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It seems everywhere I turn these days, people are talking about relationships.  Books, seminars, lectures, and even classes on how to have better relationships.  Maybe I’ve been especially blessed as I’ve always had lots of relationships and feel fairly contented (at least at the moment) with my significant other.

I just don’t think it’s that tricky.  Relationships are what your life is all about.  The relationship you have with the people, places and things around you, defines who you are.  Every relationship is there to help you wake up and learn something new about yourself.  Everyone is your “Zen Master” as my teacher, Paulette Terrels says. 

So, why do people carry on so about them? Does it say something about our culture that people are so dissatisfied with the relationships in their lives? Or feel so separated and alone?  Can I say all my relationships are perfect?  That I wouldn’t want to tweak a few them?  Of course not.  But I try to use them all as a flashlight to illuminate things I need to learn and experience.

We are social beings and tend to congregate.  If there’s no one in your life, it’s probably because you’re not letting them in.

Here are my humble ways to have good relationships:

1)  Be more conscious in your relationships.  Know that you make a statement about who you are by how you relate to everything in your life.  Pay attention and take steps which reflect how you wish to relate, how you wish to be in relationship to whoever or whatever it is.

2)  Let go of expectations.  People are not put here to live up to your expectations and behave just the way you want them to. It’s a practice in peace to allow others to be who they are. It is also the greatest gift you can give them.

3)  Remember very few of us are mind readers.  Frankly, we’ve all got way too much chatter going on in our heads to allow in someone else’s.  If you don’t tell someone what you need or want, how are they supposed to know?  Be sure to let go of your expectations when you do, though.  Just because you ask, doesn’t mean they can deliver. But you’re surely not going to get what you want by being quiet and hoping the other will just know.

One of my favorite episodes of the old Dick Van Dyke show (from the 60’s) begins with Rob and Laura in the car, coming home one night.  Laura is obviously angry at Rob, but he doesn’t have a clue why.  He recounts the entire evening in flashbacks, trying to find the place where he messed up. They went to the theater with friends and then went for coffee and met some other friends. At the end of the evening, Rob picks up the check and we see that is what has gotten Laura’s panties in a twist.  She thinks he doesn’t love their 8 year old son.  Huh? Why would she think that? Finally she admits, she thinks Rob has jeopardized their son’s college education by  picking up the tab for everyone’s dinner when all the two of them had was dessert. I remember that scene when I am thinking someone should know what I want: Laura spent a lot of time feeling angry when all she had to do was tell him!  “If you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you,” is a lame excuse and causes far more problems than just saying it. If he had known she felt that way, he wouldn’t have picked up the check to begin with.

4)  Allow your relationships to come and go.  What is the saying that people are in your life for a moment, a season or a lifetime.  When it’s time for a person to leave your life, let them go – whether that’s to college, another plane of existence, across town, or the next love. We cannot hold people with us.  It is the nature of relationships to change.

5)  Appreciate the relationships you have.  There is something to be found in every relationship. I’m in a position right now where I come in contact with a lot of people.  Each one of them offers me something different.  Each one is a gift in my life. Notice how even the smallest relationship – like the person behind the counter at the library – can make your day.

6)  Define the kind of people you want in your life and watch for them. SARK talks about “building platforms of support.”  If you want a strong system to hold you up in your life, order up a platform of support. Who are the kind of people that will bring to your life what you need?  Then just be on the lookout for them.

7)  Open to relationships.  Don’t be so picky about it.  Know that you can learn, grow and have fun with just about anyone. Open your heart to others and they will open theirs to you.


I have watched a lot of television in my time. My father was in television and believed in it for education and entertainment. My husband is particular about his television shows, but has turned me on to many. Of all the thousands of hours I have spent watching TV, I could count, on one hand, the shows that made me laugh, consistently, out loud, several times over the course of a 20 or 40 minute show. Off the top of my head, I come up with two: the original Dick Van Dyke Show with its amazing crew of writers and talented cast, and Mork and Mindy, with its odd characters and funny dialog. I have no wish to cast these as the only funny series in the last 50 years or so. I’m sure there are others which could live up to my laugh meter. I only wish to make a point that they are few and far between.
There was a sign at one of Obama’s town halls this summer which read, “Please, Obama, Bring Back Arrested Development.” I would have to agree with that. Well, after he’s taken care of a few other things or with the quick signing of a declaration.

Arrested Development (2003-2006, Fox TV) could well be the funniest show ever shown on the show show-er. An excellent, very funny cast, and great jokes that linger on and provide a few extra chuckles long after the show has drifted into memory. And well into its third season, the scripts continue to deliver a high ratio of laugh-out-loud moments to time spent.

Now, I can find little in the way of spiritual messages from it, even redeeming characteristics. (I realize I have found meaning in the words of a wavy-haired serial killer). Arrested Development is about an extremely dysfunctional family. No one shows any sign of growing or changing from their experiences. They seem to become more of who they are, more crazy and dysfunctional.

There was a brilliant movie in the early 40s, Preston Sturgis’ “Sullivan’s Travels.”  One of those they-don’t-make-‘em-like-they-used-to pictures. Starring Joe McCrea. Joel is a successful Hollywood director of big budget comedies. He longs to give back, to do a film that’s about something Important. Figuring he has been too pampered all his life, he decides to strike out on the road with a bandana on a stick, the shoes on his feet, and the clothes on his back.

This is a wonderful film, not to be missed. So I don’t think I’m giving anything away to say the message of the film is there is much good in giving people a chance to laugh.

Today, we have Arrested Development to add some much-needed light and laughter to the world. Well worth the time.



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