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2-1-2005  Keep The Faith

1-1-2005  Keep Your Eye On The Ball From Time To Time. That Is, On History...

12-1-04  If Jesus Christ Had Wanted Us To Think, He Would Have Spoken To Us In Parables

11-4-04  If You Fear For The Safety of Your Marriage, Don't Look Outside Of It--Look Inside Of It.

8-1-04  &  9-1-04 & 10-4-04 Strength And Wisdom Are Not Opposing Values

7-1-04  Honor True Democracy--The One That Isn't Staged For Political Gain. Honor True Freedom--Not The Illusion Of Freedom That Comes From Hiding Behind A Wall Or A Gate Or A Steel Fence

6-1-04  Honor Our Soldiers--Never Send Them Into Battle Without Thinking Long And Hard About The Consequences

4-1-04  and 5-1-04 Get More Comfortable With Whomever You Are

3-1-04 Follow The Canadian Drug Importation Issue

2-1-04 Ask Yourself Why 40 Million Americans Don't Have Health Insurance

1-1-04 Happy New Year. Surprise Yourself This Year By Bringing Your Better Part Forward

12-1-03 Exercise Moderately, Especially If You Are Feeling "Down"

11-1-03 Let Yourself Wonder If We Are All Much More Alike Than We Are Different

10-1-03 Look At Some Old Photographs With An Old Friend

9-4-03  Take A Vacation Once In Awhile!

8-1-03 Read The Newspaper. Don't Just Get Your News From The 10 Minute Sound Bites On Television

7-1-03 Read Your History Books--Or Be Doomed To Repeat History

6-8-03 Big Changes Are Coming!

5-1-03 Never forget the basic freedoms guaranteed us by the U. S. Constitution

4-1-03 Pray For Peace

3-1-03 We Don't Have Any Good Advice This Month. We Don't Get It.

2-1-03 Keep World Events In Perspective

1-1-03 Let Your Unconscious Mind Stir

12-1-02 Let's All Strive To Be Part Of Something Greater Than Our Self-Interest

11-1-02 Goodbye, Senator Wellstone

10-1-02 Read Your Old Journal Entries Every Once In Awhile

9-1-02 Take A Vacation

8-1-02 Acknowledge Change

7-1-02 Celebrate Our Freedoms. But More Than That, Protect Them

6-1-02 Be Separate, Equal, And Love Each Other With Passion

5-1-02 Pray For All Of Us Creatures Here On Earth

4-1-02 Let Disappointment Enrich Your Life...And You

3-1-02 Manage Your Fear, Hurt, Shame, And Loneliness To Have The Deepest Intimacy And The Least Amount Of Damage

2-1-02  Learn from your mistakes, and let your humility make you powerful

1-1-02  Value the small memories and connections and competencies in your self and your life


"It is through connecting one heart to another, around seemingly small things, that love grows."--Linda Friel & John Friel                     

11-01-01  Try to love your neighbor as yourself

10-1-01  In Memoriam

9-1-01 See each other with depth rather than superficiality; and learn to express and contain your anger while thinking your way through problems.

8-1-01 Remember That "AND" Is A Most Powerful Word.

7-1-01 Have Reverence For The Giants Of History Upon Whose Shoulders We Have Built Our Society

6-1-01 Run like the wind!!

5-1-01 Have conflict--with integrity.

4-1-01 If You Support Campaign Finance Reform, Write A Letter Or Send A Fax To Your Representative In Congress--Don't E-Mail. They Don't Pay Much Attention To E-Mail.

3-1-01 Show Leadership With Your Family. Be An Adult, Not Just Another One Of The Kids.

2-1-01 Go See A Movie!

1-1-01 Shake Your Soul And Let The Glory Out.

12-1-00 Keep things in balance, and know your history.

11-1-00 Remember that you are holy.

10-1-00 A teenager's job is to grow up.  Let's all help them do it by getting in their way just enough, and then letting them fly.

9-1-00 Value your labor, no matter what, or where, it may be.

8-1-00 Find Yourself.  The Rewards For The Struggle Are Immeasurable.

7-1-00 Have Reverence For The Giants Of History Upon Whose Shoulders We Have Built Our Society

6-1-00 Continue To Become Competent/Pursue Your Dreams

5-1-00 Celebrate New Ideas, And Spring Renewal

4-1-00 Don't Lecture Your Kids, And Don't Let Your Own Anxiety Or Guilt Get In The Way Of Being A Good Parent

3-1-00 Talk To Yourself, And When You Do, Listen

2-1-00 Live Life To The Fullest While Accepting What It Brings

1-1-00 Continue On

12-1-99 Be Excited About Knowledge! Think, Wonder, Hypothesize!

11-1-99 Have Power With Graciousness And Humililty

10-1-99 Let Yourself Dream

9-1-99  Use it Or Lose It!

8-1-99  Struggle And Live!!

7-4-99  Remember With Reverence

6-1-99  Feel Your Feelings, But Use Restraint And Don't Act Them Out

5-1-99  Observe Humans And Write A Book--But Take A Nap First

4-1-99  Let Your Children Struggle So That They Can Become Competent

3-7-99  Be A Good Parent.


No Matter How Painful Your Childhood, You Still Have Responsibility For Your Own Actions.


Think And Learn Before You Make Mental Health Decisions.


Happy Holidays!


Happy Thanksgiving.


Get out and enjoy the Fall weather. The humidity is almost gone, and there haven't been any blizzards yet!


Face your old crises and grow old gracefully.


How we perceive the world depends, in part, on the filter we have installed in our heads. Check your filter now and then. It may need to be upgraded!


Be sure to pack your Varmint Bag before you leave on your next trip.


Look around. There is something for which to be grateful, right in front of you.


Remember to get outdoors this month. Summer only lasts for 30 days in Minnesota!


Stop and think.


Strive for power balance in your most intimate relationships.


Show tolerance and self-restraint, and the world will treat you in kind.


Stay flexible, keep learning, take risks, and try to be the best person you can be.


Spend less money, and more time talking to each other.


Find something positive about the relative who troubles you the most, and then go out of your way to tell him or her on Thanksgiving Day


Enjoy the beauty of fall




Wear sunscreen when you go out.

If you have mosquitoes the size of 747's where you live, don't go outside at night.

Tell your children you love them every once in a while.

Don't spend too much time on the internet



Don't be careless with fireworks.

Don't drive after you've been drinking.

Be good to yourself and your loved ones.

Be tolerant of people you fear.

Enjoy summer.


In John's workshop that is being offered May 10, 1997, entitled Your Relationships Are Better Than You Think, he will present some useful tools for improving relationships, and some of the common traps and pitfalls that can make our relationships painful or difficult. One of the tools that will be presented is a simple but effective way to figure out what kinds of support you have in your life. If you are wondering about the support in your life, remember that it is useful to occasionally do a searching and fearless inventory of yourself, as we say in AA, to take stock of how things are going. At least once a year, sit down with yourself, alone, undisturbed, pen in hand, and draw or write a picture of the support people in your life. These will change over time, so don't assume that it will be the same as it was last year. Take your time with it, and try to be as honest as you can. And don't let anyone else see it, unless or until you are comfortable with someone seeing it. When you are done, let it rest for a week or so. Then let it speak to you. It will speak volumes.


Research on adult development clearly indicates that the years from 50 to 75 and beyond are the best years of a person's life, if he or she faced and worked through the crises of earlier life stages. What we lose in physical prowess and agility, we gain in wisdom and depth, allowing us to view life and society in broader, more understandable, and more compassionate terms. While our own death becomes more real and imminent as we grow older, the fear of death, which in one metaphoric form or another (loss, abandonment, rejection, disappointment, etc.) haunts us for much of our lives, diminishes dramatically, leaving us with a kind of peace previously impossible.

For those of you who have yet to face that nagging secret--an addiction, perhaps; or some painful or shameful experience that happened to you long ago--the good news is that it is never too late to go through those earlier life stages or crises. We have seen countless people in their 60's, 70's, and even 80's take that courageous first step to finish old, unfinished business with themselves and their loved ones, with heartwarming results.

It is never too late to have a peaceful adulthood, with depth and wisdom and love. It all begins with acknowledgement that we always have more room to grow; and that when we are ready to do it, someone will be there to love and support us through it. The world has become scary and confusing on the one hand, but on the other hand, it remains filled with family or friends and even strangers who will be there for us, if only we let them know that we are ready.


Q: My wife and I have been married for 15 years. We have three children who are doing very well in school, church, and at home. We have an active social life and good jobs. The only thing that seems to be lacking is our sex life--and it's really lacking. We have sex once a year, if we're lucky. And it's usually under some sort of unique circumstances, too, like after somebody's wedding, after a big party, etc. We are very committed to family, and spend most of our non-work-time with the kids. Do we have a problem?

A: People have a problem if they believe and feel that they do. Only you can decide that. It sounds like most of your life is good. You may have unconsciously decided that sex just isn't important to either of you. Or, you may be avoiding sex for some reason. Research on healthy, happy couples points quite clearly to the importance of sexuality in the relationship--not wild, passionate, frenetic sex all the time; but a theme of comfortable sexual relatedness that permeates the relationship. Lack of sexual desire is the most common sexual dysfunction of the past 2 decades, and it usually occurs for 2 reasons: 1) people are afraid of the emotional intimacy that goes with a good sex life, and so they over-focus on their children as a way of avoiding this issue, or 2) they are over-committed and tired all the time due to a belief that more and more activities for themselves and their children equals a better life.

A study of healthy parents and parenting done by the National Institute Of Mental Health yielded some very important conclusions. Among them was a statement by parents who had raised healthy children into a healthy adulthood. These parents said, unequivocally: "Put your marriage first. Child-centered families do not make for healthy children or healthy marriages." We agree, as long as you realize, of course, that the other extreme is true, too (i.e., neglecting children is not good for them or us, either).

If you don't have time for sex, make time. If you are afraid of the emotional intimacy required to have a good sex life (i.e., sharing feelings of hurt, shame, fear, anger, lust, joy, etc.), then remember--emotionalintimacy is required for any good relationship, including that with your children and friends. So if you don't do emotional intimacy well, you may be fooling yourself into thinking that the rest of your life is humming along just fine.

Take a risk.. Improving your sex life isn't just good for your marriage. It's good for your souls, as well.

UPDATED 1-3-97

Q: I have a hard time knowing what to expect from a friendship I have. I've known the person for about 8 months, and we have some things in common (movies, bowling, football). Sometimes we do several things together in one month, and then we'll go for several weeks without any contact. I would like this person to become my "best friend", but he doesn't seem to want that. Should I jettison this relationship and keep looking for a best friend?

A: No. Not unless you never want to have any friends at all! A friend with whom you can share interests and hobbies, and who reciprocates on a fairly regular basis, is a treasure to cherish. One of the biggest problems we see in our private practice is when people have unrealistic fantasies about friendship--believing, for example, that "a good friend will always be there for you" (he can't be if he's healthy), or that "a good friend will meet all of my needs," or "a good friend must be from the same political party as me." Making and keeping friends is one of the most important skills that we learn as we grow up in our families, if we are lucky. If we weren't so lucky, then we have to learn these skills as adults.

Learning to keep good but imperfect friends is a crucial part of being an adult.

The Following Is An Exerpt From The Friels' New Book Entitled THE SOUL OF ADULTHOOD: OPENING THE DOORS


Oft expectation fails, and most oft there

Where most it promises , and oft it hits

Where hope is coldest and despair most fits

William Shakespeare

All's Well that Ends Well, c.1602

Test 12-27-96 All's Well That Ends Well. (Perhaps) Etc....

It is not possible to move forward into adulthood without risk, and with risk comes failure, with failure comes disappointment, and with disappointment come clarity and depth. Life's truth tells us that disappointment happens because we care, so when something doesn't turn out the way we'd like, it is natural and sometimes good. If everything we attempted had to turn out perfectly the first time we tried, then the wondrous creations of our many civilizations would never have come to be. There would be no art, no religion, no technology, no medicine, no philosophy, no printing presses or books. If each person was allowed only one chance to fall in love and find the right life partner, perhaps five percent of us would do so. Our disappointment affirms that we are present, full of spirit, engaged in life, trying, wanting something, and that our inner self is speaking. It deepens us, and every once in awhile, it brings gifts of immeasurable joy.


We recall the story of the man and woman we know well who had been together for several years and were creating a deep and abiding love for one another. They had shared many a struggle and many a joy. The man told her how much fun he and his brother and sister had swimming in the ocean every summer, and how important water had become to him during his childhood. The woman shared with him her fear of water, and of how her father had not been a very good swimming teacher because of his impatience and gruffness. But swimming outdoors in cold clear lakes and thundering ocean surf had become so deeply embedded in the man's soul that he was secretly disappointed that the woman wasn't as excited as he was about it.

They discussed these things for several years but always came to the same frustrating conclusion. The woman did not like swimming and felt misunderstood and angry, and deep inside, the man felt betrayed by her reluctance. He kept trying to get her to change because he was convinced that their relationship would be ruined if she was never able to join him in the ocean as his brother and sister had.

One day when they were at the beach on a fairly calm day, the man tried every trick he could think of to talk the woman into going into the ocean with him. Finally, the woman agreed; and as they began to walk into the surf, a swell came out of nowhere and washed over them, forcing water into her breathing passages. When he saw the terror in her eyes, the man felt awful, and he vowed to himself and to her that he would never pressure her like that again. The woman saw the remorse in the man's eyes and heard the sincerity in his voice, and the shared instant of simultaneous vulnerabilty swept over them like a wave of healing light.

The next morning as he was swimming in the surf below their hotel room, he waved to her as she read the morning newspaper and sipped her coffee on the balcony, and she smiled and waved back. And then from nowhere and everywhere inside of him hundreds of disconnected pieces suddenly gathered and formed into an image of completion. He realized that when he was a child, all of that time spent in the boiling surf, or in the cool, dark, mystical water underneath the waves, was his way of soothing the fear and hurt that he frequently felt in his family, and that the secrets he shared with his brother and sister were not just about the ocean and its magical healing properties. As his mind eased back into the here and now, all of those disconnected fragments of pain and confusion wee transformed into a single, deep, focused feeling of peace. He realized that the pain of his childhood was behind him, and the beautiful mystery of his relationship with this woman did not demand retreat into a watery sanctuary. He no longer needed someone in the ocean with him to ease his pain. It was enough to swim by himself, and to simply love her.

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...This page will be updated on a regular basis with advice, book exerpts, and other useful information, as time permits. If you have any suggestions for how we might best use this page, please let us know.

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