Laughter as Veiled Anger

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The Little Boy Before the Father’s Horrible Prank

Last week as I was roaming through my Facebook newsfeed I came upon a young man, a barber somewhere, and he had a little boy up in the barber’s booster chair. The barber had scissors in one hand and the other hand was cupped over the child’s left ear. Blood appeared to be oozing out from the barber’s fingers and running down the child’s cheek. The child was shrieking in fear and I suppose the father was somewhere behind the camera. The barber had apparently told the child that he had mistakenly cut off his ear. And something in the caption indicated that Dad was in on the joke. My first thought was how horrible!! And the next thought was this child will someday be sitting in my office! What a hideous joke to play on a little boy.

I am well aware that many men feel that their sons need to be toughened up a bit along the way to adulthood or they will get picked on during their school years. AtomicThe_Sad_Clown for Little Bird Blog 8 10 2018Nobody wants a Momma’s boy!! And I also know that laughter and making fun of one’s children is a common practice in many families. Fathers especially seem to play this role. But are these people who raise their children this way aware that practical jokes and ridicule are covers for the perpetrator’s anger on some issue? It is a bit like the clown that is always smiling, cavorting, making people laugh while crying behind his make-up.

This type of practical joke is really another side of bullying. And if the family is supposed to be the safe place for each individual as they grow to maturity, what is the message from this father to his son? Can the child trust his father even after he grows old enough to understand the joke? And think of the many times this joke will be told in the family and with family friends and the child will feel diminished inside every time it is told. Do children really need this type of toughening up?

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A Father Unhappy with His First Born

Having listened to the hurts and heartaches of other people for over thirty years I can just imagine that the father who was wielding the camera may have been unconsciously angry that his little son was the first born and made it necessary for the father to take a second job, or give up a sport that was loved, because there was no longer extra money. This father may have unconsciously been getting even with a father who did similar things to him, causing him to always feel a little anxious about life. There are many possible scenarios; these are just a few. (Do remember that the barber was the father’s friend and simply the instrument for the father’s joke.)

When you get to read my first book A Bird and the Dragon: Their Love Story: A Memoir you will come to the part of the story where my second husband, Sy and I are courting. It is early in our relationship and we areIMG_20180128_153915932 seated in a restaurant hidden behind our menus and my not-yet-husband says, “Don’t you think maybe we should stop seeing so much of each other?” I am devastated and I’ll let you read to find out what I do. But I know now having lived 35 years with this man that when I met him he was hurting through every inch of his self-worth from a wife who ran around on him, so playing a joke on a new potential partner was just an extension of that first disastrous marriage. I did make it clear that I could not live with that kind of humor and again I say you will have to read to see the outcome.

My bottom line in this blog is: Please think before you belittle or make fun of your children. Is the laugh something that will help the child or does it release you from some repressed resentment?

If you have anything you’d like to discuss concerning families and raising children please feel free to contact me through my website www.jessiemaykessler.com. Once there, you can look around and then if you want to talk to me hit the CONTACT button and we’ll get together.

 

 

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Money Makes the World

images Big Money Coming In 1 4 2018We all know the expression: “money makes the world go around” but does it? What does make the world go around? What do we all live for—well, at least many of us? This month holds the season of Christmas when many of us are asking these questions. We have lived long enough to have gained most of the material goodies that were within our reach so at Christmas what is it that we long for? Generally not physical gifts!!

My guess is there is only one answer: FAMILY. Okay, maybe not family collectively but

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My Biological and Step-children Family along with Grandchildren

those relationships within the family that worked, that fed our needs and those where we could reciprocate with understanding. That brings us to one little word that I believe drives our world: LOVE!

Now the family can be a biological word, or it can be a word made up of step-relationships, successful or otherwise, or it can be those people that we draw closer to us, that always remain with us and that we turn to when we are down and troubled. These also become family—the family we choose. Another type of family is the people that we serve. For some of us, it is the people that need us that feed us love, strange as that may sound—us rescuers, social workers, teachers, couches, clergy, and therapists. What some people don’t understand is that love is a circular energy so when we put love out into the universe or more particularly toward one individual it comes back to us even if not from the same person.

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My College Friend, Carole, to the Left with her Companion Ed, 56 Years Later

So if you agree with me, are you going to spend all of your time buying gifts for everyone or are you going to make time to go and visit with those people who bring you, love? I have a college roommate, well not exactly a roommate because she lived across the hall from me. Sometimes we had wonderful conversations; sometimes we talked silly nonsense, and sometimes it was on the qualities of life worth holding. But she was always the one, that on occasion at supper time in the cafeteria, she’d take one look at me and say, “How about you come over tonight, and we’ll listen to some classical music?” I did, she put on the records, and all the day’s pain or confusion or anger melted away. We often didn’t talk at these times. How she knew what I needed, I never asked about, and she never told me.

Now, there are times in my life when I do wish she lived across the hall. I spent four solid years in that relationship, and then life moved on for both of us. Yes, there are birthday cards, Christmas cards, emails, some telephone calls but would you believe that a four-year relationship could remain so solid for 56 years? That’s one of the many forms of love that make the world go around for some of us.

And I may have talked this part of the conversation to death, but those marital IMG_20180128_153915932relationships that worked or mostly worked are part of this love process. So I don’t have the money to buy the gifts we used to provide when my second husband Sy was physically here for Christmas. But having his children and their families, who are by now very much my children, brings me a lot of the joy that he and I shared, and I believe if I didn’t feel this way HE would miss out on Christmas altogether from the other side.

So do take the time to foster those love relationships rather than exhausting yourself with shopping for the perfect gift that will be forgotten most likely in a month. The relationships and the love last forever!!

After reading this blog, if you are still looking for a Christmas gift, a book about love is just right for some people. A Bird and the Dragon: Their Love Story: A Memoir has a Hallmark flavor. You can purchase this book at Amazon.com, Barns & Noble, and if you live locally, contact me on my website and I have books for half price.

 

Everyone Needs a Dad

As I sat watching the funeral of George H. W. Bush yesterday on the television, I

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George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush at His Inauguration

thought to myself how much attention this man was receiving at the time of his death. Other presidents have died in my lifetime, but there was something significant about this death. Today, I read a news commentary that spoke about the death of this man marking the end of an era, and I wanted to cry. What we were all drawn into as we watched the proceedings was the respect and warmth that everyone, who knew this man well, seemed to feel for him. When the priest spoke about family times and two of the adult sons, brothers in the front row, exchanged smirks, you knew there was a lifeline there that reached all the way back to their father, a man who was not only a father but was also a Dad. Fathers biologically produce children; Dads live with, play with, and teach their children to love and respect humankind.

And today as I thought about this whole subject I was struck by the fact Whispering the hidden dreams for Santa Clausthat this is the time of year when all little children are waiting to meet, talk to, or put cookies out for Santa Claus. He is the quintessential Dad or Grampa–the giver of all good things. The whole essence of the Santa Claus story is the question of: have you been a good boy/girl or not? The implication is that there are boundaries and accomplishments to be met in the child’s life and whether these were kept or not through the year is important to Santa. There is a hunger in our nation for the loving boundary keeper.

The Dad can set and hold rules in a household without being cruel or abusive. This IMG_20180128_153915932kind of father holds his children close to himself while he also gives them wings and encourages them to fly. Such a man was my second husband, Sy Kessler. His biological children adore him as do his step-daughters. It was my biological daughter who gave him the last words he needed to free him to pass over. Only the child, who feels loved and has strong wings, can do that for her father or step-father. This child knows the Dad so well she can know what he needs to hear at that point in his life’s passage whether it hurts her heart or not. Do buy my book A Bird and the Dragon: Their Love Story: A Memoir or get it at the library. It is the love story between Sy and me, but it is also the love story between him and his children, not spelled out but felt as you read this tribute to Sy; a real Dad.

Today at a church reception I listened to a woman talking about her granddaughter’s

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Grandmother Talking to Her Granddaughter About the Spirit of Santa Claus

questioning her about the reality of Santa Claus. And this grandmother lovingly put questions to the child in such a way that in the end, the child understood that Santa Claus is the spirit of loving one’s fellow earthly travelers. So the granddaughter did not suffer the loss of the little girl’s Santa Clause but instead gained a sense that he embodies the kindness and support that one finds in the true Dad.

You can reach me here for comment or on my web page www.jessiemaykessler.com. Would enjoy hearing your thoughts and comments!

Where is Hell?

I know, “Where is Hell?’ is a strange topic for the last day of November and the

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The Story of Sy’s Life with Me

oncoming Christmas season. In the type of counseling work that I do I am very aware of symbols and symbolic language. The Christmas season is a season of transition as it marks the end of one year and in a sense the preparation for the oncoming year. It also holds the promise that comes with a new baby and a new life. I believe I mentioned in my last blog that clients tend to gravitate to a therapist who is going through or has gone through the particular phase in life that is facing the client. That being said, having just been through the five year anniversary of my husband Sy’s death, I am working with people who are facing some of these same issues either for themselves, their loved ones, or friends and extended family.

One of the first emotions to hit people when talking on this topic of the ending of a life is fear—fear of the unknown, fear of where are we going, fear of the loss, fear of separation, the fear of losing one’s other self (if we are talking about a partner). And why have we chosen fear as the dominating emotion for this transition?

I know this is a heavy topic for any of my young readers, but you may have aunts,

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Young Person at Patent’s Death Bed

uncles, grandparents, or friends that are on the verge of this transition. And you do have questions even if you haven’t asked them yet.

Last night as I was thinking about this topic and scrolling through my news-feed on my iPhone I came across an interview with a retired Episcopal priest, John Spong. I will give you the address here so that you can hear all of what this man has to say.  This is the address. What stunned me is that he was expressing ideas I have grown to believe. The recognition by someone else on the same subject has raised some anger in me. Rev. Spong states that hell was a concept invented by the church to help control the people and through their life-long panic, to force them to grow closer to God. I’m inclined to feel that it indeed has created fear in people, absolute terror in some, especially as they grow toward the end times. I can understand the early priests feeling the need to control all of these new converts and large masses of people but the upshot has been that instead of gliding peacefully from one state to the next in our evolution we agonize over our past transgressions and fear the oncoming unknown. Spouses left behind don’t know what to say to help their loved ones face this transition. If we believe in an all loving God, it is a shame that we got so off track by the preaching of some very powerful men in powerful institutions, like the church.

Now to bring this to a much more personal note, when it was my mother’s time to

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My Mother When She Asked When Was “He” Coming

pass she could verbalize that she was ready. She’d had a good life, had accomplished most of her goals and why didn’t “He” come for her? As I also asked this question within myself, my older sister, PollyAnne, took me aside and said, “Mother made some promises over her lifetime to God when she wanted something and then she didn’t keep her part of the bargain. She fears God’s judgment for her broken promises.” I suppose I could have chosen to try to talk to her about this but I didn’t, and then I watched at the very end her fight to keep from letting go. The passing should be peaceful, and a welcoming; not a fear warded off by digging in heels and suffering all those last hours.

Rev. John Spong ended his discussion, at least the part I heard, with the comment that God wasn’t Christian, Jewish, Hindu or belong to any of the other religious beliefs. This power lies beyond what we have created. So for me, hell is here on earth and in a sense so is heaven. It is how we view and deal with our issues that create either environment. I do believe there is life after this one and that the transition from one to the other is peaceful and educational but just that: another stage in our evolution. And to end on a positive note the Christmas tree is a symbol of everlasting life. These are some of the ones talked about in my book A Bird and the Dragon: Their Love Story: A Memoir.Scan_0019

I would love to hear back from you on this topic. It is a heavy subject just before Christmas, but these transitions may be happening to someone you love, and I’m here to talk about it if you wish. Contact me here through the contact button at the top of these pages or go to my website and go to the CONTACT button. You can also contact me if you just want to chit-chat.

 

 

Reality, Unreality or Just Survival

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My Book tells of Sy and his Last Days

Next week is Thanksgiving week, and I will be up to my elbows in the Thanksgiving feast preparations so I won’t be writing a blog. The other thing about next week is that Tuesday, November 20th marks the five year anniversary of Sy’s death—my second husband and the love of my life. I thought this blog would be about my grieving process and how far I’ve come but it is more about the process and that in five years’ time I’m able to be thankful once again.

It is a fairly well-known phenomenon in the counseling world that we therapists seem to draw to us clients that are going through what the therapist is going through or what they have just survived. That being said, I’m now using my experiences of loss and grieving to help other women facing the same challenges. I thought it would be hard to re-experience all of those so tender feelings, but I am finding that I can now show them some of the recovery pathway and cheer them on as they take each wobbly step forward.

The surprise for me is that I’m not all choked up with emotion coming up on the five

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One of My Last Pictures of Sy

year anniversary. I think that is because as I work with my clients, I find that Sy is more and more present to me in a lot of ways and I’m less dependent on his physical presence. (Although I wish he would fix the front screen door! It was improperly installed, and I’m never going to figure that one out.) In actuality what is the hardest to deal with is the loss of Sy’s physical body. He is so close to me in the spiritual sense that I often think, “Now, I must remember to tell him that when I say goodnight tonight to his picture.” And then I think, “I don’t have to tell him. He probably already knows because he was watching.”

When Sy was alive and walking around on this earth, and through the days of my life I always had the feeling that he was riding on my shoulder much of the time; that because I was experiencing something he also was participating. The strangest part of all this is that feeling still exists. I took my wedding band off a long time ago, but I still say “we decided thus and so” or “Sy wants us to do this project in this way.” It is almost as if he has walked through a door that I can’t open but we can still see each other and talk back and forth.

 

070f78615f9645d8dae535611443ee40--afterlife-quotes-free-psychic-reading Door between heven and Earth Blog 11 16 2018So what I am thankful for is the fact that the thing I was most afraid of in my life—losing my Sy—has proven to be a very different experience than I anticipated. I miss him, oh, God, I do miss him, but because he chose to go before me, he has taught me that the divide between this life and the next one is not so monumental. Yes, I have moments of intense, heart-searing grief, but then it is over. The grief is no longer a muddy river consuming most of my attention. Yes, there is meaningful life after the loss of a dear one, if we dare to see it this way.

So I am either deluding myself, have gone a bit crazy or am doing survival. I’m not sure which but what I do know is that I am so glad that it was Sy who went first because the grief at its height I wouldn’t wish on anyone. And then I have to say a tremendous thank you to him and my world that he added to my circle of daughters—each girl unique in their way and each with gifts that they share with me. They have so enriched my life, and they have not left me with his passing. Have a great Thanksgiving Day! I know I will in spite of all the confusion of preparation and getting everything on the table at the right time in proper order.

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Cora
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May

 

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Elizabeth

 

 

 

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Felicia
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Annie

Sorry, My Brain Can’t Hear You

I’m writing this blog because I would like feedback from my readers, especially from other Seniors and from young people working in human services, retail, and marketing.

IMG_20180128_153915932My first book A Bird and the Dragon: Their Love Story: A Memoir portrays a couple in the prime of their lives starting into the second marriage with five daughters to raise between them. Those were fantastic times, difficult times, rewarding times, and the book has a Hallmark flavor. But life marches on and by the time you have a large part of your life experience to share, you can guess that I’m not as young as I used to be.

I have my annual health examination done by a naturopath, and she tests my hearing every year with a tuning fork. That is done by striking the

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Tuning Fork

fork on her hand and then holding the shank against the scalp just behind each ear. One side is better than the other, but almost every year she comments on how long she has to hold the fork in place before I can’t hear it anymore. Then I come home to my household and in the evening turn on the TV and up goes the volume. My children when they stop by say, “Hey, Mom, do you need that TV up so loud?” Well, yes I do, if I’m going to catch the conversation between characters in a murder mystery or a Hallmark Christmas story.

I get telephone calls from people trying to sign me up for something or to remind me of appointments, along with the occasional scam artist. And if they have an accent they might as well be talking in their native language. I can only catch about every fifth word. That’s when I have to say, “I’m sorry but you are speaking to a woman who is aging, and I need you to slow down so that I can hear you.” The next thing that often happens is they start to yell into the phone. That definitely doesn’t help!!

vintage-1418613_640 picture of the human brain for MLB blog 11 2 2018So I am fast concluding that it is not the ear so much that is becoming defective but the brain that cannot process incoming information fast enough to keep up with the speech patterns of other people. It’s like when your three or four-year-old grandchild comes to visit, and for the first half hour you can’t make head or tails out of what they are saying to you, but after about an hour of being with them you begin to understand their speech pattern and can actually carry on a conversation of sorts.

Something else that I notice, and again maybe it is only me and my age, but it seems as if people are talking faster: Now is this real, is it my slowing brain or is it because

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“Is this the Commercial or the Program?”

people more and more are working in situations in which they have to work in sound bites and get a certain amount of material covered in a prescribed amount of time? Sometimes a news reporter is talking so fast, or a person in a commercial is talking, and there is no way I can understand what they are trying to tell me. And with the television, they switch from commercial to program and back to commercial so many times in one program segment that I can now understand why my mother, when she lived with us, would say, “Are we in the program now or is this a commercial?”  Oh, Lord, I’m becoming my mother!!

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Thanks!

I guess my bottom line with this blog is to get feedback from you the reader and to suggest to service people that they speak more slowly and articulate as well as they can, so if they have an elder person on the line, we can hear you. Thanks for your help and you can contact me here by clicking on the CONTACT button at the top of this blog or on my website by going to www.jessiemaykessler.com and pressing the CONTACT button.

Knitting Day

Many of you who follow me know that I took on a Cavalier King Charles puppy by the name of Blaze Be-Loved last March. Some of you may know I have an older

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Cara Cozy on the Left Blaze Be-Loved on the Right

Cavalier, Cara Cozy, who will be fourteen years old this November. While Blaze is bouncing around the house, Cara is sleeping most of the time because at almost 14 years of age she has started her downward side of the mountain. Cara is always thinking of me and seldom demanding. This morning she woke me early by getting up and pacing in the bedroom. I wasn’t about to get up at that hour but then assumed she needed water since she is on a medication requiring extra water intake. I opened the bedroom door and let her into the rest of the house, closing the door behind her. Got back into bed, pulled the covers up around my head all cozy, and then heard two sharp barks from Cara. That usually means Mom ‘come look’ or ‘come fix it.’ I got up and went to see. She was calmly resting on the couch. –Nothing odd in sight. I growled loudly and went back to bed.

When I finally got up for my day and let Blaze free, I discovered on the floor mounds

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Not JessieMay but a Very Similar Woman

of brown mushy stuff and a lake big enough for… I don’t know what. I couldn’t be angry with Cara because she had told me; I just hadn’t listened. I was too concerned with my own need for rest. As I’m cleaning up the mess, I’m thinking, “This is grocery day, and I just don’t want to do groceries.” Then I thought, “Actually, it is blog day, and I don’t want to write a blog!” “What’s up?” I asked myself, and the response was, “I just want to knit today!”

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Mother and Cara Taken about Ten Years Ago

The internal discussion went on. The upshot was I recognized that I was overtired and did need to sleep. But during that discussion, I came to the recognition that because I come from a generation in which you are expected to go to work from 9 to 5, and you only get time off if you earn it, or you are sick, or you die; I was in a real bind. So why can’t I allow myself just to knit all day? Then I heard my deceased mother saying, “Because it is not all that productive and besides knitting wasn’t on the schedule for today.”

I did go back to bed with my handful of walnuts (because of their serotonin level they induce sleep) and slept for an hour (a trick I learned when I had four to five girls in high school at which time I got up before the sun to prepare them a ‘decent breakfast.’) Today, when I got up the second time, I had figured out that as a dreamer by nature when I have too many things on my plate, I get overwhelmed and tired. The time falling asleep gave me the opportunity to go into that pre-dream state–similar to meditation–where you can find answers to problems. There was the suggestion for this blog. (That is why I’m writing a blog and not doing groceries!)

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Proposed Cover for Sissy’s Story: Inside a Child’s Long-Term Illness

And my last point this week relates to what I talked about last week. Having rheumatic fever at five-years-old and being on bed rest for six months I came out of that with the unconscious belief that somehow I was not ‘okay’ and so I have to work extra hard at whatever I do to prove that I am actually ‘okay’ and not ‘sick.’ This underlying belief causes me to stress myself more than I need to when I’m doing most any job. And it is that result from a long-term childhood illness that I think parents need to hear about when their children are struggling with serious illnesses. It is the reason I want to publish my next book Sissy’s Story: Inside a Child’s Long-Term Illness: A Memoir.

 In the next few weeks, I have several large decisions to make, and that involves meetings with people who can guide me through the minefields of the future. So if there is a week when there is no blog from me you can know I’m not heeding my mother. I’m knitting all day!

If any of this resonates with you I would like to hear your thoughts. You can reach me here through wordpress.com or go to my website www.jessiemaykessler.com and click on the CONTACT button. Thanks for reading all the way to the bottom!

 

Best Experience Writing my Book

IMG_20180128_153915932Last week I got an email from someone who had read my first book, A Bird and the Dragon: Their Love Story: A Memoir as a book club reading choice. I was really surprised and delighted because I didn’t realize that any book club had picked up my book. This young lady had wanted to get her information straight from the source, or maybe she wanted to beat her reading mates when the question came up, but whatever, she asked me, “What was the best experience you got from writing your book?” I’ve chosen to answer her here because I know she is a follower of my blog, “My Little Bird.”

I’ve been thinking on that question for a few days, and of course, the first thing that comes to mind is the absolute glee of standing there holding the first published copy

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L to R  Sy, Elizabeth, JessieMay, Felicia, Cora, and Annie  the Blended Family

of the book that I had just spent two years of my life writing. Well, it only took nine months to write the book, but it took the rest of those two years to get it through all the hoops that were required by the publisher of the book even though it was a self-published book. I’ve written before in this blog about the promise I made to my best-selling author uncle, Ralph Moody. I told him I was going to be a big writer when I grew up. Of course, I made that promise to him when I was ten years old. And it is a long way from 10 to age 78. There have been more than a few “rabbit holes,” or should I say missteps, along the way in my writing career. Most of them you would call husband, children, grandchildren, and a career as a therapist. Life happens!

There was a lot of self-healing that went on in those first moments when I stood

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L to R  Owen, PollyAnne, JessieMay and Copeland (Coppy)

clutching my beautiful book to my chest and saying to my uncle, “See, we did it!!” I say healing because I’ve told you, I’m sure before, that I was raised in a family in which my older siblings (PollyAnne and Owen) were nine and ten years older than me and therefore I was emotionally shaped by two parents and two sub-parents. And believe me, siblings are not as thoughtful as parents; well, some parents. So I felt laughed at a lot and viewed as a bit of a less-intelligent human growing up. I’m sure they didn’t mean to create that feeling in me, but there it was. And now, NOW, I had proof that I was just as smart as everyone else in my family. Silly feeling to have but the young lady asked me.

Another best experience was one I did not in the least anticipate. That experience

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JessieMay and Sy Kessler Early in Our Marriage

was the discovery that, as I wrote the stories of how my second husband Sy and I met, courted, married, and then coaxed our two dysfunctional families of little girls into one reasonably functional family, my beloved would become alive again. The telling of the stories brought him back to life in my head and heart, and I hope for those who knew him personally it has done the same for them. I know one daughter says it has brought him back to her in many respects.

And yet another much-unexpected experience has been that of sometimes missing him and I miss him deeply. At those times, no amount of trying to start a conversation with this wispy presence that I feel about me seems to work. So I pick up my book from the coffee table, and I choose a chapter to read. (They are really short chapters so it usually only takes one chapter and I feel like I’m back on even ground and I’ve just had a visit with Sy or that particular part of our lives.) When Sy died, I took off almost no time from my counseling practice because I had people who were also hurting with one issue or another. My pattern of going back to work too quickly means that I’ve done my mourning around my clients trying not to let them hold me up too much. I think it has worked, but what it means is the mourning period is longer. The book helps me through these little painful glitches now and again.

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Granddaughter Nicole Having a Melt-down — the Peace and Hope Sy Gave to All of Us in this Family

I realize that I’ve given several reasons to the question my reader asked. I hope that — although it is not your love story — when you do read A Bird and the Dragon: Their Love Story: A Memoir you will also get the essence of Sy as he steps off the page and it gives you the peace and hope that he always carried for us, his family. This book is half his vision, as a male for the American family, the core of our very reason for walking this earth together.

Dreams Can Heal You

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Only Picture  of my Childhood Home Partially Hidden by Gramma School Sweetheart

Those of you who are following My Little Bird Blog probably already know that I am a therapist/writer. As the therapist, I work mostly with dream interpretation and then whatever else will work for a client. I think my training for this job started when I was a child. At five-years-old, I was diagnosed with rheumatic fever, and the treatment then consisted of my being confined to my bed, flat on my back, not getting up for ANYTHING, for six very long months. At that time my family had not yet accepted the television, I had only been in school for a month of first grade so I couldn’t yet read, and my mother in her wisdom kept my older brother and sister away from me during that time of confinement.

There wasn’t much left that I could do to amuse myself after I’d colored in every

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Possibly Cover for Sissy’s Story: Inside a Child’s Long-Term Illness

coloring book that I owned. So I reverted to staring at the cracks in the ceiling of my slant-ceilinged bedroom. It didn’t take long before I found there were animals and people up there and they were doing things, and I was building stories in my head about their activities. You’ll read in my next book Sissy’s Story: Inside a Child’s Long-Term Illness: A Memoir when it is published that I once invited my mother to look at the people on the ceiling. After much effort, she confessed that she couldn’t see a thing but cracks. It is this ability to see the deeper meaning that makes it possible for me to do dream work with clients.

Dreams come in all shapes and sizes, but after thirty years at this job one can see that they seem to fall into about four categories:

  1. The precognitive dream in which one dreams about a personal or worldwide event before it happens
  2. A visitation from a relative or friend that has passed over giving advice
  3. A solution to one of your everyday situations
  4. An involved dream that gives direction or advice about an issue or wound of yours.

As I write these blogs and my columns, “Tidbits from the Couch” found on my website, I do not use my client’s material because I feel it is a violation of their privacy. I may pick up a topic and create imaginary people with somewhat similar circumstances, but it is never a direct revelation about any client. I then have to use my personal material to teach a certain concept, so please forgive me if I appear too self-involved.

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My Mother and my Sister PollyAnne in More Recent Years

When I was a little girl of five, I had a brother that was aged fourteen and a sister that was fifteen. Once I was up and running again after my illness, I wanted to tag along on their teenage activities that were inappropriate for my age. My mother to head me off would say to me, “No, Sweetie, you can’t go. You’ve got to remember that your sister PollyAnne is good with people and so needs to be out there with them, but you are my pretty one.” [Now in retrospect, I understand that she was bolstering her fear of having to say No, but the result was a lot of damage to me. Her declaration caused me to behave like an introvert when actually I am an extrovert while appearing to be very shy.]

Fast forward many years, and I am in therapy myself to prepare and strengthen myself to ask my abusive first husband, Harvard Lesser, for a divorce. After about two years of work I was strong enough to move on my request, but this particular day in therapy I was sharing my dreams, and we came across this one.

 

            My sister and I are walking toward a garden gazebo

           She is coming from the far side and I am coming from the near side

            As we both step up onto the floor of the gazebo

            The sun casts a brilliant light down through a hole in the roof

gazebo like one in my dream with PollyAnne 10 6 2018
A Gazebo Similar to the One in my Dream

What I forgot to mention before is that in this type of therapy the client is asked to associate to different people and objects in the dream. As the therapist gathers these associations, writing them down, both the client and the therapist begin to see a connection between the story and the client’s issues.

Reverend David Eaton, my therapist at that time, a well-known therapist in southeastern Connecticut and the man that introduced me to my second husband, Sy Kessler, said, “So tell me about your sister.” Out came the story of my mother telling me that my sister was good with people and I was the “pretty one.”

David countered with, “But you are both stepping into the gazebo at the same time, so that means you are on equal footing.”

I agreed with him but didn’t know where to go from there.

He said, “Now the beam of sunlight that comes in just at that moment we could see as a message from God or just the masculine principle of light shining on some facet of your personality that is unconscious to you.”

I nodded because it seemed plausible so far but I still did not get the meaning.

Finally, David said, “Jessie, your sister–because she is a shadow figure in your dream (a woman in a woman’s dream)–she is showing you that you are also good with people.”

I sputtered back, “But Mother said I was the pretty one.”

“And indeed you are, but your sister is telling you that you are pretty inside and out. It is time to forget your mother’s interpretation.”

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Jordan Elizabeth, Mother, PollyAnne, Sister and JessieMay, Little Sister at One of my Girls’ Weddings Judge for Yourself as to Beauty

And that dream, my friends, probably planted the first seed in my becoming a therapist. It took some years, a new supportive husband, and some more therapy but this gives you a glimpse of how a dream can heal a damaged place inside yourself that has been holding you back.

Any comments you may want to share about this blog you can reach me on my website http://www.jessiemaykessler.com and hit the button CONTACT.

Kindness: Is it Old Fashioned?

IMG_20180128_153915932When I started to write my first published book, A Bird and the Dragon: Their Love Story: A Memoir my intent was to paint a picture of my second husband, Sy Kessler, that was so subtle, yet so vivid, that his only biological grandson would have a chance to know his grandfather even though Sy died when Robbie was five-years-old. At the time, I didn’t expect that I could get this book published, but things have a way of working out, and you can now purchase this book on Amazon.com/books or order it from Barnes and Noble.

I’ve gone on to develop speaking topics, one of which is entitled “Sweethearts Forever.” Now how does a relationship run its course for 35 years and yet when it is time to say goodbye it is still sweethearts forever? The workshop has a handout that shows eight characteristics that are vital to a lasting marital relationship, and would you believe the third characteristic is Kindness?

There are many days when even those of us who are naturally kind don’t want to be.

Grandmother Moody 1969
Mary Emma Gould Moody

I can remember people telling me that my maternal grandmother, Mary Emma Gould Moody was such a lovely woman: kind and thoughtful. And I wanted to laugh because I knew a much older woman and there would be an occasional day when she wasn’t kind especially to a person such as a store clerk or a waitress. But her reputation exists even beyond the grave so she must have been much more gracious as a younger woman. Of course, I also remember the poor woman who on occasion had to babysit a busy, active granddaughter—me.

This entire preamble is to bring you to the place where I ran across a piece that a friend, actually my church choir-mate, had posted on her Facebook page and when I finished reading I thought that would have been my Sy. [It probably was, but I don’t remember the burned biscuits.] So let me share what Necia Wilson Stopa had posted. When questioned, she admitted that she didn’t write the piece but that a friend sent it to her. Now, remember, the third have-to-have quality in a long-term successful marriage is Kindness!!

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Sy Kessler, my second husband, a Burnt Biscuit Man

A good reminder! Worth reading!

When I was a kid, my Mom liked to make breakfast food for dinner now and then. I remember one night in particular when she had made breakfast after a long, hard day at work. On that evening so long ago, my Mom placed a plate of eggs, sausage and extremely burned biscuits in front of my dad. I remember waiting to see if anyone noticed!

All my dad did was reach for his biscuit, smile at my Mom and ask me how my day was at school. I don’t remember what I told him that night, but I do remember watching him smear butter and jelly on that ugly burned biscuit. He ate every bite of that thing, never made a face nor uttered a word about it!

When I got up from the table that evening, I remember hearing my Mom apologize to my dad for burning the biscuits. And I’ll never forget what he said,

“Honey, I love burned biscuits now and then.”

Later that night, I went to kiss Daddy good night, and I asked him if he liked his biscuits burned. He wrapped me in his arms and said,

“Your Mom put in a hard day at work today, and she’s really tired. And besides–a little burned biscuit never hurt anyone!”

As I’ve grown older, I’ve thought about that many times. Life is full of imperfect things and imperfect people.

I’m not the best at hardly anything, and I forget birthdays and anniversaries just like everyone else. But what I’ve learned over the years is that learning to accept each other’s faults and choosing to celebrate each other’s differences is one of the most important keys to creating a healthy, growing, and lasting relationship.

And that’s my prayer for you today…that you will learn to take the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of your life and lay them aside.

We could extend this to any relationship. Understanding is the base of any relationship, be it a husband-wife or parent-child or friendship!

“Don’t put the key to your happiness in someone else’s pocket–keep it in your own.”

So, please pass me a biscuit, and yes, the burned one will do just fine.

Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some battle.

Now tell me—is Kindness old-fashioned? Don’t we need it even more in the political environment that we are living in at the moment? With the violence in the streets, isn’t it our job, our everyday job, to demonstrate kindness and understanding? I rest my point.

 

 

Loss of a Man in a Bottle

The subject of addiction is all over our media recently but addiction has been around for a long time. Nearly every family has a loving uncle who is usually a bit

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Needing Something to Get by On

“under the weather” and we have accepted that this is the normal state for that individual. Or some families have an Aunt Sally who is the life of every party and then some. My generation either looked down our pointed noses at those souls who “needed something to get by” or we didn’t even recognize that this was out of the ordinary behavior—we looked the other way. Nowadays this acceptance has a different flavor to it.

 

Secrecy is the hallmark of alcohol addiction and the strangest part is usually it is

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Keeping Our Secret in the Closet

only the alcoholic that is keeping the secret; in other words, they feel that no one else knows, while nearly everyone around them knows and suffers if they love that person. Recently we lost a member of our community to alcohol addiction. I believe everyone who knew this person is suffering in some manner at the loss. I have spoken before about the fact that our world is made up of spheres of energy, including us, and when an individual chooses to close down their portion of the field it radiates out to all of us. That’s part of why we have gossip—we all feel at some level for those individuals around us.

 

I know that alcohol addiction is a chemical imbalance in the body and therefore it is not just something the addicted person can turn off. On the other hand any of you

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Maple Shade Farmhouse my Father’s Family Home

young people out there who may be reading this blog; it is something that you can make a decision about, as I did when I was in high school. My family has alcohol addiction running down through its veins. My older sister Polly Anne and her husband Ed would allow me to have a glass of wine when I was visiting because my siblings and I had grown up in a “dry household” per my father’s wishes. They felt it was safer for me to find out what alcohol was like under their supervision. My father was driven by the memories of nearly losing the family farm because of my grandfather’s addition to drinking. I loved the taste of the wine and looked forward to having that occasional glass. But it didn’t take me too long to realize that I liked the taste so much I would lose a grip on the subject if I allowed myself to drink and so I never started. Believe me, it is far easier to never get started than it is to break the addiction.

 

Between my sophomore and junior year in college, I had to take a summer course

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The Blessed Screwdriver Cocktail

because earlier on I had switched majors. My friends decided one late afternoon to introduce me to “the screwdriver” cocktail. Since it is made with vodka it tasted like orange juice to me and I had two or three. The time came for us girls to start to the dining hall for dinner and I suddenly found that I could hardly stand up let alone really walk. My friends introduced me to the walls and the hand-over-hand technique for getting out of the dormitory. That and their loving arms was how I got to the dining hall. It is pretty tame and funny now, but then it was scary to me and it convinced me that drink was not going to be part of my life.

 

As a therapist, I come in contact with the client trying not to recognize that they aahave a problem with alcohol because it is such a sneaky addiction. Just one drink! I’ve been so good today. I’ve really earned it. When I was in graduate school getting my training to be a therapist one professor said to us, “When you suspect that a client is hiding an addiction to alcohol, bring the subject out in the open and say something like, “If a person is an alcoholic they can never take another drink for the rest of their lives.”  Most clients who are addicted react physically to this statement because they know they can’t stop their behavior on their own. And this is where in my opening statements I said that our attitudes about alcohol addiction have changed over time. There is less looking the other way and less looking down the nose at those who struggle with alcohol. There is help; very few people can break the addiction alone but they can come to terms with the subject either by breaking the addiction or finding their path to moderation.” Once an alcoholic always an alcoholic” is part of the recovery mantra—it is an issue that you will always wrestle with in some manner. So we are asking those of you who struggle with this addiction to realize that you can change, you will need a helper, you are not likely going to be judged, and most of the people around you will be cheering you on because you are no longer keeping it a secret from yourself.

Now, one last story that never made it into my first book, A Bird and the Dragon: Their Love Story: A Memoir. I was in that period between marriages where the

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Still Available on Amazon.com

divorce was dragging and it seemed like soon-to-be ex-husband, Harvard was doing everything that he subtly could do to make my life miserable. Meanwhile, I had three daughters to raise by myself. My mother had come to visit for a bit to help out with the girls. I was preparing supper and I poured myself a glass of wine and offered one to her. She no-bid the offer. Later I poured a second glass. The next night I was feeling like I’d really earned my glass of wine and I poured one glass and offered her one as well. Again she declined but when I went to pour my second glass my mother put on her sternest expression and said, “Birdie, (my childhood nickname) you have three daughters to raise! Put that glass down and don’t touch it again.” I was stunned and then in the next instant so thankful that she had the courage to tell me to stop. You see, at that moment, I couldn’t have done it alone.

If you are wrestling with that soul caught in a bottle or have a loved one struggling this way I’d be happy to talk with you. You can respond to this blog on WordPress.com or you can go to my website www.jessiemaykessler.com and hit the CONTACT button. Remember, most of us can’t do it alone!