If I Knew, Then I Would Have . . .

January 21, 2013
The importance of telling those we love how we feel before it’s too late.

Double Rainbow

Sandy and other storms and natural disasters undoubtedly take the lives of many people who thought they had many years yet to live. Their loved ones may very well wish they had shared their love with them one more time.

The survivors may have many regrets in missing the chance to share their love, to ask for or receive forgiveness, and to offer appreciation for all the other person has done.

Yet it is natural to assume that a loved one or dear friend will be here tomorrow. We wouldn’t function well if we lived in constant fear that we wouldn’t see the other person again.

So what do we do?

We can say “I love you” as often as we can, we can ask for and grant forgiveness for the things that have come between us, and we let the other person know how much we appreciate him or her  — and then trust that the person will come back into our lives.

Just don’t take the possibility for granted!

In an earlier version of Support4Change I included the following poem as a sidebar. Now I’ve moved it here, where it expresses exactly what I want to say about recent tragedies.


If I knew it would be the last time
That I’d see you fall asleep,
I would tuck you in more tightly
and pray the Lord, your soul to keep.

If I knew it would be the last time
that I see you walk out the door,
I would give you a hug and kiss
and call you back for one more.

If I knew it would be the last time
I’d hear your voice lifted up in praise,
I would video tape each action and word,
so I could play them back day after day.

If I knew it would be the last time,
I could spare an extra minute
to stop and say “I love you,”
instead of assuming you would KNOW I do.

If I knew it would be the last time
I would be there to share your day,
Well I’m sure you’ll have so many more,
so I can let just this one slip away.

For surely there’s always tomorrow
to make up for an oversight,
and we always get a second chance
to make everything just right.

There will always be another day
to say, “I love you,”
And certainly there’s another chance
to ask, “Anything I can do?”

But just in case I might be wrong,
and today is all I get,
I’d like to say how much I love you
and I hope we never forget.

Tomorrow is not promised to anyone,
young or old alike,
And today may be the last chance you get
to hold your loved one tight.

So if you’re waiting for tomorrow,
why not do it today?
For if tomorrow never comes,
you’ll surely regret the day…

That you didn’t take that extra time
for a smile, a hug, or a kiss
and you were too busy to grant someone,
what turned out to be their one last wish.

So hold your loved ones close today,
and whisper in their ear,
Tell them how much you love them
and that you’ll always hold them dear

Take time to say “I’m sorry,”
“Please forgive me,” “Thank you,” or “It’s okay.”
And if tomorrow never comes,
you’ll have no regrets about today.

— Author Unknown

 Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
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Slow Down

October 25, 2012
These anonymous words of wisdom encourage us to slow down.


A ”Fond Farewell” Article

When I changed Support4Change to a new format, I needed to delete some articles that didn’t fit in the new site but were too good to completely throw away. So I have moved many of them here to the blog, where they will still be available and people can find them by using tags. Enjoy.

Incidentally, this piece is a good introduction to next Monday’s post on choosing what to do out of  all the possibilities that clamor for your attention.


Bay City Oregon


1. Slow down. You are not responsible for doing it all yourself, right now.

2. Remember a happy, peaceful time in your past. Rest there. Each moment has richness that takes a lifetime to savor.

3. Set your own pace. When someone is pushing you, it’s OK to tell them they’re pushing.

4. Take nothing for granted: watch water flow, the corn grow, the leaves blow, your neighbor mow.

5. Taste your food. It’s meant to delight as well as to nourish.

6. Notice the sun and the moon as they rise and set. They are remarkable for their steady pattern of movement, not their speed.

7. Quit planning how you’re going to use what you know, learn, or possess. The day’s gifts just are; be grateful and their purpose will be clear.

— Unknown

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


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The Loving Gift of Being Fully Present

October 22, 2012
An excellent book for relationships in trouble — especially for those who don’t realize they’re in trouble


A ”Fond Farewell” Article

When I changed Support4Change to a new format, I needed to delete some articles that didn’t fit in the new site but were too good to completely throw away. So I have moved many of them here to the blog, where they will still be available and people can find them by using tags. Enjoy.


Wake Up or Break UpI generally try to get excerpts from books that, all by themselves, show the value of buying that book. However, I want to make a special point of recommending this excellent book. It offers good advice for anyone who isn’t satisfied with a relationship

Wake Up or Break Up by Leonard Felder, Ph.D. was published in 2005 by Rodale, Inc., Emmaus, PA 18098. It’s available ($24.95US / $35.95CAN) wherever books are sold or directly from the publisher by calling (800) 848-4735.

—Arlene Harder, MA, MFT


What would it be like if you and your partner became excellent listeners on a daily basis? For example, think back through the months or years you have known your partner and recall the times when the two of you talked like best friends who truly cared about each other. What did it feel like to have a soul mate who was 100 percent there for you? Wouldn’t it be great to have that sense of deep connection again in your conversations?

You may have had moments in your relationship when you both made sure to set aside time each day or each week to catch up on what was happening with each other. Do you remember what that was like, and do you know why you’ve stopped making your moments together a high priority?

You may have had moments when you felt completely understood and appreciated by each other, when the two of you felt like passionate co-conspirators facing the obstacles and challenges of life together. Did you fall in love because you could appreciate one another’s visions and vulnerabilities better than anyone else?

I bring up these questions to help you and your partner remember how amazing it feels when you are absolutely in the current moment connecting with your loved one. Yet to be fully present with the person you love deeply is not easy to accomplish. Not only do we have busy lives and lots to deal with, but we find it risky to open up and be fully known by another human being. On a stressful day when your brain and nervous system get battered and fried, how do you show up and be there 100 percent in the current moment with a partner who might also be exhausted or agitated?

Ways to Create Heartfelt Listening

No one sets out to be a lousy listener. I doubt that you’ve ever heard at a wedding or commitment ceremony the partners pro- claim in their vows, “I promise to be a mediocre listener to you. I vow to show condescending signs of impatience or say things like ‘So what’s your point already?’ when I come home from work and you’re trying to describe the ups and downs of your day.” Yet even if you’re highly respected as a good listener in your job, you might still need to overcome the tendency to wear your “I’ve got no listening left” face when you’re at home with your long-term partner or your kids.

There are three things you can do to master the art of heartfelt listening, even on a stressful day: the Daily Decompression Exercise, the Twenty-Minute Daily Check-In, and Giving Each Other Three Appreciations.

The Daily Decompression Exercise

It’s going to take more than good intentions if you want to be fully present for each other after a stressful day. That’s why I recommend a remarkable tool called the Daily Decompression Exercise that I’ve seen work for hundreds of couples. Instead of going on automatic pilot when you’re at home and slipping into impatience or grumpiness, you can use this exercise to manually adjust your focus and breathing at the moment your beloved partner needs you to be fully present. Instead of getting distracted, you can become the exquisite listener that a great partnership requires.

Here’s what to do:

Before you try to have a quality conversation with your loved one, take five or ten minutes to “decompress” from the day. You might want to stop a block or two before your street and take five quiet minutes to remind yourself, “I’m not at work any longer. I’m about to enter a different atmosphere where my loved ones are hoping they’ll have the good listener this time instead of the cranky, impatient, burned-out basket case they’ve had to endure too many times.”

Or go into the washroom and rinse your hands and face as you say into the mirror, “This is a crucial moment when I’m either going to be a great listener or an impatient jerk. The quality of my relationship depends on whether I show up right now with an open heart or a closed mind.”

During your five- or ten-minute decompression, you may also meditate or say a prayer to reconnect with that calm place deep inside yourself. You could say something like, “Please help me open my heart even though my body is tired.” Or you could imagine that you’re an astronaut or a scuba diver who needs to regain normal breathing now that you’re coming back to firm ground after spending time in an alien environment. If you came back suddenly to normal oxygen after a journey to outer space or the ocean floor, you would begin by breathing slowly and calmly as you said to yourself, “I’m entering a completely different world than where I’ve been the past several hours.”

Whatever approach you utilize, make sure you take a moment to feel your body and your mind shifting out of the “get to the point already” tone that might be normal at work but disastrous at home. Breathe deeply as you envision yourself turning back into a loving partner-and a caring and patient parent if you have kids at home.

As you walk up to your front door, stop for a moment to make sure you’re ready to approach your loved ones with your most compassionate self. The moment before you say “Hello” or “How are you?” to your loved ones, take a deep breath and remind yourself, “The person I’m about to talk to is more important than any client, customer, boss, colleague, or phone caller I’ve spoken to today. I better show up fully available for this next conversation because nothing else is as important as these precious moments together. ” You might even want to put these few sentences on a note card that you keep in your wallet in case you need to read them to yourself after an especially stressful day.

Even if your partner or your kids start right in saying something you’ve heard before, remind yourself that you can still be a calm and patient listener. As your partner begins to speak, if you notice that your impatience, irritability, or desire to interrupt is welling up, be sure to catch yourself and say silently, “Don’t be a jerk. Don’t be the lousy listener who can ruin a good relationship. Right now I’m definitely tired, but I’m still capable of listening with a completely open heart. This is the moment to prove whether I’m a great partner or a cranky burden for my loved ones.”

Please don’t underestimate the importance of this decompression portion of your day. What you say to yourself to unhook from your stressed-out mood is up to you. I’ve listed here a few possibilities, but feel free to change these statements into your own words. The key is to find a way to decompress so you won’t stir up a fight or disappoint those who look forward to seeing you when you come home. Because if you talk to your partner or your kids the way you talk to someone you are disciplining at work, your loved ones will be thinking to themselves, “Oh, great, here we go again. The agitated commander in chief is home again and we’re all supposed to take orders. Get me outta here!”

© Copyright 2005, Leonard Felder, Ph.D., Reprinted with permission

Leonard Felder, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles. As a popular lecturer and recognized expert on how to improve personal relationships, his books have sold more than 1 million copies and he has appeared on more than 200 television and radio programs, including Oprah, NBC’s The Today Show, CBS’s The Early Show, CNN, A.M. Canada, National Public Radio, and ABC Talkradio. He and his wife, Linda, have been together since 1980, and they are the parents of a 12-year-old son, Steven.


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Interesting Perspectives on Humanity – and Statistics

October 18, 2012
These two brief articles illustrate how a little perspective might make us see our lives in a different light.


A ”Fond Farewell” Article

When I changed Support4Change to a new format, I needed to delete some articles that didn’t fit in the new site but were too good to completely throw away. So I have moved many of them here to the blog, where they will still be available and people can find them by using tags. Enjoy.

These two short pieces were originally sidebar articles, but seemed to complement each other, so I decided place them together in this post.



Perhaps not all the statistics in the following are accurate, but the comparisons may hopefully cause you to think about what you have. This was forwarded to me from a friend and I don’t believe I can trace the author.

If you woke up this morning with more health than illness…you are more blessed than the million who will not survive this week.

If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation, you are ahead of 500 million people in the world.

If you can attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death…you are more blessed than three billion people in the world.

If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of this world.

If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace, you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy.

If your parents are still alive and still married, you are very rare, even in the United States and Canada.

If you can read this message, you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world that cannot read at all.


I’ve received the following email several times from friends over the past few years. When coming across it again recently, I decided to check out some of the statistics and found an interesting urban legend site that takes the numbers apart. There is some validity to some of the numbers, but others are dramatic without facts to support them, or they are just plain wrong.

So if you have already received this as a forwarded email, you might find the comparison with other statistics to be enlightening.

I recognize, of course, that the email began circulating in approximately 2001, which means some of the statistics might be different today, but remember that the analysis of the numbers was done in 2001, so generally that gives a comparable picture to what you’ll find on the website.

Comparing the information below to that which is on the Snopes.com site may encourage you to be more careful in accepting whatever you read on the Internet.

— Arlene Harder, MFT

This is the original email:

If we could shrink the earth’s population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all the existing human ratios remaining the same, it would look something like this. There could be:

  • 57 Asians
  • 21 Europeans
  • 14 from the Western Hemisphere, both north and south
  • 8 Africans
  • 52 would be female
  • 48 would be male
  • 70 would be non-white
  • 30 would be white
  • 70 would be non-Christian
  • 30 would be Christian
  • 6 people would possess 59% of the entire world’s wealth and all 6 would be from the United States.
  • 80 would live in substandard housing.
  • 70 would be unable to read
  • 50 would suffer from malnutrition
  • 1 would be near death
  • 1 would be near birth
  • 1 (yes, only 1) would have a college education
  • 1 would own a computer

When you consider our world from such a compressed perspective, the need for acceptance, understanding and education becomes glaringly apparent.


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Doing Something Completely Pointless

October 15, 2012
Decide to do something this very day that has absolutely no purpose other than your enjoyment in doing it (keeping it legal, of course).


A ”Fond Farewell” Article

When I changed Support4Change to a new format, I needed to delete some articles that didn’t fit in the new site but were too good to completely throw away. So I have moved many of them here to the blog, where they will still be available and people can find them by using tags. Enjoy.

Today’s Fond Farewell is part of the former Take-a-Break series. Use today’s post as a respite from today’s “to-dos” and have a little fun.


Like thousands (perhaps millions) of others, I was highly disappointed when the comic strip “Calvin and Hobbes” stopped running. I loved the exuberant joy of life exhibited by the young Calvin and his stuffed lion friend. Actually, of course, Hobbes is only a stuffed toy when adults are visible in the script. When they aren’t there, he’s a great buddy for Calvin, which is well illustrated in an expanded Sunday comics that ran three years ago.flag

In this strip Calvin carries a red flag high over his head, running through the grass, balancing along a fallen tree, leaping on rocks across a stream, climbing a hill, running through the woods, climbing up, up, up into a tree, exchanging the red flag for a purple flag stuck in a high branch, running back through the woods, jumping down the hill, going back over the rocks, across the tree again, through the grass and then, running up to the tiger, calls, “Time!” Looking at the stop watch, Hobbes exclaims, “Wow. 15 minutes and 30 seconds.” Calvin responds, “Ha. Beat THAT!” Then, in the last frame, Calvin comments, “Weekends don’t count unless you spend them doing something completely pointless.” Then Hobbes, who now has the purple flag, yells “Go!” and takes off, running to beat Calvin’s record.

Ah, yes, Calvin, there is a great deal of pleasure in doing something completely pointless.

What have you done lately that is completely pointless? Of course, if you’re recovering from the flu at this moment, you may think your life has been rather “pointless” because all you’ve been doing is lying around too tired to do anything “worthwhile.” But it seems to me that doing nothing — but doing it with enthusiasm — benefits our souls better than doing nothing (or something) with resignation.

© Copyright 1998, Revised 2008 Arlene Harder, MA, MFT

 Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.org


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