5 Tips for Getting Past the Drama

Drama MasksIn my office today sat a couple planning the next steps in their journey to try to have a child. Couples dealing with infertility are already on somewhat of an emotional roller-coaster. On top of all this the additional stress of the Christmas holiday season is sometimes just too much.

But for this couple it wasn’t the physical or emotional pressure of infertility, or the extra travel or financial “stuff” over the Christmas holiday season, or the somewhat depressing weather that was getting them down: it was the family drama they had just been through. Why does it seem the holidays so often bring that drama to a boiling point?

I doubt this couple are the only ones who have just experienced some fatiguing family drama.

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Run – or Pray?

Two GirlsTwo little girls walked to school every day. (Yes, once upon a time they really did that!) On this particular morning they were enjoying the pleasant sun more than usual. Suddenly it occurred to them that they were going to be late: the bell would ring and they would be marked tardy.

One little girl said to the other, “We’re going to be late! Let’s kneel down and pray.”

“No,” said the other. “Let’s pray while we run!”

As a physician and a minister I see both extremes:

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7 Things to Do Intentionally Every Day

Girl Looking Down RoadDo you remember learning the classic laws of thermodynamics, perhaps in seventh grade science class? The basic idea of the second law goes something like this: any system will seek equilibrium where the least amount of energy is expended.

Now I’m sure any of you physicist types will find glaring holes in my paraphrase of such foundational principles: my apologies to such greats as Newton and Kelvin. But the point applies to ALL systems. Left to itself everything becomes more disordered. Without putting energy from the outside into a system it is doomed to collapse.

YOU are that outside energy. Doing something on purpose makes the difference.

I don’t want my personal “system” to collapse! And I know it takes doing things on purpose to keep that from happening. So, for myself, here are some things I must do intentionally every day:

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Happy Anniversary! Five Steps to a Happy Marriage

Happy Anniversary! Five Steps to a Happy Marriage

Wedding RingsFirst a disclaimer: I’m not sure there are ANY five steps that guarantee happiness in any area of life, let alone something as long-term and complicated as marriage. But I DO know that there are some things that can make or break the union of two people.

Four years ago today (as I write this) I married Al Tanksley, and I’m more in love now than on the day I said, “I do!” I know four years doesn’t seem like a long time to those who have been married fifty years or more, but I certainly treasure every moment. Yes, we have had challenges, but we have met them together. And I look forward to many more good years together.

Here are some steps to a happy marriage in our experience, and I hope will do the same in yours:

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Doctor, Doctor: Your Family of Origin

Three GenerationsYou can’t choose your parents. Or your brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins. If your family of origin was reasonably healthy you probably don’t think much about how you choose to relate to them. You look forward to family gatherings, and keep in touch between times together.

There is always some tension as young people grow up and leave home, but healthy families celebrate such transitions. While still connected, junior develops a life of his or her own. And you’re at least somewhat proud of your parents and the legacy they left you.

But not all families are so healthy. It seems some significant measure of dysfunction is the norm in most families. Volumes have been written on the topic, and the mental health field has provided numerous careers devoted to helping those from unhealthy families learn to function better now.

Growing up in a home with alcohol, drug use, rage, criminal behavior, or violence leaves permanent marks on your soul.

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