Saturday, July 20th, 2024

R Relationships by Dr. Bill Austin
A Big Thank You!


I can’t believe I have been writing for The Shopper for 24 years! This June marks the twenty-fourth anniversary of my first column being published. My wonderful journey began while having lunch with The Shopper’s founder, Jean Loxley-Barnard. We were talking about relationships when she asked me to write a column on that subject. I was excited at the prospect but felt somewhat inadequate because I did not think I was very good at writing. I’d always wanted to be a writer, but that inner voice caused me to back off. (Sometimes, our worst enemy is the negative inner voice.) 

Putting that aside, I told Jean that I would give it a try.

What a blessing these 24 years have been for me. What made the journey work was the support and encouragement from Jean and our talented managing editor, Rob Lauer. I want to thank them and the Shopper staff. Mostly, I want to thank you, the readers, for your support throughout the years.

Writing for The Shopper  opened the door
to me presenting my seminar on forgiveness and marriage
... I was able to have my first two books published

Writing for The Shopper opened the door to me presenting my seminar on forgiveness and marriage. There have been times when I was out in a store, restaurant, or out and about, and people would tell me that they read my articles and how meaningful they found them. Once, a lady came up to me in a store and said, “You are Dr. What’s-His-Name!” “Yes, I am Dr. What’s-His-Name,” I replied. We had fun with that conversation.

By writing for The Shopper, I was able to have my first two books published. Along with those books, I self-published another book containing four years of my articles. Then, with the encouragement of Rob, Jean, and my wife, Karen, I self-published a book about my experiences working and living with the Kuna (San Blas Indians) of Panama.

Writing the articles has been a true blessing for me. It has allowed me to share messages about the importance of communication, forgiveness, finding joy in each day, and not taking ourselves and situations so seriously that we forget to see the total picture and realize that incident is only one moment in time. I enjoyed sharing my stories of growing up in Tennessee, stories I’ve heard during my life’s journey, stories from my time in the foothills of Appalachia, and, of course, stories of my special times with my sons, Todd and Brian. My wife, Karen, has given me stories as well.

The many stories and experiences I’ve shared illustrated the importance of communication in dealing with the complications that are part of any relationship. I have found that most interactions and challenges can be learning experiences.

The future for The Shopper looks bright, and I look forward to more years of writing my column. So, I wanted to use this time to thank all of you who helped me have a blessed journey these last 24 years.

Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through

Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700