The Shulman Center for Compulsive Theft and Spending
May 2007 e-Newsletter

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Don Imus, Global Warming, Iraq, Virginia Tech

Am I Part of the Solution or Part of the Problem?


Terrence Daryl Shulman


I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed lately. What a month April was: Don Imus, Earth Day, more of the same in Iraq, and the Virginia Tech massacre. I suspect a big part of what I’m feeling is “media overload.” Everywhere I turn—radio, TV, print, and constant conversation—I feel prodded by life “static.” It’s as if there’s a talking head inside my head! I admit, I’m addicted to information… or what passes as information. Maybe I’m part of the problem.

I love to be informed. I love to debate. But I feel like I’m going to explode sometimes. I do my best to keep “The Secret” and “The Law of Attraction” in mind: focusing on what I want rather than what I don’t want. I admit, sometimes I forget. I tell myself: it’s hard to ignore what’s going on in the world. Is there a way to be a part of these human stories without succumbing to them? How can I be a part of humanity while still maintaining my still point? What, if anything, can I do? I can grasp theoretically and metaphysically I am interpreting life’s events as “bad or wrong” and that there’s no “reality” unless I or others “agree” to it. But isn’t that just denial sometimes? Can apathy and turning away be “just as evil” as if we had done the act? Isn’t that how the Holocaust happened? What about the inaction following Hurricane Katrina. Then, of course, sometimes not acting is the best thing to do. I’m confused. In this age of bombardment, desensitization, and immobilization, how can I be part of some solutions here!?

What can one person do to effect positive change in this “crazy” world? For a long time now—17 years and counting—I’ve largely focused on healing myself, as in “by healing myself, I heal the world”… or at least do my part. Without stopping my personal healing journey, I do sometimes wonder if there will be a world left worth living in: a world of war, environmental catastrophe, and on and on. While I’m working my recovery, creating a healthy marriage, expanding my career, and helping others heal and grow, when it comes to the “big” issues of the day I feel impotent to help. These “problems” seem so beyond my ability to impact.

Then I remember: this is the how I’ve felt each and every time I’ve faced a difficult personal problem in my life. When I was in addiction, I couldn’t see a way out. I had many fits and starts. Over time, however, I found a path and joined with others to achieve wellness. When I was confused about my career path I felt desperate and lost at times. I hung in there and, eventually, things took shape. When my first book languished for 7 years I thought I’d never finish it. I found coaching and mentorship and finally published it. In my marriage over the last four and a half years, there’ve been struggles, bumps, and a few times where we’ve both said: “I don’t know how to do this!” Somehow, we got to higher ground. Even losing weight and getting back into a consistent exercise regime once seemed shamefully impossible despite my having achieved more difficult and lofty goals. In the last four months, something finally clicked in: I go to the health club almost daily and have lost 10 pounds.

The difference, of course, may seem that “there are my issues and then there are the world’s issues.” As the serenity prayer states: “grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” But we are all connected. The conundrum persists: in my thinking that I am separate from the war, from global warming, from shock radio, from the V-Tech tragedy, I may protect myself emotionally for the moment. But at what cost? There’s taking 100% responsibility for my life. That’s hard enough? But taking 100% responsibility for life itself? That’s another matter, isn’t it? Of course, there are also countless blessings and miracles happening around us all the time. Do we notice that?

An answer, perhaps, for me at least, is to remember: baby steps. I don’t like the feeling of being overwhelmed and helpless. It isn’t great for my personal recovery, relationships, energy and mood yet I need to remember there may be only so much one person can do. Gradually, I am committing to ways I can do my part to help reduce global warming: turning off lights and electronics, walking more instead of driving, investing in energy efficient light bulbs, replacing our dishwasher and washing machine, planting a garden. In regard to the war and violence in our society, I can continue to work to heal my own anger and rage. I can write my congresspersons, I can write an op-ed piece, I can join a pro-peace group or rally, I can work on my prejudices and reactions. Like personal recovery, it takes time to get into a new groove. I believe I need to see that if “nothing changes, nothing changes” and that I need to be the change I want to see in the world.

I can look at the mirror that is the world and find my painful and illuminating connection. Like the young man who went on a rampage at Virginia Tech, I was once an embittered undergrad who majored in English. Some of my early feelings and writings echoed the same alienation, loneliness and outrage he possessed. I used to steal to express and vent my anger instead of act it out through physical violence. One of my favorite sayings is that there’s only two communications: love and a cry for love.

As we approach Mother’s Day I hope to honor not only my biological mother but Mother Earth as well. In this hyper-masculine world of doing and rushing and information overload, perhaps it’s a good time to drop into the soft belly of the feminine and just be, just feel, just breathe. Sometimes, doing nothing is a great start and a great gift to ourselves and to the world. I hope we can find a path to feel hopeful about our world and our valuable role in it.


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2007 2nd International Conference on Theft Addictions & Disorders postponed!

It is with regret that I report the postponement of our Fall 2007 Conference which had been in the early planning stages over the last few months. We ran into several obstacles and have decided to re-evaluate and plan for our next conference sometime in 2008. Stay tuned!

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Women's Entertainment Channel will be featuring an hour-long segment on shoplifting addiction on its "Secret Lives of Women" program! Stay tuned for details!

Other media items from April 2007:

4/1/07: I had an article on compulsive shopping/spending in the online mag Conscious Mind Journal.

4/16/07: I was in Baltimore, MD filming a segment on the Retirement Living Cable Channel on the topic of older adults and addiction. I spoke about shoplifting and shopping as well as other issues.

4/19/07: The Chicago Tribune ran an article about theft of items from local restaurants by customers. I was interviewed on why people steal.

4/21/07: The Detroit Free Press ran a short feature about me and my work in its business section.

....coming in May 2007?

Detroit Free Press "Twist" insert mag to highlight compulsive shopping and spending.

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Now Available!

*Available on DVD or CD: My 90-minute presentation on theft addictions and disorders at the 2006 Michigan Social Workers Annual Conference. $90 for the DVD, $25 for the CD or $100 for both;

*Available on DVD: My hour-long presentation on theft addictions and disorders from Brighton Hospital September 7, 2006: $60.00;

*Available on DVD: My 75 minute-long presentation on employee theft at The Michigan Financial Managers Conference on October 19, 2006: $75.00;

*Available: My two hour-long presentation on theft addictions and disorders at the Birmingham Community House November 9, 2006: $100.00;

*Available: My two hour-long presentation on theft addictions and disorders at the San Fernando Valley Employee Assistance Meeting on October 27, 2006: $100.00; and

*Available: 13 Hours (4 DVDs) of The First International Conference on Theft Addictions & Disorders in Detroit 2005: $200.00; 12 CD's $120.00; DVD's and CD's $300.00.

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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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© 2007 The Shulman Center

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