 40 days after the resurrection before He ascended into heaven.

So it seems logical that Lent lasts 40 days.

Why practice Lent?

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “the purpose of Lent is to provide that purification by weaning men from sin and selfishness through self-denial and prayer, by creating in them the desire to do God’s will and to make His kingdom come by making it come first of all in their hearts.”

What does this mean to us?

Looking at the concept of Lent from a secular perspective, it’s a time when we give something up; a time when we make sacrifice.

Maybe we give up some of our comfort zone. Maybe we give up beliefs and thoughts that are dear to us. Maybe we give up habits that have the capacity to hurt us and hold us back from where we might be otherwise.

Comfort zone

That’s a subjective term. Your comfort zone might be horrendous to someone else because you may have gotten comfortable in an atmosphere of pain and negativity that you know than you might be in the unknown of the alternatives. So we say, “I’ll just deal with it,” and continue trudging through our lives.

Beliefs and Thoughts

Again, the impact of beliefs and thoughts is subjective. It’s true that you were hurt. And the recurring thoughts that you have represent something that truly happened. And you may take some satisfaction in the vengeance you deal out every time you think about those painful things.


We get comfortable where we are and reconcile that this is the hand we were dealt and we’ll just play it. Maybe I eat too much. It doesn’t hurt anybody but me. Maybe I languish in a menial job. It’s my life. I’m not hurting anybody else. I speak my mind. Don’t I have the right to do that?

Giving up for Lent

Think about giving up your painful comfort zone and spending your 40 days seeking a peaceful lifestyle.

Why not give up debilitating thoughts in favor of personal peace?

Why not give up habits that hold you back and offend others and take up new habits?

You can do all that and more if you’ll let the course, Finding Personal Peace, show you how.

Why not give up emotional pain for Lent?

Why not give up negative thinking for Lent?

Why not give up old habits for Lent?

Forty days later, you might not recognize yourself.

God bless,

What Will You Give Up for Lent?

Thanks for reading our blog today. I invite you to respond in several ways: (1) Comment in the space below if you agree or disagree with what I’ve said. A dialogue could be interesting for all; (2) Share the post with your friends using the buttons below; and (3) sign up to get an email with each new post. There’s a place to do that on the right. Then you won’t have to remember to look for our subsequent posts. Thanks again!