Sunday, July 31, 2016


Tonight we finished Day 2 of a weekend workshop for couples sponsored by the Gottman Institute and called "The Art and Science of Love".  It was presented by Dr. John Gottman and his wife Dr. Julie Gottman, world-renowned professionals on all-things-relationships. He is a research scientist with 40 years of research (and 46 books) with thousands of couples. She is a respected clinical psychologist Who works with couples and families. They were a phenomenal teaching team and made their lectures and exercises fun, playful, and very instructional.  You know, when I told people back home that we were attending a couples workshop, I often got the inquiry: "Is everything OK?" It dawned on me that when you have plans to go to the gym, no one says is everything OK? It is a given that you have to keep maintaining your body, or trying to improve your body. So it is with relationships... We learned many valuable tools that I will share in future posts. The experience was well worth our efforts.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Saturday in Seattle

We started the day with an early morning run down by Elliott Bay waterfront, strengthened by the beauty of Puget Sound. The busy town was quiet, just waking up, and we needed to get in a few miles before our workshop, which I will discuss in a separate post.

After a stimulating day, we returned downtown and traveled to Waterfall Park in the Pioneer Square neighborhood, the original Seattle neighborhood. We saw the birthplace of United Parcel Service started in 1907 by two young men. The plaque that Shawn stood next to was appropriately brown. Dinner tonight was at The Brooklyn. Naturally, I had the salmon with a regional Pinot Noir. Shawn had a local Pilsner with the Bouillabaisse.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Settled in Seattle

We arrived in the Emerald City via a brief layover at DFW.   Seeing Mt. Rainier was such a bucket-list thrill. After settling in, we walked to nearby Seattle Public Library (Central) and experienced a 4 story book's an incredible complex structure of glass; the library on this Friday afternoon seemed valued and used. 

After that first stop, we walked to the famous Pike Place Market, a public market overlooking the Elliott Bay waterfront in Seattle. The Market opened in 1907, and is the oldest working market in the US. We had local beers and cheese curds from Beecher's. What a chill town...while the downtown area has big city shopping and dining, it has a chill hipster vibe.  You can buy armfuls of lilies and hydrangeas for a few dollars and sockeye salmon for $9.99/pound. I'm loving this town!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

He Should've Mentioned It

At home, last night, I waited eagerly to hear our 42nd president talk in Philadelphia about my party's nominee as the final speaker of an exciting DNC evening.

He humanized Hillary, he really did, and while I already felt she was as trustworthy as any politician I'd never known, his sharing of the small details of their lives together encouraged me to thwart any lingering concerns about her virtue. 

In between Bill's brilliance at doing what he has always done best, connecting with his audience, I grew annoyed at shelf-liner and water-breaking details.  He didn't address the detail that really says the most to us about Hillary's married life.  It happened in his late forties, about twenty years into their marriage.  He strayed; she stayed.

I'm not suggesting that anyone wants to relive the specifics of the Lewinsky sex scandal.  (Sidebar:  Many relationship researchers indicate that betrayed individuals identify marital infidelity to be significantly more traumatic than rape or other forms of physical abuse, including the abuse of their children).  If I had written Bill's talk, I would've directed him, as he was sharing details about the years before Chelsea left for college, that he dramatically pause, and then, say something like this: "She was honest when I was not.  She persevered during a time when I hurt her badly.  I'm forever grateful that she's not a quitter, that I can count on her, that she shows up every day and wants to work on our behalf."

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Devil's Work

One of the party platforms this week at the RNC in Cleveland is around the topic of internet pornography.  I actually agree with the GOP that porn is is a "public health crisis".  The discussions rallied around the internet as a safe haven for child predators and the need to energetically prosecute child pornography (closely tied to other societal ills preying on young females via human trafficking).  Most everyone recognizes this is serious and a renewed effort to protect the well-being of our children is paramount.

Politics aside, as a society we need to think more seriously about the affects of porn - a serious health and relationship killer that is minimized and rationalized by those who use it.  Access to porn is as close as your smart phone, and the quiet costs are overlooked by the eager.  The porn of today is not your ancestors' porn, either, apparently - it is described as a "supernormal stimulus" that negatively  affects sexual performance and partnered satisfaction. Experts on sex addiction estimate that today's children learn about sex from egregious anonymous posts on the internet, from social media sites, from chat sites, from texting apps - not from trusted elders - so our youth get an exaggerated and violent education that does not mirror healthy relationship dynamics and does not include mentoring on the emotional side of our human experience.  When they do arrive at a real life relationship possibility, they bring all kinds of virtual garbage with them.  The research indicates that hard drugs like cocaine are easier to quit than porn.  It messes not only with your spirit, but with your brain. One of the easiest ways to avoid the pain is to avoid the porn - software like Internet Accountability offers an extra layer of protection - for the kids, and maybe even the adults, in your life.  It's reported that men who view porn regularly (it's mostly a male thing) often struggle with ED when trying to sexually relate to a real live partner. Porn use has a subtle but powerfully cumulative negative affect on the brain, and true intimacy. Women have long navigated a culture that insists their value is directly tied to their poundage, and nowadays compete with the power of photoshop fantasies and partners who are sexually preoccupied.

It's curious that porn is easier to access than ever before and the taboo, perversely, is talking freely about how harmful it is.  In too many circles, the topic of porn is still bandied around at the water cooler with a mischievous wink.  As a marriage mentor, our parish is making plans to address porn directly in our curriculum.  (And yes, it IS a form of cheating.)  It's time to get serious about this drug.  It's way more important than another debate on the RNC's docket this week - medical marijuana.

Monday, July 11, 2016