Words of Wisdom From One So Young

October 19, 2009

I have been blessed with an incredible son who is not only talented, but wise beyond his years. For mother’s day he gave me a card in which he wrote a message that both soothed my pain and gave advice. The strange thing is, he had no idea at the time that I was struggling with one of the most difficult decisions I have ever had to make. His words gave me courage. I share them with you below.

“Sometimes the weight of all our stresses and obligations can feel like an unmanageable burden, in turn clouding our focus and shifting our sights from the things that really matter in life. Careers are fleeting, and money comes and goes. Don’t forget that your greatest impact on the world around you comes not from professional success, but from your relationships with the people who love you, be they friends or family, blood or not. You taught me that happiness flows from the giving of yourself to others rather than from ambition, and that surrendering your mind to worry over things that are beyond your control cannot be sustained for long.

We all have days where the road ahead seems to stretch out much too far, and we want nothing more than to give up. Just please remember that TLC is NOT your life. I am. Carole is. Your family and friends are. Your life is the people that you care about and the things that make you feel passion. We are all here to help shoulder your burdens and lift you up when you fall. I wish that you could see the overwhelming success in your own life that I see, and the vast amount of love and respect that so many others have for you. If there’s one thing you should never feel, it’s alone, as there are many places to turn for encouragement, to vent, or simply for a shoulder to cry on.

When you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, simply remind yourself that you are very much loved and appreciated, and that the wealth of spirit, friendship, and positive will that you possess can neither be surpassed nor diminished by anybody or anything that work can throw at you. I love you Mom, and I’m always here for you.”


  1. What a great son. It’s true. People love you for who you are. You are not alone. Your son is wise.

  2. I liked your post and agree with your son. TLC was not your life, nor is it or should it be anyone else’s. Someone posted on the list serve that TLC is a gateway. I agree. Many people got a lot out of it, myself included. But it is not the be all and end all. It is not where your growth as a trial lawyer should stop. It is just the beginning. There is so much more we can learn elsewhere, from people who don’t expect us to swear allegiance or give up ourselves to build a new religion.

    Sadly, TLC is becoming a religion/cult populated by fanatic followers. Gerry says he is the father of us all. Well, truly good fathers want their children to leave the nest and fly on their own. Not Spence. He wants to surround himself with worshippers so he doesn’t feel so alone. He is a man who has no friends. Rose and Johnson died. Garvin abandoned TLC and Gerry. They don’t even speak to each other anymore. Spence is a very lonely man. He craves attention. Without TLC all he has is his money. No friends, no worshippers, no followers, no media attention, no new books coming out. He claims he loves you simply to hook you in and because he wants your money to build a temple/monument to himself. A new religion has been started – Spenceism, TLC = The Lawyers Cult. But he and his apostles only want true believers. And only they can decide and know who those are. If you don’t fit their definition, you will be kicked out of the cult. Too bad many alumni use TLC as a place of worship, as their religion, or treat it like “Mecca” as I have heard Jude Basile refer to it. And some of you actually claim with a straight face that it isn’t a cult?

    I may be alone but I hope all those who have left (either voluntarily or by force) don’t come back. TLC doesn’t deserve a single one of you. You gave so much and the leaders don’t give a damn. You didn’t swear your allegiance to the newly annointed King. If you are not good enough to serve on the board, why the hell would you want to participate in any part of this college? I will be mightily disappointed if those who have been treated so poorly come back for more abuse at the hands of selfish, arrogant egomaniacs who act contrary to what they preach. Only people desperate for love and attention, or who are empty will come back to an organization that threw them aside and which is so dysfunctional and hypocritical and who treated them with such disrespect and disdain. Have some self respect.

    • In the scope of life, TLC is not that important. It sure isn’t important enough to lose sleep over. We, as individuals and those of us who are lawyers, can try to make a difference, to better society. Sometimes we can, sometimes we cannot. What is important in life is family, like Joane’s son, friends, and doing things, including work, that are meaningful. I think we are giving too much power to the inner workings of TLC. A full life includes so much more. There are good things about lawyers trying to help people. Lets not forget what is important. Focusing too much on the inner workings of any organization can make someone batty. All any of us can hope for is to be good to the people we love, help people who need help and not let others with baser motives take our power.

  3. Great post. Thanks for sharing with us. You must be proud of your son.

  4. Your post made me cry. Thank you. Sometimes it is easy to forget what is important. This was a great reminder.

  5. TLC leadership is at it again. Just found out that the leadership plans to decrease the number of psychodramatists at regionals. OH had 3 but beginning in January there will be only one psychodramatist in attendance at each regional instead of the 2 they have had in the past. What is going on? Has Spence forgotten his roots? TLC wouldn’t exist but for psychodrama. Without it it is nothing different from NITA or AAJ. It is rapidly becoming irrelevant, just like Spence himself. TLC is being destroyed brick by brick. Maybe it is time for the psychodramatists to take their talents elsewhere.

  6. Be careful of the concern troll’s advice, implying that if you come back to TLC you don’t have self-respect. You- and the others who were recently forced out- deserve to come back whenever you feel like it. Don’t let the actions of a few deprive you of the love of many.

    And don’t let an anonymous comment deter you from following your heart. It’s true that “you gave so much and the leaders don’t give a damn” but that doesn’t mean that if you come back you don’t “have some self respect.

    To paraphrase “I will be mightily disappointed if those who have been treated so poorly” [don’t] come back to keep demonstrating, as you long have, that “love is always the winning argument,” even if the author has forgotten.

    • The problem David is that the “few” are in control and the “many” don’t speak up. So, in my opinion, TLC is dying. Why should people who have been effed over come back for more? Not only have they been effed over, they have been excommunicated! And in Karl Bettinnger’s case, publically humiliated. You think he should come back and let Spence or his new hatchet man do it again? God I hope Karl isn’t that stupid. What has been happening for the last several months sure doesn’t sound to me like the TLC I was promised and which the leaders profess exists. TLC is just a LIE!

      • I don’t believe the actions of a few at the top should deprive the many of the amazing experience TLC was, is and will continue to be. TLC isn’t Gerry, or Jude, or the even the ranch. Instead it’s the myriad connections, breakthroughs, and new directions we took. If you think it’s a lie, you should come to Dallas in a few weeks. Although I understand why Joane won’t be there, I encourage those of us who are disheartened by the recent changes to come to Dallas. I can’t promise that it will restore your faith, but know that it did wonders last year for me and others in demonstrating that TLC isn’t a “top down” organization and that it’s magic can’t be taken away unless we allow it to be. In short, what TLC is, to each of us, belongs to us, no matter what Gerry and Jude decide to do.

        I don’t know if the rumors about limiting the listserve are true, but know that tactics such as not linking to alumni blogs can easily have the opposite of their intended effect in the age of google. Just look at the attention one alumni blog gathered, without any links from TLC but simply powered by group emails and individual communication, something that can’t be limited by the TLC President.

  7. In talking today to someone close to the TLC leadership, I learned that the decision has been made to drastically reduce the use of Joshua Karton at TLC programs. Joshua has, in the past, appeared at nearly all TLC programs except for those focusing on psychodrama and staff training. The word is that in 2010, Joshua will only be invited to one regional seminar. Too bad, as many breakthroughs come from Joshua’s work and his presentations. He was the star of the Advanced Workshop this summer at the ranch and at the workshop in Lake Arrowhead a few years ago. Joshua is more of a draw than Spence himself. 55 students at the advanced with Joshua as the featured presenter vs. 36 in Ohio when Spence was the featured speaker. Guess Spence can’t handle the competition from Joshua. Very sad. Or is this part of Jude Basile’s new vision? This is the nail in the coffin for me! Adios TLC.

    • Oh my god! What is Jude thinking? Apparently he isn’t. Josh is the best. Too many good people are being set aside. I can’t believe this. First Garvin, then Nolte and Charlie, then Joanne and after her Fredi, Carl, Katelyn and Lynn. Now Josh? WTF?

  8. So, now that Lynn Bratcher is no longer on the TLC board, who is the alumni representative to the TLC board? When I was on the FWB, it alone elected the alumni rep to the TLC Board. Made sense, it is the organization that reps the alumni and really should be who elects the alumni rep to serve on the TLC board. Otherwise, there would be no true alumni voice on the TLC board. As it stands at the moment, the alumni have no rep on the TLC board.

    A few years ago, the TLC Board decided it wanted to control who the alumni rep was so took over and said that it (the TLC board) had the exclusive right to elect the alumni rep. Very strange. Wonder what the TLC Bylaws say about this? My recollection from being on the FWB is that TLC’s bylaws provide that the Advisory Committee (which is designated to be the FWB) shall appoint one member to the TLC board. I challenge our current FWB board to immediately act and appoint an alumni rep to the TLC Board.

    I also remember that when TLC began doing regional seminars, the FWB was in charge of putting on all the regional seminars. They did all the work and collected all the money from same. When Spence saw how profitable the seminars were, and how much money the FWB was generating from the regional seminars, he had all the money in the FWB coffers transferred to TLC and TLC took over putting on the seminars. How quicky the leadership of TLC has forgotten all this history. And Jude Basile was on the FWB at the time and may, in fact, have been its president.

    Some of you may question my recollection, but don’t take my word for it. Get out your Spring 06 copy of the Warrior and read Bill Trine’s article about the History of the F Warrior’s Board and Tom Metier’s as well. In his article Bill confirms that the FWB was responsible for creating and presenting the initial regional seminars. Metier’s article also confirms this fact.

    In this same issue, J R Clary has an article. In it he says “From the moment of its inception, it [FWB] was designed to be comprised of the alumni, by the alumni and for the alumni. While supportive of TLC, the F Warriors Club was always meant to be autonomous, answering only to the needs of the Alumni.” Hmmmmmm…… doesn’t seem to be the case now. FWB is controlled by the TLC Board. The TLC Board took away FWB’s autonomy when it took its money and took over the regional seminars. And the final blow was when TLC took away the power of the alumni via the FWB to appoints its own rep to serve on the TLC board.

  9. How many of you are going to the psycophant fest in Dallas next month? Let’s go hear Jude Basile blow his own horn and give us a line of bs about TLC. We can drink the cool aid afterwards and refer cases to Rafe Forman and Jude Basile. The latter who can’t seem to get any cases without them being referred by a TLC alumni and can’t try a case without Catlyn by his side. TLC, TLC, TLC! Oh and then we can get the TLC thunderhead logo tatooed on our asses and dance around the fire wearing TLC thongs. How do you spell cult? TLC.

  10. What an amazing message Joane. TLC has had an amazing effect on me, which is one reason I’ll be at the “psychophant fest” in a few weeks, believing that you have to take the bitter with the better and shouldn’t miss an opportunity to speak truth to power. While Jude might think he’s coming to a sycophant fest, the truth is he may be entering a hostile environment as most alumni have developed an incredible amount of love for the many folks that have been exiled recently since Jude took the reins.

    It sounds a little silly, but there’s a scene from the movie “The Straight Story” that I’ve quoted to try to teach my daughters the lesson your son has obviously learned. In the scene the old man tells the young girl how he taught his kids about the importance of family:

    “I’d give each one of ’em a stick and, one for each one of ’em, then I’d say, ‘You break that.’ Course they could real easy. Then I’d say, ‘Tie them sticks in a bundle and try to break that.’ Course they couldn’t. Then I’d say, “That bundle… that’s family.”

    I’m very happy that your family, and your son especially, have been there for you in these obviously painful days. I also hope you realize how much of your TLC family is still behind you today.

  11. Norm Pattis, and J R Clary would would not allow this to be posted on their BLOG BOARD, due to their bandwith restrictions, so those so called lawyer blogs claim.

    Page 346 of 1996 Book, “Making of a Country Lawyer : “I( Gerry S) was going to be committed as a lunatic”. Above that, the Shrink(Doc) says(as attributed) “you are presently a danger to yourself(G Spence) and others”. the Doc went on: ” You (G Spence) are obviously suffering from a deep psychotic episode”.

    Next page: 347: “religion is insantity taught to the masses”… (See Norm’s spin on where the Sun moves in relationship to the earth, and his piece( Fairly tale project”). Could I give that to 5 people(carefully selected) and ask was the person (Norm) who wrote that a 1/2 bubble off, of course with some pre-slant comment, to the Buds…
    From afar, adjudged as a “kin”, by Norm and Scotty, in their Jung, Freud cyber suits as J D’s, of the method. J D’s mine you.
    It was the love of Anna, who brought Gerry through his troubled times.
    It was the love of Anna who moved with him to Calif(the Bay area).
    She was cast aside, the passion ran to another— the dark raven haired beauty in Casper, central Wyoming.
    How does Norm makes so many judgements from so afar to people he does not know, & knows nothing about them(or so little in fuller sum, or the wider sum of things). But, he has a blog with band-space(width), and he can offer up his judgements, and his TLC 25 pieces, etc.
    I am making no judgement on the Spence book–here, it was published by St Martins press 1996.
    A prior insightul poster, offered up that Spence has a thing with woman, citing the B word, and offered up well how to you defend the Spence book on Bloodthirsty, and the attacks on Nancy Grace.
    Well, I have no reply here, my band-space has been very restricted(here). I appreciate that, I am not the master of the BLOG, subject one.
    I know for a fact the Spence Firm has not won every case, every appeal, every motion, it is not much different than many firms.
    Granted Spence has had rousing victores which he has hyped against the U S Government, the DOJ in such matters as:
    a) Ruby Ridge, Randy Weaver, where a wife was shot holding her baby, in a rual Mountain setting.
    b) the Feiger matter— federal campaign matters, involving a Mich law firm, and John Edwards, now in deep doo-doo with his luv child by the video Producer
    c) the Marcos money laundering things in NY, with the Saudi Sheiks
    d) The killing point blank by a Sheriff( the civil suit was never mentioned by Spence, & one of the most significant appeal court cases ever— against Spence’s killer client( See his Gunning for Justice vintages, never mention in his book on the federal court, matters Becky Rosa v Ed Cantrell, City of Rock Springs.( a major civil rights case for wrongful killing—civil rights, just like the civil wronguful death mattres in the OJ case, underscore–civil cases, after criminal proceedings.

    However, all any has to do, is run a lexis)PACER etc), to determine that the Spence Firm is not much different than other firms, and Gerry has been able to sell to juries in select cases: The government is evil, bad, corrupt, and has wrongfully charged his client.( and apply reasonable doubt to Feiger et al.. etc.)
    He has done so with passion, and great success.
    So, the white collar NY bar Esq(Scotty) does not dig the principles of “honest service”, indeed he(“SHG”) would not give some space to respond on that site put up from a White Collar Criminal Defense attorney perspective, pal of Norms back scratch, but who is melting down now, in the wake of recent revelations.
    What does “honest services” have to do with law firms, local government, governments that are so dysfunctional ? Well, Norm don’t have the bandwith to hear from some, he has a portal that one has to navigate that does not post comments the first time and he(his blog ISP) has glitces in that…etc
    Spence has whole sections on his blog on insantity, and any reader(who reads thorougly) must know, Spence’s dad blamed doctors for not treating Spence’s mom, as she had a serious case of depression, afer returning from the rigors of the mountains(copper explotation world) of Chile, and the copper mine troubles, labor strife.
    Indeed, the “internet” is a great melting pop, much like America. It allows Norm’s PAL Scotty to come on and pontificate, and then band -space is announced as “limited”–not existenet for those judged as per the Litmus of(a whole other subject)
    If i did not find Norm’s site of interest, i would not read it, but it is fasinating in some ways.
    Where the sun does dawn, indeed.

    Anna is a wonderful woman, as is Imagine, and so the circle of life goes on

  12. TLC was founded(1993) 3 years, before the 1996 Spence Book. Now, in 2009, some (see above) have questions on some thing about some “human sides” of some.
    When some go to some TLC member lawyer blogs, they care not to allow American citizens input, comments, as people, and Master-Bloggers, like Norm issue pontifications, like they are Godly in their judgements, as if on some Greek Mountains.(Fairy Tale Project and all)
    Yes, the son of Jo is wise, and caring, and he sure did not need to go to Thunderhead to be in deep meaningful ways fully human, on the scale of good, and kind, and caring.
    This notion that some lost being human, and only some ranch in Wyoming(its offshoots) can restore one’s humanity, is most curious, by the Club

  13. On closer reading, it was not Chile, but rather Boliva(218), where the copper mines were high in the Bolivian Mountains(not Chile—see above). Oh, why Chile, once I went over their mountains into Argentina( about 20 years, ago). In any event, those were matters(Spence family) in the late 1940’s,(about 70 years ago) and upon the Spences return to the USA, the great depression came upon Gerry Spence’s mother, seeking to adjust to matters in her 50’s. While ancient goings on, it is ironic. Here, we see a beautifully told story about the caring of the son–from Jo, that others can be nurished by, and learn from.
    We are born as humans, we develop as humans, we grow as humans, we inter-act act with others as humans.
    No club, no profession, no Party no Org can give us our humanity, we are self endowed with it, and lets hope no Org , or party, or Club can strip us of that –which we were endowed with.

  14. Just read on Norm’s blog that the alumni have no rep on the TLC board and it is the FWB’s job to appoint an alumni rep. Why haven’t they done so? Please get a rep for us on the TLC Board ASAP and please do not pick someone who will just suck up to the big board and do whatever they ask. We need an alumni rep to rep us, the alumni, at the Dallas meeting and who will stand up to Jude Basil and ask tough questions. Please pick someone who has the courage to do this and who will keep on the big board until they give us some answers. Why is everyone being so quiet about the stuff that Jude and Gerry are doing? Getting rid of great people, decreasing the number of psychodramatists and now Josh? Doesn’t anybody care?

  15. I seriously doubt the FWB members will appoint an alumni rep before the annual meeting in a couple of weeks. And I seriously doubt they will appoint one at all unless that person is approved in advance by the TLC Board, or to be exact, by Jude and Gerry. The alumni have no real voice and it is doubtful we will ever be given one. The FWB is just a joke. I am going to show my dissatisfaction with TLC by cancelling my ranch club membership and by not going to any more regionals. No point if there will be less psychodrama and no Joshua Karton.

  16. A little more than 2 weeks before the alumni meeting in Dallas. I hope some in attendance will speak up and ask the tough questions. But be prepared for propoganda and spin from the top with no real information about the many questions raised by Norm and others. The leaders are hoping this all dies over and that no one will push them to answer the hard questions. Won’t surprise me if this meeting becomes a TLC love fest, typical cult meeting where attendees just worship TLC, Spence and his new water boy Jude Basile. I hope I am wrong but given the silence on the list serve about what has been happening recently, I am not optimistic.

  17. Big TLC board meeting this week at Spence’s multi million dollar estate in Santa Barbara. Wonder what garbage will come out of the meeting. Several rumours are floating around including the upcoming purging of sevaral staff members who some on the board don’t believe are “real trial lawyers.” Who makes that call? Those staff members who suck up to the new leader get extra points. Also heard the 7 step program is on the cutting block. Anyone want to take a bet that the FWB won’t even get to appoint its own alumni rep to the TLC board and that the big board will choose someone they can control? I heard several months ago from one of the staff that there is going to be a new rule that precludes staff members from ever working on cases with alumni. TLC wants more and more control over the “little people.”

  18. Like Orange County Clock work, they flock to Gerry’s site, even Norm on asking Gerry about how he would handle a child porn case, and Gerry telling Norm he is the Guru on that.( cross wired blogs)
    Like cross wiring in the electronic nets, the cross-fire between the Norm forces, and the grads.
    No wonder so many do not opt to leave their SS # name, address, when so many of the Grads, are so very nasty to others in America, who simply went to thier site(CYBER world) to see what it was all aboout, only to get kicked in the teeth, in a
    cyber sense.( merely in the cross fire… and what a cross fire it is — among the discontected GRADS.
    I am not speaking about this site.
    This site, speaks to the postive real live connections among people, not the artificial, or the contrived.
    I thought the piece about your son was so inspiring,
    so grounded, so connected, In short, so postively real
    That may be a rarity in the net landscape, but it speaks to the real connections in life—that truly count.

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