Fred Rogers on Narcissism

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( Fred Rogers: March 20, 1928 – February 27, 2003)

Raising children in this day and age is no easy task. ~ Kate Cooper

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Narcissism Is Increasing. So You’re Not So Special.

“A healthy self-love that leads to true happiness is what Rousseau called “amour de soi.”

It builds up one’s intrinsic well-being, as opposed to feeding shallow cravings to be admired.

Cultivating amour de soi requires being fully alive at this moment,

as opposed to being virtually alive while wondering what others think.

The soulful connection with another person, the enjoyment of a beautiful hike alone (not shared on Facebook) or a prayer of thanks over your sleeping child (absent a #blessed tweet)

could be considered expressions of amour de soi.”

 

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I Found Great Resources on Guilt vs. Shame

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This is my favorite photo of our dog Paul. Why? Because he is always in trouble, and when I took this he was apologizing.

I don’t remember why my phone was photo ready, but I am certain that he was raising some kind of doggie hell just before I tapped the picture button. The clovers that got stuck in his collar are the clue that he was up to no good in the yard. Right before I plunked into my reading chair to calm myself, I likely stepped onto the back porch and embarrassed my family

again

by forgetting that I live in a city now. Three years later, I sometimes still yell in my farm voice.

That look on the face of Paulie is his “apology face” and it works, of course, every time. He doesn’t try to convince me that he will never do IT again. Our other dog. Lennon Francis (Lenny) cowers, and hides and shivers when he is in trouble until the issue passes. His way of apologizing is to drop a ball or chewed up play toy at me feet and then step back and sit down. It’s like he’s saying, “seriously mom, we both need a round of fetch to resolve this tension.”

Paul McCartney on the other hand, manages to make me stop shaming him by insisting that I NEED him, and I need him right now! Right here. On my lap, in my arms, or his favorite – like an infant resting his head on my shoulder.

Isn’t shame an interesting topic?

If  you don’t agree, you should.

JeezlePete. I did it again. Shame on me.

I have had some really great things happen this summer, but right now near the top of the list is reconnecting with my friend Therese Borchard. She is so funny. We hadn’t had a private chat online in a long while and for some reason time alllowed for that to happen more than once over this school break.

It’s interesting – she and I share a birthday and when we lose touch and reconnect a little bit, it’s pretty common that similar things are on our minds. I really appreciate that she passed on some facinating resources in between our twisted and humorous conversations.

I’ve mentioned here a couple of times, I think, that last year I started my studies to become an Educational Sign Language Interpreter. Well, this year I am able to move ahead with three classes and I am so excited. The frustrating and disappointing thing is that I had to turn down a great offer to continue working at the school I enjoyed so much last year. My classes will be during the day.

Backer to my writer friend Therese: here’s the short version of what we are connecting about right now and are both sort of, well, tearfully even, thankful about: we are a little bit stuck on the topic of shame and redemption.

I know. Strange. Isn’t it? I envy the the people that start their break with plans to be light hearted and and keep up with that commitment.

I promise that I started the summer with three goals: lose twenty pounds, create a kitchen that looks like this:

long range kitchen color planand stop obsessing about the topic of shame.

I did clean out the cabinets, and I am still obsessed about the topics of shame and redemption – but it is in a super charged and good way now!

Through conversation with my college roomate and writer friend, along with gathering some books, I sort of clarified why I was so angry during that first year and a half back in the work world. I had taken a much longer than I should have sebatical.

I’m not the only on that was, and still is enraged about the Sandy Hook massacre. But, for me, the impact was to realize that realistically, people my age don’t have forever to enjoy their careers. Maybe that’s why it is common to start one, or restart one at age 50 – which is what I’m doing.

And pardon my french, but I am thouroughly pissed at what the world has become while I was home loading the wood stove and packing the moving boxes and discovering the great Mississipi river.

Thank God I re-stumbled onto to my mental health and spirituatlity writer friend and now have some resources to try and understand and cope with how obessesd society has become with shaming and blaming each other. The first thing I learned is that what is most destructive, is that we, America espeically, are keeping our worries and secrets private and losing our sense of place and self.

How in the world did this happen? Is it because of social networking? Global warming? The Berlin Wall? The death of Fred Rogers?

I don’t know – but it was a huge shock to me when returning to the classroom and teacher lounge after a fiver year or so break,

yet, I have never been so thankful for work in my life.

My confidence is slowly regaining it’s speed and my faith life has taken off again. My family of course means the most to me, but I am also the one who was lucky enough to hold a hungry first grader who was throwing a crying fit about sounding out a WHOLE page of reading After I convinced him that sitting in the hallway with me is the most boring idea ever and that carpet time is the Bees Knees, I ended up being the lucky one. I get to remember that In grade one my belly was always full enough and I spent hours watching Fred from Dad’s lap. And while I sorely miss to my sons…those were good days indeed.

But you know what? The world has gone mad.

 

We are shaming this fantastically charming little generation of readers in epic proportion and I will not put up with it another minute.

Someone, somehow, somewhere – decided that name calling is no big deal.

Well, guess what.

It is. And the last thing that these teachers and students need, in the face of gun violence and hatred, is more wasted time on tattling and idioticTom Foolery.

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If you are feeling frustrated on similar topics here is a video, and here is a **killer good** article, and here is a song. Each of them have helped to calm me down while I try to sort all of this out.

By the way – isn’t that tin of buttons that my friend Marti made the coolest rainbow you have seen since yesterday?

I do like buttons.

 

When Truth is Met by Kindness

knittingYesterday I was trying to make it to after school pick up and a very interesting broadcast came on the radio. I only caught a part of it, so I’d like to archive it HERE to be able to listen to or read the full podcast later.

The broadcast was an interview about memory loss.

I wondered if the show would depress me and I considered changing channels. I’m a sucker for a good radio voice and got hooked on the good neuroscience that was being laid out in regular person words.

I dashed into the library to get what I thought was a large print version of The Sun Also Rises by E. Hemingway. To my delight, I’d also accidentally put a hand-held MP3 player on hold that is loaded with the same book. I almost hugged the librarian. I lost my library whisper manners and sort of gushed that she had made my day.

Here’s why:

The truth is this: I found out last week that there is an increased possibility that I have glaucoma. We find out more during this week to come.

In The World According to Mr. Rogers, Fred reminds us that:

“There is no

normal life

that is free of pain.

It’s the very wrestling with our problems that can be the

impetus for our growth.”

If by chance I do have glaucoma, and am healthy enough to live to be elderly, I could therefore end up blind in one or both eyes when I am well into my grandmothering years. At a minimum, I have  a worrisome few years ahead as they come up with a plan to convince my eyes to be a more cooperative duo.

This is quite dramatic and scary news, agreed?BBbGXzPCAAACd-4

I have multiple vision issues, so of course the hope is that I only have unique peepers that will always be a pain.

“Debbie Downer” that I often am, I’ve been trying hard to reframe my thinking and am trying to focus on the good news that the “all that” and inexpensive eyeglass frames I found last week will rock my world.

About the radio interview: still stoked on a successful half an hour of flopping back and forth in a swimming lane at the Y, back to the van I went with my library goodies. I was excited to report my gadget findings to the friend who recommended the Hemingway book.

Thankfully, that library chore gave me exactly twelve minuteslaundry of pretending that having crappy eyesight that may become UltraCrappy, is just a day in the life.

Those of you on the genetically and fervently pessimistic side of my universe should be proud that I reframed my thinking for even that quarter of an hour. Get this though:

I had five more minutes to kill and turned the radio back on, only to hear a man who just last week was diagnosed with some sort of memory affliction. He was crying uncontrollably. He was loving, and intelligent, and, devastated by this reality, even in its infant stage. He was due to find out more about his test results this week, and I am due to find out more about my test results this week. Since the show was live, I find that interesting.The angst he was crying about wasn’t over himself at all; it was guilt.

He was crying because he might miss out on his golden years, but more so because he didn’t want to confuse or harm his young grandchildren if and when he can’t see them any longer in his own mind’s eye.

What a beautiful man, and a three star grandpa to even think of these things despite, and in the midst of his own impending loss.

“Last month a thirteen-year-old boy abducted an eight-year-old girl; and when people asked him why, he said he learned about it on TV.

 

‘Something different to try’ he said. ‘Life’s cheap; what does it matter?’

 

Well, life isn’t cheap.

 

It’s the greatest mystery of any millennium…

But how do we made our goodness attractive?

By doing whatever we can to bring courage to those whose lives move near our own.”

~ Fred Rogers

So, thankfully, kindness and truth met in that fortunate five minutes before I barreled down the city streets to gather my son. The courageous confession of guilt on the radio, even if a projected reality, made me feel less alone in my worries. Even if we work to be the most gracious and diligent patients in the world, there is no way at all to predict how able we will be to manage the impact of our illness on our relationships.

If we can’t predict the illness, how could we possibly predict the impact on our family or our ability to maintain healthy relationships?

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I really, really value that this sweet man followed his heart and just put his pain and sadness out there for millions of us to hear and feel along with him. My hope is that he is rewarded by good news from his care team, and reassurance from his family that they will not abandon him when the time comes that it is him that needs company, rather than the other way around.

When I woke a few minutes ago, anxious to finish this post, this song came to mind (click here) and I’m hoping that I can have even a portion of the brave attitude that I heard from this gentleman who adores his grandchildren with such intensity.

Prayers for a good week to come for all of us,

Kate

Please Choose Your Action Figure Carefully

A while ago I heard a conversation that started with a therapist saying something to the effect of:

“Phew. I’m certainly not lacking a work load. I wonder what that says about the world out there?”

She meant: “Wow. A lot of people are suffering and I wish that wasn’t the case.”

Before hearing that, her friends replied with comments such as:

“These people aren’t focusing on what is important in life and have lost their way.”

“They are being selfish and this selfishness is learned from the government on down.”

“Even if they are trying to take care of themselves they are being self-centered.”

“There are examples everywhere of how wrong this is – the earth is getting polluted and nature is suffering from all of this  unhappiness.”

My perspective is different and I respectfully beg to differ.

I can attest to the fact that depression is not something that can be dealt with in a snap.

Wouldn’t it be cool if that were true? Those of us who have a brain chemistry that is easily thrown off kilter could shed our self-centered ways with the same ease as Mr. Rogers puts away his sweater and changes into his Keds. We could then remember to care for our fish tank, and give them a sprinkle of bright flakes and then have energy to start and finish a nice little set of toilet paper binoculars.

Oh, what a wonderful day in the neighborhood.

Sigmund Freud Action Figure

My experience with depression and attention deficit began during my pregnancy with our youngest son and became severe with the health issues that followed his birth.

I’m doing a lot better now.

But, where I beg to differ is that, of all things, depression is the last neighbor that I’d want stopping by my house, your house, and even the houses of people I don’t like.

For me, depression is more like having your car windshield covered in dew and fog on the inside and outside of the car. Wiping it away just doesn’t work. The only thing that makes a clear view of what is outside the car is a careful balance of temperature and lots of patience.

You know, the comparison between depression and diabetes is a good one to start with – that if it’s okay for diabetics to adjust their blood glucose, then those with depression should get equal care without shame or blame.

I don’t mean to dismiss the serious nature of diabetes, but I’ve been playing this game long enough to wish that the comparisons would be far more dramatic – open heart surgery maybe, or leprosy, the plague, cystic fibrosis, ear lobe cancer. Anything with a bigger Wow factor.

Last evening I had a great talk with yet another friend who is a therapist. I told her that this weekend at Mass I’d be hearing the reading about God being The Good Shepard.

I asked her what it would be like for her clients who are having suicidal thoughts to hear this reading:

God’s Love On The Way And At The Journey’s End

Psalm 23 by David.

1  Yahweh is my shepherd: I shall lack nothing.
2  He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3  He restores my soul.He guides me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.
Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil. My cup runs over.
6  Surely goodness and loving kindness shall follow me all the days of my life,and I will dwell in Yahweh’s house forever.

If they are depressed, I asked, then how are they going to buy it? Or, worse, wouldn’t that give a person even more reason to favor death over life?

We got into her describing that clients with this level of depression often feel completely overwhelmed, and hopeless, and most of all, without worth and a great bother to those around them.

Selfish? Well, yeah. If you can’t even compete with Eeyore, then a person’s vision is not very neighborly. Is this experience something that has selfish intent? No. It’s the opposite.

Did you catch what she said?

“People who are depressed often feel like they are a great bother to those around them, so they isolate themselves.”

My friend expertly described that depression is a big, fat liar. If there is no help that is specific to the way this person’s brain is misfiring, then they simply don’t believe that they are being invited to the table that David describes so beautifully in the most famous of Psalms.

King David action figure

So, this weekend, which is the last weekend before Advent, I am going to go to Mass and thank my lucky stars for modern medicine and caring therapy. Every day these good people stand in the way of the mental bullying that effects one in four people.

One in four.

Thank you for following those of us who are in need, with goodness and kindness.

I loverly you!