I am a Therapist

I am a therapist.

I have worked more than three decades to get where I am today.

The work I have done has allowed me to remain on this path which has helped me to achieve success and happiness so I can help others find the same degree of success and happiness.

I have worked hard to overcome difficulties in my own life to achieve the happiness in my life which I have come to enjoy.

People come to me for therapy and have unrealistic expectations.

People expect me to make changes for them. This is NOT the way this process works.

Change in the lives of others is not my responsibility. It is the responsibility of the individual seeking change.

I am simply a guide. I am the person who you approach asking for direction and support.

I am that person who you want to be open and honest with you when you ask that I provide feedback and support.

I am not that person if you are not looking for honest feedback. If you are looking for someone to lie to you about the problems which you experience in life as a result of decisions which you make, I am not that person. What you need, what you want is a friend. Most of us have had friends who tell us what we want to hear. This is NOT a friend. A friend, a true friend will provide us with honest feedback. We are lucky to have walked a path in life with at least one true friend.

I am that person when you search for honesty. I am that person who will hold a mirror to you and help you see the flaws in the process.

I am that person you hire when you realize you need more than a friend.

I am that person when you search for honesty. I am that person who will help you search for honesty. I am that person who will help you identify and find the path which you desire to make the changes which you decide need to be made to achieve the happiness for which you have been searching.

Our life, your life is one in which we have the opportunity to either stop reading or to make the changes we desire to make to come to a happier ending.

I am that person.


Black Friday

I slept well last night until I rose at 2:30 AM to use the bathroom. I looked out the window and wandered back to bed. Sleep did not find me as easily as it did when I first retreated to bed. Thoughts on my daughter’s predicament danced through my head. After tossing for the next 30-minutes  and focusing on my breathing, sleep finally found me again.

I rose, showered, made coffee and drove with Marissa and Chase to the Buffalo Science Museum. We spent the next four hours looking at many of the exhibits and watching Chase partake in all of the hands-on activities. It’s always rewarding to watch him play. Even when my kids were small I found more joy in watching their exploration of their surroundings. Watching Marrisa engage with him also brought a smile of joy.

I kept my distance and at times found myself sitting by myself, by choice. Thoughts of her predicament and trying to manage my thoughts regarding her life decisions kept me occupied sometimes staring blankly into space. I wonder about her decisions and hope medication and counseling will assist her. My role as a social worker causes me to struggle because like the relationship with my clients, I also cannot fix her problems. Watching her encourage Chase helped bring me back.

We returned home and I sat outside with a cigar enjoying the solitude.

Temperatures today reached 51 degrees which is unseasonably warm for November 24th. I become lost in thought about all of the things for which I am thankful. It is 5:40 PM. Daylight is fading fast, but before it leaves, there is a reminder of the beauty which graced us today. Fading sunlight backlights the clouds with brilliant oranges, which, as they continue to fade change to bright pink.


I could not think of a better way to spend “Black Friday.”



I greet you with hands clasped together in gratitude for being given another opportunity to grace this earth. For being able to take another breath and enjoy the things in my life which brings a smile to my face. For my eyes and being allowed to see my beautiful wife, children and grandchildren and whatever else graces my view throughout the day.

I have spent quite a bit of time in thought thinking about how I spent this past Sunday. I was on call for Crisis Services. Despite this and my usual Pavlovian response as I nervously wait for my phone to ring; I decided to relax and spend the day the way I wanted to spend it. When I’m on-call I make no concrete plans because a call can come in at any time. As I grow older I see less and less value in filling each day with concrete plans. There are things which need to be done, tasks which need to be completed. Those will get done for there is little which needs to get done at that moment. I found the world will not cease turning if something is left undone.

Jack and I rose and we went for our usual Sunday morning walk. Before returning to the inside of the house, we perched ourselves on the front porch and based in the solitude of the morning. There is, for me no other time of day which brings so much joy. The morning paper was where it is normally tossed by the delivery read and the CBS Sunday Morning News was watched. There remained two cups of coffee in my thermos. I chose to take those outside and sit. To simply sit.

The morning paper was where it is normally tossed by the delivery person. It sat protected in its orange cocoon protecting it from the elements which may have otherwise disturbed my ability to read its contents with some modicum of joy. Jack watched as I ground beans for my morning coffee. As his eyesight fails at his age of 15-years, his eyes grow cloudy with cataracts, he thinks he is going to be fed again. I allow him to smell the freshly ground beans. he takes a quick sniff and turns his head away in obvious disgust as he realizes this treat is not for him. read and the CBS Sunday Morning News was watched. There remained two cups of coffee in my thermos. I chose to take those outside and sit. To simply sit. I have this new coffee an Instagram friend suggested I try. Don’t tell my friends at Death Wish coffee, but I really enjoy this smooth taste. All of the information if you’d like to find them on the Internet and give them a try is right on the bag.


For those of us who reside in the year 2017, sitting and doing nothing is difficult. We all know this and many of agree using one of the excuses which make every hair stand on end; “I just don’t have the time!” First of all, this is Bullshit!!!! We have nothing but time. It is all in how we choose to spend the time we have. So, when done correctly, the ability to sit and do nothing productive, is, in fact, a momentous achievement. There are some people who see me doing nothing as defined in their terms because whatever activity in which I am engaging does not fit their definition of productivity. These are the people who would disagree with me. That’s too bad because I find reading, lying in my hammock, playing with my grandson, writing, smoking a cigar and drinking a couple fingers of a good whiskey are being productive.


In the past, I had struggled with sitting quietly alone. I felt like I need to be in perpetual motion. It seems as though the minute I sit my brain begins to wander. My eyes also wander. I begin to see things around the house which may or may not require my attention. Most certainly those things do not require my attention at that time. My son joined me. We both noted it had taken him 4 hours to clean his car inside and out. It’s not that the car was that dirty, it’s that he stopped several times, sat and we talked.

I have a salve for my spirit. It comes in the form of silence, of solitude. When I am physically able to run, it comes in the solitude which I feel during a run and which accompanies my spirit for some time after the run has concluded. It also comes in the form of reading, journaling and smoking a good cigar. My entire professional life I have found myself chained to a calendar and a clock. Questions abound such as “Do I have enough time to do this or that?” These things have resulted in a perpetual feeling of anxiety; of being on-edge. When I apply the salve, which ever one I have chosen, the grip which anxiety has had on me begins to weaken. The difficulty arises when I do not apply the salve as often as is recommended. When I neglect an application, I feel out of place. My mind wanders and guilt, self-imposed guilt reenters or should I say I allow it to reenter. I regret now not doing more in my work life to disrupt that configuration.

Try it sometime. You might actually become addicted to “not doing anything productive.”


The walk

I rose, my legs needing to move; feeling restless. I could not stand to sit any longer. I walked to the picture window, parted the drapes and watched as the sun began to slowly inch its way toward the horizon. I asked her if she wanted to go for a walk. She said “Yes.” We reached for our jackets and met at the car.

We drove silently for the Niagara River and the river walk which snakes its way along the contours of the river’s edge.


We walked, hand in hand. Words were not exchanged; none were needed. I felt the pressure on my hand increasing as she gently squeezed it. I gently squeezed back. this was all that needed to be said. We walked the path, the setting sun warming our shoulders. It would be dark soon. I stopped and she took two more steps before our hands strained at the pressure. She stopped and looked at me. She smiled and asked, “What?” I said nothing as I pulled her to me, held her by the hips and kissed her on the forehead. I pulled back slightly and gazed into her smiling eyes. Every care in the world melted away in those few moments. The world could have collapsed around us and it would not have mattered. We were together and that was all that mattered.


What the F*^ck?!

I greet you this day with arms outstretched in gratitude. It is this gratitude which is keeping me sane right now.

I woke this morning in a good mood. I made coffee, showered and walked the dog. The sky was gray with a hint of sun sneaking through just above the horizon. The weather forecast promised more sun and as I made the drive into my office the forecast was coming true. I have a general belief that we as a race of human beings are ultimately good people. I see goodness but sometimes I need to work extra hard to see even the

I have this problem in life; I follow rules. I’m not sure why I do it (sarcasm) because it seems that the majority of the world doesn’t believe it’s important to follow the rules.

I drove to work and less than two miles from my house I noticed a tailgater. Now I’m driving the speed limit through a school zone and this moron passes me. I forgot to mention there was also a double yellow line. The hits just kept on coming. The next moron was a tailgater through a construction zone and then another moron forces me to slam on my brakes as she, whoops, did I just say she, took off out of a parking lot and cut me off almost forcing the car behind me to see what the backseat of a Honda Element is live. There was a time when I enjoyed loved getting into my car and simply driving. many times there was no specific destination in mind. I just wanted to drive. I loved the freedom of going where I wanted to go when I wanted to go, to see and experience things around me. That love, I feel has been snatched away from me, from many of us. Very few of us are mindful enough within our daily lives to ewnjoy the simplicity that life can be. Instead we complicate things with our ouwn special brand of self-importance.

This is a piece I found from Waylon Lewis.

“I am sad because this world seems to be full of ‘wisdom’ that tells us to reject ourselves, to be something other, something better. I am sad because our culture demands palm oil, plastic, speed, sex…without regard for compassion, for love, for justice. 
I am sad because we have heard all this before, and our reaction is to escape, to relax into depression instead of relaxing into cheerfulness, into doing something about it. I am sad because ‘People watch Netflix more than they hang out with their friends, exercise, and read—combined.’ But, yet, I am heartened because community still matters. I have so many friends who show up and speak with passion, yet kindness. I am heartened because I—tired and defeated as I am, sometimes—will rise again tomorrow, and greet the day, and work hard again. I am heartened because there is so much kindness, and gentleness, and honesty, in so many corners of this world where greed and environmental aggression have not yet made their way. 
I am heartened because of you. You who care enough to read, and contemplate, and learn, and write, and share, and lead lives of mindful bravery. Good luck out there, sweethearts!” ~ Waylon Lewis 

This life that we all have been granted an opportunity to live can be an amazingly beautiful thing if we would simply choose to slow down and actually “live” this life.

whatmakes people


How to Feel Happier During an Unhappy Time

This is republished from Gretchen Rubin.

Sometimes, it’s not possible — or at least not easy — to feel happy. However, it’s sometimes possible to feel happier. Here are some strategies to consider:

1. Remind yourself of reasons to be grateful. When things look really dark, it’s hard to feel grateful, but remembering what’s good in your life can help put problems into perspective. I have a friend who recently suffered a big disappointment at work. She said to me, “As long as my family is healthy, I can’t get too upset about anything.”

2. Remember your body. Take a twenty-minute walk outside to boost your energy and dissolve stress. Don’t let yourself get too hungryGet enough sleep. Manage pain. It’s very tempting to run yourself ragged trying to deal with a crisis, but in the long run, you just wear yourself out.

3. Do something fun. Temporarily distract yourself from the stress, and re-charge your battery, with an enjoyable activity. Watching a funny movie is a reliable way to give yourself a pleasant break, and listening to your favorite music is one of the quickest ways to change your mood. When my older daughter was in the intensive-care unit as a newborn, my husband dragged me off to a movie one afternoon — and that few hours of distraction made me much better able to cope with the situation. Be careful, however, not to “treat” yourself by doing something that’s eventually going to make you feel worse (taking up smoking again, drinking too much, indulging in retail therapy). My comfort-food activity is reading children’s literature.

4. Take action. If you’re in a bad situation, take steps to bring about change. If you’re having trouble with your new boss, you could decide to try to transfer. Or you could change your behavior. Or you could find ways to pay less attention to your boss. Ask yourself, “What exactly is the problem?” It’s astounding to me that often, when I take time to identify a problem exactly, a possible solution presents itself.

5. Look for meaning. Re-frame an event to see the positive along with the negative. Maybe getting fired will give you the push you need to move to the city where you’ve always wanted to live. Maybe your illness has strengthened your relationships with your family. You don’t need to be thankful that something bad has happened, but you can try to find positive consequences even in a catastrophic event. Here are some examples.

6. Connect with friends and family. Strong relationships are a KEY to happiness, so fight the impulse to isolate yourself. Show up. Make plans. Ask for help, offer your help to others.

7. Make something better. If something in your life has gotten worse, try to make something else better – and it doesn’t have to be something important. Clean a closet. Organize your photographs. Work in the yard.

8. Act toward other people the way you wish they’d act toward you. If you wish your friends would help you find someone to date, see if you can fix up a friend. If you wish people would help you find a job, see if you can help someone else find a job. If you can’t think of a way to help someone you know, do something generous in a more impersonal way. For instance: commit to being an organ donor! When you’re feeling very low, it can be hard to muster the energy to help someone else, but you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel. Do good, feel good; it really works.

By taking whatever steps you can, you give yourself a deeper reservoir to deal with your happiness challenge. What other strategies have you used to make yourself happier during an unhappy time?


A few years back my son, wanting to save a few dollars on his daily commute to his summer job found a scooter for sale. To his mother’s chagrin, i accompanied him to look at the scooter and supported him when he expressed a desire to complete the purchase. Eighteen months later and the same scooter, a 2004 Yamaha Zuma had fallen into disinterest. The scooter sat in my garage becoming a shelf and closet for whatever it might hold. Never did I imagine it was through this threshold that I would meet such an amazing individual.

I urged my son to put an ad in the paper or on Craigslist and sell it. It didn’t sell and my son, while a great kid has a nasty streak causing him to procrastinate more than what I find acceptable. My wife, expressing a desire to have garage sale, suggested we try and sell it at the garage sale. The nonbeliever in me said, “Go for it! It’s your garage sale.” The morning of the second day this guy walks up the driveway. he brings with him a friend who I later come to know as David Smithers. I was sitting in my backyard reading and trying to tolerate the humidity when I heard David’s youthful (aged 79) exuberance. He was out of sight from where I was sitting but I know and English accent when I hear one. The conversation between David and my wife began to turn toward motorcycles, Triumph is David’s ride of choice, and the price of petrol in pounds per liter. I was intrigued and rose to meet David who I had come to find out  was not interested in the scooter but had come with his friend Mark. 

Mark expressed an interest but I didn’t believe he would follow through. When he called and arrived to make an offer he again brought with him his friend David. This time David engaged me in a conversation and in his friendly, free-wheeling style began to tell me the story of the friend he has been looking for since the two had met over fifty years ago.

This is a warm and beautiful story. It’s a story of friendship, love, hope and perseverance. A story of what, in my opinion friendship should be.

I’m not sure if David will ever attain his goal of finding his long lost friend but something tells me the friendships he has made along the way will offer him some level of comfort in his search.

I am going to let Jane Kwiatowski tell the story in an article which was printed in the Buffalo New in 2004

I hope you enjoy this amazing story of friendship as much as I did.

To appreciate this story, one must first understand David Smithers, his passion for life, his penchant for making friends and the resolve that has brought this gritty Brit across an ocean to Buffalo in search of a wartime friend.

“Maybe Bob’s getting old now,” Smithers said. “Surely he must have some sons or daughters or someone like that who can tell me something. I do know that he loved Buffalo. He never stopped talking about Buffalo and his girlfriend. I just would like, in my mind, to know: “Bob, are you in Buffalo? Are you alive? I want to say hello to you. I have never forgotten our friendship.’ “

Smithers met Robert E. Drimmer in a hospital during the Korean War some five decades ago. The two young men were stationed in Pusan, South Korea – Smithers with the British Army and Drimmer with the U.S. Army. At the time they met, Smithers was visiting a friend in the same ward as Drimmer. When the friend was released, Smithers continued going to the hospital every other day to visit Drimmer, who was being treated for a stomach ailment.

“I was 19 and he was 25,” Smithers said. “He was quite clever, a nice guy, and we talked of things to do when we got home. I told him about England. He told me about America. We became good friends. Would you look for someone all this time if you were not his good friend?

“I told Bob that one day, I would walk up his garden path to knock on his door because I promised I would do it. I absolutely will never ever forget that to the day I die. He lived then in Buffalo, N.Y., and he had a girlfriend here. For years, I’ve been thinking about seeing Bob.”

Smithers went on to join the British Merchant Navy, married and started a family, yet the memory of the friendship that formed between the two veterans remains strong. His visit this month marks the fourth time the 70-year-old veteran has traveled to Buffalo, part of a search that he started in earnest in 1960. He’s scoured telephone books, explored library archives, petitioned veterans’ groups – all in search of the man who touched his life so many years ago.

“I took him to be a very very clean-living man,” Smithers recalls. “The reason I say this is because I also had some friends who were American Marines. When I went out with them, it was a totally different situation – womanizing and beer drinking. Me and Bob would have a drink and we would talk a lot about Buffalo. We were supposed to keep in touch, but I lost his address because I then went into hospital.”

As he sits on a bench near the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park, he tells about his six children, his hobby of Chinese cooking and of life in Bournemouth, a coastal town in southern England with seven miles of beaches. He usually wears a Union Jack pin on his collar, Smithers explains, but on this day he is dressed “young.” Golden medallions, chunky rings and a flat cap dress up this European vacationer – not to mention a sea of tattoos on his arms.

Seated by his side is Mark Prine, a new friend discovered in the City of Good Neighbors. At age 32, Prine coaches football at Seneca High School. The Buffalo native recalls his parents repeatedly chiding him for talking to strangers, but that didn’t stop him from engaging Smithers in conversation in a downtown bar.

It was summer of 2000, and Smithers – only hours in Buffalo – was coming off a rough night in a dirty hotel room where a woman offered him a rubdown and the television looked like it came “out of the Ark.” He was scared, alone and quickly forming a bad opinion of Buffalo. When he saw Prine, he decided to strike up a conversation.

“And there he sat in his monkey suit,” Smithers recalled, “and I thought, “What a weird guy,’ in the middle of the afternoon sitting in a monkey suit drinking Southern Comfort.”

Dressed in a tuxedo for his job as a waiter, Prine had been killing time.

“He made a comment to me,” Prine said. “We started talking, and I found his story very intriguing. I was upset that Buffalo wasn’t all he thought it would be. He said he didn’t like Buffalo and that he wanted to leave. I was there to prove him wrong. I lived here my whole life and I took that as an insult, so I offered to take him to Chippewa.”

A night on the town was followed by a day at the beach, which was followed by a trip to Niagara Falls with Prine and his girlfriend. And so it began, the type of friendship Buffalonians tend to form over time.

“I wanted him to always feel comfortable coming back to Buffalo,” Prine said. “We consider him family now.”

Year after year, Smithers returns to continue the hunt for his war mate, staying with one of Prine’s relatives – new friends helping in the search for an old friend. Sometimes, they drive through Delaware Park.

“I do have that feeling that he is with us,” said Smithers. “And I do get that feeling that he still is in Buffalo. And I get strange feelings. For some reason, when we drive through that park, when I see these big houses, I think of Bob and I think that he would have done well for himself, maybe even become a lawyer or something like that.”

At one point, the search led to Florida after a call to one of the five Drimmers listed in the Buffalo phone directory yielded a Dr. Drimmer who had moved south. Smithers jumped on the lead, but as the the costs of the long-distance phone bills mounted, Smithers determined he had reached another dead end.

Drimmer would be 76 now, and Smithers realizes he must start facing the possibility that he may never again see his friend alive.

“I would be quite upset, but not terribly upset if something came of this story and I was told Bob passed away,” Smithers said. “I would go visit his grave then, put a bunch of flowers on it and say: “I told you I’d be here, buddy.”

 BY Jane Kwiatkowski – NEWS STAFF REPORTER

on August 25, 2004