Foreword to The Jungle Pack; Workbook-Therapy Journal

This therapy journal was originally designed to help the client develop and maintain awareness of emotionally laden traps we all fall into with other people. The intention here was to provide a way for a client to document personal discoveries which result in empowerment. As this manuscript grew in size, I integrated prompts for client-centered responses and leads for the therapist to facilitate goal-setting. Participation in this format enables a first hand education in the way emotions are triggered in our different environments. A person becomes responsible and takes ownership for what battles to choose with peers, family members, teachers and bosses.

The idea for this journal started during my session with a pre-adolescent boy who was describing confrontations with his older sister. I found him to be receptive towards studying these interactions and making a difference in how he handled matters at home. In an effort to help him have fun with this and appeal to an age-related theme, I came up with the Jungle Pack. It was meant to be a bundle of facts he identified in session, put onto 3×5 cards and stored in a package that looks like a miniature back pack.

This idea rapidly took hold and I started to write about the collective nature of human beings to step on each others toes, quite often without even trying. My thinking was soon filled with the vast number of commonalities each of us shares, no matter what financial standing, race, color or creed we categorize ourselves with. If one is a person, he or she has feelings, thoughts and ego. In this respect, there is no true claim of victim hood or exception.

The Jungle Pack: Therapy Workbook-Journal has the applications to benefit both the mental health consumer and therapist. For the person in therapy, there is the opportunity to customize and keep track of responses to therapy directives and assignments. He or she is also being educated in the manner of feelings vocabulary and building personal motivation to carry on with healthy actions. The therapist has a way to maintain track of therapy efforts from session to session. And of course, this workbook serves as a backboard onto which a therapeutic relationship can be built.

Handling Bad Cops

The only thing I ever learned about getting a switch taken to the back of my legs, was to make sure I stayed out of sight of the switch-wielder when doing the bad deeds.  So let’s not go for the switch when handling bad cops (some New York City police officers, for instance).

Instead, we can look at what really made me think twice about doing stupid things, like having someone else own my free time.

Parents who know how to make use of a kid’s time, are able to cover a lot of ground in the household and keep up a functional hierarchy, teaching the art of accountability without hostility.

With that said, here is a list of community service jobs for bad cops to do (before and after their regular shifts) under the supervision of private citizens:

Wash the school buses.

Serve in the soup lines.

Clean the city parks by hand.

Clean up the environmental hazard sites.

Walk people’s dogs.

Groom people’s dogs.

I’m sure there are many other community service jobs that other people can think of.

Size Matters

Oftentimes, we try to pass through small windows of opportunity with old beliefs that don’t fit.  It’s like forcing a huge square peg through a small round hole.  We bang, push, cry, yell and say “This is so unfair!”

We expect to make friends with people who want to be treated differently than our old pals; the ones who are used to our usual behavior.  Yes, some people will stick around and take the same old crap.  It’s called low self-esteem.  But to have new and maybe even better opportunities with different people, the same old crap won’t work.  The size of our baggage blocks our ability to see this.

Maybe our old beliefs have worked in the past.  We put value on how many times the loyal friends and family members kept coming back, no matter how insidious we acted at times or maybe even all the time.  We tend to look at this as being worth more than the potential for new experiences that foster real growth.

Remember that thing called “inflation”?  How many times have we refused to drop a useless pattern of thinking or an outdated belief, because of how it serves us in the name of comfort?  It’s like refusing a job that can possibly reap ten times more money, but the level of initial discomfort keeps us in a job that only earns a meager salary.

Parents Worksheet

Pay for the behavior you want:

My response to __________ throwing a fit is ____________________________.

I feel ___________________ when she _______________________.

3 behaviors that get on my nerves the most are ___________________, _____________________ and ___________________.

3 good behaviors that she has are ___________________, __________________ and ____________________________.

The behaviors that I spend the most energy correcting are _________________, _______________________ and _________________________.

The way she reacts to my corrections are _______________, __________________ and_________________________.

The way she acts when I express anger or impatience is ___________________.

I end up having to _____________________ when she misbehaves ___times a day.

The way I respond to good behavior is ______________________________.


The Imaginary Sniper

What do you see when your fingers are propped above the keyboard in the

anticipation of writing a post or story?  Anyone could logically say there is a blank space or page.  And while this is true, there are many of us who tend to imagine the onset of disaster if a mistake is made.  Maybe you type a letter or word that just doesn’t seem right.  Maybe you end up writing a whole sentence that doesn’t fit.  It’s called an error.  You can fix this.

Writing a grammatically incorrect sentence is far different from hitting someone in the nose.  Revising what you typed is a temporary setback or even a way to learn more about writing.  It is not a crime.  An error in typing is not going to bring on imminent danger.  I can tell you this all day long, but a lot of us will still think, feel and imagine an imaginary sniper ready to shoot us upon the first stroke of the key.  Why else would you sit there and think about what to say?  What is with the hesitation?

Writing is simple.  I’m not saying talent comes easy.  But the task of putting words on paper or the screen is an elementary function which most of us have.  Using your fingers to make words is something that human beings can do in any state of mind.  The ability to create a fluid, coherent message with words will only come with practice.  But the fingertips have to touch the keys.

To understand my claim about the imaginary sniper, try writing a story on a general subject as soon as the blank page appears.  Or get a notebook out and apply the pen or pencil immediately.  Don’t stop for corrections.  Just continue writing.  Pay attention to how your body reacts.


Sometimes we have to get our foot in the door on the matter of developing healthy relationships.  The most basic functions for human beings are scary and awkward.  Take conversation between people from two different age groups.

One person is seven or eight years old and the other is forty.  Maybe both of them live in the same household, but because of age they are worlds apart.  In terms of development, this is true.  A forty-year-old person experiences life physically much different from someone who is thirty years younger.  Kids usually don’t have the same aches and pains.

There is also a significant gap in the context of cultural preferences such as music and other forms of entertainment.  And what is a big deal to the youngster in second or third grade is most likely old news to the adult.

Conversation between the two is mostly restricted to happenstance and brief.  There’s nothing wrong with this.  Normal development includes a gradual shift in priorities and the person’s relative connection to their current age group.  To live in the present and take advantage of growth, each child, teen or adult is getting in tune with acquired abilities.  Even though children don’t have to pay bills, they do have to learn how to tie shoes and ride bikes.  We all have to pay attention to keep up with relevant information.

I will argue there are benefits in crossing the generational line in terms of sustained conversation.  One of them is trust.  I will explain.

At some point in a child’s life, he is going to face a choice between keeping a secret that is eating him up or disclosing it and getting help from a wise adult.  Which action do you think he will pick if there hasn’t been some way to talk on common ground with an adult so far?  In general, I see very defensive kids who cross their arms and frown quietly towards the expectation of what might happen with such freedom of speech.

On the other side of this, the adult usually has more faith in the child who demonstrates more of a vocabulary than “whatever” or “yeah”.

Another benefit of being able to hold a discussion with someone of a different generation is the widening of perspectives.  Each age group holds a limited view of how the world operates for other people and the ways in which things can be done.  Isn’t the knowledge of one hundred different angles to go at a challenge better than only one?  Remember the exercise that some of us new parents had to go through for the first baby in the home?  You crawl around on your hand and knees to see what the house and possible hazards look like for a child of six or seven  months.  Adults have grown used to walking around with their eyes seeing everything from an average of five and a half to six feet above the floor.

The physical way we see the world closely matches the context of interacting with others.  If I’m six, I will talk mostly of six-year-old related things.  I’m not going to talk about how much higher the water bill was this month.

But if I watch a movie with grandpa and I’m encouraged to speak at length about five or six different scenes with him afterwards, then I stand more of a chance understanding how to talk an adult.  There’s nothing scary about conversation after all.



The first three things I would do if winning the lottery are:

1. Buy the best magazine-editing software on the market.

2. Invest in helping out Moore, Oklahoma.

3. Talk with a successful financial-adviser.

Of course, even without winning the lottery there is still the Red Cross number.

And it never hurts to invest in the other things a little at a time.

Thumper’s Family Rules

Thumper’s nose tickles with a long brush of fur and the smooth side of a hind foot claw.  He wakes up and looks just long enough to see his son Quip hopping on through the cave door.  Then he hears “Stupid Marci!”

She’s not far behind.  Her white and fluffy feet churn with incredible speed.  Wham!  Marci is knocked over from the side by Quip as he is running back into the cave.  She rolls three times and is soon back on all four, whipping around and chasing him through the tunnel back to the sleeping rooms.  This all takes place in a split-second.  Thumper barely gets to say their names when Roxie his wife hops in from the opposite tunnel entrance.  “Could you please help them straighten this out?”

“I don’t even know what’s going on.”  He tries to squeeze the sleepiness from his eyes with the back of a paw.

Roxie smiles with nose scrunched up and adjusts her cottontail to the seat beside him.  She wants to see Thumper’s reaction to the latest news about what the brother and sister have done.  “Okay.  Marci found a rock shaped like a carrot and painted it orange.”

“And he fell for that?”

“Let me finish” says Roxie with a punctual tone.  “And yes.  He did.  He bit into it and then out of anger threw it up against the wall.  It tore right through one of Marci’s collectables.  So now they are raging mad at each other.”

“When did this happen?” asks Thumper with his eyes rolled.  He isn’t surprised.

“About thirty minutes ago.  Neither one of them can catch each other.

“Yeah they both have wicked speed.  But..”

“But I didn’t wake you.  Because I know how you get about your naps.”

“Okay and now I have to get this stopped before anything else breaks.”

Young adult Thumper thumping his foot from Bambi

Young adult Thumper thumping his foot from Bambi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

sits for a minute longer and stares at the main room table.  During this, Marci whizzes by with Quips favorite stash of berries.  Her teenage energy sends a wake of air into the table so hard it almost topples over.


Marci is already out of the cave once again.  Upon Thumper’s booming assertion, Quip attempts to stop but trips and flips end for end into the wall.  He bounces off and falls back into the table.

Roxie helps him back on his big powder-puff feet.  He dusts himself off and twitches his nose.  Marci’s nose and whiskers are seen by the corner of the door.  She’s called in to join them.

“Alright” Thumper says with a calm voice.  “Marci.  You are going to look straight at Quip and say ‘Wow Quip.  You really changed the look of my collectible.’

With some reluctance and kicking imaginary dirt with her feet, Marci says to her brother the exact same statement.  She maintains the direct look with slight smile.  This isn’t the first time such an exercise in the Huxtable household.

“Good going Marci” remarks their father.  “Quip.  Tell your sister ‘That was one heck of a paint job you did on the rock Marci.’

Quip has to make an extravagant show of it.  He does a clumsy twirl on one hind leg, stopping with a direct look to her and says “My Marci!  What a heck of a paint job you did on the rock!”

Thumper, Roxie and Marci each let out an exasperated giggle at this display.

Thumper raises his paws in triumph.  “And again we have the rule?”

And all four declare with cheer “Don’t go to bed angry!”