SOME LESSONS FROM BOSTON
are some lessons we can take away from the recent Boston Marathon
bombings? I can think of a few:
Life is fragile... don't take it for granted. It's hard to do but
live today as if it might be your last. Make it count. Be kind.
Enjoy life. Don't let things go unsaid or undone too long.
Tragedies show the worst and the best of us. Those who commit such
heinous acts reveal the worst. The heroes and the way we come
together to help reveal the best. Why is it that we forget how to be
our best until the next tragedy? Let's hold onto some of that sense
of community and goodness a little longer...
The pros and cons of living in a "Big Brother"
surveillance society. There are more and more ways we are being
tracked in our daily lives: cameras, online, credit card purchases,
identity theft, etc. People get traffic tickets in the mail just
because a camera clocked or caught us going through a red light. I'm
a little weary of all this but, I admit, I was grateful for the Lord
and Taylor outdoor video cameras that caught images of the Boston
bombers. For those considering or engaging in shoplifting, employee
theft, or other illegal behavior--don't do it! Increasingly, we are
being watched--even when we think we aren't.
It's not just the government or the stores that have cameras--most
of us have camera phones that can capture even our most private moments.
There are pros and cons to this, too. Some film footage, texting,
and crowd-sourcing in Boston led to videos and tips that helped
identify and catch the suspects. Little brother is watching, too!
MEN CAN BE SHOPPING ADDICTS,
the "buzz" about famed sportswriter Buzz Bizzinger's
recent confession as a shopaholic in GQ Magazine, much-needed
attention has spiked about shopping addiction in men. Below is an
article that appeared recently on Fox Business News online:
shopping addiction started when he was a child, when he first
learned the connection between money and goods.
began from the time that I started getting money as a child and
realized it could get me candy and gumballs," he says.
"The compulsion evolved from when I was fairly young to the
point where I hit bottom. I was sick and tired of being obsessive
and keeping the secret over my obsession."
purchases were never lavish, but they were things that Jack, now 61,
says he didn't need and couldn't afford on his $45,000 a year
salary. He bought mostly $1 and $2 used books, model boats and even
a Rolex, but his overspending veered into hoarding tendency.
would obsess over things, and I wouldn't be able to get them out of
my mind," he says. "I'd focus on that rather than paying
my rent, or getting food, or taking care of my pets. I had about
$2,000 in debt, but it was my personal threshold, and I was looking
for a bridge to jump off of."
at age 37, Jack realized he had a spending problem and turned to
professional help to learn how to deal with his compulsions.
his more than two decades in Debtors Anonymous, Jack says he has
seen members go bankrupt with more than a million dollars in debt,
and others with compulsive shopping tendencies with only $1,000 in
debt. Shopping addictions don't always mean massive spending, it's
about not having the control to say no and stop spending-whether
it's a toy boat or yacht.
not about what we are buying, so much as needing to buy something so
that we can feel better. We are shopping for the rush," Jack
shopping sprees and addictions are often stereotyped with women,
more men have been developing addictions in recent years, according
to Terrence Shulman, founder and director of The Shulman Center for
Compulsive Theft, Spending & Hoarding.
sports writer Buzz Bissinger sent a ripple through the sports world
last week when he admitted in GQ Magazine that he blew more than
half a million dollars on designer clothes, mainly Gucci, in two
estimates there are about 30 million Americans with a compulsive
shopping problem and 50% are men. While men and women shop
differently, Shulman says the trend has ignited and overlapped in
recent years, as society has become increasingly consumer oriented.
will overspend on vacations, new homes, cars-they bite off more than
they can chew to keep up with the Joneses," he says.
typical client is married or engaged, in their 40s or 50s and well
educated. Many Many have prior addictions to alcohol or drugs
and have shifted their compulsions into spending because it is
viewed as less deterrent to their daily lives.
had one client who was a recovering alcoholic from Florida who
stopped working due to a disability, so he had a lot of time on his
hands," he says. "The guy spent over $200,000 on computer
equipment, then built a C.D. radio tower in his back yard. But he
would never finish his projects. Then he started buying guns-that
kind of shifting can happen a lot."
says he works by phone or via Skype with about 50 clients per year
who are male and one-third are compulsive shoppers. Many have
substantial debt, from tens of thousands of dollars to hundreds of
thousands of dollars.
Bissinger recounts in his confessional, shopping addiction is easier
to fuel than in the past since shopping can be done anytime from
of easy access with computers, TV, Internet and smartphones, things
that men use a lot rather than going browsing in stores... we are
becoming more of an impulsive, consumerist society and men are even
more susceptible to this. I also think we're becoming an
increasingly materialistic and empty culture," Shulman says.
says his addiction did push him into isolation and contributed to
the end of his marriage. His obsession, shame and compulsion had him
in a vicious cycle for decades. He accredits Debtors Anonymous for
helping him get out of debt, develop a spending plan and foster a
healthier relationship with money and material items.
up to the individual to admit it isn't working," he says.
are three signs you may have a shopping addiction:
1: Obsession over items. The things you are buying or swooning over
may not be fancy or costly, but the idea of buying is intoxicating.
Jack says he racked up thousands in debt on $1 and $2 items- and it
got to the point where he couldn't get them out of his mind.
2: Keeping secrets about your purchases. Shulman says many men,
especially in relationships, will keep their items hidden from their
partners. "It's financial infidelity," he says.
"When people have an addiction, they lie and hide, and it's a
breach of trust."
3: Isolation. In hiding his addiction, Jack says he stopped
socializing with friends and relatives to avoid having them see what
he'd accumulated. Shulman agrees: "Although shopping is legal,
there's a lot of shame and embarrassment with it."
Year Anniversary of My Father's Death
20, 2013 is the 20th anniversary of my father, Robert Shulman's,
death at age 53. I'll be 48 in June and my father suffered a severe
stroke when he was 48 and was in wheelchair the last 4 years of his
life. It's strange to think that I'm nearing the age of his
stroke and, later, his death. Though he died of "natural
causes," very little about my father's life was
"natural" or "normal" in the usual sense of
things. He died abroad in Europe, supposedly looking for some
miracle cure. I've always thought it was just a cover for a last
relationship with my father was a constant source of angst and
puzzlement while he was living; not much has changed since he
amazes me how much I am like my father--for better and for worse.
Like my father, I have possessed both artistic and entrepreneurial
creativities and ambitions. My father was a child prodigy pianist,
studying from the age of 4 and playing with local symphonies by age
8. He was multi-talented and multi-faceted. He also became a
successful attorney. Like my father, who by his late 20's had become
a severe alcoholic and "manic-depressive," I've suffered
from depression and addictions, too.
my mother divorced him, I was 11 years old and my younger brother
was 5. I became the man of the house. Though I looked up to my
father for his musical and intellectual brilliance, I couldn't
understand why he couldn't stop drinking and just get his life
together. Even later in life, when I understood more about
alcoholism and mental illness, I still felt perplexed and frustrated
over why he couldn't seem to beat or consistently manage his
any child, I longed to understand my father and to love him and feel
his love. Though my brother and I saw him most weekends after the
divorce, I rarely felt his strength and fuller presence. It always
felt like my job to make him feel loved rather than the other way
around. He rarely said the words "I love you" or "I'm
proud of you," though we usually said good-bye with a hug and a
kiss on the cheek.
I've accomplished a lot in my life--earning three college degrees,
starting my own business, writing 4 books, marrying well and
sustaining many wonderful friendships--I still sometimes compare
myself to my father and feel less naturally brilliant. But in other
moments, I wonder if his brilliance was a curse.
one of us had much of a childhood: he practiced and played piano
from age 4 on, and I took on the role of surrogate husband and
father at age 11. I think both of us felt the weight of this in
later in our lives and gravitated toward addictions to numb the pain
and fill the voids.
remember when I first got into therapy at age 25 after a decade of
secret shoplifting and two arrests; I told myself: I don't want to
end up like my father. It's an awful thing to say that. I wish
his legacy were different. I've been trying to come to terms with
forgiving him and honoring him. I do see how strong his disease was and
how vulnerable he must have felt. I do have some compassion for my
father but there's still that part of me that may never understand
or accept how he didn't know how to love me. I surmise that my task
is to love myself as I wished he had loved me. I don't always
succeed in that.
Dad did some real bad things to me, painful things, things I'm still
recovering from. And, yet, after 20 years, I really want to heal
these things and move forward with a renewed spirit. I hope I get
there. I hope I get there.
INDICTED ON CHEATING FRAUD
the teachers cheat, what are students to think? Houston, we have a
problem! The results are in--at least for the greater Atlanta public
school system--and its superintendent and many other teachers and
higher-ups were indicted for falsifying standardized test scores for
many of their students. Their motives: fear of failing and getting
reprimanded for their students not making the grade (pun intended)
as well as hefty cash incentives if they did (we're talking tens of
thousands and even hundreds of thousands of dollars). A recipe for
the teachers (like most students who cheat) didn't think they'd get
hard to say if these high-profile indictments will deter future
cheating by teachers. I'd say it might deter a small percentage but
not most. First, people have a tendency to think "it won't
happen to me." Second, people often try to figure out other
ways to "beat the system" and take advantage without
recent article in Scientific American Mind magazine entitled
"Why We Cheat" suggests that most people cheat but only
cheat a little because it's easier to rationalize ("everybody
cheats a little").
we need to rethink ways to improve students scores or, more broadly,
move away from students (and teachers) being evaluated on scores
alone. And while some accountability (incentives) for students and
teacher to excel may be understandable, I'm not sure being too
heavy-handed in punishment or reward is the right way to go.
is its own reward.--Anonymous