Sunday 13th June 2021

Knowing.19/51. #LifeThisWeek. 58/2021.

Knowing.19/51. #LifeThisWeek. 58/2021.

From time to time, bloggers will invite a guest to write a post for their blog. I have done just that. I asked the man I married if he would  like to be the one who wrote on this optional prompt of ‘knowing’…his response was a resounding yes and so I emailed him (we do that, do you?) the questions.

Now, he is a considered and very well-read person with impeccable manners. He took his time to write this post and I said, the only thing I will do is ‘spell-check’. And that is exactly what happened.

Oh and he got to OK the photos I chose to use.

One thing before I hand over, living with and loving the man for over 50 years is a comfort and a challenge. And between us, we continue to learn about ourselves too. Not bored. Ever.

Thank you B.

 

Knowing. A blog post with Bernard responding to questions about his work, life and counselling.

 

What would you like the readers to know about you?

  • I am white, male, middle-class and therefore, harbour biases that I need to be alert to when interacting with others.
  • I am a contemporary phenomenon coming from a rare and unique background as the fifth child in a family of 13 children! Yes, that’s correct, THIRTEEN kids all sired by the same good Catholic parents! I have no doubt there are many other males who could lay claim to having fathered more than thirteen children. They probably are just not aware of many of them!
  • I have been married to the same super woman for more than fifty years and have never felt any desire to change that status; nor have I ever done anything that may threaten it.
  • The accomplishment that swells my soul with the greatest pride and joy has been to contribute to the reproduction of two excellent children and eight glorious grandchildren. These ten human beings, I am very proud to boast, are all examples of mum nature’s finest achievements. While they sometimes bring tears of despair to their humble parents/grandparents, the joy they return is incalculable!

 

How did you know that you would like to help others?

 Given my DNA, I think it may have been a pre-determined role that I was locked into from the moment I crashed to earth. Growing up with so many siblings provided very limited opportunity for putting self first. So, it was incumbent on each member to be a good listener and ‘helper’ or suffer the consequences! So, I acquired the answer to that question at a very early age.

 

What specific knowledge was required for your training?

  • Teaching: Combined College and University training. The prime value of this “time to join the real world” came from the exciting discoveries that socialising brings to the young and naïve adult. The ‘how to effectively teach and manage a school’ began the moment I first set foot in the playground of my first appointment. At the ripe old age of 18 I found myself as Teacher- in-Charge of a one-teacher school out of Narrabri. The school had an enrolment of 41, 10 of whom were secondary students. Fortunately, the kids loved music almost as much as I did!

Wow! What a steep – almost perpendicular – learning curve!!

But, I loved the challenge and managed to survive!!!

  • Cabinet-making: On-the-job training. Cabinet-making was the outcome of medical retirement from teaching as a result of chronic pain from spinal disease. It was good therapy!
  • Counselling: Combined university and Lifeline training. I found working with clients to help them become unstuck and return to greater contentment in their lives, greatly rewarding, it was marred by incompetent supervision. What a shame!

 

 Were there skills that you needed to learn?

 There was a myriad of skills that needed to be learned in all three of these pursuits.

  • Firstly, it should be said, there must be a willingness and openness to learning whatever skills are needed to fully enhance delivery of the service. Some of these already existed as a result of previous life experience and some were mutually beneficial between services. I refer to basic social skills built out of desirable human values such as kindness and compassion, empathy, tolerance, understanding, generosity of spirit, etc. Many more needed to be learned, especially manual skills relevant to building.

 

  • So, all three services rely heavily on the development of effective oracy (especially active listening) and literacy skills. Obviously, the ability to communicate effectively is a skill that is of paramount relevance to all, especially counselling and teaching. Contemporary society would also demand a desirable level of knowledge and skill in the new world of Information Technology. Fortunately, I was largely untouched by this beast!

 

  • Then, there are the many skills that are of specific relevance. For example, apart from being able to communicate well, running a cabinet-making business requires a broad range of business and management skills, to say nothing of the manual skills, that underpin the effective delivery of such a service.

 

  • All these skills I am very grateful for, as they have contributed greatly to the quality of life that I now enjoy.

 

 How has being a counsellor impacted your life?

 

Of all the above career pursuits, counselling has had the greatest impact on my life – a strange outcome when it was the pursuit that I spent least time pursuing.

  • However, counselling, through its skills, provided the opportunity to offer other human beings the love of listening and of taking them seriously – a rarity for some, especially women. It was a real honour to be permitted to engage in an intimate experience in which I was given open access to the secrets of clients’ tortured souls as we worked together to free them from the manacles that had them chained to an unpleasant time in their lives.

 

  • Relationship dysfunction demands the most attention. This might include a cry for help to improve emotional regulation that may have expressed itself as an inability to manage anger that is violently disrupting domestic equanimity or dysfunction resulting from the loss of loved ones. Complex trauma emanating from abuse or exposure to traumatic experience needs help to resolve as does the very broad problems associated with depression and anxiety.

 

  • The needs range is extensive but rarely does the dysfunction not affect relationships, especially the relationship we have with ourselves. Whatever the reason for seeking help, the initial offering of a loving ear and non-judgmental acceptance coupled with empathetic treatment are critical to effective outcomes.

 

  • I’m happy to award counselling the prize for greatest impact as the purpose and meaning it offered has contributed most to my feeling of inner peace and contentment.

If readers wanted to know more about how to help themselves to learn more about ‘life, living and all that’ what would you suggest?

 

Well, my immediate question to that question is, “how long have you got”?

But, as I think you would like something a little more practical and hopefully helpful, here are a few suggestions.

 

  • Give yourself a break! Our most severe judgy-judgy (my wife assures me that this is the contemporary version of judgmental) critics are ourselves. We’ve got that voice or voices in our heads telling us what not to do, how not to do it, what we should be doing, etc. Whatever the thought bubble, try not to empower it by reacting emotionally. Don’t resist it for whatever we resist, persists, remembering that it is very temporary and will pass. Allow it in let your mind move from inside the thought bubble to an observer position. Then thank it but suggest you’d like to proceed the way you want to. Remember, this voice is only trying to protect us. Practise offering yourself kindness and compassion rather than harsh criticism!

 

  • Be grateful and feel it. When we genuinely feel gratitude our bodies experience a chemical release that enhances feelings of well-being. Each day practise asking, “What am I grateful for?”

 

  • Live mindfully in the present. Give the right hemisphere of the brain the opportunity to be as active as the left. We human beings, especially in Western Society where we are constantly striving for materialistic gain, are very left brain oriented. This has us flat out DOING and solving related problems. We really need to give the more reserved, quietly-spoken right hemisphere a chance to become more active and JUST BE. Right brain loves us when we live in the present with curiosity and creativity. Music that we get lost in is a great BEING activity. It’s like slumping into your favourite chair after a hard day on your feet! Practise eating your next meal mindfully, i.e. with the curiosity of a scientist allowing your sense to actively engage with the process. Observe what you smell, taste, touch, hear, etc. No digital devices permitted at the dining table!

 

  • As difficult as it is, times of hardship and pain such as illness, relationship dysfunction, etc. need to be thought about as wonderful opportunities to learn about life and enhance one’s quality of it. The more difficult and/or painful the experience the more opportunity for learning about ourselves. Practise writing about these times.

 

  • Be a good listener. How many times have you heard, “you’re not listening to me!”? If you’re like most of us when having a conversation with your partner or a friend or involved in a group talk interaction, you’re probably mentally preparing what you want to say rather than listening intently. Practise being an active listener.

 

  • Be careful not to become a digital addict. This is a very real problem for some people. It impacts our sociability as we retreat further and further into the world of social media coming to see this world as the real world. While social media is a valuable asset giving people a sense of connection that they may not have otherwise had, that connection lacks a personal dimension that nourishes our souls. It’s like the unique value breast milk has for an infant. Certainly, use your device/s as tool/s or learning aids only. Practise going out without your phone – like we used to do only a few years back!

These provide just a snapshot of possibilities

 

How did you find writing these responses?

 Refreshing, heartening and stimulating. I miss all three of my life’s career choices, especially the last!

 

Thank you Bernard. I appreciate your skills,  talents and considerably well-used active listening skills… Always! Going out without your phone? Sorry, probably can’t do that. But I hear you!! My tribute in images here.

Thank you B, for your thoughtful words in response.

I know I have benefitted from your wisdom over the years and maybe there are some pieces of information shared here for readers and bloggers to find helpful.

Denyse.

Link Up #239

Life This Week. Link Up #239

You can link up something old or new, just come on in.

* Please add just ONE post each week! NOT a link-up series of posts, thank you.

* Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not.

* Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do!

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* Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere, or on your sidebar or let others know somewhere you are linking up to this blog’s Life This Week.

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* THANK you for linking up today! Next Week’s Optional Prompt: Share Your Snaps #4. 17 May 2021

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Comments

  1. Lovely to meet Bernard, Denyse and I agree with his words of widom especially taking care not to become a digital addict which is so easy to do. You have shared a wonderful like together and I’m sure your readers but more importantly, your family will appreciate you documenting your life and also Bernard’s life. Enjoy your week. #lifethisweek

    • Bernard Whelan says:

      Thanks so much for your kind words, Sue! It is my constant endeavour to move through the week from one joyous moment to the next.
      Nice to meet you,
      Bernard.

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thanks Sue for your thoughtful words and I hope that you have “pulled up” well after yesterday’s run.

      Denyse.

  2. Why did I think it was Things I know? I’m going mad. Or did you change it?
    I love the Not bored ever comment – that’s what we should all wish for. And I really love the opening White, middle class male thus needing to be aware of our biases. I think those our age that aren’t are responsible for all the knee jerk PC gone mad attitudes. I think you sound very evolved.
    Really lovely insights and congratulations on the counselling. Helping others is probably our greatest achievement tbh.
    Lovely post!!

    • Bernard Whelan says:

      Thanks for your thoughtful response, Lydia! Wearing the white, middle class tag can be challenging. Maybe we all need to be poured into that giant melting pot to create a uniform colour. Though, that negative bias we naturally carry would, I’m sure, immediately come up with an alternative to the colour problem!

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Dear Lydia,
      I can honestly say you are not going mad…but I blame distraction. No, the prompts have been one word for all of this year.

      Loved reading your comment too.

      Cheers
      Denyse.

  3. It’s so nice to have your husband post on your blog Denyse and lovely to kinda meet you Bernard. I really enjoyed reading your post and about your three career paths. It does seem that the counselling element comes naturally to you which speaks volumes about the kind of person that you are. You are indeed a lucky woman Denyse. Lovely photos included too. You must come back and post again Bernard! Thank you.

    • Bernard Whelan says:

      Nice to meet you too, Min! With thoughtful comments such as yours, I am beginning to wish I had posted much sooner! Thank you for words that marry with Denyse’s description of you – lovely!

      • Denyse Whelan says:

        Ah Min, I did say to B we have not yet met but have known each other as bloggers for around 10 years…a long time and we do share some common likes such as art, photography and being by the water. I am very fortunate to have this man not only as my husband but on occasion, I will ask him to please put on the counsellor hat!

        Thank you for your kind words.

        Denyse.

  4. Lovely to meet you Bernard. I enjoyed reading this post and want to thank you for your suggestions and wisdom. The accompanying photos are lovely, too. Hope you and Denyse have a wonderful week. #lifethisweek

    • Bernard Whelan says:

      Thanks Natalie and it’s a pleasure to meet you too, albeit digitally. Cheers so much for taking the time to first, read the post and then, to comment. Take care and be safe.

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thank you Natalie. I am glad Bernard’s post was of interest.

      Cheers,

      Denyse.

  5. I’ve been looking forward to this post and it didn’t disappoint! It was lovely to virtually meet Bernard and in particular, I appreciated his sage advice. Now I’m keen to know if he’ll be a regular guest poster or will this site turn into a Mr and Mrs blog?! You two certainly make a great team!

    • Thank you, Sammie, for your very kind words. I have virtually met you a few years back when Denyse was enduring her major surgery. As far as being a “regular” guest poster is concerned, I am very dubious. There will certainly not be a Mr and Mrs Blog!
      Hope your thyroid feeling a little less fractious!

      • Denyse Whelan says:

        Hi Sammie,

        Bernard remembers your kindness well from 2017. Thank you. And no, we are both resolute, no Mr and Mrs Blog.

        Cheers

        Denyse.
        PS I must explain to him about the ‘thyroid’ and that it’s gone far far away. x

  6. Very cool to have your husband post. I found it very cool. Thanks for hosting and I hope that you have a wonderful week.

  7. Oh Denyse (& B) this was lovely. I love your philosophy on life Bernard and it’s obviously been shaped by your large birth family. What an interesting history you have had and the insight from counselling is amazing.

    I particularly liked your suggestions about living life. I could relate to so many of these (as in, I don’t currently do them well) – living in the present, being kind to ourselves, being resilient when times are tough and listening to others. All wonderful lessons.

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Hello Deb, thank you. Bernard will be back to comment tomorrow. He has self-care nailed!!

      Cheers,

      Denyse.

    • Nice to meet you, Deb! Growing up in such a large family was certainly ‘interesting’ and a great teacher of many things, especially sharing and being thoughtful of the needs of others. Keep applying yourself to those ‘wonderful lessons’. Of all these, I tender self-compassion as the most important.
      Thanks for taking the time to read and absorb what was written,

      Kind regards,

      Bernard.

  8. What a guy! I loved reading Bernard’s responses to your questions Denyse. As you know, my husband went back to study in his early 50’s to become a family counsellor and he says it’s the best career move he’s made. So much of what Bernard wrote are things I’ve heard my husband say and I think they’d have a great time talking over coffee! So much sensible advice here and I think we can all learn a lot from his wisdom. You chose well when you chose each other x

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Hi Leanne, I admit I read your lovely comment out to B as he was having his lunch…and he will get back to comment tomorrow. He can read but of course, self-care is high on his list!!

      Cheers,

      Denyse.

    • Lovely to meet you, Leanne. I’m thrilled by your first statement! You are very obviously a highly perceptive woman. I agree with your husband in assigning the move to counselling as being most favourable. Not only do you learn a lot about the behaviours of others, you learn a lot about your own behavioural options. May you be safe, Leanne.

      Kind regards,

      Bernard.

  9. This was a fabulous post by Bernard! Thanks for sharing him with us Denyse and it’s lovely hearing your thoughts on life Bernard. I’ve been in touch with Denyse for ages now and have read and heard such good things about you, so it’s wonderful to finally read your words. All of your thoughts were articulated very clearly and I particularly liked the ‘give yourself a break’ response, as we all need to do this more often – well In know I do anyway. Your wise words were very welcome today Bernard, so many thanks for sharing them with us. Please come again 🙂

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thanks so much….I sense he won’t be back …or at least he may in terms of helping me with posts. Deb, he will be back to comment tomorrow. Self-care and using his time for his making things (well!) in the workshop win this afternoon.

      Cheers,

      Denyse.

    • First and foremost, it’s a pleasure to meet you Debbie and to say thanks for your very kind and thoughtful words. If these words have given you just a little help then, my goal has been achieved. Responses such as yours have me much more inclined to return for more of the same. Continue practising your self-compassion – remember, it’s like learning the piano, you need to practise it daily and often. I’m not referring to offering yourself positive affirmations, I’m talking about being kind to yourself.

      Kind regards,

      Bernard.

  10. So nice to have your husband guest post!

    Jennifer
    Curated By Jennifer

  11. Oh, Denyse, I absolutely LOVED reading this post! Especially his suggestions about how to learn about life etc… fantastic, I’m going to save them to my “get your ***** together” project.
    It’s the first time I join your link-up but I’ve been thinking about it for a while. I didn’t realise there was a theme, and my post is very random – but I realise that it is actually relevant to the theme because after my many moves and changes to the blog, I finally KNOW how I want it and what I want to do there.

    • Nice to meet you, Susanne! Thanks for taking the time to read the post and I’m delighted you got something out of it. If you’re a guitarist as you avatar seems to suggest, you’ll know about the need to practise if improvement is to occur. Well, it’s the same for those suggestions you’re going to inculcate within your ***** project! Stay safe,

      Kind regards,

      Bernard.

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Good to see you here Susanne and that my husband’s words were helpful.

      Denyse.

  12. What a lovely man and interview! I love interviews and hearing/reading people’s stories.

    I linked up a post from my blog about my sexual through the zodiac. Not being sure what you might find offensive, if you do remove my link, I will understand and know there are no hard feelings.

    Thank you for hosting <3

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Hi Renee,
      Thanks so much got your comment and also your sensitivity re content. I am going to remove the post because when I tried to open it, there was a warning re content and as a result, I won’t open it. As you said, you will understand. I try to remain as open as I can but I do, as you have already surmised, have the option of deleting the link. I am going to approve your comment as it is here…so that people who see it will know this too.

      That said, if you have posts in the future that may fit my blog link up ‘rules’ do pop back.

      Denyse.

  13. Thank you for letting us get to know your husband, Denyse! What a wonderful man you married! My dad was also the 5th child (out of 12) and he also began his teaching career in a 1-room schoolhouse.
    I love the advice he gives us. What a good counselor he must have been!

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thanks Laurie,
      I loved reading those similarities too.

      Occasionally I do ask him to put the counsellor hat back on when I need to see things with greater clarity.

      He will be back to comment soon. I do believe he is finding out what I do each week when I am here at the computer …tap tap tapping my replies!! Always grateful to do so of course.

      Denyse.

    • Thank you for taking the time to read the post. Your dad sounds like he was the salt of the earth. I’m sure being a member of such a large family and then taking on the TIC of a one-teacher school would have enabled the inculcation of some great values. Sounds like you’re a chip of the old block, Laurie!

      Kind regards,

      Bernard.

  14. This was such a fun read!! I studied psychology in college and thought long and hard about becoming a child psychologist but ultimately decided I was much too empathetic to listen without feeling and carrying those feelings with me so I turned to teaching instead. My family and I are actually not active on social media for quite a few of the reasons listed and my boys know that phone/ screen use is limited or not allowed at certain times (like when we all gather together for dinner). I really miss the days of when cell phones were just phones.

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thanks for sharing this Joanne. Teaching of course, is a common shared calling for many and it was how we met back in 1970.

      Bernard will be back to comment tomorrow.

      Lovely to read how things are in your household re devices.

      Denyse.

    • Great to meet you, Joanne! I’m glad you were able to gain some fun in the read. Life can be a case of moving from one fun moment to the next if we can allow it. I’m pleased to read you are sheltering from the potentially infectious nature of ‘phone addiction’. There’s been something of a digital tsunami hit us when the internet arrived. Stay safe!

      Kind regards,

      Bernard.

  15. What a fabulous post! Thank you for bringing it to us. And Bernard, it’s great to finally “meet” you.

  16. Hi Denyse I wasn’t able to link up this week as we haven’t had internet for 9 days. I am about to start work so thought pop in to meet Bernard, and I’m so glad I did. What a wonderful man! Bernard I really enjoyed your post, especially the advice you gave. I loved hearing about your careers. I’m not sure about going out without the phone, but I do think there is a time and a place. So many times I see people sitting in a cafe, each of them with their head in their phones. It worries me that we are losing the art of communication which worries me a bit. I hope you come back for another starring role Bernard.

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Oh dear Jennifer, I wondered how I would be for nine days. I am not good for even 9 hours. I hope things are sorted soon as I know you enjoy your family history chats.

      Bernard will be back tomorrow to comment.

      Denyse.

    • I too, am glad you decided to take the time to pop in and meet Bernard. Great observation about the consequence of phone ‘abuse’. They ought never be permitted near the dining table. Communication is an art that needs to be practised! Be safe, Jennifer!

      Kind regards,

      Bernard.

  17. It was lovely of your husband to guest post. A man of many talents and much wisdom. I would never have remembmered all this so I copied these last thoughts: ” Music that we get lost in is a great BEING activity. It’s like slumping into your favourite chair after a hard day on your feet! Practise eating your next meal mindfully, i.e. with the curiosity of a scientist allowing your sense to actively engage with the process. Observe what you smell, taste, touch, hear, etc. No digital devices permitted at the dining table!” Amen to it all. Thanks and blessings, Michele

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Lovely to see you here again Michele, and I love that you copied some of my husband’s words. He’s a wise one for sure.

      Bernard will be back to comment tomorrow.

      Denyse.

    • Thank you for taking the time to read and absorb what was written, Michele. It’s also very nice to meet you. You’re right! Music is a great BEING activity with wonderful therapeutic attributes. I love your simile. I agree wholeheartedly. It is like slumping into the relaxing arms of that favourite recliner. That’s also being both self-caring and self-compassionate.

      Kind regards,

      Bernard.

Denyse values & reads every comment written, thank you. There is always a reply.

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