The Shulman Center for Compulsive Theft & Spending

           March 2008 e-Newsletter

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Leap Year, Election Year, The Olympics, and Other 4-Year Cycles:
What Does This Have to Do with Recovery?


Terrence Daryl Shulman


So, I've been thinking what to write about for this month's e-Newsletter and, frankly, I was drawing blanks. Then I remembered that this year is a Leap Year--every four years we add a day to our annual calendar: February 29th. I marveled for a few moments about how somebody figured out we needed to add a full day every four years to balance out our clocking of time. Amazing if you think about it. Then I started to think about the number 4. Here we are in the U.S. about to have a presidential election--every four years. The Summer Olympics--gearing up in China--happens every four years. The Chinese New Year--the Year of the Rat--fell in the 8th year (2008) which is 2 x 4--okay, now I'm stretching it. Speaking of the Chinese, I have heard their culture considers the number 4 to represent "bad luck" or "death" whereas the number 8--as many cultures also believe--represents "good luck" and "prosperity."

As spring approaches--yes, those of us who actually experience real winter do take note with anticipation--I can already hear the strains of violins in Vivaldi's "Rite of Spring" suite from "The Four Seasons." And, of course, there's St. Patrick's Day which ushers in not only gallons of green beer but those ubiquitous "four-leaf clovers."
Okay, I'm no numerologist but there must be some connection worth exploring here. What does the number 4 mean to you?

For me, I'm just increasingly aware that this is an auspicious time to be alive. A lot is going on in the world and, undoubtedly, in our own lives. I have this feeling like everything is beginning to come together just as it sometimes seems like everything is about to fall apart. On the one hand, there's our faltering economy, global warming, the war in Iraq, the uneasy anticipation of another terrorist attack. On the other hand, there's the hope of a new politics with the running of a woman and a bi-racial man,  the awe of human technology in U.S. military shooting down a dying satellite within a 10-second window of opportunity, and that brilliant lunar eclipse a week or so ago. Maybe I'm spooking myself but sometimes I hear theme music from "The Twilight Zone" ringing in my ear. Oh, and don't forget to sign up for Oprah and Eckhart Tolle's free 10-week live international "web-class" based on Tolle's new book "A New Earth" beginning Monday March 3rd at 9pm EST! Go to The book is about how the world we see is a reflection of the world inside ourselves; thus, in order to create a new world for all of us, we need to create a new world inside each of us.

And then I allow myself to stroll back to my life 4 years ago. Where were you 4 years ago? What was going on in your life? It was early 2004. It was an exciting time--full of hope and promise and, more than a tinge of fear. I had just left published my first book--"Something for Nothing"--several months earlier. I began 2004 finally fully self-employed after having left a counseling clinic where I'd worked since 1997. And I had just gotten a phone call from a producer from the Oprah Winfrey Show expressing interest in producing a fall show about shoplifting. (That show eventually was produced and aired in September 2004 and helped my business really take-off).

At the same time, my brother Sam--who was 23--had just completed a one-week stint in The Shulman Center inpatient program: my wife and I let him sleep in our guest room on the sofa couch while he gathered the pieces of his life after a traumatic break-up and after bottoming out from a 7-year gambling addiction. We gave him the "tough love" medicine: "We love you, we care about you, you've got one week to stay here and collect yourself but then you're out on your own. We strongly encourage you to get back in counseling and go back to Gamblers Anonymous."

My brother, through hard work and by grace, quickly starting to gain traction on a new path. Remarkably, within one year, he not only got sober and took responsibility for his life--a real sign of maturing--but he stumbled back into his love of music and made a brave decision not to go to law school but, rather, to move to the Los Angeles area to pursue a career in music--the business side of it. I had a few reservations about him leaving. He had done some research and planted some seeds but it still like a "leap of faith" and "a wing and a prayer."

To Sam's credit, he connected with Gamblers Anonymous in L.A./Santa Monica and landed an interview with Interscope Records for an unpaid 6-month internship position. He quickly grooved to this and, despite some ups and downs, completed the internship and began a second unpaid internship there while hoping something for pay would open up. He then found out he could register with the local temp agency and actually get paid for his work and, about a year ago, he was hired at Interscope as a "full-time temp" during a time where many other regular employees were getting pink-slipped as the music industry has struggled to stay viable. He was fortunate to begin working directly with and mentoring under a gentleman who has some 30 years in the business.

Sam's enjoying every minute of learning and being challenged. He was excited and I was proud when he recently received his first "credit" on a recording: "B.B. King Live" just released a few weeks ago. Sam, congratulations on 4 years of recovery and 4 years of incredible growth and accomplishments!

So what does the number 4 have to do with recovery? It's like the four seasons. We take a "fall" or bottom out. Then we seem to enter a winter (of discontent or dark night of the soul). Then we plant some seeds and tend to them and wait for them to bloom in spring. And then, hopefully, we get to bask in the summer sun of our fuller awareness and successes. I don't know if this cycle always takes 4 years or if we're always up in summer or down in winter but it's worth thinking about. It's also worth remembering that--like the economy or our own lives--there are ups and downs and cycles of birth and death and renewal and change.

Another way I feel this relates to recovery is to remember: things take time. So, when I'm impatient about my business, or my marriage, or anything else, I need to remind myself to slow down. I can wonder: is there a cycle? Everything in time. It remains a mystery what prompts one person to stay stuck, stay safe--and what prompts another to step off the dime. I continue to look at my own life in this manner.

It was about 4 years ago that my weight and my cholesterol began creeping up. It basically took me nearly 4 years to come out of denial and really take this situation seriously. I kept thinking it was a fluke, or it would magically go away. Then, when it didn't, I made minor adjustments in my diet and "tried" to get a little more exercise. Then, about a year ago, I began a regular exercise program (4-5 days a week at the health club). But my weight and cholesterol only came down a bit. Then, six months ago, I adjusted my diet slightly, increased my exercise to 5-6 days a week, starting eating oatmeal every morning, and began taking supplements. When I found out two months ago that my cholesterol had jumped 29 points, I was dumbfounded.

I finally succumbed to taking medication to help lower it. But I haven't stopped there. About a week ago I began a 2-week body cleanse with supplements and started the Life Force Plan which is a 4 month food plan designed to kill candida in the body that interferes with all kinds of functioning including processing of cholesterol and weight loss. It's really intended to be followed--to a less strict degree--beyond 4 months as a "lifestyle" more than a "diet." See

After a challenging first few days of cleansing and "life-forcing" (I was totally "jonesing" for chips and sweets!), I have lost 7 pounds and feel pretty lean, clean, and energized. I am hoping to stay on this plan for some time to come. I never thought I'd have to be in "recovery" from bad eating and exercise patterns--I guess the consequences finally caught up with me. Now, I am learning to accept the reality. I only hope that when I go back to my doctor in April that my cholesterol really has dropped. I want to see if I can stay off meds if I really stick to a health lifestyle. I recognize, however, my heredity plays a part. I'm just not sure how much. Wish me luck and stay tuned...

All 4 One and One 4 All!

A Requiem

In late February, a Detroit area woman, 42, committed suicide. She had been a local TV news anchor over the last decade or so. She had been arrested for shoplifting in late 2005--which made the news and forced her out of one TV job. She went through a difficult divorce and lost custody of her kids and filed for bankruptcy. About a year ago, she was arrested for drunk driving. About a month ago, she was charged with embezzling $150,000 from the man she had been dating and to whom she had been providing financial advice. Her embezzlement charge made the news and she was, again, fired from her TV job. I couldn't help but feel for this woman and what she must have been going through. She was a "cry for help" if there ever was one. When I heard the news about her suicide, I couldn't help but think that maybe she could have been helped if she had known about or sought out help through counseling or the Cleptomaniacs And Shoplifters Anonymous groups. My judgment is she died because of her shame and her hopelessness. It reminds me that this disease--the disease of theft addiction--kills like any other. I say a prayer for this woman, her family, and the others out there who either don't know there's help as well as those who know there's help but don't think they are worth it or can be helped--may they find a way to step off the dime.

On Roger Clemes and Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick

I've been watching and reading with near morbid interest the tale of two dynamic and successful men who each are going through tragic downfalls of their own making. For Roger Clemens, his drama is related to his suspected steroid and human growth hormone use.  For Mayor Kilpatrick, his drama is related to an affair with his chief of staff and the firing of two former Detroit police officers who threatened to expose this and other ill-advised actions. But the bigger problems for both men stem from their apparent willingness to commit perjury--Clemens before Congress recently and Kilpatrick at a wrongful termination trial last year brought by the two officers.

As I stated in last month's e-Newsletter: It is a reminder to me that the lie or the cover-up is often more damaging than the initial misdeed. In recovery I have been learning the value of honesty. My life is a lot more peaceful for it. As the 10th Step of the Anonymous groups suggests: "Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it."

Legal Update

For those interested, you may recall in last month's e-Newsletter I shared about the legal letter I received in early January from a law firm representing a company that also works with helping shoplifters. The letter asserted I had been using without authorization both statistics and quotes from the company's website as well as the name "shoplifters anonymous" for one of my websites. I promptly hired a lawyer who wrote a detailed response outlining why there were no legal merits to their claims, I have not heard anything back in nearly two months. I feel relative peace about this now. After a brief period of shock, outrage, and fear, I credit my recovery for helping me settle down, explore my response options, ask for help, and then let it go. It was all one of life's little pop quizzes, I guess. I hope I passed!


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Fall 2008 Conference on Compulsive Shopping and Shoplifting is in the works! A decision will be made sometime in April Also, Mr. Shulman is near completion of a book on compulsive shopping and spending to be pubished in mid-2008. The tentative title is: Bought Out and Spent! Recovery from Compulsive Shopping & Spending. Stay tuned for more details...


January 29th: Mr. Shulman appeared as a guest expert on shoplifting on Fox TV's The Mike & Juliet Show.

February 4th: Mr. Shulman launched a new metro-Detroit area chapter of C.A.S.A. (Cleptomaniacs And Shoplifters Anonymous) on Monday nights from 7-8pm at Renaissance Unity Church Room 313 in Warren, MI.

MARCH and beyond...

Prospective: Mr. Shulman to present a workshop in April or May at the National Association of Social Workers in Michigan's Annual Conference on the topic of compulsive shopping and spending and money dysfunctions.

Mr. Shulman continues to work with a British documentary producer on a show on shoplifting addiction and kleptomania.

Mr. Shulman is working with a producer of a documentary on American excess called "American Dream: The Movie"

Mr. Shulman will be featured in a 2009 book on recovery in the USA called "America Anonymous" by Benoit-Denizen Lewis.


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Contact The Shulman Center

Terrence Shulman
P.O. Box 250008
Franklin, Michigan 48025


Call (248) 358-8508 for free consulation!

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Products for Purchase--SALE!

Mr. Shulman's 75 Minute DVD Power Point Presentation on Employee Theft at Livonia, Michigan Financial Manager's Conference 10/19/06. $75.00

Mr. Shulman's 75 Minute DVD Power Point Presentation on Employee Theft at Louisville, Kentucky Business in Industry Conference 9/19/07. $75.00

Mr. Shulman's two books "Something for Nothing: Shoplifting Addiction & Recovery" and "Biting The Hand That Feeds: The Employee Theft Epidemic... New Perspectives, New Solutions" are availabe for $25.00 each (includes shipping/handling) or both for $45.00 (includes shipping/handling).

Mr. Shulman's 90 minute DVD Power Point presentation for young people: "Theft and Dishonesty Awareness Program." $75.00

Mr. Shulman's 33 minute psycho-educational DVD: "The Disease of Something for Nothing: Shoplifting and Employee Theft." $50.00

First International Conference on Theft Addictions & Disorders 4 DVD set (13 Hours). Recorded 10/05. $125.00


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