Tag Archives: Memphis

Healthy Boundaries

According to the book Boundaries and Relationships by Charles Whitfield, M.D., healthy boundaries are NOT:
Set for us by others
Hurtful or harmful
Controlling or manipulative
Invasive or dominating
Rigid and immovable

Healthy boundaries ARE:
present
appropriate
clear
firm
protective
flexible
receptive.
determined by US
How to Develop Boundaries

An important first step in developing healthy boundaries is to get acquainted with, and take ownership, of your true self. This is essential before healthy boundaries can be set and maintained. As adults, we are responsible for the decisions we make in life. We have freedom to respond, to make choices, and to limit the way others’ behavior affects us. As a “free agent”, we can take responsibility for our freedom by setting boundaries, or borders, between ourselves and those around us. Some people refuse to set boundaries because they see them as selfish. Others actually use them to be selfish. Both are wrong. Boundaries are about self-control.

According to the authors, John Townsend and Henry Cloud, there are ten laws of boundaries:

The Law of Sowing and Reaping – Actions have consequences. If someone in your life is sowing anger, selfishness, and abuse at you, are you setting boundaries against it? Or are they getting away with not reaping (or paying the consequences for) what he/she sowed?

The Law of Responsibility – We are responsible TO each other, not FOR each other. This law means that each person refuses to rescue or enable another’s immature behavior.

The Law of Power – We have power over some things, we don’t have power over others (including changing people). It is human nature to try to change and fix others so that we can be more comfortable. We can’t change or fix anyone – but we do have the power to change our own life.

The Law of Respect – If we wish for others to respect our boundaries, we need to respect theirs. If someone in your life is a rager, you should not dictate to him/her all the reasons that they can’t be angry. A person should have the freedom to protest the things they don’t like. But at the same time, we can honor our own boundary by telling them, “Your raging at me is not acceptable to me. If you continue to rage, I will have to remove myself from you.”

The Law of Motivation – We must be free to say “no” before we can wholeheartedly say “yes”. One cannot actually love another if he feels he doesn’t have a choice not to. Pay attention to your motives.

The Law of Evaluation – We need to evaluate the pain our boundaries cause others. Do our boundaries cause pain that leads to injury? Or do they cause pain that leads to growth?

The Law of Proactivity – We take action to solve problems based on our values, wants, and needs. Proactive people keep their freedom and they disagree and confront issues but are able to do so without getting caught up in an emotional storm. This law has to do with taking action based on deliberate, thought-out values versus emotional reactions.

The Law of Envy – We will never get what we want if we focus our boundaries onto what others have. Envy is miserable because we’re dissatisfied with our state yet powerless to change it. The envious person doesn’t set limits because he is not looking at himself long enough to figure out what choices he has.

The Law of Activity – We need to take the initiative to solve our problems rather than being passive. In a dysfunctional relationship, sometimes one person is active and the other is passive. When this occurs, the active person will dominate the passive one. The passive person may be too intimidated by the active one to say no. This law has to do with taking initiative rather than being passive and waiting for someone else to make the first move.

The Law of Exposure – We need to communicate our boundaries. A boundary that is not communicated is a boundary that is not working. We need to make clear what we do or do not want, and what we will or will not tolerate. We need to also make clear that every boundary violation has a consequence. A boundary without a consequence is nagging.
Putting It All Together

Untreated individuals with personality disorders are dependent on the compliance of others. They resist boundaries in an effort to control, manipulate, and dominate. Non’s sometimes use boundaries in an effort to control, manipulate, and dominate too. For example, we might be tempted to tell someone “You can NOT rage at me”, or “You can NOT say cruel things to me.” These aren’t examples of boundaries, these are examples of a Non’s effort to control someone else’s behavior. A healthy boundary is, “When you rage at me, I feel threatened. I am going to leave (the room, the house, etc.) until such time we can communicate calmly.” The other person is free to rage to his/her heart’s content, but you don’t have to sit there and absorb all their anger and rage. If you are saying to yourself, “Why should I have to leave the room? They should have to stop raging!”, you are looking at boundaries backwards. You are taking the same approach as one would take who says, “Oh no, my house is on fire and is engulfed in flames. I’m standing at the front door but I’m not going to leave the house because my new sprinkling system will turn on an put out the flames.” Are you waiting for someone or something else to make a move so you don’t have to? Are you willing to take a chance of getting burned? Don’t do it.

Boundaries are all around us. We come across them every day. Cars have theft-deterrent devices to prevent someone from stealing your car. Homes have deadbolts or locks to prevent someone else from invading your home and removing your possessions. Your office desk has a lock to prevent theft. Your locker at the club has a lock to keep your valuables safe. If your personal property is protected against theft, but you find yourself feeling like your emotional well-being is being stolen from you, then it’s time to take steps to learn how to set boundaries so that your emotional well-being can be kept under lock and key.

Think about it. We go to a lot of effort and spend a lot of money to protect our material possessions – yet we often do little to protect ourselves. Aren’t you worth more than all of your possessions?

In order for boundaries to be effective, you need to approach it with the right mindset. Recognize that you must take personal responsibility for your own well-being.

Whether you end up staying in close relationship or not, learning how to set healthy boundaries is one of the very best things you can do to ensure that you don’t end up in a dysfunctional dance again with someone else.

Lose attachment to expectations and outcomes. Don’t sound or be needy. Be happy on my own and with or without sex. Be happy with myself. Become detached from the outcome. Who am I? Do I need this? I am responsible for my feelings and emotions and no one else’s.
Be happy on your own.

Abusive relationships produce a great amount on unhealthy investment in both parties. In many cases we tend to remain and support the abusive relationship due to our investment in the relationship. Try telling a new Marine that since he or she has survived boot camp, they should now enroll in the National Guard! Several types of investments keep us in the bad relationship:

Emotional Investment – We’ve invested so many emotions, cried so much, and worried so much that we feel we must see the relationship through to the finish.
Social Investment – We’ve got our pride! To avoid social embarrassment and uncomfortable social situations, we remain in the relationship.
Family Investments – If children are present in the relationship, decisions regarding the relationship are clouded by the status and needs of the children.
Financial Investment – In many cases, the controlling and abusive partner has created a complex financial situation. Many victims remain in a bad relationship, waiting for a better financial situation to develop that would make their departure and detachment easier.
Lifestyle Investment – Many controlling/abusive partners use money or a lifestyle as an investment. Victims in this situation may not want to lose their current lifestyle.
Intimacy Investment – We often invest emotional and sexual intimacy. Some victims have experienced a destruction of their emotional and/or sexual self-esteem in the unhealthy relationship. The abusing partner may threaten to spread rumors or tell intimate details or secrets. A type of blackmail using intimacy is often found in these situations.

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Shrimp Ettouffee ala JK

Ah, the joys of New Orleans! I have to admit that I have an affinity for this cuisine as I was raised on the Mississippi River which connects North to South and runs through Memphis. Growing up, I had the best of the city and the country, a bit like in the movie “A River Runs Through It”. Couple that with a good John Grisham novel and there you have it. Court Square in Memphis was a nice relaxing place in the middle of downtown, close to Symphony Hall and right across from Goldsmiths which Is now Macy’s.
Times change, people grow and I have the memories. When I begin to prepare this dish, I think of Willie Mae, our maid, that raised me in Memphis, Beale Street and a nice laid back afternoon.

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Reflections

Coming from an educational standpoint, it’s not necessarily the teacher’s complete responsibility to guide each and every student to the trough of knowledge and wisdom, that responsibility lies in the laps of the parents and families of the children also, perhaps more than the teachers themselves. My personal educational experiences are a more hands on approach than sitting in lectures about methodologies and pedagogy.
There is a very old adage, “You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink!”Well, for me, I would drink, but I’m not a horse, I don’t think I am at least, but then, I had the want to know feeling about who and what I am and how I can impact myself and the world around me. There is a wonderful experience in my life, studying with a great mentor, perhaps an icon of artistry and intellect, Mr. Robert Marcellus.

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Beef and Sausage Gumbo

Way down yonder in New Orleans, the gumbo be good! I been making this gumbo for a long time and it good. So good in fact that it don’t take no hot sauce because it be plenty spicy.
There is a difference between Creole and Cajun cooking. The Creole is a combination of French, Spanish and American Indian cuisines and was developed in New Orleans. The Cajun style is from the bayous of Louisiana.
First off, for any good Creole or Cajun dish like this one has to make a good roux. The standard is one to one on the oil and the flour. I use everything from bacon grease, corn oil to butter and even use some of the fat from the roast in this one to give it an extra punch. To make the roux, I use a black cast iron skillet on medium to medium low heat. Heat the oil and for this one I used ¾ cup of oil to ¾ cup flour. The oil was a mix of bacon grease, beef fat and corn oil. Stir the mix frequently or use a whisk for about 30 minutes and don’t try to speed it up. It should be a medium to dark brown for that extra flavor.

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Presbyterians and How We Believe

When comparing Scripture passages, some apparent contradictions will emerge. Such dilemmas are usually solved when each passage is studied in its own context.

Ultimately the topic needs to be considered in the context of the broadest biblical themes. Special weight ought to be given to the “rule of love”—that is, “How does this passage help the reader better fulfill Scripture’s highest law to ‘Love your Lord with all your heart, your soul, your mind, and your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself?’”

(4) Finally, we should hear the text through the voices of the church through the centuries. The work of many scholars’ interpretations can inform our study as we read their commentaries, study guides, and theological treatises. The church’s Confessions are also essential.

Living faithfully

Even after the best and most thorough study is done, we must all acknowledge mysteries we cannot hope to fathom in our mortal lifetimes. For now “we know only in part . . . . we see in a mirror, dimly” (1 Cor. 13:9, 12). Until that day when such things are revealed, grace must rule our hearts as we seek to remain unified in those things we know to be true.

Ultimately, the best biblical student is the one who not only seeks to understand but also is committed to applying the message of Scripture. “Be doers of the Word, and not merely hearers,” says the writer James (1:22). May it be so for all of us! And may it be that by doing the Word, we will fight a little less and love a little.

Presbyterian beliefs

Messiaen and the Quaret

In my life I have been around some amazing people and heard their stories. This man, Olivier Messiaen and a personal friend of his, Jean Langlais befriended me on a performance trip to Europe in the eighties I made. The “Quartet for the End of Time” was a piece I had heard and thought it to be way outside my boundaries both on technical and artistic aspects. However, when I heard his and Jean’s story, they inspired me to move beyond my self-imposed boxes and explore different realities in interpretation and performance.
I was not aware of the life history of Olivier but I found out as he shared with me about the conditions around the composing of the Quartet and that sharing was so powerful to me that I made a decision to tackle that work. At the same time, there was another influence in my life, a young artist named Marshall Fine, who saw the potential in me and pushed me to look outside my personal boundaries and become the artist that was trapped inside me.
There is another work that is performed a lot by Charles-Marie Widor, one of the mentors of Olivier, the Widor Toccatta. It’s a powerful, fantastic work and every time I hear it here in Houston, I go to a different place mentally and remember.
Today, as I am preparing these pieces again, I feel very blessed to be surrounded not only with memories but with amazing artists and composers. Paul Pellay, Don Freund, Marshall Fine, John Bell, William Shumann, Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, John Rutter, William Matthias, John Williams and the list is endless it seems. I did attempt to communicate with J.S. Bach but he was decomposing at the time and it didn’t go well. Maybe another day…..(smile).
“Jere Douglas, Founder of the Parlor Project, is the premier Arts Experiences Curator. He empowers us to see and live life as an art form! Through the Parlor Project, he connects professional artists and musicians to rabid professional arts lovers, their organic fan-base. As the Man in the Penguin Suit, Jere curates multi-sensory artistic experiences that challenge staid traditions in the arts and antiquated concepts in arts presentation. In a powerful combination of access, interaction and adventure the Parlor Project puts a human face to the marvelous sounds that people hear and provides an opportunity for its members to explore their creativity in all aspects of life.”
Jere

Kentucky Butter Cake

Yes, I am a Southern boy by birth and heritage!  I make this cake usually for the holidays but am seeing how it can top off my mornings on the patio in Houston.  This butter cake is rich and yet with that morning coffee puts a cinnamon roll to shame.

The ingredients are quite traditional and yet create a masterpiece to me.

3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup real butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoon vanilla extract

BUTTER SAUCE
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a bundt pan. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
Cream: 1 cup butter, 2 cups sugar for about 5 minutes. When the mixture is smooth enough, blend in eggs one at a time.
Mix the buttermilk and vanilla together and alternately buttermilk and flour mixture into creamed mixture.
Pour the mixture in your bundt pan and bake for 1 hour.
Butter Sauce: In medium sauce pan on medium heat mix sugar, water and butter, bring to low boil , stirring until sugar is dissolved, add vanilla.

When cake is still very hot, leave in bundt pan, poke small holes in top
Drizzle the butter sauce over cake.  Let it soak in and you are in for a treat!
Yum Yum and with a good cup of coffee or espresso, it can be transcendent!

 

An Experience with Maestro Alan Balter

Behind The Ligature

Maestro Alan Balter, My Teacher and Friends

Alan Balter, Musician, Mathematician, Conductor, Maestro, a Wonderful Human Being!  Working with Alan was never dull or boring, always a new adventure each and every day. 

Beginning with a couple of lessons when he was at the San Francisco Conservatory and I was still in the First Marine Division Band and carrying forward to Memphis, Tennessee, it was a decade of improvement and exploration without parallel. 

Most did not know of Alan’s expertise on the computer or of his double degree in Mathematics, an ideal combination for any musician or any other field of endeavor.  At his home in Memphis, we would work with the clarinet and the piano for hours and adjourn to his study for a bit of enlightenment on the computer and learning DOS from a true Master. 

During his performing career, Alan had a bout with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, which caused issues with his ability to produce…

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Banana Crumb Muffins

Casa Ukitena

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 bananas, mashed
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease 10 muffin cups, or line with muffin papers.
In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. Cut in 1 tablespoon butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over muffins.
Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted…

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