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Saturday, September 24, 2016

Post #55 Sadie Hawkins Day


I will be forever grateful to Al Capp and his comic strip “Li’l Abner.”  Al Capp invented what was probably the first women’s rights movement when he started Sadie Hawkins Day in his comic strip in 1937.

Let me offer a brief introduction for those of you too young to know about Li’l Abner, Daisy Mae, and Sadie Hawkins Day.  Daisy Mae was sweet on Li’l Abner, but Li’l Abner didn’t want to get married.  However, Daisy Mae had a chance to make Li’l Abner marry her every year on Sadie Hawkins Day.  This was the day of the great race, named in honor of a woman named Sadie.  Sadie was supposedly so ugly, that her daddy had to create the race just so she could catch someone and marry him.  On Sadie Hawkins Day roles are reversed, and women are put in control.

Every single woman in Dogpatch was given the power to marry the man of her choice on this day.  She just had to catch him and drag him to Marryn’ Sam.

This fictional holiday became popular across the country.  Universities, colleges, and high schools were offering Sadie Hawkins day races, followed by a dance.

I had just moved into this small South Texas town during the summer before my Senior Year in high school.  I was shy, and didn’t know anyone at the school.  I spent most of my time in Study Hall because I had more credits than I needed.  Since I didn’t know anyone, I spent my time reading novels or studying for my classes.

There was one cute red-headed girl in one of my study halls that mistook my time spent with my nose in books for intelligence.  She thought I was studious and probably nice.

To my amazement, she asked me if I would run in the Sadie Hawkins Day race and let her chase me.

This was my first experience with Sadie Hawkins.  I knew about the fictional race because I read the funnies.  But until this time, I didn’t know that schools were actually re-enacting the race.

This was also my first time to be asked out by a girl!  I didn’t think about my answer.  I just said “Yes!”

That Friday, I showed up in old clothes.  I think everyone was supposed to look like they lived in Dogpatch.  I’m sure whatever I wore wasn’t very convincing.

We all met at the football field, the boys lined up a couple of yards ahead of the girls.  The announcer gave us the “ready, set, go!” and fired the starter pistol.

I took off toward the other end of the field.  The whole time debating whether I was supposed to really try to escape, or just kind of act like I didn’t want to get caught.

That was silly!  Of course I wanted to be caught!

The chase was short.  I think I was a bit of a disappointment because I didn’t put up a fight or act very hard to get.  As Red and I walked back to start, I watched the others.  I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why the guys were putting up such a fight!  I think some of them had to be tackled to the ground.  As I watched closer, I could tell the girls were getting really aggressive.  The guys didn’t have a chance.

After the race we all stood in a crowd around a platform that might have been the bed of somebody’s pickup.  Marryn’ Sam stood above the crowd and married all of us.  Just right then and there!  It was a mass wedding.

Red didn’t tell me until years later that it wasn’t for real.

I’m still married to her!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Post # 54 Compliments Can Become Burdens


Be wary of compliments.  Compliments are fun to receive.  They feel good at the time, but sometimes, they can be life changing.  Sometimes a compliment can be placed on you that changes the way you think about yourself, and the way you behave.  I received such a compliment in the summer of 1998.  It is a burden and an honor that haunts me to this day.

I graduated with my doctorate in 1996 and passed my state board exam in 1997.  I had been working for Boss for ten years, and was at that stage where conflict between the two of us was growing.

My degree empowered me to think about an independent future.  It was a little like going through adolescence all over.  I was full of knowledge, and it seemed like the more I knew, the less Boss knew.  He noticed, and talked to me about this.  Of course, I realized that he was right, and attempted to adjust my attitude.

Still, I wanted to leave, but knew I couldn’t because I needed Boss to supervise me for a year to become fully licensed.

Feeling trapped in a job is the quickest way to grow resentment toward that job.  I now felt trapped, and was becoming unhappy. 

With school debt added to the normal every day bills to pay, I continued to work for Boss while swallowing the desire to be somewhere else.

Then Providence stepped in.  Providence came in the form of an older, respected psychologist from a nearby town.  She invited me to start a new practice in her small non-profit center.

Providence was a strong proponent of a new treatment for mental health, especially for Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder, called Neurofeedback.  She and I had both spent time going to workshops and trainings across the country.  I had studied Neurofeedback and had written my dissertation on its use.  Providence wanted to offer this newly emerging form of treatment to her community and hoped I would come to work for her.  Providence was licensed and she was prepared to do the one-year supervision I needed.

My heart leapt for joy, but I needed to think about it.  Starting a practice is hard.  It takes a while for money to start coming in.  A contract from somewhere might make a difference. 

I contacted the school district where I was about to start my practice.  Practice Town School was interested, and understood that I could start in two weeks.

With support from Wife, I (actually, WE), took a huge leap of faith.  Despite young children, car payments, a house payment, and despite a student loan that probably wouldn’t get paid until I was 75, I agreed to work with Providence.

I was nervous as I walked into Boss’s office the next day and gave him my two weeks’ notice.

Boss gave me two hours to move out of my office.

My anxiety morphed into anger.   

My friends from the office were saying sad goodbyes as I packed my things.  In the middle of all of this commiseration, I was told I had a phone call. 

Practice Town school didn’t want to wait for two weeks.  They wanted me tomorrow!

My anger evaporated.  I was smiling while my friends continued their angry glares toward Boss’s office.

 

***

 

My practice took off.  It grew, and I eventually had a practice that was larger than I had ever thought I wanted.

The summer after I started working at the nonprofit center, I thanked Providence for helping me to get launched in my own practice.  Then I asked her “Why did you ask me to come to Practice Town?  There were others who could have done this for you.”

Her response surprised me.

“Because you have integrity.”

I was stunned.  I’d never thought about myself in this manner before. 

“You have integrity.” 

That is both a compliment that I value, and a goal that I now feel obligated to live up to.

“Integrity.”

This revered old psychologist knighted me with this label one hot summer day in the cramped quarters of my office in an old house that was serving as offices for a nonprofit counseling center.  It was the humblest of settings, yet I will always remember her words. 

Those words guided me as I built my practice.  They were with me as I greeted each new client, and every time I went before a judge to testify.  I will always remember that summer. 

I will always strive to live up to Providence’s expectation.

This compliment could have become a burden.  In truth, it is an honor that I hope I always remember.