The two birthday girls are Stephanie Hickey(the wife of my Facebook friend, Finbarr Hickey) of Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary, and Mary Forsey of Portlaw, County Waterford. Mary lives in Portlaw, the village of my birth. She has recently been discharged from the hospital and is once more back home where she belongs, taking her wonderful photographs daily of Portlaw and surrounding areas in County Waterford, and Carrick-on-Suir in the neighbouring county of Tipperary. Each holiday I return home to my Irish roots in Portlaw, I always look up my best friend, Tony Walsh and his wife, Lily, at their home in nearby Carrick-on-Suir.
My family left Ireland before my fifth birthday and though I have been back to my Irish birthplace many times, whenever I return to West Yorkshire after my Irish break, I get homesick for the old place again on the other side of the Irish Sea and cannot wait to return another year. Mary’s daily photographs keep me in spiritual touch with the village and my grandparent’s house where I was born at 14, William Street, Portlaw, and very close to the place where the bones of my ancestors are buried, and where part of my ashes will be deposited after my death in my grandparent’s grave (Willie & Mary Fanning, and Uncle Willie) in ‘St. Patrick’s Catholic Church’, across the bridge and up at the top of the hill.
Thank you for being my friend, Mary, and for remaining the spiritual guide to my blessed homeland. Enjoy your special day, Stephanie, and Mary, as only two special Irish ladies like your good selves can. Love Bill xxx
My song today is ‘Love Lifted Me’. This was the first solo studio album by the later Kenny Rogers for ‘United Artist Records’. It was released in 1976. This is Rogers' first solo effort following the break-up of ‘The First Edition’ earlier that year.
The album was a minor success, reaching Number 28 on the Country charts. Three singles were released from the album including the title track; a 1912 gospel hymn (released as a single in 1975), which hit Number 19 on the ‘U.S. Country Chart’ and crossed to the U.S. ‘Billboard Hot 100’ chart by ranking Number 97. The second single, ‘Homemade Love’, didn't rank on the charts, but the final single, ‘While the Feeling's Good’ hit Number 46 on the ‘U.S. Country Chart’.
I was 34 years old when this record was released but did not come across it until many years later. I was working as a Probation Officer in Huddersfield at the time of its release and had just founded the working method of ‘Anger Management’. This was a pioneering way of working with people whose angry responses were excessive and inappropriate. Often, the aggressive responses of people who were suitable to undergo ‘Anger Management’ programmes were involuntary, and before the aggressive person knew the intensity of the emotion that had hit them, they would have automatically hit out disproportionately aggressively at some person or object.
My method of working with aggressive people had been born in my own past circumstances, individual experiences, and behavioural response pattern of my youth. My working method essentially demonstrated the most effective way of employing the ‘Anger Management ‘ process so that clients who had been temporally helped by a worker ‘could remain helped longer’ and their good progress strengthened and reinforced. As a general rule, they might complete a work programme with their counsellor or social worker or probation officer and would gradually revert back to their former aggressive response patterns in the future when the contact with their worker had ended (just as many dieters do after they lose lots of weight, then give up crash dieting and put their original weight back on; plus a few extra pounds!
I could have sold my working process to the world and have become wealthy from its sale, but instead, I chose to freely share it to any worker who might find it useful. Within two years of my founding the method, ‘Anger Management’ (a phrase which I originally coined), ‘Anger Management’ had mushroomed in use across the English-speaking world. During the 40 years since its inception and global use, it has helped countless people change and modify their unacceptable aggressive behaviour pattern, and more importantly, my precise contribution of long-term reinforcement has helped maintain much positive change of behaviour achieved.
The different working methods that I expounded, and which I am most proud of throughout my working career with the Angry, Fearful, Stressful, Addicted, Tense, Poor Sleeping, Emotionally Disturbed, Physically, Mentally, Psychologically and Sexually Abused, and all manner of Problematic people would have to include:
(1) Founding my working process of ‘Anger Management’ and freely giving it away.
(2) Introducing Relaxation Training into Probation Offices: Hostels: Psychiatric Hospitals: Educational Establishments: Prisons: Church Halls: Community Halls: Training courses for General Nurses, Psychiatric Nurses, Psychologists, Teachers, Police, Fire workers, and Probation Officers throughout West Yorkshire.
(3) Discovering a way of using the combination of Progressive Relaxation, Self-Hypnosis and Imagery to access the problematic ‘involuntary response pattern’ (which is controlled by the right-hand-side hemispheric functioning of the brain) and transferring the behaviour of the problematic person to the non-problematic ‘voluntary response pattern’ (which is controlled by the left-hand-side hemispheric functioning of the brain). This is done on the worker presumption that ‘given a choice’ of responding in either a problematic or non-problematic way, most sane-minded people will choose to respond and behave in a non-problematic and legal manner.
(4) Helping over 200 hundred people (each of whom had committed over 100 offences before I started working with them) in a two-hour weekly group spread over six months, stop offending. These people were part of a ten-year follow-up research programme.
(5) Helping over 3OO people (the overwhelming majority of them women), and all of whom had been on tranquillisers and anti-depressant medication for periods of no less than one year and no more than ten years, break their medication/drug dependency completely. These people were also part of a ten-year research follow-up study.
(6) Helping over 500 people who negotiated my programmes of work during a twenty-five-year period in the Probation Service become happier, healthier and more hopeful individuals who had learned to love themselves, before going on to express love for others.
My vocation as a Probation Officer came about as a promise that I made to my Maker at the age of 11 years as I lay dying in Batley Hospital and overheard a doctor tell my parents that I would not live through the night because of the horrific injuries I had incurred after a wagon had knocked me down, run over me and stopped on top of me, wrapping my twisted body around the main drive shaft beneath. After I pulled through and lived, I had no sense of feeling beneath my waist because of my damaged spine. My damaged spine led the medics to tell me and my parents and me that I would never walk again.
At these two crucial moments, when both my continued life and ability ever to walk again lay in the balance, I prayed to God and promised Him that if He allowed me to live and walk again, I would spend the rest of my life helping others to live better by becoming happier, healthier, more hopeful, people who would live more wholesome lives. All of my adult life from the age of thirty years, I have tried to help people live better, and since developing an incurable blood cancer seven years ago at the age of 70 years, I have devoted all of my energies through the example of living positively with my own three body cancers, to help people with curable and incurable cancer and other illnesses cope better with their debilitating conditions, and when the time arrives, to die a better death, while meanwhile living a more positive life.
I know that I am a much blessed and very lucky person who discovered a way of improving the health, hope, and happiness of many people throughout my life. Through my own three cancers, and my positive response to my own health issues, I have been able to assist people to both live and die better! I know that it is the ‘power of prayer’ rather than any ‘power and persuasiveness of personality’ which has helped me through my own difficult times, and I cannot adequately describe how it feels to have had hundreds of daily prayers, hundreds of candles lit, and dozens of masses said on my behalf by numerous people across the world whom I’ve never met or most likely never will.
I genuinely feel a much-loved man who treasures life daily, and who greatly appreciates everything the earth we inhabit provides for us. I daily thank God for the continued love of my wife, Sheila, my family, my friends, and my good neighbours. It is they, and it is many of you who provide me with the knowledge that I am never alone, and that I am constantly in their hearts and their prayers and are never far from their thoughts.
I cannot convey to you how important it is not to feel alone; how important it is to know that however hard things get, however difficult the journey becomes to travel, to know that I do not walk the distance alone. To know that however short or long my final journey from this life takes, I can always count upon good companions along the way.
My maker kept His side of the agreement with that 11-year-old boy, and I have tried to keep my side of the bargain ever since. Whenever I hear this song, it reminds me of those childhood years when ‘Love Lifted Me’ to better things than I might not otherwise have achieved. It reminds me that ‘Love is all-powerful’ and ‘all-embracing’. It reminds me that there are times in a person’s life when nothing else except love will show the way; when nothing but love can touch the wound of another with such tenderness that it heals. It reminds me that the ‘Holy Trinity of Health, Hope and Happiness’ involves maintaining a constant compassionate and loving communication and positive relationship with, ‘You, He and Me’.
Love and peace Bill xxx