Category Archives: dreams

Recording Contracts and Disappointments

Disappointment

Back in the day (the late 1960’s) our band signed with a now long defunct record company, Dot Records. Many experts consider this era the pinnacle of the record business, where every company was scrambling for talent to promote. Money was being spent on artists with potential, as opposed to those with a solid track record. We recorded some vocal tracks at a cool little pro studio (Alamo) in North Hollywood, and the now famous Wrecking Crew provided the instrumental tracks. We were on our way. It was going to be the “big time” for us.

But then the bottom dropped out. Dot Records went bankrupt and shut down and we were left with a worthless contract. We were looked at by a couple of other companies, but didn’t generate enough interest to get picked up.

What do you do when disappointment comes your way?

Yes, grief ensued in all it’s glory: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I know we, the band, felt all of those things. But what did we DO that got us through the disappointment?

  1. We kept on going. We didn’t let the demise of the company mean the demise of us. We took action and started looking around for other options. Although we did not ultimately get where we had hoped, we met a lot of really great people along the way.
  1. We didn’t blame people. Everyone involved was affected by the company closure. People lost their jobs and had to find new employment. Trying to pin the loss on someone was unproductive: it wouldn’t have changed the outcome.
  1. We managed our feelings by processing together. Individually isolated we might have leaned toward pessimism or bitterness. Instead we supported each other by affirming our worth in a very musician kind of way: we spent more time practicing together and wrote more songs. We released the pent-up energy in a positive manner.

We all have had, and are going to continue to have setbacks in our lives. It is inevitable because we live in a competitive world. Your needs, wants and desires compete with other people’s at times, and you won’t always have things your way. Or circumstances emerge that are either not controllable or favorable to you and you have to adjust. It is disappointing.

The kind of work we do at The Relationship Center is largely helping people manage these challenges. We guide them through the grief, power struggles, trust issues and marital drifting that occurs, particularly in long-term relationships.

Will you see these occasions as opportunities for growth? Will you allow your feelings to accept the losses in a realistic manner without over or under reacting to them? In a culture like ours which is principally person-centered, it can be really hard to do. But that is what maturity is all about.

On a Beach Far Far Away

 
 
My first experience with a “retreat” was as a child. And for me, it wasn’t so wonderful, and certainly not restful. It was some sort of Christian boy’s camp held at a ranch. It was called Green Acres or Green Oaks or something like that. I was put on a bus with a bunch of kids I didn’t know and told to sit down and be quiet “or else” by the guy in charge. Nice.
 
The highlights of that long weekend that I can remember were the ability to buy candy at the camp store if your parents had thought to give you some pocket money, and riding a mule that stopped every few feet to relieve itself.
 
My idea of a retreat today is somewhat different than my early experience. 
 
There are many kinds of retreats – personal development retreats, educational retreats, spiritual retreats, and just-leave-me-alone-so-I-won’t-go-nuts retreats. Some professions (like raising children) are probably most subject to the last one. I think I’ll call it an emergency retreat. It becomes necessary when the stressors of life overwhelm us. Although I have heard that you can “have a retreat in your own home”, somehow I think the vast majority of us can’t detach enough in our own environments in order to accomplish that. There are simply too many things calling out for attention.
 
God’s plan for us is to have times of rest. If you are a motivated leader in any capacity, rest may feel like a low priority and an unneeded interruption in a busy life. But those who do not build rest into their lives may find unscheduled “retreats” in the form of doctor or hospital visits. Pastors, counselors, business leaders and medical professionals often fall into this category. But it is not just leaders that need to detach. Employees who work in high stress environments are subject to burnout and overload as well. Taking a couple of mental health days is better than a week of sick days.
 
Most people will have to have a planned retreat built into their lives. So often a vacation is not a restful retreat, especially if it involves children. A retreat should be free from daily responsibilities, and where kids are involved that is simply not possible. Also, many people make vacations heavy on activities – and that’s not the purpose of a retreat.
 
On retreats I want to have space to think, to dream, and to recreate without pressure to perform. I also want to be able to spend time with positive sensory input, in other words, just feeling stuff. I like long stretches of uninterrupted “being”, and not doing. I often wrestle with a feeling of anxiety for not accomplishing anything concrete. But then I remind myself that that is precisely the point. I am dealing with the intangibles of life that nourish the soul, like spending time with just me and God. All good retreats offered by churches and other organizations include a heavy dose of this separate time, away from the planned events and connect time.
 
Recently I posted a question on Facebook asking where you would most like to spend time in retreat: desert, mountain or beach. I would like to ask it here as well. Use the comment box below to describe your favorite formal or informal retreat setting.        
 

Help! I’m Out Of Money

 
 
According to 2012 data, the poverty line in California for 2 people is $2450/mo, or slightly under $30,000/yr. Also, according to the 2013 Retirement Confidence Survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, nearly 3 out of 10 people have virtually nothing saved for retirement, and 57% have less than $25,000 in total savings and investments.
 
It is always sad to sit with couples in counseling who have come to retirement age with nothing but Social Security income, and often with debt as well. It puts them at or below the poverty level with little hope for a better financial future. Plus, when one of the spouses passes on, one of the Social Security checks disappears. It might necessitate getting back into the working world when jobs are hard to acquire.
 
Social Security benefits were never designed to be a substitute for a retirement plan – just a short term supplement when life expectancy was much shorter than it is today. 
 
Because money can be such a huge area of conflict in a marriage I thought it would be wise to emphasize the importance of taking a serious stance on putting away money for the future no matter what age you might be or what your marital status is at the moment.
 
What I found to work is: 
 
  • Create a very conservative spending plan and stick to it. (I use Quicken to help automate the process.)
  •  Treat all raises as money that can either reduce debt or increase savings.  
  • Maximize all contributions to employer and government sponsored retirement plans to the best of your ability (401K, 403B, IRA, etc).  
  • Take a Dave Ramsey or Crown Financial course.  
  • Have automatic withdrawals set-up when possible. It often feels painful to write out a check to a retirement account you might not use for 30-40 years. Think about how it would feel if you had to write separate checks for Federal, State, Social Security, Medicare and SDI taxes every paycheck. (Actually, that might be a good thing.)  
  • Use financial counselors when needed.  
  • Question and resist new technology – it can be very expensive to keep up with all the new available toys. New toys become old toys very rapidly.  
  • Talk to your spouse regularly about money and spending and make sure you are on the same page so that one of you doesn’t sabotage your plan.  
  • Dump the entitlement mentality. Never use the phrase “I deserve”. The Bible tells us what we deserve – that’s why we need a Savior. 
What is the goal here? It’s so that you can be a help, rather than a hindrance to others.