The Shulman Center for Compulsive Theft & Spending

            August 2007 e-Newsletter

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Mr. Shulman recently completed a 14-week teleconference training with Dr. April Benson, of New York City, based on her pioneering program for compulsive shoppers and spenders "Stopping Overshopping."

PLEASE NOTE: NYC Conference on November 3, 2007 has been postponed.

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LIFE IS UNFAIR AND THEN YOU DIE & OTHER THOUGHTS ON LEGACY

by Terrence Daryl Shulman

Strange title/topic for a lazy summer day, I know. Let me explain. Just in this last month four people I know--to varying degrees--have passed away, two of them very unexpectedly. Grief brings up all kinds of thoughts and feelings as we each try to make sense of death. And questions. Why did this happen? What should I feel? Is there really life after death? What lessons or meanings can I take from this loss? What legacy has one left? What legacy will I leave?

In addition to these events, I have been dealing with a couple of others. I had hoped to put on a conference on shopping & shoplifting addictions in New York in November with a colleague of mine but she decided to bow out. Previous attempts to enroll others in assisting me in putting on a conference in Los Angeles had also been unsuccessful. Here I am again. Alone. No help. Even when I ask. "It's not fair." Those old feelings... I could have chosen to put the conference on by myself but I'm choosing to break that pattern, be more patient, and accept disappointments for what they are: opportunities to learn something.

On the flip side, I found myself bowing out of helping another.  Someone very close to me had asked me to write a letter on his behalf in effort to restore his drivers license. He had been convicted of a second drunk driving charge a little over 2 years ago. He'd been required not to drink and certainly not to drive. I've known that he has done both. I felt conflicted. On the one hand, I wanted him to get his license so he can move on with his life, he'd made some attempts to seek help through A.A. and counseling, and--at times--I agree that legal consequences can seem too harsh. On the other hand, I didn't want to lie, I didn't want him to be angry with me, I didn't want to feel responsible if he chose to drink and drive, and I didn't want to enable his ongoing behavior of taking short cuts whenever he felt "the system" (or life) was unfair. I am very clear where that got me and could get me again. So I said to him: "I'd like to help or support you in some way but I don't feel comfortable writing this letter." He just said "okay." I'm not sure how to read it or if we'll have any more conversations about it. My guess is he feels he asked for my help and it was unfair I didn't give it.

Life is unfair and then you die... or is it? I could grovel or he you grovel or we can grovel. Three of the people I know who died each left incredible legacies. I'm sure they, at times, felt life was fair. To me, part of the legacy they've left is that life is short and there's a lot we can do while we're here to make a difference--in our own lives and in the lives of others.

One of these persons was Stan Dale, who died at about age 80, after a relatively short bout with cancer. 40 years ago, Stan--who earlier had a career in the armed services and as a radio broadcaster--founded the Human Awareness Institute (HAI) which has put on some of the most incredible personal growth weekends I've ever experienced. HAI's focus is on exploring love, intimacy and sexuality. See www.hai.org  I first did a HAI weekend ten years ago in 1997. I've done many since, including Level 1 as a repeater just last weekend with my wife. I'd met Stan several times and was moved by his down-to-earth yet powerful presence. My wife and I met through HAI (we're celebrating 5 years of marriage August 8th) and I count 90% of my wide circle of friends today as those I've met through the HAI community. Stan left in place a vehicle for personal growth with competent facilitators and a dedicated community. He had memorial services in Northern California--and one here in Michigan which I attended.

On July 9th, my good friend Leigh, a 59-year old farmer, special education technician, and hub of our HAI community, died on her farm when the tractor she was riding on tipped over on top of her. Leigh was the epitome of both goddess and little girl. She opened her home and her heart countless times for so many of us. She was a creative, passionate, intelligent, and gentle soul. She leaves behind two sons in their 20's who were the proverbial "apples of her eyes." All agreed she was in the best space emotionally of her life. Her loss affected so many. Her memorial service in a park drew 350 people. Even in death, she brought together community.

Finally, just this past weekend, Detroit area rabbi Sherwin Wine--the founder of the Humanistic Judaism movement in the 1960's--died in a taxi accident in the country of Morocco where he and his partner were traveling. His partner survived but remains seriously injured. I'd met Rabbi Wine many times over the years. My mother and stepfather belonged to his local temple and he married them 9 years ago. Rabbi Wine was a trailblazer and a controversial figure. He was the first atheist rabbi. He built a movement around the celebration of Jewish culture and ethics and a belief that it is we and only we--as human beings of limitless potential--who can save ourselves and the world. As I write this, his memorial service is taking place. I would go but it's expected that some 500 people will be attending and I just don't feel up to being in a crowd today.

All these deaths have got me thinking. Life is short. We never know when we'll go? How many people will be at my funeral? What will I most be remembered for? I'm aware of feeling pride and satisfaction of having embraced recovery some 17 years ago and having built a movement of my own through Cleptomaniacs And Shoplifters Anonymous, my counsleing with The Shulman Center, my books, and my various media appearances (I was even on Oprah!).

I feel, for the most part, I've at least matched the accomplishments of my father who died at 53 in 1993. My father had a resume a mile long: from a child prodigy classical pianist--who performed throughout much of his early life, winning all kinds of awards and accolades--to a highly accomplished trial attorney. No doubt he underperformed by comparison as husband and as father. I've forgiven him on my part. At his funeral, it was standing room only as people shared equally about his talents, his love of people and how he touched their lives, and his premature and tragic death as an active alcoholic in a wheelchair from a stroke. I remember feeling the pain that he was at least partly responsible for his death and the longing of how his life could have been different, better.

I hope when I die, people will celebrate my life. I hope I die sober with no regrets and no one to pity me. I still have some work to do toward that end. I hope people remember my  accomplishments but, evenmore, that they will be inspired to carry on where I left off both specifically with the movement I've helped move forward and to see life as a great adventure.  I hope people will remember me and some of my more memorable qualities as a brave and courageous soul, a good friend, a playful trickster, and artist and healer, and someone who enriched their lives. Heck, I even hope they laugh at my quirks, my idiosyncracies, my insecurities, my neuroticims, my stuck patterns. Those, too, are what make us human.

Sure, there's a tinge of grandiosity in all this but when it comes down to it, I hope one of my greatest legacies will be: "He could have succumbed to life's unfairnesses, obstacles, and rejections but he persevered. He made life not only fair but great!"

What legacy do you hope to leave? What are you doing toward that end?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2007 Conference on Compulsive Shopping and Shoplifting set for Saturday November 3, 2007 in New York City has been postponed. We regret any disappointment and hope to create another conference somewhere in 2008.

 

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Women's Entertainment Channel's "Secret Lives of Women" shoplifting segment aired on Tuesday July 10, 2007! Look for repeat airings at www.wetv.com

 

Upcoming Media Items from July 2007:

July issue of Psychotherapy Networker Magazine features an article by Mr. Shulman on compulsive shoplifting and employee theft.

Chicago area Elburn Herald newspaper storey about people who steal from restaurants, featuring quotes from Mr. Shulman

Beyond...

September 19th: Mr. Shulman will be the keynote speaker in Louisville, KY at the Annual Kentucky Certified Public Accountants conference. He will be speaking about employee theft and why it occurs and how to deter and prevent it.

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Now Available!

*Available on DVD or CD: My 90-minute presentation on theft addictions and disorders at the 2006 Michigan Social Workers Annual Conference. $90 for the DVD, $25 for the CD or $100 for both;

*Available on DVD: My hour-long presentation on theft addictions and disorders from Brighton Hospital September 7, 2006: $60.00;

*Available on DVD: My 75 minute-long presentation on employee theft at The Michigan Financial Managers Conference on October 19, 2006: $75.00;

*Available: My two hour-long presentation on theft addictions and disorders at the Birmingham Community House November 9, 2006: $100.00;

*Available: My two hour-long presentation on theft addictions and disorders at the San Fernando Valley Employee Assistance Meeting on October 27, 2006: $100.00; and

*Available: 13 Hours (4 DVDs) of The First International Conference on Theft Addictions & Disorders in Detroit 2005: $200.00; 12 CD's $120.00; DVD's and CD's $300.00.

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Contact The Shulman Center

Terrence Shulman
P.O. Box 250008
Franklin, Michigan 48025

E-mail:
terrenceshulman@theshulmancenter.com

Call (248) 358-8508 for free consulation!

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2007 The Shulman Center




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