thanksgivingAs I write this, I am listening to the rain on my roof. For us North Westerner’s we are no strangers to water falling from the sky. It’s a familiar and soothing sound.

But today, I can’t help but think about the 45 people living in a homeless encampment a quarter of a mile from my home. Tent City 3 had been unable to find a church that would let them camp and so for the first time since 2000, they set up their tents on a small piece of public land near I-5 in North Seattle. They have moved 70 times in the last 14 years. I am sure that this driving cold rain on an early Sunday morning in November is no comfort for them.
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Advice for married men…

advice-for-married-menI am very fortunate. I have been married for 37 years this December. Wow! That’s a long time. Periodically, someone will want to know the secret of my marital longevity. Couples who have been married for less than a decade wonder how to persist through all of the ups and downs of married life. I must admit I am very fortunate to have married the right person for me. But I have also learned a few things. I thought I would share some of those lessons in my blog. This one is especially for men.

I have to admit— I am a slow learner (I know that my wife will agree with this!). It has taken me a long time to learn these lessons, and even now, I sometimes forget! So be patient. This week, I will share one big lesson I have learned. Read more »

Every day is a new…

a-new-dayMy perfect day is sandwiched between watching the sun rise and the sun set. I am fortunate that I live close to Green Lake. I love to walk around the lake in the early morning and watch the eastern sky glow and finally brighten as the sun rises at 7 a.m. Ducks and geese skim across the calm water. Occasionally, a blue heron, standing on one leg, completely still, waits for breakfast to swim by. It’s been particularly brilliant during these last few clear days. When the sun finally shakes off its nightly slumber and peeks above the horizon, a new day is born.

What will this day bring? What opportunities will I have to be the person that I hope to be today?

If I am truly blessed, I will have the chance to watch the sunset in the western sky out of my office window in the late afternoon too. My office overlooks the Puget Sound and the Olympic mountains. During the autumn and winter, when the sun sets early, on one of those rare blue sky days, I can see the sun drop below the mountains. When I am working with a patient, I often stop the session so we can witness the magic of the setting sun. It is a moment of grace that we share together. Whatever pain and suffering we have, there is the possibility of letting it go as the last rays of light shine across the water. Read more »

Bullying: What can we do?

bullying-what-can-we-doWhen I was 13 years old, walking home from school, two larger boys, with several girls looking on, started pushing me backwards. I didn’t see the low wooden fence behind me. I fell on my rear onto the grass. Everyone laughed at me. Humiliated and furious I ran home.

I plotted revenge, which I hoped to exact over the next few days. Fortunately, I never had the opportunity. That afternoon is etched in my memory, even though it happened over four decades ago!

How many of us have experienced bullying? One recent study found that 23% of boys and 18% of girls have been victims. Often times, out of fear and humiliation, victims don’t report these incidents. In recent years, “cyberbullying” has become a new, cruel way of harassing youngsters using cell phones, social media, and the internet. These humiliations can go “viral” as they are shared with scores of other kids. The bully is physically removed from the consequences of their actions—and they are hard to catch. They can have devastating consequences. Read more »

More on Attention Deficit Disorder, modern society, and neuroscience

adhd-neuroscienceDr. Friedman (New York Times, October 31, 2014, “A Natural Fix for A.D.H.D“) wrote an interesting article about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (A.D.H.D) and how it’s neurological basis, as we currently understand it, collides with modern life.

Why is ADHD the most prevalent psychiatric condition diagnosed in youngsters today? Recent studies show that it affects 11% of children. Many wonder whether this is really a disease after all.

In our practice at the Behavioral Health department of The Everett Clinic we see scores of adults who wonder if they suffer from ADHD. Is that why they have so much trouble with planning and organization? Do they have undiagnosed ADHD? Is there a medication that might help them pay better attention? The diagnosis of ADHD in adults has way more gray than black and white. Read more »

The Shooting in Marysville: Why?

marysville-pilchuckWe will be speculating about the motives and mental state of Jaylen Fryberg for many weeks to come. We will probably never know what he was thinking, feeling, or imagining when he brought a gun to school with the intention of shooting friends and relatives on Friday, October 24th. Investigators will try to put together whatever clues they can find and form a likely scenario. But I don’t think we will ever know for certain.

What we do know is very scant and superficial. He was popular. He was well liked. He was on the football team. He was chosen to be in the Homecoming court. He had many friends. He came from a well-known family in the Tulalip tribe. He was connected to his heritage and community.

He doesn’t fit the typical Columbine picture of a disaffected, alienated, isolated youth. So how could this happen? What are the possible causes of such a desperate act? Read more »

We Need To Do Something

This is a guest blog from Pediatrician Jane Lester, MD. Dr. Lester sees pediatric patients at Everett Campus.

mphsThe recent school shooting in Marysville has shocked us, saddened us, and made us feel helpless.  My heart goes out to all the involved kids and their families.  We know we need to do something, but what?  Earthquakes and tsunamis allow us to rage at Mother Nature and send donations to the Red Cross.  After yet another school shooting, we are left not knowing whom to blame.  Our culture?  Ourselves?  Why do we tolerate these horrific events?  Why do they keep happening?

{Photos courtesy of Marysville School District Facebook page}

This is a pressing public health issue.  Blaming individuals doesn’t get us anywhere.  The answers are many and complicated, and we don’t always agree with each other on what steps to take.  But just because the issue is political and polarized, we mustn’t be afraid to talk about it.  We need to figure it out. Read more »

More on the Marysville tragedy: Coping with Fear

mp-2Last night, at two in the morning, I tossed and turned as I thought about the events of this week in Marysville. All week, our staff and I have listened to kids and parents talk about the horror of last Friday. We have tried to provide support to these individuals, all shaken by fear, sadness, and confusion. We are distressed too.

{Photo courtesy of Marysville-Pilchuck High School Victims Support Page}

One parent shook with fear, “My greatest worry has always been that something bad will happen to my son,” he said. Our most important job as parents is to protect our children from harm. But can we? Last Friday, parents saw their children off to school, with the illusion that all would be well. Several hours later that sense of security was shattered by gunshots. Parents of teens are already worried about their youngsters. They fret over drugs, sex, bad choices, bad influences, and car accidents. Teenagers, using their undeveloped brains, have the ability to wreck havoc. Read more »

Tragedy in Marysville

marysville-pilchuckNews travels quickly.

On Friday morning, a freshman at Marysville-Pilchuck High School shot and killed a fellow student, seriously wounded four other students, and then killed himself. In one instant, two young lives came to an end and scores of other lives were permanently changed. Hundreds of other children have been traumatized by this ghastly experience. Waves of fear and sadness will impact 1000’s of Marysville residents, young and old. These breakers will crash into other cities and towns in Snohomish County. What was supposed to be “spirit day” at Marysville-Pilchuck High, heralding a big football game and homecoming, turned into a truly macabre scene. Sadly, this picture has become all too common in American life. Read more »

Keeping a good marriage on track

keeping-a-good-marriage-on-trackEvelyn and Jim love each other deeply. Their short courtship overflowed with affection and long intimate conversation. A romantic honeymoon by the sea capped a beautiful wedding. Their marriage, off to a sound start, seemed destined for success. But as the sound of the wedding bells fade, Evelyn and Jim are troubled. They’re disappointed with each other.

Marriage is one of the most demanding commitments that men and women make in their adult lives. Initially, committed relationships arise out of passion and “good chemistry”. Intense feelings is the fuel of the marital machine during the first years. But as time passes, successful relationships demand more. They require generosity, patience, and maturity. Many adults are unprepared for these rigors. They lack the daily hand tools of a committed relationship—realistic expectations, communication skills, and the ability to resolve conflict. Read more »