Wednesday, September 25, 2013


We have all read Robert Frost’s poem, “Mending Wall” that begins, “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall….”

Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down.

If Frost and his neighbor scattered the stones of their wall, the legal boundary line would still exist. Frost would pay taxes on his property and the neighbor would pick up the community requirements within his designated perimeter. The alteration would be visual but without legal ramifications.

We each have needs that must be met for content, productive living. We develop boundaries that give us safe space, that allow us to function with family, friends, strangers, work partners.

Frost ponders the psychological barrier between his neighbor and himself as they walk their border, each contributing to the stone wall. Like Frost, we may profit from evaluating the boundaries we build within our relationships.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013


How can we maintain authenticity and integrity if we do not clearly identify “what is me and what is not me. A boundary shows me where I end and someone else begins, leading me to a sense of ownership.” (Boundaries. Chapter 2) A boundary is a dotted line demarcating who I am and lets in good information and closes ranks to shut out damaging stuff. Or so the theory goes.

Our self definition and conscious recognition that this is who I am may be as follows:  Physically, I will never be a tall, lanky bean pole. I was genetically built with my father’s nose and his mother’s thin hair. My sister inherited the accounting genes, but I was gifted with science skills that place me in the medical health care industry. Emotionally, two of us inherited our father’s quiet patience and one our mother’s busy finger-in-every pie energy.
As we experience life, we further define who we are and who we will never become no matter how hard we try. And that that’s okay. Recognition and acceptance of this person who lives within our boundaries assists us fend off demands that we be something other than what we are.
The better we become at self identification and verbalization, the better our boundaries will hold our self together, allowing us to explore and experience new opportunities, to encourage and give to those around us.

Monday, September 9, 2013


Interaction with one other person requires being aware of our boundaries. The lines that define our personhood and its physical containment may be invisible but never amorphous, moveable with limitations but ignored to our detriment and with disagreeable consequences.

The most useful documentation I have on my bookshelf is Boundaries, When to Say Yes, When to Say No To Take Control of Your Life. The authors are Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.

Operating an adult family home demands that we delineate our boundaries. Because the subject is so important, Washington State DSHS has outlined rules for us in a hefty, continually revised missive affectionately called the WAC. For example, we wash our hands in the kitchen sink only when we are handling food. Any bathroom-type activity requires washing in the bathroom or the utility room.

Until you verbalize this boundary and think about the ramifications (contagious bugs) it may seem silly. It is a legitimate boundary. Like telling someone that they are hurting you when their handshake is too hearty. Like telling someone that you do not want telephone calls after a certain hour. Like telling a coworker that when they don’t come to work on time they are affecting your work.

Identifying a boundary to the people with whom we share this planet may require that we also identify consequences. (Rather than you call me after 10PM I will be happy to call you at 5AM when I get up.) And here comes the sticky wicket. Somewhere in our lifetime we were told that we need to be nice. If you are not nice then you must be horrible.

My dear father-in-law could draw out the “i” vowel and create a truly frightful sound. He forever ruined for me that pleasant word “nice.” Try it adding a whine while you smile into the “i.”

Legitimate boundaries will offend someone sometime, but you will remain intact, authentic, faithful, trustworthy, and perhaps even a bit nice.