The Nurse as Handmaid-Tart

Read why this stereotype is so wrong and dangerous for the patient…

TV, novels, films  and much of the internet portray the nurse as secondary.  As emptier of bedpans and bringer of water.  Period.  As someone killing time until she marries a doctor (G_d forbid!).

The great majority of doctors see nurses as annoyance, as threat, as hated mother and as handmaiden.  Someone once said: “Doctors treat all nurses like old dry dog shit and they treat outspoken nurses like warm, steamy dog shit.”  She was right.

In former times, the nurse was the core of a team.  Because there was no machinery, the doctor was forced to rely on assessment and information from those closest to the patient, the nurses.  They functioned as a problem solving team and physicians were not control-avoidant, they listened and together made plans, set goals and moved on to the next step.  This system worked extremely well and it was heady.

Joys of the job.

The nurse has a goal, driven by fear of failure and the absolute fun of achieving this goal AND THE PATIENT BENEFITS.  The goal is to return every body system and function to normal.  To do this, she must know exactly what is happening physiologically with the patient, assesses every change and define and watch for the next problem.  She watches pressures, body chemistry, neuro changes, heart and lung symptoms and any improvement or degeneration of status.  In addition, she gives medical treatments, medications, personal physical care, and emotional support and kindness to the patient.

She knows the status of her patient, minute to minute but she has a problem.  She can’t tell the patient’s doctor.  She can’t even tell him in private.  The best she can do is drop hints and clues… I use she for nurse and he for doctor because this defines the underlying dynamic of the exchange.  It is the same, however, with nurses and female doctors which means the dynamic is  actually about power, not gender. AND THE PATIENT SUFFERS.

And then there is the sub-text woo woo, (behind the scene and mostly invisible to the patient).  Bully managers that don’t ‘get it’, control avoidant doctors who don’t listen and administrations that have no idea what is going on in their hospital and have only one goal, money, and who make sweeping changes of doubling the nurse’s patient load to save money, (This destroys her ability to do the job correctly, a very, very expensive error.)

As for the tart!  That’s the last thing on our minds and we are generally not delicious, young, compliant and adoring subjects.  We are tired, overworked, sick of hospital politics and pissed-off.

Causes of Hoarding and How to Prevent It

Hoarding is not a psychological disease. Our reptilian brain and childhood experiences drive us to hoard. All species hoard.

Our reptilian brains are about survival and continuation of the species. These two functions are beyond control and override everything else we do.  Scarcity and it’s companion fear, drive us. This is true for every living thing.

We are not all the same.  We are molded by our experiences and adapted by our drives.

From childhood, females build the nest and males build the support system.  Little girls play with dolls and boys with building.  Watch them playing… a boy may drive a plastic truck through the dirt, silently for hours and adults tend to see it as mindless pastime.  It’s not and if you watch long enough you will see the purpose.  Girls nurture and boys support.  The reptilian brain at work, busy, focused and with intense purpose.  Serious stuff.

Part of that drive includes amassing a collection of ‘things’.  Everyone does it.  Sports hero memorabelia for boys, pretty things for girls and most of the time it remains orderly and within control.

Hoarding is when it becomes out of control and the hoarder is not crazy, bad or low class.  The hoarder is trying to fix something damaged in childhood.

When a parent throws away or gives away a child’s toys, or more importantly the little things the child brings home, a stick or rock or flower…  when they pack up the child’s clothes and some favorite thing is lost forever.

Make a shelf for the child’s very favorite things.  Assure him that his shelf is off-limits to everyone but him.  When he outgrows his clothes, ask him if there is a favorite he would like to save.  Cleaning out the toys?  Ask him if there is anything he’s not finished playing with yet.  This implies that he will be finished with it eventually, a normal occurrence.

Children will look for things they loved and that have vanished and it continues into old age.  A terrible thing to do to someone.  They will have a lifetime of feeling unstable, vulnerable and certainly unsafe.  Remember that someone else’s things are important to them for reasons we will never know and the repercussions never end.

Adults need to remember also that leaving behind a room of childhood /teenage treasures when they leave home is absolutely not fair and reflects another problem.  They never wanted to leave mom and dad’s house and need an excuse to come back .  There is a bumper sticker that says ‘They haven’t left home until their stuff is out of the basement.’

So, the hoarder is keeping everything close to home, safely protected around him.  It may be a pile of newspapers but something happened to cause that.  Maybe someone interrupted a statement he made to arrogantly say:  “What is your source of information?”

Be kind to the hoarder.  Anything else is just another case of blaming the victim.

Why Women Shop, Why Men Fight and More About Hoarding

 Why Women Shop:

Girls begin to prepare the nest at about age 5.  It probably has a relationship

to estrogen production.  For generations a girl was given a ‘Hope Chest’, usually a large cedar lined rectangular box that was put at the foot of her bed.  This happened at puberty, around age 12 and was long awaited and expected, a rite of passage if you will.  Into this box, she was to put linens and things she had made for her future home.  It recognized the reptilian brain drive for reproduction and the required nesting.  All species do it!

As a child, she saved and protected and thought about things she liked.  When teenage years gave her freedom to move about, she began to shop.  The initial shopping was mostly for things to beautify herself in order to attract a mate, originally the primary requirement of the nest.  Later she shops for the nest.

70 pairs of shoes and gold faucets is a perversion.

Why Men Fight:

Young boys can play intently with toy trucks and heavy loaders for hours on end, day after day and never tire of it.  Or throw basketballs through hoops endlessly and never tire of it.  It’s all like a mantra, the precursor to adult jobs that will give him money to support family, his part in the reptilian brain’s nesting drive.

And men fight.  From our days in the cave, the male, stronger and testosterone driven was free to patrol and defend the nest.

Stabbing a passerby on the street and destroying villages with bombs is a perversion.

More About Hoarding:

Where the statistical numbers of 3-5%  are hoarders.  People who, by instinct and conditioning would hoard but fight it every day, are most likely well over 50% of us!

There are many events that initiate hoarding, all of them bullying, unkind behavior.

During childhood, someone threw away the child’s things… sometimes with the child watching and sometimes the child just found it missing.

The child quickly recognizes the threat and begins to keep his possessions close, thereby acting in accordance with his reptilian brain’s demand that he protect himself.  He is doing what he must.

And it can initiate as an adult.  If a husband says to his wife after she’s made a declarative statement in a social setting;  “What is your source of information?”, it will forever launch her into hoarding books, papers, documenting bits of proof and now computer links.

Hoarding is not the psychological disease.  Not hoarding is!

Hoarding is the natural reaction, part of the ‘taking good care of myself’ paradigm.  Those who do not hoard have been enculturated out of it.  If, therefore, hoarding is the norm, throwing things away is the deviance.  The trick is to, like everything else in life, use moderation.

When hoarders and would-be hoarders begin to throw things away, a scenario begins.  There is a very rapid assessment known to the victim, of how will I be harmed by this, and a flight-or-fight panic begins.  When done in old age, it’s preparing for death.

Jules Feiffer, the cartoonist, identified things as ‘little murders’.  This is a little murder.

Get Rid of Crows, Squirrels and Maybe Deer.

There are few solutions to discouraging crows and critters from city gardens but frightening them is easy, non-toxic and always  works.  They are all afraid of fire.

Crows will usually spend only one day in a tree and then move to another unless they are nesting and have eggs.  They travel and nest in flocks, often huge.  They become territorial and bold, attacking  cats, dogs and sometimes people.

Twisted Mylar ribbon, when hung from a high point and allowed to hang freely, will move as flames in a fire, warding off crows and squirrels but not the little songbirds.  Crows immediately silence and within minutes they leave your trees. They will move into trees nearby and out of sight of your ribbons so when making  Mylar twists, make extra and pass them out to your neighbors.

Only the twisted loops of red and silver, in the sun and moving, completely mimic flames and are the best.  Untwisted streamers need a strong wind to move them about and do not look like fire.  Twisting  the tape provides loops at the bottom that catch wind like a sail making them move with only a slight breeze.

The plain silver are holographic and when caught in the sun, reflect with thousands of prisms and changing colors.  While this does not mimic flame, holographic images confuse animals and apparently crows also.

Hanging these in larger clumps may also ward off deer and hopefully local  raccoons.

To look like fire, the Mylar must be twisted.  Cut a piece as long as your arms will reach or less.  Twist it about 5 times (3 for shorter lengths) and join the 2 ends.  Now twist again several times and again join the ends. Staple the ends together and tie  a string tightly around the stapled end to hang.  

If the crows return it will be brief and only because there is not enough wind to move the Mylar. They leave when the hanging begins to move again.

The red and silver Mylar ribbon, called “Bird B Gone Flash Tape” is available at Home Depot and Amazon,

Shaken Baby Syndrome

Shaking a baby that won’t stop crying may be an instinct of frustration. Even the saints among us have been to that point and somehow stopped themselves.

PACIFE Music to Calm stops the crying minutes after the screamer takes a breath and is quiet enough to hear it.  The mathematical character of this music along with the primal tunes Bernstein talks about quickly engage them.

Newborn drug babies, after the third day, begin a terrible and violent drug withdrawal.  The muscles in their legs undulate and cramp (we can see it and feel it), they purple cry nonstop, they shake, they have explosive diarrhea that eats their bottoms raw and they are beyond comfort.  This is the comment of one NICU nurse about a baby in drug withdrawal…

“I found a tape player and began to play the PACIFE music for him… I’d no sooner put it into the tape player than he stopped crying. It’s instantaneous. He’s looking around with a relaxed, peaceful face.”

– S. S., NICU Registered Nurse


Systemic Yeast

Need to cut systemic yeast down?  Everyone does.

Acidophilus is part of the huge population of good bacteria that the body needs to keep itself regulated, healthy and happy. Acidophilus is normal flora for women, and in GI tracts from mouth to bowel in everyone,  It’s job is to control growth of the Candida fungus in the GI tract.

Candida overgrowth comes from too much sugar, alcohol, stress and from antibiotics which kill all bacteria, even the good kind. Candida is responsible for thrush in babies, diarrhea, feelings of sluggishness and  lethargy and when overgrowth is large, a distinctive odor.

For milk drinkers, the very delicious Acidophilus milk is an amazing answer.  It’s sold in major grocery chains and health food stores, in half-gallon cartons or bottles, usually along with other types of non-standard milk on the bottom shelf. Acidophilus is also sold in capsules or powder form to mix with milk.

It’s in yogurt also but one needs to eat a lot of yogurt (and therefore too much sugar,  the small container of Yoplait has 5 teaspoons of sugar in it!)  to match the amounts in Acidophilus milk.

There is another way to get rid of yeast.  A story:

  • I hung my stethoscope over the trapeze railing on a patient’s bed in Trauma ICU and forgot about it.  Returning to work after four days, the patient, who had a trach, was in the midst of a code and I grabbed the stethoscope (ignoring the little voice in my head that said:  “Clean the earpieces.”)  and joined the code team.  Stupid! Every time that patient was suctioned day and night, probably every 20 minutes, he coughed, spreading who knows what all over the earpieces.  That was 43 years ago and the yeast and the itch is better but not gone.  The thing that almost fixed it was a completely non-yeast diet of no bread, no sugar, no fats, no red meat, no fruit or juice… for 2 years!

No More Sunday

As culture and religion change, many of us no longer have a ritualistic, dedicated day off.  One day blends into the next with shoulds and maintenance errands.  Jobs spill over into the weekend days, everything blurs, there is so much to do that any time for ourselves is stolen time and guilty time. Frequently that becomes ‘vege-out’ time in front of the TV.

Now, the tricky part is to pick a day that is Sunday.  Maybe a little meditation, Tai Chi, Yoga.  Do something different.  Ritualize it, same day each week, anticipate it and plan little treats for yourself on that day.  It takes 21 days to make a new habit so in this case it’s 21 weeks and therefore the success of it becoming integrated into lifestyle will depend on a very strong intention.

TV off.  Don’t open mail with windows on Friday.  There is nothing you can do about it until Monday but worry.

If you’re single and alone, treat this day as having a love affair with yourself. Do whatever you love doing and whatever will leave good memories.  Paint, curl up with a good book,  garden, grab a camera and hike, visit a new place, plan a mini adventure, garage sale or flea market shop.  Call a friend and go out for a great brunch, coffee and good conversation.  (Ground rules… only positive talk.)

Put the iPod on and let glorious music wash over you or listen to a non-violent audiobook. If cleaning house pleases you, throw open windows and doors, turn all the lights on, music loud and clean and sing and dance.  It’s your nest and your day.

If you love to cook, plan the week’s meals, shop for it and spend the day cooking, tasting, inventing…  music and lights on, doors open.  Expansive, lavish, joyous time spent.  Happy time.

Take the kids to the park and just watch them play.  No fussing over them, no deadlines, just enjoy it.

Construct for yourself a guilt-free day of rest, a day of pleasant memories.  Something to look forward to and back on.  The body and the mind need this reduction of stress and renewal of spirit, that’s why Sunday was invented.

Violence as Mindset

Behavior toward children, family and others is basically dictated by cultural background and passed on for hundreds of years. It takes recognition, disgust and a powerful act of will to change it.

I know someone who has a terrible underlay of anger and violence in everything and about everything and he frightens me.  This mindset requires another underlay…  the need for controlling it and being around that requires trust.  He’s a drinking alcoholic in denial which exacerbates it.

We were raised in the same Germanic ethnicity, of righteous anger, control and nastiness toward children.  My French parent sat in silence, maybe he was stunned into inaction, maybe he had no idea how to countermand it, maybe he was afraid.

  • A story:  One day my little children were playing ‘house’ and the one who won the privileged role of ‘mother’ instantly became my mother!  But she didn’t know my mother.  She was playing me and my worst nightmare had happened.  I was passing it down to yet another generation.  I isolated myself, took apart my behavior, looked at it objectively, vowed to reverse it and made a plan.  I removed, stopped, ended every negative comment (and a whole load of negative thinking.). Because the child’s reptilian brain demands that it attempt to please the parent, I adapted a new way of speaking to them.  Ignoring the behavior I did not like, and looking for examples of behavior I wanted to reinforce, comments became  only about how well they were doing in pleasing me:  “I love it when you put your dishes in the sink.” and the consequences of this were huge.  We all became happier but, in addition, I’d become relaxed, happy, unstressed and playful. Life was good. Life was great.

All cultures have fundamental agendas and they are played out in childrearing,  passed from generation to generation forever and recent studies show that they alter DNA.

  • German:  Fighting for ‘The Fatherland’.  The language is abrupt, paternal and dictatorial.  Childrearing includes constant criticism, bullying, humiliations and physical abuse.
  • French:  Non-violent, happy, pleasant social interaction.  The language is lyrical and beautifully flowing.  Childrearing includes enjoying them as they play.
  • Asian:  Saving face.  Careful  to protect the self-esteem of others.
  • American:  A polyglot cultural mixture of everything,  a war zone if you will.
  • Bhutan:  Happiness of the people. Bhutan has been referred to as The Last Shangri-la.


I’m OK. You’re Not OK. A Game

The how and why of unhappy, dysfunctional workplaces. and how to get out of it.       

All disciplines have game theory, Computer. Psychology, Chemistry, Political, War…

Transactional Analysis is the study of Psychology game theory as defined by Eric Berne in his book. Games People Play.  The how to recognize these games interference and how to get out of them is clearly laid out in the fascinating book by Jongeward and James, Born to Win.

The three part game, I’m OK.  You’re Not OK., Now I’ve Got You, You Son of a Bitch, and Rappo! (throwing a monkey wrench into the works) is the foundation of America.  It’s the foundation of what goes on inside of families, of hospitals, schools, governments, business, each a microcosm os the whole.  Rappo is when, for example, managers of a large hospital unit walk in one morning and fire the strongest, most talented, smartest nurse.  This controls behavior of the staff for years.

So you recognize that this game is in play and someone begins the scenario with you.  How to get out of it?  Simply say:  “I’m not playing.”, turn and walk away.  The thing that always amazes me is that this sentence stops them, even when they don’t understand game theory and are so entrenched in a game within the framework of their lives  that they believe it to be normal behavior.  

This game underlies dysfunctional families and super controllers.  It stifles excellence, creativity and good outcome.

The goal of excellence is positive regard, partnership, mutual support and success creates opportunity for serendipity, the meat of life.

I asked a film director what his job was and he said:  “My job is to create a framework within which everyone can do his best work.”


Don't Want to Move?

Tricks to change a depressing, forced move to a nice adventure.  It’s magic.

  • Get a box and go around your house, selecting your most precious things… photographs, things the children made that you want to save forever, special gifts, letters, your Gratitude Journal, a vase and pack them into the box.  Take that box to the new home.  Instantly your heart leaves the old and bonds with the new.  Arrange them in the new house, bring a flower for the vase and replace it with a new one every time you go to the new home.  This is from an elegant and wise Feng Shui book, Wind and Water.

Feeling like your new home is not yours?  Another fix, more magic.

  • My daughters visited for my birthday.  The day arrived and the pilot among them asked if I wanted to fly to Seattle and hang out for the day.  I said that what I wanted to do is clean house. They looked at each other, grinned and said:  “ALL RIGHT !!” Blinds went up, doors opened, music on loud (Aretha of course), cleaning equipment out and we cleaned, danced, sang, ate and laughed together.  Major Fall housecleaning. Here is the magic part… the house now had sweet memories of family, our memories.  We as a family imprinted it.  No longer was it foreign and temporary.  Now it was home and precious.

Facing Our Worst Fears

The Indian boy grows up knowing that, at a certain age, he will have to face the sweat lodge.  Africans used tribal scarring as their rite of passage from boy to manhood but it was more than that.  Facing danger and terror and finessing it with elegance and pride brings personal power to everything else in life.

A story:

Elan, living in Redmond and working at Microsoft called one day and asked what I would do if she skydived.  I said I was a trauma nurse and didn’t want to know about it.

At Thanksgiving I went to her apartment for a week and next to the telephone was a Skydiver’s Log…

“Elan, did you skydive?”  She covered her mouth.

“Were you strapped to someone else or did you jump out?  Were you pushed?”

“Well, we didn’t exactly jump out.  We had 4 hours of ground school and then we had to hang off the wing.”


“There was a bar on the wing and we had to hang off it.  We wore mics and could get instructions through earphones.”

“How high were you flying?  Were you scared?”

“4,000 feet and I was too cold to be scared.”

“Then what?”

“I let go and they told me to pull the chute.  But the chute was twisted so they told me how to untwist it.”  And she demonstrated keeping arms in so as not to spiral.

Again I asked as any mother would:  “Were you scared?”

She shook her head.  “I was too busy to be scared.”

“Would you do it again?”

She said … “I can’t wait.”

“Has it changed you?”

“Completely.  I’ll never be afraid of anything again.”

“Why did you do it?”

“I was confronting my worst fears.”

And that jump was the first of many.

In a culture where everyone is a critic, most negative it’s difficult to remain steadfast to oneself.  Someone who faces big, huge risks;  a pilot’s solo flight, standing on top of a mountain, travel to another country alone and not knowing the language… all of these things are rites of passage.  All other fears are trivial.

So, your child is 16, rootless and lacks direction or goals.  Give him a gift of skydiving.  He’ll look at you as if you’re trying to kill him but it’s actually very safe.  And he will be changed forever.

He’ll come away with ‘It’  that indefinable walking tall, owning the world personal power that’s so beautiful to see and is precious, not to be meddled with.

Negative People

Life is Good.  Life is Great.

I’d say this in the middle of the night at work and co-workers would ask what I was on or say that I’m crazy.  In the break room old episodes of The Cosby Show would be playing and I’d remark that it was exactly like our house and everyone pounced saying that no-one’s house was like that.  When questioned, they said everyone’s house was Married with Children.

Why are some firmly and absolutely negatively based and others, maybe blindsided, frantic or sad, remain positive?  Genetics? Childhood influences?  Sure but this doesn’t mean the ‘negative Muse’ cannot stop. What’s a ‘Muse’?  In this context, it’s when you find the one word that describes the underlying  goal of every day.  Lloyd Reynolds was a ‘Comic Muse’.  (for wonderful stories, see archives)

Negative people can change but I think it may require an ‘ah ha’ moment, something big, something life threatening big.  A terrible brush with death, fighting cancer, anaphylactic reaction to bee sting.  An event that illustrates without a doubt that life itself is positive.  One can force this event by structuring life risk events like Sky Diving, Rock Climbing.

Negative people are enculturated to mistrust those who are positive and hanging out with someone happy and positive for awhile is, to quote a friend:  “A life changing experience.”  But then fear of the unknown creeps in and not only do they revert but they attack.  It takes a personal ‘ah ha’ moment where fear and anger are no longer desirable.

F. Scott Peck says not to try to change this, just stay away in his book People of the Lie.  Becoming involved catches you in their karmic loop.

Derek Bok, former president of Harvard says in his book, Political Happiness, that only 3 things prevent one from experiencing happiness:

  • Depression
  • Chronic pain
  • Sleep deprivation  (fix this one with the music of PACIFE)

I would add two others:

  • Alcoholism
  • Narcotic addiction

Certain professions force the negative personality, some by the assumption that people are doing something wrong, others by circumstances.

  • Policeman /Lawyer /Judge
  • Social worker
  • The NICU nurse and RT (Respiratory therapist) for example,   approaches every minute with an underlay of ‘what’s wrong with this’.  They have to because anything wrong can accelerate rapidly and must be pounced on.  The tiniest drop in heart rate.  A cacophony of equipment all with alarms, some can be ignored, some we run to.  They work with eyes behind their heads. And this negative micro-management runs over into life outside of work, damages relationships and is hard on children.
  • In Computer work, QA (Quality Assurance) is negatively based also.  Finding what does not work is the entire focus of the job.

Some Arguing Tricks

Have an off-site Partner Meeting with your mate once a month to discuss how it’s going, how each child is doing, what you would like to change and to make new goals.  Keys to success …

  • Prepare for the meeting.  Make a list and notes.
  • Stay positive and avoid anger.
  • Go with the foundation belief that everything is just a mechanical problem, everyone is good and everything is fixable.
  • Meet in a restaurant with booths for private conversation.
  • Mom can’t cry.
  • Dad can’t shout.
  • The conversation should be about circumstances and not about each other (ad hominum)
  • Have no alcohol before and only coffee or tea during the meeting.  Eating is too complicated and distracting  and may cause stomach ache.  This is a serious meeting.
  • Define the problem.  Devise and problem solve solutions.   Make a plan and a secret signal between you to remind each other of your new goals.

A plan of this sort reduces daily argument.  One tends to save an issue for Partner Meeting and add more thoughts about it, calm thoughts, problem solving thoughts throughout the month.

Ignoring parenting problems is embedding the consequences forever and probably for generations.

What you accept, you teach.

Vacation. Leave the Children at Home Trick

A friend with six young children invented this.  Leave the children at home, it it’s a large gang of them maybe leave them with two adults.  Children younger than maybe 7 would not remember the vacation anyway.

Then, have a vacation in your own city.  Experience your city as a tourist.  No quick stolen minutes together.  A lavish block of time, leisurely time to refresh yourselves and reduce stress.

This leaves you 20 minutes away in case of emergency and gives peace of mind and an intimate several day vacation together.

What Women Want in a Man

  • A full-term baby in the big room of NICU was three days post-op from major surgery and had a long, indwelling central line of some sort.  During evening visiting hours, the surgeon from another hospital came in and told me he was going to remove the central line.   He then turned bright lights on around the crib, put the crib rail down, took the pacifier out of the baby’s mouth, turned the music off , bent down and said to this week old baby boy:  “Steven, I’m  Dr. Silen and I’m going to remove your central line.  It won’t hurt but it will feel very strange for a minute.  I will let you know when I’m finished.”   As he began to talk, the room fell silent.  He finished the procedure, talked again to the baby as promised, replaced the pacifier, turned the music back on, put the crib rail back up and dimmed the lights.  As he was leaving the unit, I ran up to him and said: “Dr. Silen, you don’t know me but you have just become my hero.  Every woman in this room fell in love with you tonight.” He looked at me in surprise and then tears came to his eyes. He bent and kissed my cheek and said that it had been a difficult day, thanked me and said that he had needed that.
  • A friend’s mother is on the way back to America, in a little sail boat, 2,000 miles from land in any direction, out of contact with anyone for 50 days and alone with her beautiful gentle, happy loving husband.  Co-ordinates in Google Earth show them as a dot completely alone in the vast ocean.  I wonder what that’s like!  It’s a second marriage and early on they bought Harleys and toured America. Then they bought a jeep and went to the top of every mountain in the American West. For the past years, they have lived on their small sailboat with long stays on island after island in the Pacific.

Women want loyalty and kindness, they want partnership, they want adventure, to be safe and they want security.  They want to build the family nest and have peace in their life.  They want interesting conversation and to laugh.

Women want the men in Nora Robert’s novels.  Women want the Dr. Silens of the world.

Life After Alcohol

Alcoholism is a genetic disease, not a moral failing.  It sneaks up on a person and bites’ ya.  The only factor between the first drink and skid road or jail is time.

Is access to alcohol the first thing you think of when waking up?  Drinking every day?  More than one? Getting angry when someone says “You’re an alcoholic”?  The idea of quitting causes a panic attack?  Losing friends?  Angry all the time?  Distracted?  It’s a big club.

When drinking I thought I was having fun.  Sober revealed to me what real fun is.  It’s accuracy and control over my life, it’s clarity and peace and excitement and joy.  Looking back on the drinking days…  they were like living in a deep, dark tunnel.

Quitting is a decision.  It often happens because of some hit-bottom event and, depending on the baseline blood alcohol level, can include nasty detox /withdrawal.  It needs to be nasty because memories of it act as aversion therapy and help one remain sober.

AA is like a warm blanket and it’s magic  It’s no shame, no blame, it’s an adventure in itself  and it’s a fantastic series of new rules to live a happy new life, rules that immediately become custom because within AA, breaking them is taboo.   Rules like avoiding extremes of anything, don’t talk all the time, let others talk and listen to them… lots of these rules in addition to the 12 steps, the roadmap.

You cannot take something away without replacing it with something of  like or better value.  There are  things one gains:

  • A support system within AA meetings, anywhere, anytime.
  • A sponsor who knows exactly the right things to do and say and is only a phone call away.
  • The proud ability to say “I’ve been sober for 2 weeks.”  a big one. (I’ve been clean and sober for nearly 31 fantastic years.)
  • The wonderful way your body feels, the clarity of mind and how much sweet fun life becomes.
  • A life that is neat, tidy and controlled.
  • Family and friends that love you instead of fear you.
  • and you don’t miss alcohol.

It’s Easy to Get Rid of the Pacifier

It’s easier to stop the pacifier than the thumb.  Much easier and for that reason, the pacifier is a godsend.  It should be gone well before the child is 3 because by that time continued sucking on it will determine the shape of his teeth.  Pacifiers prevent the top front teeth from growing down and therefore the side teeth will be longer, giving a Dracula shape.  Watch for the very first signs of this.  It may be before age three.

One day, sit your child down and line up all his pacifiers.  Tell him that ‘It’s a rule’, When a boy is 3 he doesn’t get any more pacifiers so when the last one is lost, he will become a ‘big kid’ and no longer use pacifiers.  Then remind him of older children he knows who he never sees with a pacifier.

Then when you see a pacifier under a piece of furniture or left outside, snatch it up and hide it until the last one is gone.  (I hid them in their dad’s sock drawer.)  Then help your child search for it.

After three days, put the pacifier in the cushion of the sofa or a chair and find it with a flourish.  Give it back to the child.  he’ll put it in his mouth, suck a few times, make a face, throw it down and never look back.  It’s finished.

With the thumb sucker…  we had to promise her a bike when she was 5.