Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Well-Spoken Wednesday--Finding the Upside of the Down Times by Dr. Robert Pennington Guest Post

Summary from goodreads:  

Psychologist Survives Shooting, Firing, IRS Audit and Death of Spouse to Challenge Others to 'Find the Upside of the Down Times'. Rob Pennington, PhD, shares his own very personal and honest account of some of the biggest challenges life can throw at anyone. He empowers readers with true stories, inspiring insights and practical tools to help turn their own negative experiences into positive opportunities.

Stepping beyond the initial shock and emotional roller coaster of each trial he faced, Dr. Pennington credits faith and support from others. “I discovered strengths I did not know I had and might not have found, had it not been for the challenge,” says Dr. Pennington. “I learned how to turn the worst things that happen to me into the best opportunities I have.”
This book is not about theory, but the very real blessings that can be found by anyone in the difficulties of day-to-day life. At the end of each chapter, Dr. Pennington shares specific activities he learned that can assist readers to turn their own struggles into stepping-stones that can lead to an upside of personal and professional growth.
With wit and tenderness, with vulnerability and candor, the reader is taken on a journey through many aspects of life, from career and finances to relationships, education, and health. And when tragedy strikes, Dr. Pennington demonstrates through his own humanity that even though we all have difficult times, we also have the ability to rise above them.
When the times start to drag you down ... Rob’s real world examples show that you can still:
• Turn your worries into positive action plans
• Turn your fears into opportunities for hope and for help
• Turn your life into something better than you thought possible Look Inside available at: Praise from Experts available at:
THE AUTHOR Dr. Rob Pennington completed his doctorate at The University of Texas at Austin in educational psychology in 1976. In addition to his career in counseling and executive coaching, Dr. Pennington was a professor at three universities, a four-time recipient of the Mental Health Association’s Outstanding Speaker Award and one of Meeting Professional International’s original Platinum Presenters. Since 1982 he has received the highest trainer evaluations each year from Fortune 100 employees for his trainings, “Successfully Managing the Stress of Change” and “Successful Work Relationships.” Dr. Pennington’s intensive academic understanding paired with profound personal experience helps him make complex issues understandable in a delightfully common-sense manner. For the first time in book form, Dr. Pennington provides insights he has presented in trainings and keynotes worldwide on a range of professional and personal development topics.

Find The Upside of the Down TimesFind The Upside of the Down Times by Dr. Robert E Pennington
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book has to be the best self-help book I have ever read--or at least read in years.  I honestly don't know where to begin to sing its praises, and I doubt my review will do it justice.  But I will attempt to review this phenomenal, potentially life-changing book.

First of all, I believe that Dr. Pennington's style is very easy to read.  And his advice is very practical and real.  It is really nice to read a book by a psychologist that makes sense.  I like the fact that he doesn't just say "Smile and everything will be all right."  I also like the fact that he doesn't write above the common person's style.  He uses common, everyday language that makes sense.

When I compare the struggles that I face, I know that I have not suffered like he has!  My struggles don't even compare with his.  And if he can look at his struggles in a positive light, it gives me hope that I can as well.

I appreciate the most his view on relationships. Over the years, I have read a lot of relationship books over the years, but Dr. Pennington offered real advice.  In fact, I have been following what he mentioned concerning what one requires in a relationship and what one prefers.

At the end of each short chapter (and they really are short but powerful), he has ideas for you to apply and practice what he has taught you.  I did not actually sit down and do every single project, but this book is one that I will not only read one time.  It is a book I know I will come back to and refer to again and again.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough.  I do not think anyone would find anything offensive in the book--unless you would rather wallow in your negativism!

This book was provided to me for free by the author in exchange for my honest review.  I was not financially compensated in any other way, and all opinions are 100 percent mine.

View all my reviews

Being Devoted: A journey of discovering the upside in the down times.

When Clair and I were married, part of our marriage vows stated that through our union we were joining ourselves with God, and we committed ourselves to seeking and serving God through the way we treat one another. By devoting ourselves to one another, we were devoting ourselves to God. This was easier said than done.

Clair was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis three months after we fell in love, a year and a half before we were married. Although her limitations progressed year after year, her need for serious care increased in her last ten years.

Many people have asked about the many years I spent as her primary caregiver every evening and weekend. They seem to feel sad for me or confused about how I could give myself so fully to another person in need. They seem awed or impressed, and perhaps even afraid, imagining how they might feel faced with the same challenge.

It seems difficult for most people to imagine that there could be any upside to such a profound down time. But Clair and I did share many amazing experiences. I believe a key was our devotion to promoting, as best we each could with the tools and abilities at our disposal, one another’s highest good.

“Love at first sight” wasn’t just a cute saying for us. We loved each other from the moment we met. On the other hand, maintaining our ability to feel and experience that love was a very difficult journey that required more of us than we ever realized it would. As Katharine Hepburn said, “Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get—only with what you are expecting to give—which is everything.”

During our wedding ceremony the minister echoed this sentiment when he spoke of commitment by saying, “We do not expect you to know all that means now; but we do expect that you are pledging your will, so that whatever turns are in the road ahead, we may depend on your being there for her, supporting her with your very life.”

Although I said, “I do,” I did not know what that meant.

At first I think my devotion to Clair was probably a romantic high that came from the feeling of “being in love.” But the reality of our relationship was that during our years together Clair and I wrestled with fears about abandonment, rejection, and loss. We stumbled over issues of self-esteem, competition, jealousy and envy. We needed all the help we received from family, friends, therapists, physicians and spiritual teachers. In the middle of these struggles it was difficult to feel the romance. It took years for us to learn the difference between our preferences and our fundamental requirements (You can watch a video and learn more about this concept at
: Don’t Go To War Over A Preference!).

As Clair’s multiple sclerosis progressed her abilities decreased, so my responsibilities increased. I had to clean and cook and do things for her I won’t even write here! The more I did for her the more Clair resisted because she felt I was restricting her, and taking her power and options away.  She thought that meant I didn’t love her. It was very confusing.

But after each emotional incident we would come back with love, affection, and appreciation. It was like falling in love all over again. I started to realize that as soon as things started to get rough I could already begin looking forward to that feeling of falling in love again. That meant to me that the love was always there, but sometimes the logistics of life distracted our attention. I started to realize that I don’t have to prove my love and devotion; I just need do the next thing that needs to be done. I only have to clean the toilet because it needs to be cleaned. I only have to clean one spilled cup of coffee instead of all the messes that have ever happened. And in the meantime, remember the love is already there.

We gave each other so many ‘I love you’ cards over our decades together. I keep some cards today as a testament to the fact that we kept falling in love again and again until falling in love became as constant as giving one another romantic cards.

I learned I could not get everything done, and now three years after her death I’m still cleaning up messes I didn’t have the time or energy to address. But you have to make choices in such circumstances, and it helps if you can feel good about yourself in the process. I learned to be devoted to myself and to take responsibility for own my needs as well.

By devoting myself to caring for Clair I found that I could be the kind of person I really wanted to be. You could say that by caring for her I found myself! So, in a way, I really did all this for myself as much for her. I just didn’t realize what I would have to go through on the journey in order to get here!

Now that she has passed, I can be that person for my parents as they age by sharing devotion without all the pain and emotional effort. What a wonderful blessing for us all.

About the Author:  Dr. Rob Pennington
Shot, fired, audited, divorced and caring for a critically ill spouse until her death, psychologist Dr. Rob Pennington shares his personal challenges, lessons he learned and activities to help readers save themselves time and pain in his awarding winning book: Find The Upside Of The Down TImes: How To Turn Your Worst Experiences Into Your Best Opportunities!
Available on Amazon, Kindle and iTunes.  


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