How To Fight Relationship Fires

A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire. ~Proverbs

When you run out of wood, the fire goes out; when the gossip ends, the quarrel dies down. ~Proverbs

An argumentative person in a dispute is like kerosene thrown on a fire. ~Proverbs

How do you fight fire?

Relationship fire fighting 101: Gentle responses, silence, and mollification douse fire.

I prefer my fires contained in my fireplace where I can prop my feet up, sip a hot drink and warm my weary soul…

and not in my relationships.

Don’t you?


One Word Weekly Photo Challenge: Saffron

The World I Want Begins With Me

There is so much pain in the world. The murders displayed on the news breaks my heart and reduces me to tears.

It can feel overwhelming on many levels.

Yet, the world I want begins with me.

Anger can be a useful emotion as it directs me to a core issue that is out of balance in my life. It is destructive when I allow it to cause me to react in a way that is devastating to the lives around me.

Anger is the core issue in murder. Period. Uncontrolled, unresolved anger drives a person to act dispicably. Taking someone’s life occurs along way down the pathway of angry emotions. Often, it begins with contempt. Contempt directs our thoughts and attitudes toward fear, negativity, prejudice and hatred.

You must first look within yourself to eliminate the fear, the anger, and the imbalance in your life.

Then and only then can you move forward to create peacefully and powerfully the changes needed in the world.

Today, following the news of 4 killings in Israel, I read that a young Israeli woman called for acts of kindness in response to the murders. This cry for good only comes from a heart that is at peace from within and an understanding that an eye-for-an-eye does not create a better world.

Yesterday, as I was shopping for some treats to have at home, I came across a woman and her grand baby that I had not met from my community. They were retrieving a small bottle of chocolate milk  from a cooler in celebration. The child had recently been weaned from her mother’s breast. I stopped and celebrated with them. I cheered for the 2 year old and congratulated her.

I introduced myself to the grandmother and her face beamed with happiness. It kind of shocked me, really. Who am I that meeting me in the grocery store and sharing a few kind words would make any real difference in this woman’s life? But we all know how it feels to have someone appreciate our children or our accomplishments, don’t we?

The woman told me that most of her time was spent working at a local restaurant and she asked me to stop in and visit her. I will, too.

That is how we change the world. I can not fight terrorists in a foreign country but I can…I CAN…work on my heart so that it is open to the people in my community. I can work diligently on the big issues in my heart that prevent my life from being worthwhile. I can also learn self-control so that my issues do not spill over onto the people I meet.

There was a day in my journey that I may never have given this woman the time of day. It might have only been the fact that I was preoccupied with my own world, my busy schedule or that I was exhausted from a full day at work.

People matter. People are what make the world – the world. So, it matters that we relate to each other in meaningful ways, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem.

The world I want begins with me.

I must be a person who makes life worth living, first, in my own life and then shared with those around me.

I have failed many times in my past at this. I whisper a prayer. I get back up. I look inward. I follow wisdom and truth until the values I want to see in the world are firmly planted in my own heart and behaviours.

How about you? Will you join me and peacefully and powerfully create the changes needed in the world – beginning with yourself?

Be kind to someone today and demonstrate a better way of life.

Journey on, dear reader,




5 Effective Ways To Help You Stop “Seeing Red” and Arguing

What comes to mind when you hear the word “carmine”? Immediately, I thought of a passionate, latin woman dressed in vibrant red.

Red is a powerful color. Our One Word Photo Challenge host, Nichole, rightly pointed this out to us. I agree completely. It is a color that produces vivid emotional images: the passion of love or the fury of anger. There is no middle ground with carmine; strong, hot, intense.

deeclarknz.comYesterday, I received a cry for relationship help. An “I can’t take it anymore” plea filled with disappointment, discouragement and anger.

Do you and your partner, spouse or significant other struggle with an underlying flow of anger, frustration, and irritation? Do you argue often? Just how often “do you see red” in your relationship?

Do you think arguing is a healthy part of relationships?

How do you feel in the middle of an argument? Do you feel peace? Do you feel appreciated? Do you feel secure? Do you feel respected? Do you feel loved?

From personal experiences, I have felt none of those things during past arguments. In fact, I was left feeling the exact opposite. For that reason, I don’t argue or make every effort not to argue. I feel angry sometimes. I get snippy and frustrated. Those emotions are valuable if we don’t misuse them.

deeclarknz.comWhy do we argue?

We want peace, our rights, to be valued, to be loved, to be accepted and respected yet we end up feeling worse off than when we began the argument and accomplished quite the opposite.

I read this quote sometime back and I think it hits the nail on the head as a reason for why we argue. “How do conflicts, quarrels and fighting originate?…your desires go unfulfilled…” –James

I want something you don’t want or you want something I don’t want; therefore, we clash and end up devastating one another.

Our world is full of fighting and warring with one another yet we declare we want a world filled with peace and happy co-existence.

deeclarknz.comIn my 54 years of life, I have learned that we are not always going to agree. Put two or more people in a room and there will be a wide array of emotions, beliefs, goals and opinions. We are all different. We won’t always agree.

We find differences within cultures, communities, social groups, and genders. A relationship will house all of those differences and they will irritate us at some point. We are not going to agree 100% of the time. And we shouldn’t have to agree. But can we live together in a healthy, peaceful way?

How do we repair a relationship that has become a constant confrontation?

Here are 5 effective ways to help you stop “seeing red” and arguing. These will help you work toward healthy resolutions to your disagreements.

  1. Give respect. We all know how painful being disrespected feels. In fact, think of times that you have been disrespected and check your pulse? What are you feeling about that memory? I would guess you are not feeling very pleasant. No one enjoys a situation where they walk away feeling a lack of respect. (We might agree on this point.) The key, then, is to look within your heart and dig up your disrespectful attitudes, words and behaviours to aid in repairing communication.
  1. Deal with Fear. We are afraid that we will become a doormat. We fear our rights will be taken from us. We fear that we won’t be loved. We fear that we will be required to be the only one who is the “bigger person”. Eradicating these fears from our heart is not an easy task. Unresolved fear prevents us from communicating our desires effectively. Unpack the baggage, as “they” say.
  1. Communicate. Communicate. I rarely “get it” or understand a point right away. Neither does my dear husband. “How many times do I have to tell you?” Frustration shades our perspective. Maybe I didn’t get this point, but consider that I did finally understand on other issues. This means I am capable of working with you and not against you. Also, we must be willing to communicate honestly what we really feel about the situation. Attempting to show patience, kindness or an attitude of peace by not speaking up will only lead to a volcanic emotional eruption. Those out-bursts are usually more devastating than healing.
  1. Know when to stop. I don’t mean quit the relationship. I mean don’t carry on a conversation that is turning volatile until you say or do something you will regret. We have all been guilty of saying wrong or hurtful words when a conversation turns too difficult. We also hear of fatal or violent endings once enough buttons have been pushed. No matter how hard you try, you cannot go back and undo damage like I have just described. The consequences of careless words and actions can be far reaching. Learn when to stop. Come back to the conversation when the environment is not as charged -if the issue is important enough to try again. It’s also important to know what and when to let go- not all issues are that important.
  1. Find a third party. If you cannot be open enough with the person you are in a relationship with, ask for help. Might I just add, find appropriate help. Friends, family, children and whoever-just-happens-be-there-at the time are not examples of appropriate help. What usually happens when your issues spill out on the-people-around-you is that you provide them with an opportunity to pick up your offense. When this happens and the two of you work things out, the third party is left with no way to resolve what they are feeling. Be wise. Find a third party with experience in mediation to help you both learn to communicate as effectively as possible.

deeclarknz.comFinally, ask yourself: Is what you disagree about more important that the relationship?

A difference in opinion is healthy. But remember, love the person and show them respect. Love yourself by being open and honest. You and your significant other are valuable.

My hope is that if you are in a constant state of “seeing red”, that these tips will help you cultivate a more open, healthy way of dealing with disagreements.

Thank you for spending some time with me today.


The importance of not causing scars


Once upon a time there was a little boy who was talented, creative, handsome, and extremely bright. A natural leader. The kind of person everyone would normally have wanted on their team or project. But he was also self-centered and had a very bad temper. When he got angry, he usually said, and often did, some very hurtful things. In fact, he seemed to have little regard for those around him. Even friends. So, naturally, he had few. “But,” he told himself, “that just shows how stupid most people are!”

As he grew, his parents became concerned about this personality flaw, and pondered long and hard about what they should do. Finally, the father had an idea. And he struck a bargain with his son. He gave him a bag of nails, and a BIG hammer. “Whenever you lose your temper,” he told the boy, “I want you to really let it out. Just take a nail and drive it into the oak boards of that old fence out back. Hit that nail as hard as you can!”

Of course, those weathered oak boards in that old fence were almost as tough as iron, and the hammer was mighty heavy, so it wasn’t nearly as easy as it first sounded. Nevertheless, by the end of the first day, the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence (That was one angry young man!). Gradually, over a period of weeks, the number dwindled down. Holding his temper proved to be easier than driving nails into the fence! Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He felt mighty proud as he told his parents about that accomplishment.

“As a sign of your success,” his father responded, “you get to PULL OUT one nail. In fact, you can do that each day that you don’t lose your temper even once.”

Well, many weeks passed. Finally one day the young boy was able to report proudly that all the nails were gone.

At that point, the father asked his son to walk out back with him and take one more good look at the fence. “You have done well, my son,” he said. “But I want you to notice the holes that are left. No matter what happens from now on, this fence will never be the same. Saying or doing hurtful things in anger produces the same kind of result. There will always be a scar. It won’t matter how many times you say you’re sorry, or how many years pass, the scar will still be there. And a verbal wound is as bad as a physical one. People are much more valuable than an old fence. They make us smile. They help us succeed. Some will even become friends who share our joys, and support us through bad times. And, if they trust us, they will also open their hearts to us. That means we need to treat everyone with love and respect. We need to prevent as many of those scars as we can.”
-author unknown

test your anger coping skills

deeclarknz.comyou might be wondering why i am committing so much time on the subject of anger this past week.

the reason is that i place a high value on peace in my life. i believe that i need to guard my heart against anything that might diminish or steal the level of peace that i require for a healthy existence.

there are many things that can affect peace; anger has a big impact along with guilt, stress, and conflict, to name a few.

therefore, i like to do a self assessment from time to time. i liken it to having a yearly physical or mammogram in order to be assured that things are functioning like they should be. as with my physical well-being, preventive maintenance is the best medicine.

i have a life plan and a value system that i use to guide my decisions and monitor my behaviours (i’ll list a few below):
1. there are socially acceptable behaviours and codes of conduct.
2. there are good manners
3. the 10 commandments
4. the wisdom given in the Proverbs
5. the law of love as outlined in Ephesians
6. and others

i use these as a road map along my journey. i deem them a valuable compass for guiding me along the pathway.

in addition, i have a bit of a mental checklist. when dealing with anger, i have learned to ask myself ,”will this matter to me or will i even remember this in five years?” it slows me down enough to prevent rash reactions. if the answer is “yes”, i can pursue the issue. if the answer is “no”, i can applied some anger management skills.

since i have been on the subject, i decided that i would give myself a little check up. i’ve been pretty happy with the way i have been managing anger but i thought it wouldn’t hurt to do a simple assessment.

i went to the Psychology Today website and took their anger management test. it consists of 10 questions and only took 5 minutes to complete. it is only a simple gauge to assess if there might be an need for adjustments in managing this emotion.

my overall score was low indicating that i am rather skilled at coping with potentially angering situations. however, i was cautioned to make sure that i am coping well rather than suppressing anger.

i was pleased with this result and it was in line with my own internal assessment of how things are going. after all, if there is a problem, i usually know there is a problem without having it pointed out to me; unlike my physical condition -where there might be a symptom-free problem present.

if there is an anger problem- i know it…and so do those around me. i tend to become edgy, agitated or annoyed at minor situations. there was a time when i wasn’t managing this emotion very well that i often felt like a ticking time bomb. the indicators are present and signal that a problem exists. the reasons vary; again, stress, unresolved issues, frustration or misunderstanding can be triggers.

i encourage you to take the test. it is easy to do. keeping a pulse on your emotion well-being is very beneficial. if adjustments are required, it is much easier to handle when it’s a small issue rather than letting it become a bigger problem.

maintaining peace will make your journey much easier to travel.

my wish is that your heart be filled with peace,

how to prove you are sagacious

20140316-163915.jpgare you sagacious?

women my age might imagine it to be a description of what gravity tends to do to their body over the years.

but no.

not even close.

20140316-173223.jpgif you are sagacious -you have or show keen mental discernment and good judgement; you are wise or shrewd.

i think being sagacious would benefit my journey. how about you?

there is a simple test.

this is how you know if you are sagacious:

Wise are those who restrain their talking; people with understanding are coolheaded. Fools who keep quiet are deemed wise; those who shut their lips are smart. -Proverbs

have you ever been told, “if you know what’s good for you…” or “if you were smart you’d shut your mouth!”

the word smart refers to being sagacious or prudent.

this week, i have shared with you several posts concerning anger.

in my post how to handle emotions: anger, i discussed that anger can be a very useful emotion and that instinctively we feel anger when we are at risk of danger or loss. it’s easy to see this displayed in the animal kingdom; wound a bear, and watch it get angry. attempt to take a bone that your dog is enjoying and, quickly, you realize he’s not going to just lie there and let you take it from him.

we need our angry emotions. they are a safety mechanism.

however, beyond safety…they can get us into a lot of trouble.

do you understand the number 1 way that we get ourselves into trouble when we feel a burst of anger?

our mouth!

you know, “my mouth has a way if getting me into trouble!”

boy, do i know that statement is the truth.


by experience.

throughout my 54 year journey, i have been known to have “a mouth on me”.

here are 3 things that have made my blood boil over the years:

1. rudeness. if i am sitting in a resturant and a customer is being rude and demeaning to the waitress, i see red!

2. cruelty. i don’t like bullying in any form. when i observe cruelty to someone who is helpless due to age, strength or capability, i want to explode!

3. i hate to be told to “shut up”. i think it’s a rude statement so it’s similar to my first reason. when my daughter was very young, i told her it was a naughty word. so, she would gasp when she heard someone say it. i am pretty shy at times and have not always been comfortable with having my say…so, i don’t want to be told that i have to shut up in the middle of a sentence. i can get fired up!

these are three things that “push my button.” my anger button.

it has taken me many years and resulting pain to fully gain the “understanding” that it is wise to keep my mouth restrained and if i can’t restraint it -to just keep it shut.

now, that does not mean i don’t stand up for the people being mistreated.

there is a right way and a wrong way to confront someone. anger tends to cause us to forget reason, common sense and good judgement.

how can you prove you are sagacious? by having the good judgement and presence of mind to understand and discern when to speak (with restraint) or when to shut your mouth (rather just be quiet).

a wise person, a person who wants to prevent heartache, pain and suffering to their heart understand that being cool-headed when they need to address a situation will bring better results.

usually, we learn this the hard way…

by personal experience.

the Proverbs tell us that wisdom cries out to us so that heartache and pain can be prevented.

believe me, at 54 year old woman and a person who hates to be told to “shut up”, i’ve learned it’s better that i restrain my own mouth.

the reward?


i enjoy peace much more than turmoil, conflict and heartache.

have you ever said, “i wish i had kept my big mouth shut?”

yeah, me, too.

maybe next time…

it would be wise to do just that.

have a peaceful week,

a strong person does not get angry quickly


He that is slow to anger is better than a mighty warrior; better to be someone who controls his temper than someone who conquers a city. -Proverbs

my husband constantly tells me how much strategy, discipline and strength are required in the art of war. warriors train to be focused, function in the worst of conditions, make wise decisions, and to be strong enough to face an opponent and overcome him.

i feel a great deal of respect and honor when i meet a member of the military. although i’ve never been to battle, i understand this job is not an easy one.

the men and women who face our nation’s enemies on the battlefield are admired for their strength physically and mentally.

wisdom tells us that the person who can control his/her anger is stronger than a great warrior.

it shows as much strength (and requires as much strength) as it does for someone who defeats a city.

in other words, it’s takes great strength of character to not fly-off-the-handle. you must train and practice in varying circumstance to build the skill necessary to maintain self-control.

it’s not an easy skill to learn.

however, developing self-control over anger makes us more wise and set us on the path of success. after all the proverbs are given to us to give us keys to living more successful as we travel our journey.

next time your temper flares…maybe counting to 10 is a good thing to practice.


slow down, think clearly and keep a cool head!

how to handle emotions: anger


let’s talk about how to handle the emotion called anger.

if you have been following my blog this week i shared a couple of blogs on anger: the path fear follows and to whom is anger most dangerous.

20140314-011723.jpganger is a valuable emotion when managed properly.

to a great extent the sudden excitement on the reception of an injury is involuntary, and consequently innocent. anger is excited when a horse kicks us; when we stub our toe on a chair or when someone raises his hand to strike us. the purpose is rouse us to an immediate defense of ourselves when suddenly attacked. it prompts immediate action to self-protection. however, when that is done its proper purpose ceases.

beyond this purpose, anger is like poison.

20140314-014558.jpgthis is why Paul offered the wisdom to “Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry.” (MSG) you might be more familiar with the KJV that basically says to anger and sin not; don’t let the sun go down on your wrath.

either way, the wisdom in this advice is that anger should be dealt with quickly and not allowed to sit within our heart boiling away until it fuels a desire to extract revenge.

valuable advice…

difficult to practice.

following a very volatile divorce and custody battle, i found my heart broken and full of pain.

each unresolved, threatening issue caused me to feel more and more vulnerable and at risk.

there were valid reasons for my anger and i desperately wanted to save myself from real and perceived danger.

20140314-023308.jpganger began to fill my heart.

my heart was becoming a storage vessel. mark twain stated that anger is an acid that can do more harm to a vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.

this was true in my case.

not only, was my anger ineffective in dealing with my ex, but my heart was so full of anger that i became explosive at minor annoyances in other areas of my life. the anger was refusing to remain contained.

i was losing my ability to walk my journey in peace.

this made my existence miserable.

the price was far to high…i began to crave the return of peace in my life. i had held on to this anger far too long.

i had to get a grip on this emotion.

20140314-032922.jpgfirst, i had to stop treating the anger as a cherished treasure. no more defending my right to be angry. it may have had a purpose but it was not something to cherish or continually reflect upon.

i had to “let it go!” i could not sleep on it one more night. this was difficult because i wanted justice.

Or rather i had convinced myself that justice was the reason i needed to hold on so tightly. the reality is that i had been harbouring a desire for revenge.

i also cherished ill-will against the person and not the action.

i started by making a list of appropriate responses; speak kindly or don’t speak at all; make maintaining peace a top priority; listen more carefully to what was being said and not what i perceived as being said; take a “time out” if i felt my anger levels rising; and no matter the action-forgive and release quickly (stop rehearsing how i had been wronged in my head and to others).

it took practice. it required restraint. sometimes I had to just be “quiet” until i returned to a calm state of mind. and i prayed a lot…”Lord, give me strength!” my southern friends will know what I mean. 😎

i did get there.

if you find, your heart constantly exploding in anger, remember:

-anger may not be unavoidable.

-anger has proper bounds. do not allow it to overstep them.

-do not cherish it.

-do not let it remain in your heart all day long. let it go as quickly as possible.

-let the last rays of sun find you always peaceful and calm.

peace is far more rewarding and makes life’s journey enjoyable.


2 keys to dealing with confronting communications
a gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles tempers. -Proverbs

good communication is an important foundation for strong relationships.

communication breakdowns occur when strong, negative emotions overshadow the message. as women, we can be very passionate when we feel strongly about an issue.

there is a temptation to release the tension caused by angry emotions by yelling, slamming doors or other outbursts. however, an angry approach adds fuel to the fire. the emotion then becomes the focus. the message you are trying to communicate can become diminished or misunderstood. as a result nothing positive is achieved.

expressing emotion is an important part of communication as well. the key is to communicate them so that you can move past them, not fuel them.

when we find ourselves in a confrontation, it’s important to remember these 2 things:

    • an answer should be given – the injured person should not wrap himself in sullen silence
    • and that answer should be gentle

gentleness can be firm without being harsh.

i was visiting my daughter the other day and my grandchildren wanted to tell me about a conflict they had with each other.

each was passionate about their position. the end result of the conflict was not very good, even from their young perspectives.

it caused me to realise how important it is to teach children to communicate what they are feeling, communicate their feelings, value each person’s feelings, respect another person’s boundaries, forgive and move on.

so, we practiced.

at first, neither wanted to participate. i had to respect that.

within a few minutes, my granddaughter agreed and decided she did want to practice what she should do.

as she and i began to practice how to communicate, my grandson decided that he would practice as well…because it meant that he would be heard.

by the end of the exercise, they had practiced communicating to the their sibling what they wanted to say, asking for forgiveness, and giving forgiveness.

life skills are not caught…they are taught.

when we are given the appropriate tools, we have a better chance at being successful.

and we all want to be successful at whatever we attempt to do.

conflicts are difficult. they can be painful but they are not impossible to resolve.

good communication skills can help us to focus on the issue and not become side tracked.

you don’t have to remain silent if the issue is important to your heart.

your response can either help or prevent a successful outcome.

the choice is fully yours to make.

anger will ignite an unsuccessful outcome and gentleness will defuse the situation.