Things Usually Aren’t What They Seem

I may look on the outside like an incredibly healthy fit self-disciplined individual.  Some of this is true.  I am physically fit.  I wear size 4 clothing and love to eat healthy foods.  But my motive for being fit and eating well is just as selfish and self serving as the individual who is wearing plus sizes.

During the summer before my seventh grade year at school, I started falling when I did cart wheels in the back yard.  My mother evaluated my back.  The verdict was in. The genetic curse of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis had been passed onto me too.

One of my older sisters had received this diagnosis with a severity that warranted bracing when she went through puberty.  Having been well versed in her daily routine wearing a  Milwaukee Brace and frequent trips to Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA I wasn’t too concerned that my time had come too.

But looks were deceiving.  My condition deteriorated much worse than my sister’s.  In fact, the severity of my curve bordered on the line of where surgery was warranted.  Now that I wasn’t up for.

Having a metal rod surgically placed in my body next to my spine for the rest of my life wasn’t on my bucket list.  If this were done I would no longer be able perform flip turns at swim practice.  Would the rod rust and deteriorate in my body over time?  How long would I need to stay in the hospital and miss school?  Would I be stretched out with weights in traction prior to surgery?  How could I survive the cast when I passed out in the cast they molded on me in order to design a Milwaukee Back Brace for me?

The surgeon took the conservative approach to try bracing first. Whew!  But I knew that I had better comply with wearing it and completing the accompanying physical therapy if it was going to work in order to keep my out of the OR.


Wearing the brace didn’t hurt once I got used to in ~48 hours later. However, there were discomforts like, if I ate too much food would back up my esophagus because there was no room for my stomach to swell.  And then others like sitting in a car cut off the circulation in my legs because of how the girdle fit so tightly.  Few understood what my needs were and even less bothered to listen to learn and find out.  Many projected their fears onto me and jumped to conclusions.

Often feeling misunderstood felt painful and lonely.  But, I found strength because I heard a voice say,  “Everyone is on the outside of the brace.  But I am on the inside.  Because you gave your heart to me and asked me to come in as Lord.  I will be here with you and understand.”

This incredible comfort and odd brace also protected me from the many wiles of adolescent experimentation.  Boys feared me.  The popular girls could no longer be bothered.  The sweet girls who attended the community Bible church invited me to their youth group.  At least they would socialize with me and shared somewhat of the heart lordship business I had entered.  But as time wore on, those girls busied themselves in high school with their boyfriends.

I adapted. I busied myself with sports, music, leadership training, and a rigorous academic load.  I no longer needed the brace, but I noticed that pain re-appeared.  In my mind I replayed the advice my doctor gave at my last visit.  “Stay physically active and keep extra-weight off.”  So I returned to my daily physical therapy.

As I’ve aged I added more exercises to protect my elbows and knees from injuries due to sporadic tennis play.  The results?  I look and feel great. But my point is my motivation isn’t that wonderful, much less pure. It’s still self-serving or preserving.

We live in a culture that glorifies image.  Images can be empty and vain.  They usually aren’t what they seem at all.  Let’s stop judging books based on their covers and take time to “read” or get to know what’s really going on inside.  And most importantly when we do read, keep in mind that only the author knows exactly what he/she intended when he/she wrote.  Our interpretations  are simply ours.  Let’s own our responsibility for this and stop projecting onto others what we think or feel.


Helicopter Parenting

“Helicopter Parenting” is one of the latest labels slapped onto some of those individuals who are doing all they know to do to give there kids the best that they can.


Julie Landry Laviolette in her special to the Miami Herald on August 18, 2016 wrote informatively and advised wisely.  But, the fact is that labeling is name calling and therefore, quite likely going to be received with defense.

First of all, parenting is the hardest job in the whole world. Thankfully there are some support classes like Whole Hearted Parenting  being offered and a plethora of books written on how to do it well, but the bottom line is none of it is required.  Besides, a diploma, certificate, or initials after one’s name doesn’t guarantee competency.    That’s why I sat in a hotel room for months of intense study, training, and testing before I was permitted to carry a sales bag into a doctor’s office when I got hired by the pharmaceutical industry.

Also, while there are some skills to parenting, the skills in and of themselves are worthless if they aren’t implemented with a loving attitude by the parents.  One can do the “right thing” with the “wrong motive”.  Just like they can do the “wrong thing” with the “right motive”.  While we may fantasize that we can do the “right thing” with the “right motive,” reality is we’re human and usually deceive even ourselves.

Most people parent based on what was modeled before them by theirs. Which is quite scary when we look at cultural statistics.  Who came from a healthy family?  In fact, I think this is one of the reasons why some resort to hovering over their children.  Often these parents were hurt or abused as a child.  All they want to do is protect their kids from the pain they still endure.

Back to labeling.  Folks if it feels offensive to be called a helicopter parent, I empathize.  But if you would, do what mama does in my book,  Rojo The Baby Red Panda at the Zoo.  Understand that viewing the world as black and white by using stereotypes and labels has a place and purpose.  Yes, there are numerous exceptions and problems that can occur,  but they exist for communication and teaching purposes.  They simplify life and give us meaning.

Let us stop taking offense and be willing to “Listen and Learn” (one of my short motivational songs) in order to be the loving parents we want to be.  And if you were hurt or abused as a child, please get help to feel and heal those wounds.   We need to grow up emotionally and spiritually.  We can’t do that until these wounds from childhood are healed and resolved.  Check out great therapists like Dr. Sam.  Get well.  It’s worth it.



Olympic Inspiration or Fantasy Dreams?

I don’t watch much television.  I’ve got too many issue with what is usually on, especially the commercials laced with sex appeal and feared induced violence.  Plus I have too many other things to do with my time.

But I do take time to watch the Olympics.  I love to hear how athletes have patiently perserved to overcome injuiries, illness, heartbrake, and other “you can’t do it” situtions to pursue their dreams.  But there’s a fine line.

How many of us sit there envisioning ourselves being right there in the same body as the winning athlete who conquers and wins the gold?  Sometimes my nine year old daughter jumps up and tries to participate.  It’s what kids do and should.  Fantasy play is for children! The irony moves in because too many adults these days crave it.  Look how popular fantasy football and other like hobbies have become.

Too many adults live their relationships out in fantasy world like adolescents do.  Are they modeling what they see in soap operas and movies or are they emotionally trapped in adolescents from childhood trauma?  Emotionally destructive relationships ensue.

Are we amusing ourselves to death? Whether television or technology can be blamed is up for debate.  But for me, what isn’t is the rampant childhood trauma.   One of the most devastating aspects of this is the ensuing emotional immaturity as these individuals age into adulthood.

According to divorce expert, Cathy Meyer,  childish expectations of marriage ranks as one of her top six reasons why divorce rates are so high.  Childish expectations or rather immature dreams don’t just sabotage our relationships with our bedroom partners.  They implement unreasonable expectations and pressure on our children to perform and be the next Olympic Champion.  They erode friendships as one takes another for granted.  They set one up for dissatisfaction in the work place.  The world is perceived as unfair. Self-pity describes the response one takes towards life’s normal down turns.  What a prescription for life time misery!

So as we watch the closing ceremony of the 2016 Olympics in Brazil let us reflect on what kind of inspiration we are going to close the games out with.  May the hard work and dedication that these athletes modeled before us motivate us to put in the effort to grow up emotionally and take more responsibility for our own adult happiness.

Why Growing Up is Hard to Do

Have you ever noticed that some children don’t ever want to grow up and others can’t wait to?  In my observation,  the pattern that emerges is children who are overly doted upon in ways the please them are often the children who don’t want to grow up.  This may look OK or not too harmful at first.  After all, look at what a good mommy or daddy is making sure Jack and/or Jill’s needs are met.

The economy benefits when Daddy, Auntie, Grandma, or whoever spend to little Johnny’s heart is content.  The problem is that apparent satisfaction that Johnny displays is far from content and usually dissipates into another tirade for something else that he wants.

Another difficulty is Mommy, Uncle, Grandpa, or whoever isn’t meeting Jack or Jill’s needs at all.  They are meeting their own needs. Isn’t this the greatest temptation of parenting, to try to fix or get what we didn’t in our lives through our children’s?  Whoa now,  that’s subconsciously selfish and misguided.  If we were going to stoop to name calling we’d yell parentification!

But that’s name calling.  And that’s mean.  Look we all suffered from some sort of disappointment, failure,difficulty or life growing up.  In no way do I want to discount any pain you experienced growing up.  That would express indifference which is just as wrong as name calling.

What I’m after is we need to stop justifying the wrong approach most of us are taking to get our needs met.  No, it’s not providing us the happy heart that we think it is.  It’s insanity according to Albert Einstein.

Rather what I’m advocating is that you examine your heart. The motivation behind what powers an individual varies. It is as different as the individual him/herself. To complicate this, It’s a  hard knock life! Because of it we may have ourselves deceived into thinking that we’re doing something for someone’s good when we’ve really deceived ourselves.  Now that we have the diagnosis of what’s wrong, let’s get the right prognosis!

True Love Part 1

Feeling and extenuating genuine self-less love verses self-serving love describes one of those classic book and movie themes.  Why?

“True love” is something we all crave.  To be known, to be accepted, and to be loved is a basic human need.  It’s the greatest need and explains why marriage is the most powerful human relationship known to meet this need.

Disney’s Frozen theme of true love captures the admiration of child and adult.  Many identify with the painful sting being the recipients of counterfeit love that Hans pours out to Ana.

Others identify with the fear that isolates Elsa from those closest to them.  Then most are surprised that true love, the laying of one’s life down for another is what saves the day rather than the kiss of the good looking hero, Kristof.  The ability to relate to these characters is within each of us so much that one can take a quiz on the official Disney’s Frozen web page!

Giving up one’s life for another is the ultimate display of true love, but it doesn’t help to distinguish what love is in a day to day basis. In fact, it can be used as a distortion of “selfless” love or service with the motive to manipulate and control.  So what does real love look like?

True love has no fear, but if we are honest, most are.  Some have good reason to fear being controlled by another.  They’ve been controlled all their lives by their parents!

Others live in fear of being rejected and abandoned. Then there are those who dread hurt.  There might be some like Elsa, fearful, that they could be the one who is responsible causing the problems.  Or one of the deepest fears held is being known for who we really are: broken people who need to be loved and forgiven over and over again!

Love does not compete. Competition has its place in business and in sports, but not in personal relationships.  If one behaves in a win/lose mentality in a relationship that implies that one is attracted to a loser.  Think that through and soon you’ll find both lose.

The competitive mentality lends itself to the next opposite character of love: domination.  Some people seek control over others because they feel weak and insecure.  It’s their only means of power.  These are the bullies at school, in personal relationships, and in the work place exhibiting varying degrees of narcissistic traits.

Some people control because of their fears.  While the latter motive may be better intended, both drain the recipient and prevent both parties from enjoying the relationship. True love empowers because it entrusts and frees the other party.  It never manipulates or controls.

Insecurity is the common denominator that feeds fear, competition in relationships, and the need to control. How ironic and sad for these people who seek validation through ineffective means of looking to others when the answer lies in oneself.

Each individuals needs to take responsibility for his or her own happiness and well-being.  Expecting others to do so sets the stage for a crazy cycle of co-dependency and unhealthy personal relations.

Genuine love encourages and builds up.  Insecure competitive people seem to find ways to put others down in order to inadvertently lift themselves up.  Television sit coms are full of sarcastic comments that leave one laughing at the expense of another.  Love doesn’t do that.  Selfishness does.  It’s disguised as light heartedness and humor, but it’s one sided at the other’s loss.

Something else that love does not do is manipulate others through moodiness. Unfortunately some children learn to get their way by fussing and carry this on into adulthood.  In order to deal with this I wrote a song

to sing to my daughter so that I wouldn’t burst out screaming with steam from my ears.

They’ve mastered how to get others to do what they want by pouting and or fussing. “The squeaky wheel gets the grease” becomes their life motto. Worse yet, they are also the individuals who are quick to judge and expect others to fit their ideas.  But real love respects others too much to do this.

Differences are inevitable between individuals.  Loving people respect the differences.  They don’t expect others to fit their cookie cutter mold of ideals.  Rather, they know others will have different perspectives and ways of approaching issues.  They take the time to listen and learn from others.  This equips them to respond to the others needs and requests appropriately.

Secure people capable of love maintain strong emotional boundaries.  They keep their values when differences arise, but do so in a non-judgmental way.  This enables them to set limits and discern when to say, “No.”  Telling someone you love, “No” may be the bravest expression of love.  To take a stand in firm opposition has become the most politically incorrect behavior in modern society.  But it’s the very behavior needed to get us all back on track to become the loving individuals we have the capacity to become.

-Hope Mucklow is the author of, a children’s illustrated book for adults who need to heal and children who need to learn.


Are You a Real Parent or Are You Faking It?

Parents, guardians, and/or care takers are supposed to teach and guide the intellectual, physical, emotion, and spiritual development of the children under their care.  However, a role reversal often takes place when the guiding adult has issues.  Parentification is the term coined to describe this.

Issues are so prevalent today.  What adult doesn’t have them? We’re all susceptible because we live in a very broken world.  Those who are educated, highly religious, and living in the developed world are not immune.  What a crushing blow!  Could it be that this is the world wide epidemic, not Zika, HIV, or Swine Flu?  I believe so.

Inappropriately expressed anger usually begets more anger unless you have an amazing leader like Ghandi, MLK Jr,  or Mandela inspiring otherwise.

Anger in and of itself is not wrong.  I felt refreshed by Elizabeth Brown’s writing in  Living Successfully with Screwed-Up People.  She said,  anger is “completely natural and perfectly legitimate.”  All agree with the first statement.  But few of us have been taught the latter.

Where does anger come from?  It’s the natural response from feeling hurt from a painful experience.  The nature of what triggered the hurt and how the recipient perceives it often explains why it can escalate into ugly or it is benign.

The predominate culture along with prevalent indifference impede the ability for many to feel the hurt.  Consider the statements, “Oh it’s not that bad.” “Think of someone who has it worse.” “You’ll get over it.” “Buck up, be a man.” Few are permitted much less encouraged to feel the hurt.  We need more to teach like Dr. Christina Hibbert does in her TEARS acronym.  The theme I reiterate with my daughter is “You need to feel it in order to heal from it.”

But in our culture who wants to see their child hurt?  No one.  I stood helpless at my daughter’s bedside watching her endure the pain of the gas following her emergency appendectomy.   The doctors and nurses instructed that she needed to get walking to get the gas out. So I had to encourage her to feel the pain by getting out of bed and walk as much as she could tolerate to get the gas out.

Oh, and then how embarrassing.  She’s producing disgusting sounds and leaving behind repulsive smells as she encounters strangers walking in excruciating pain through the corridors of the hospital.  What a great analogy for what often needs to happen for us to heal our emotional wounds!

To complicate healing we live in a culture swayed strongly by marketing that drives the economy.   Society is constantly bombarded with subtle messages of what a good parent looks like that is really a hook to get you to buy something.  This has led to a generation of spoiled children who believe they are entitled to everything without having to do any work.  Check out Dr. Madeline Levine to explore further.   Also, marketing is constantly feeding us lies that if we buy this product, use this service, or take this trip then we will feel happy.

To add further,  we are so overwhelmed with what we need to know and do that we’ve become ignorant in so many ways.  How many terms did I use that you really don’t know.   And if you think you know on a conscious level do you on a subconscious level?

Let’s work at feeling, healing, growing up into mature men and women who are equipped to be real parents and youth leaders rather than fake ones like the woman who kidnapped Rapunzel and brainwashed her by isolating her in a tall tower deep within the forest.  Stop faking it.



Does every teen need to rebel?

Not all adolescents rebel nor need to. How would any of us ever survived teaching middle school if they ALL have to? lol!

This is a lie. The ones who rebel are usually the ones coming from some sort of hurting or controlling environment. Did they lose a parent due to divorce? Death? Or were the parents very controlling or never available emotionally from the start? What other trauma occurred?

Rapunzel (in Disney’s movie version) got wise advice from Flyn. She did have to rebel against her mother. For her mother was keeping her from growing up. She had isolated her and prevented her from doing so in order to meet her own selfish needs. She, the mother, never learned how to meet her needs appropriately through healthy adult relationships. She believed the only way to get those needs met was to do so through manipulative control.

Too many parents never received or experienced healthy love themselves when they were children. They only “know” how to manipulate to get what they want. Their “love” (or better lack there of) comes from their fears of being known, accepted and loved.

Love frees.  Fear controls. By which are your motivated by?