Dan Knoepfler, MC, LMHC
Individual, group, and family therapy
Thoughts for the Day
Links to the archives of previous months are at the bottom of the page.

It is disheartening that Alabama recently passed a law to criminalize abortions that didn't create any exceptions for situations where the person was sexually assaulted.   Regardless of how you feel about abortions being legal,  this seems very harsh and unreasonable.    Requiring a rape victim to carry and give birth to a baby that was conceived as the result of a rape is unconscionable.  It's not fair to these women to require it, and it is not fair to a baby to be brought into this world under those circumstances.  I am not saying that every child conceived in this manner should be aborted.   What I am saying is that the woman who was sexually assaulted should be able to choose whether or not to carry the pregnancy to full term or not.  And if she chooses not to carry this pregnancy to full term and get an abortion she should be supported and it should be covered by her healthcare insurance.  There is a degree of callousness in this decision that is shameful.  Beyond that,  it will disproportionally impact poor women who can't just travel to another state where abortions are legal and receive an abortion performed by a qualified healthcare provider.

Harvard recently pulled some responsibilities from one of their law professors after an outcry by some students.  The "offense" the professor committed was agreeing to be part of Harvey Weinstein's legal team.   Just because a person has been accused of crimes you find repugnant, doesn't mean he shouldn't have legal representation.  And what a teaching moment this could have been about representing people that are difficult because of their personality, because of their alleged crimes, or any of a number of issues.   Harvard didn't like the pressure they were receiving.  They abdicated their responsibility to tell their students "no" to their demand, and help them view this as a teaching moment.   As a premier school in the field of law you get an "F" for not having a spine and choosing not to do the right thing under pressure.

Last night a local musician "King Dude" played a show.   About a month ago he embarked on a U.S. tour and a friend and I saw the first night of his tour in Portland.  If you were a touring musician, would you prefer to kick off your tour in your hometown?  Or end it there?    I am a fan of the saying "There's no place like home" and therefore finishing at home would be more desirable to me than kicking things off there.

Ever get caught up in your day to day life in the city and lose track of who is running the show?  Mother Earth seems to provide periodic reminders that earth is her domain.   39 years ago Mt. St. Helens erupted.   Approximately 18 years ago the Nisqually earthquake shook us.   

Actually the first live concert I ever went to was at church camp.  The band was called Providence, and they were on the same label as the Moody Blues.   As a lover of words and alliterations my favorite song of theirs was Fantasy Fugue.    For the longest time I thought it was Fantasy Fuh-goo.   Then one day I realized that fugue was the word used when describing some of the music by Bach that my dad would listen to.  It's one of those "D'oh" moments.

The first concert I ever saw in my life was Chicago with my junior high school friend Leonard.  It was during the "good" years before Terry Kath shot and killed himself and the band veered in a somewhat different direction.   I treasure that memory (of the concert).   It seriously felt like I lost my "going to a concert" virginity.       

Whenever it is May 15th, I always think of the song 5:15 by The Who  from their album / movie Quadrophenia.  This is a song that I felt strongly connected to as a teen.  Feeling disaffected and unhappy at times living in a world (upper middle class) that didn't always feel the most comfortable.  Yet another example of art resonating with one's feelings.

I saw a show at Jazz Alley two nights ago   It was fun.   The headlining artist brought out a guest soloist playing the flute.  She was absolutely amazing, playing her heart out.   I love seeing people get into the zone and shine with all their talent(s).   It doesn't have to be someone as big as Stevie Wonder to make that impression.  This woman playing the flute has that "it" factor.

Mr. Stevie Wonder's birthday is today.   Probably one of the best concerts I have ever seen was experiencing him playing the entire "Songs in the Key of Life."  He is such a talented person.   If you ever get a chance to see him live, I highly recommend it.  Some artists can take you to places through their art that you couldn't access otherwise.   Stevie Wonder uses sound in that way.

Not very long at all.   It's cool again today.     Had lunch with my mother and brother today.  We were concerned it would be too chilly to eat outside, but by mid-day it was pleasant.   Funny how it went from too hot yesterday to barely pleasant yesterday.  That's the way the weather is in this area in the spring. 

Whew it was hot today!   We broke records in Seattle.   Mid-80s in May is not what we're used to in our neck of the woods.   We'll see how long it lasts.

It's done.  All completed.

One task I dislike doing is taking past posts I have made and archiving them.   Currently I haven't done this for March or April yet.  Hopefully  I will get to this soon, because it is starting to annoy me.

Another purpose for the group will be to practice the ability to focus our attention.   In common terms, it's improving the ability to be mindful.   Many people think they are great multi-taskers.  Or they believe that there isn't enough time in the day so they need to multitask in an effort to get everything done.  The reality for most of us is that we actually are more efficient and effective when we focus on a single task and complete that one thing before moving on to another. 

If you think about a surgeon for example.   If you are having open heart surgery, you wouldn't want your doctor multitasking, performing bypass surgery on another person as well while attending to you.   And it's fair to say that most of life's issues aren't as serious (as a heart attack), but still it makes the point that giving something your undivided attention will result in a better outcome than when you try and do three things at once.

Part of the new group starting up this week will focus on adaptive ways to cope with stress in life.  If you think about sensory experiences and which ones are both soothing and constructive, think about which of your five senses provides you with the most comfort and relief.  For me it is music (sound) that provides the most comfort in a positive way.   That is why I go to so many concerts.  I don't need to go half away around the world to get away.   I can just go to a local club and listen to live music and it transports me to a relaxed and happy place.

This week we are starting up a new group at work.   I love group therapy as a treatment modality.    Part of the theory of group therapy is that people reenact their issues in real time when in group therapy.  There is no need for them to describe what their issues are because in the context of group they will demonstrate them.   In a well run group the healing process occurs through being with people who respond differently and more constructively when a person acts in a maladaptive manner.

I have a client whose faith is in part focused on being connected to the world.   I like that one of the foundations of his faith is connectedness.   I believe no man is an island in spite of wanting to do things on my own many times.  

Ten years ago today my dad died of complications relating to a stroke.    I remember being at the hospital when he took his last breaths.   Modern medicine couldn't reverse the impact of his medical condition but they were able to keep him comfortable.  And in the last years of his life he was in a lot of pain.  So it was comforting to know the last hours of his life were spent relatively pain free.

One of my goals in my profession is to work towards people being more connected.  To that end, I call, email and interact with people more than the average person might.   I was president of my state chapter of the professional organization in Washington about a decade ago, and that is when I started doing this.   It's not always easy to stay professionally connected in our busy day-to-day lives.  However, once the barrier is broken down at least once, the next time someone is more likely to call,email, or reach out in some way.

I was at a music show recently at a small venue.   One of the performers likes to tease and heckle people in the audience between songs.   Being up front I was singled out at one point.  In the moment it was kind of annoying, but done without any bad intentions.  At the end of the show the singer came up to me and offered a fist bump and thanked me for coming to the show.   He didn't need to do that, but it punctuated his point, which was that it was done in the spirit of having fun.

I was in line at the grocery store behind a fairly large person.   The person was acting somewhat weird while waiting in line.  When the person was finally checking out, the clerk asked how many cookies were in the bag and the person sheepishly said "one".   The clerk didn't even open the bag but felt it.    The customer said "Oh maybe I actually put two in the bag."   "Maybe possibly?"   I was thinking to myself "No you were trying to get away with only paying for one."   I don't know whether there was a financial issue, like the person felt justified paying for one when getting two because they believe the store is overpriced.   Or I wondered whether the person was weight conscious and didn't want to appear to be overeating by buying two large cookies.  If it is a price issue then shop at a store that is less expensive and get two cookies.   If you are overweight and self-conscious, then make do with one cookie, or own that eating that second cookie is something that is worth doing in spite of the impact it may have on one's health.  No one really cares whether this person eats one or two cookies.   I do care if the person is in effect trying to steal from the store by paying for less than they should.  That in my mind is stealing.   I would have loved to ask this person why they chose to do this to see whether either of my hypotheses was even close to the actual reason.