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Reflections On A Loveless Childhood
By Mike Harvey - 87 Years Young

I found myself in a predicament. I’d volunteered to clean the washroom before accepting the lift home I’d been offered. I threw a pail of dirty water down the toilet; flushed it and proceeded into the strange building. Eventually I found my way into the parking areas. The people who’d offered me the ride home had vanished.

Perturbed at this I walked around the back to another empty parking lot. Nothing! Not a soul or a vehicle in sight. The building I returned to was empty so I turned heel and proceeded down the nearest street. The only living thing I spied was a grey cat. Read more

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COMMENTS (3) | children, parenting
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Letting Go: Moving On After Loss
By Casey Lee

I grew up in a picturesque family with two parents madly in love with each other, two beautiful older sisters, and a comfortable middle-class Midwestern upbringing. Because my sisters are respectively nine and eleven years older than I, they were married and had children before I reached that point in life; I was the Maid of Honor in both of their weddings and enjoyed every moment of being there for them during these monumental moments in their lives. My parents prided themselves on being doting grandparents, and I devoted more nights to coloring “My Little Pony” pictures and watching cartoons with my nieces and nephews than I did to partying when I was an undergrad.

Despite these happy times, my sisters were gone from my life by the time I turned twenty-two. There was not a tragic car wreck, a devastating battle with cancer, or a freak accident. In fact, as far as I know, my sisters are both healthy and happy as can be, but they have no contact with my parents or myself. Read more

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COMMENT (0) | family, loss, relationships, siblings
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Expert Series:Furry Soul-Mates: Spiritual Contacts With Companion Animals
By Shiri Joshua

Shiri and “fuzzy soul-mate” ‘Pfizer’ (because she is a natural anti-depressant).

In truth, we don’t own anything or anyone. We are not “pet owners,” we simply rent time with those we love (be they in a human or animal form). Working and speaking with hundreds of animal lovers over the past decade, I have come to humbly appreciate how precious is the love we share with our companion animals. Those who have not experienced – or have not allowed themselves to experience – this kind of an open heart kinship, simply do not really understand that this is a relationship like all others in our lives.

Yet sometimes we come across a particular companion animal that penetrates so deep into our heart, we can’t even explain the depth of the connection… It feels familiar as if we’ve known each other our whole life time! Read more

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COMMENTS (2) | animal companion, animal wisdom, relationships, spiritual
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One Last Kindness
By Billie Criswell

To some people the thought of cleaning up after a person has died, especially when that person was taken at a young age or of unnatural causes, is a horrifying one. Indeed, there are many people who make their living doing this for families who find themselves unable to do such a thing. This was precisely the conversation I found myself engaged in with a friend recently. My friend works with a clean-up and restoration company and they recently expanded to include crime scene clean up a la “Sunshine Cleaning.” (A movie where the two sisters clean up crime scenes.) Read more

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COMMENT (1) | addiction, drugs, loss, relationships, siblings
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An Angel Sent Across My Path
By Leo Donaldson

In February of 2006, while teaching my 10th grade computer science class, a call on my cell phone interrupted us. The school had a strict policy that all cell phones must be off in class, but for some reason I simply forgot to turn mine off on that specific day. Amid the jeers and Ooooooh’s erupting from the students, I decided to defy the powers that be, take the call and explain later. Little did I know that this single call would be a turning point in my life. Not only would it change it forever, but would plunge me into what would seem like a never-ending roller coaster ride. Read more

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COMMENT (1) | healing, inspiration, relationships, self growth, trust
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Walking The Walk
By Joseph Longo

 My bronze baby shoes had been on my desk for years, collecting dust. One day, I shoved them in a box with other tired tchotchkes. Recently, looking for something else, they jumped out at me.  Some of the bronze had turned green and had begun to flake. But the shoes looked remarkably alive, as if a child could still step into them and walk. Read more

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COMMENTS (4) | alzheimer, dimentia, health, parenting, relationships
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My Dog Sister
By Tanya Sousa

I don’t know if Mom instinctively chose a puppy that was like her, or if the puppy chose her for the same reasons, or if it was all a coincidence.  What I do know is that the tiny mixed breed puppy Mom named “Simba” looked much like a lion cub with reddish-gold fur and a black face and had pride and personality to match.  She was a formidable lady, benevolent but alpha, exactly like my rock of a mother. My family had moved from a Massachusetts suburb to the wild Vermont countryside, settling on a long defunct farm complete with old wooden wagons and spiked metal tines hidden in tall field grasses, a decaying barn full of mysteries, and woods full of once lively logging trails.  There were endless opportunities to run and explore. I stayed outside for hours on end, my mother knowing I was in good hands with Simba. Read more

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COMMENTS (2) | animal companion, animal wisdom, dog, relationships
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Ailynne
By John Edward Casteele

It’s a moment like no other.

Seeing your child for the first time on an ultrasound is a major event in any expectant parent’s life; you can actually see that little living piece of you, knowing that he or she is real. Unfortunately, not every child shown on an ultrasound is actually all right.  My girlfriend and I had to learn this the hard way.

It was a beautiful day, sunny and warm.  Everything that you could possibly ask for in early spring.  It was the day that we were scheduled for our first ultrasound, and we were both nervous and excited.  The image of my child came up on the monitor and I was blown away… until the woman running the machine told us that something was wrong.  She wasn’t picking up a heartbeat, and the baby’s heart should have started beating a few weeks ago.  The image on the monitor that my world had briefly revolved around tore my world apart. Read more

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COMMENTS (2) | children, grief, parenting, relationships, renewal
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Expert Series: A Personal Perspective On Addiction
By Dr. Barbara Sinor

My motivation for writing Tales of Addiction and Inspiration for Recovery came as I was completing Addiction: What’s Really Going On? Inside a Heroin Treatment Program which is coauthored with my friend and colleague Deborah McCloskey. It also comes from my personal experience of living with an alcoholic father and again in my adulthood while coping with an alcoholic son. While researching the field of drug and alcohol addiction, it has become clear that more effort is needed to fully understand the plight of our addiction population, as well as, how this population can help guide younger generations toward the freedom of sobriety through the sharing of their own personal stories. Read more

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COMMENTS (2) | addiction, alcoholic, children, drugs, parenting
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Expert Series: Family Type-Casting
By Dr. Barbara Sinor

We tend to create similar situations in our lives until we become aware that the same experiences keep “happening to us.” When you recognize a particular negative circumstance seems to repeat itself over and over, or a certain type of person re-enters your life several times to your dismay, take a hard look into your childhood and search for the pattern or script which may be embedded in your subconscious mind which invites the same unwanted experiences into your life. Read more

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COMMENT (0) | family, relationships, self realization
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Expert Series: Midlife Divorce: Blame It On Your Parents?
By Deborah Moskovitch

Your parents’ divorce might be setting the stage for your own.

Shannon*, a 48 year old client of mine, recently explained her “aha” moment when discussing the issues behind her impending divorce. She married her husband because he “completed” her — masking low self-esteem and feelings of not being worthy of love.

It wasn’t until after therapy and introspection that she realized she had fallen into a relationship trap: Trying to fill a void of lost love left by her parents’ divorce, and the loss of a relationship with her mother, when she was just 5 years old. Read more

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COMMENT (0) | divorce, parenting, relationships
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Through And Beyond AIDS
By Deirdre Rhodes (Patwant Kaur)

In 1997, my world radically shifted. One day while my partner Mike was at work, I was packing his ironed clothes back into his cupboard. From underneath this pile slipped a hotel bill. This was nothing strange as he had just returned from Swaziland, where he had played a gig. He was an engineer by day and a musician by night. On closer inspection of the bill, I saw that it was for two, not one, as it should have been. This was all starting to feel like an episode out of “Days of Our Lives.” It perturbed me, but I still thought there must be a logical explanation for this. For the whole day I sat with this information, mulling it over and over in my overactive mind. I said nothing.

The next morning, I asked him whether he had had an affair. I showed him the hotel bill. He had just opened his eyes and was steeped in sleep, a hard time to lie. He admitted that, yes, he had. I felt my heart shred, explode and crumble, my breath lost somewhere between the inhale and exhale, my thoughts blazing in a trillion manic directions. My illusion shattered. Read more

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COMMENT (0) | AIDS, relationships, self growth
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How Much Fighting Is Too Much?: A Couple’s Guide to Fighting Fair
By Vanessa Voltolina

If you’re in a relationship, you’ve most likely had a spat or two. And according to recent research, arguments about small, nagging things may happen as often as 312 times per year.

Some research even shows that how you handle conflict in your romantic life may have less to do with your relationship and more to do with how you were raised. But regardless of all the small arguments, or how your mother messed you up, enduring screaming matches multiple times a day with your spouse, or stonewalling your boyfriend post-argument may mean that your disagreements have gotten the better of your romance. It’s helpful to know the hot button issues in relationships, and the red flags indicating that it’s gone from lovey-dovey to knock-down, drag out. Read more

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COMMENT (0) | learning, relationships, self improvement
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Expert Series: The Need For A Men’s Liberation Movement
By Joel Brass

It’s tough to be a man. I know. I’ve been one all my life.

Though extremely varied in the circumstances that have brought them to seek help, the men who I see on a daily basis in my counseling practice are all living one common story. They have spent their adult lives doing their utmost to live up to a script that was handed them a long time ago about how to be a good man.

At the core of this male instruction manual is one central “commandment” – to serve, to provide and to protect others (originally territorially, these days materially). They have placed all of their focus and every ounce of their energy and strength into its achievement. While certainly necessary and beneficial, this has compelled them to be warriors in action on the battle plains of the outside world; to know, deal and prepare for only that which is outside themselves. Do this. Fix that. Be successful. Make money. Wield power. Keep your eye on the competitor. Anticipate the next curve ball that the world can throw at you.

It is with shock, and inarticulate but deep and real confusion, and disillusionment that a horrid realization has come to the men sitting across from me in the counseling session. It is the mind-numbing realization that the very methods and strategies that they have been praised and rewarded for in the marketplace, have failed them miserably in their private lives. No one wants a boss of any kind at home. Read more

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COMMENT (0) | enlightenment, relationships, self growth
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Betty Shirley
By Sandy Caldwell

I remember when I was little and would visit my grandfather in his big house. I would make my way up the stairs to the hallway full of family pictures. There in the middle of the wall was a grand portrait of a beautiful woman with dark wavy hair, big black eyes, full red lips, high cheekbones and a look of longing on her face. That was my grandmother, Betty Shirley. Although I have never met my grandmother, I am influenced by how she lived her life.

She was born Betty Jane Smith, an only child deeply loved by her parents. But when she was in her early teens, she lost her mother…that didn’t hold Betty back.

When she was older she headed for Colorado, not knowing anyone or where she was going to live or work. She just fell in love with the place. She thoroughly enjoyed skiing on their great snowy mountains and was taken aback by its beauty.

She found a job working in a resort running their small train up a mountain to the zoo. She lied about being able to drive a stick shift so she could get the job. Read more

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COMMENT (0) | family, inspiration
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From The Ashes: The Phoenix Rises
By Billie Criswell

My relationship with my stepsister, Laurie, has been a complicated one from its conception. I was six or seven years old when we met; she was two years older than I. I remember being so overjoyed to receive the news that in one fell swoop I would be getting the father I longed for and the big sister I wished for. It seemed to my childhood mind that everything was going to be perfect when my mother remarried.

…of course, as an adult, I know now that things don’t always work out perfectly, and that was the way it happened with our new, blended family. Laurie carried a lot of pain in her young heart. Read more

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COMMENT (0) | relationships, renewal, siblings
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Detach, Survive, Thrive In My Marriage To An Alcoholic
By Linda J Riley

The world of the non-alcoholic in the midst of alcoholic insanity is difficult. Many succumb to the insanity and become part of the disease itself, and others die from stress-related illnesses. But it is possible to survive. Once the non-alcoholic has learned the survival techniques, the next step would be thriving in spite of it all. It can be done. I am proof that it is possible.

One day I watched in horror as my husband, Riley, stood in the middle of the living room and spewed a stream of urine onto the carpet. Things had gotten bad, but I never imagined they would get that bad. Read more

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COMMENTS (42) | alcoholic, empowerment, relationships, self realization, thriving
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Defining A New Normal Within Marriage
By Billie Criswell

I was 18 years old when I met the man that I would marry, Daren. It was a casual evening with friends that found us chatting on a couch, pretty impressed with one another from head-to-toe. Even at my young age, I knew that this kind of love was different than I had felt before. It felt like magic from the very beginning. I remember having an “ah-ha” moment when I saw him: we locked eyes and I thought to myself, “This guy seems important to me in my life.” From that very moment, there was never another for either of us.

We moved in together after only 3 months of dating, and our ‘honeymoon’ period of the relationship abruptly came to a halt. Read more

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COMMENT (0) | marriage, relationships, self improvement
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Maggie Meets The Car
By William MacBride

If you’ve never had a dog get hit by a car, you may not fully understand what it’s like. This can be as devastating an experience as if it were to happen to a child. This is a story about the time I learned for real how this feels, by experiencing it. My girlfriend’s dog, Maggie, learned how it felt even more directly. Read more

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COMMENTS (3) | animal companion, relationships
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Black Humour And Other Happenings At A Jewish Funeral — Part Three
By Diane Schachter

My dad’s funeral was on a Monday in 1996, in Winnipeg.  It was a graveside service on an overcast fall day.  I didn’t shed many tears at the funeral.  I think that I had already said my goodbyes long before his burial.  Still, as I saw my dad’s casket being lowered into the ground, tears trickled down my cheeks.  In Judaism, the casket is minimalist and is made of cedar.  No rich or poor in burial; we are all equals at death.  Read more

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COMMENTS (2) | family, humour, relationships
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My Big Brother
By Derek Thompson

It is still hard to take in that my brother, David, has died. Not just in the hospital again, or having switched the phone off for two days because he doesn’t feel like talking, but irrevocably gone. I am the last of the line and all the family memories come crashing to a halt with me.

Sibling rivalry seems such a gentle term for the battles we fought and re-fought in an effort to establish separate identities. Read more

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COMMENTS (6) | family, relationships, siblings
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Coming To Terms With The Ghosts Of Christmas Past
By Carol Ayer

“Deck the halls with boughs of holly, fa la la la la…” The all-too-familiar Christmas carol resounded throughout the drugstore. I warily eyed the plastic reindeer and Santa Clauses filling every crevice of the building; the ornaments, the toys, and the candy stacked high on the shelves. I had to force myself to concentrate on finding what I’d come for–tissues, paper towels, and other provisions of everyday life.

But I soon became distracted by another carol. It was no use trying to ignore it. I had to accept the facts. Christmas was back, and I would have to cope. Read more

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COMMENT (1) | enlightenment, loss, parent divorce, relationships
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Meditations On Life And Death By A Crazy Cat Lady
By Pamela Tarlow-Calder

When I got home, reeking of blood and disinfectant, the other cats ran from me, fur raised on their backs, but Sita jumped on the bed and lay across my stomach, purring her booming trademark purr, incubating what was left of the baby. The baby turned out fine, and spent the next twelve years as Sita’s token human kitten. I’ve often wondered if that rhythmic vibration rumbling through my uterous somehow strengthened that tenuous hold, and prevented the miscarriage. Read more

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COMMENTS (2) | animal companion, loss, relationships
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Expert Series: What Are You Willing To Do, That No One Else Is Willing To Do?
By Brad Worthley

In mid-October of 2006, the love of my life, Melanie, got out of the bathtub and mentioned her skin itched badly and it would not stop. We assumed that it might have been the bath oil that she used, so we dismissed it as a topical issue (as something on top of the skin that created the itch, like the bath oil). The itching did not stop and it progressively got worse so we considered all the possibilities and changed laundry detergent, soap and anything else that we believed could be causing this unusual condition. We even re-washed all of her clothes in allergy free washing soap, which we believed would eliminate the itching, but it did not. Read more

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COMMENT (0) | empowerment, health, relationships
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Expert Series: Boston Terrier Petey Copes With The Loss Of Chris
By Laura Stinchfield - Pet Psychic

On the early morning of October 19th, my friend Chris Staley passed away of cancer.  He was 45.  A few weeks prior to his death, Chris asked me to be his dog’s guardian.  Petey is a remarkable one-year-old Boston Terrier.  One minute he will be running around squeaking a toy and using my legs as a jump off point. And the next minute he will be curled up in my lap, looking up at me wide-eyed saying things like, “My dad had more pain inside of him than he voiced.  Why do bodies die?  Read more

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COMMENT (1) | animal companion, loss, relationships
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