Feb
25

Intentional Loving Series Day 25: Commitment

by Christine

"When you make a commitment to a relationship, you invest your attention and energy in it more profoundly because you now experience ownership of that relationship." ~Barbara de Angelis

The text read, "I have given 10 years of my life to my children and I am not giving any more. It is time for me to think about me." 10 years was the length of this mother's commitment to her children. The fact that the youngest child was 3 and the oldest was 9 didn't factor into the equation or the reality that children need a lifetime commitment from their parents. Her commitment to her children was negated in the time it took to send a two line text. 

Committing to a loved one is a powerful action because once you commit, it becomes your responsibility to nourish the relationship.  Sometimes commitments are made based on emotion and need while at other times they're made after a period of reflection and thought. No matter your process your commitments belong to you and are not contingent on the actions of another. Your commitment is a thing unto itself.  An example would be the husband who engages in an affair after learning his wife has been unfaithful. While we understand he is hurt and in that hurt lashes out, we also recognized he failed in his commitment to his marriage and the promise he made to himself.  

Commitment to another requires time, energy, talent and risk. You may yearn for a loving husband, family and friends but without commitment, it will only remain an abstraction.  Do you live the reality of commitment? Do you dedicate the attention and energy needed to live your commitments? 

Hugs,
C

NEXT: BE LOYAL

Feb
17

Intentional Loving Series Day 17: Food

by Christine

"I think careful cooking is love, don't you? The loveliest thing you can cook for someone who's close to you is about as nice a valentine as you can give." ~Julia Child

Food holds a different meaning for everyone. In my family, we love food so much that we are required to put limits on what and how much we consume. Food is a temptress for us. For other people it is strictly a form of nourishment and they have no problem pushing away from the table. You know the type, the one who says, "Oh, I forgot to eat lunch today." If only...

In Marty's family, food is love. Marty once said tenderly and without a touch of irony, "I love food". He meant it. I can't think of a single food he doesn't like and he never complains about my cooking, no matter how egregious. I like to cook for Marty. He is a huge fan of Southern cooking particularly fried chicken. I am a Southern cook and I can prepare a killer fried chicken...literally.

My best tasting fried chicken is covered in white flour, salt and pepper and then fried to a crispy brown in two inches of oil. I never used lard as my grandmothers did but I did start out using Crisco before moving to Canola oil in an effort to use a "healthier" oil. But the truth is Southern fried chicken along with sweet tea and buttered biscuits cut short the life of several men in my family. I care about Marty and I don't want him to go down the same path so I only cook "real" fried chicken once a year on New Year's Day. 

Cooking healthy food for a loved one can be a sign of love and affection. I believe the time, effort and creativity that go into cooking a healthy and nourishing meal signals to your family and friends that you care. What do you think? Do you cook for the people you love? Does someone who loves you, cook for you?

Hugs,
C

NEXT: COMMITMENT

Feb
16

Intentional Loving Series Day 16: Well-Timed Silence

by Christine

"Well-timed silence is the most commanding expression." ~ Mark Helprin

Not long after Marty and I first starting dating, we spent one Friday evening together in silence. This was neither planned nor encouraged by either one of us. The week had been long, the work tiring and we came together for dinner and companionship. The next day Marty remarked how nice it was to be together without feeling required to talk or entertain one another. I was surprised at his comment because I hadn't noticed the silence; it just was. The silence seemed natural and necessary after a busy workweek. 

Silence is a rarity in our modern society. Gas stations have installed gas pumps with video screens while most restaurants have TVs or music blaring continuously. It's as though people are afraid of silence as though they are afraid to be alone with their own thoughts or allow another to be alone with their thoughts. Relationships can be enhanced by moments of silence but it is difficult to find setting that allow for quiet time together. I've learned that my grandchildren open up to me about what is important to them during periods of silence. And in those moments I am more receptive when the environment is quiet. Silence in a relationship is to be cherished not feared. 

Is silence part of your life? Do you have quiet moments with your family or friends? If not, why? Is it your environment or is it something else? Can you spend time in silence with your loved ones?

Hugs,
C

NEXT: FOOD

 

 

Feb
15

Intentional Loving Series Day 15: Spending Time With Those We Love

by Christine

"Some people ask the secret of our long marriage. We take time to go to a restaurant two times a week. A little candlelight, dinner, soft music and dancing. She goes Tuesdays, I go Fridays." ~Henny Youngman

Time is a finite resource and unlike money and Doritos, you can't make more. The inability to manufacture more time causes scarcity. The demands of daily living require life to be divided and segmented into little parcels of time that is sold to the highest bidder. The leftover parcels, the ones you call your own are precious. 

The greatest gift you can give the people you love is your time. But when giving our time to another we must be present, in the moment. The other week I was getting a manicure and noticed a small boy following around a woman I assumed was his mother. She was also getting a manicure and the young boy stood quietly by her chair as she chatted with the technician. When she joined me at the drying table, the boy again stood quietly next to her as she dried her nails and chatted on the phone. I didn't see her speak to this boy once during the entire time we were there. I will say for the record that I only glimpsed a single moment of time in their lives. That one-hour may have been the only time during the entire day that she was not actively engaged with the child. We must remember that just because you are in the same space with someone doesn't mean you are spending time together.  

Most of us know this intellectually but we find the call of the gym, a sink of dirty dishes or the latest episode of the NCIS strong particularly after meeting our other obligations. These distractions take away from our relationship with others. Today we are literally wired to numerous electronic devices that allow us to sit in a restaurant with a loved one and casually ignore them while communicating with business colleagues, friends and other family members miles away. Giving of your time means being in the moment. It means paying attention. It means looking up and looking into the eyes of the other person. 

Are you looking into the eyes of the person you love? Can you sit through a meal without talking on the phone and texting? Are you really giving your time to the people you love?

Hugs,
C

 

NEXT: SILENCE

Feb
14

Intentional Loving Series Day 14: Happy Valentine's Day!

by Christine

 

"All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt." ~ Charles M. Schulz

My birthday is today, Valentine's Day. I've teased over the years that I was shortchanged having my birthday on a major holiday because my parents and sweethearts wanted to combine "two small presents into one big present." I wanted two big presents! I've loved sharing my birthday with Valentine's Day. In grade school we would decorate shoes boxes with hearts cut out of red construction paper and white-laced paper doilies. Our "Valentine's mailbox" was put on the top of our desk and called out to be filled with Valentine's card and candy hearts from our classmates. The whole experience felt like one big birthday celebration to me.

I guess that is why I have enjoyed Valentine's Day when so many other people rebelled against the holiday despairing that it was 1) a reminder that they lacked a sweetheart or 2) that it was a holiday created by Hallmark and 1-800-flowers. Men complain that the expectations surrounding Valentine's Day demands that they come up with a grand romantic gesture that is costly and beyond their emotional commitment while women find their expectations dashed as husbands and lovers complain about having to "come through" for a made up holiday. 

Life is all about expectation and if the expectations about Valentine's Day are making you sad, change them.  Valentine's Day can be a day of love but must it only involve one's sweetheart? Share a special lunch with your dad or find the perfect Valentine's Day card for your mom? How about baking cupcakes with your nephew or grandmother? Love is not limited to one person. You and your friends can plan a special dinner with Champagne, chocolates and helium balloons hanging from the ceiling. Make Valentine's Day reflect who you are and share your love with all those you care about in your life.

Hugs,
C

Feb
13

Intentional Loving Series Day 13: Love Songs

by Christine

"If music be the food of love, play on." ~William Shakespeare

Back in the day, mixtapes were all the rage. Compilations were themed to accompany any event and told a story. My favorite compilations were of songs to accompany me on long car rides... a little traveling music please. Once I created a divorce tape for a friend that included artists such as Lesley Gore and Eminem. When the technology evolved to CDs, I moved away from mixtapes. But Valentine's Day is the perfect holiday to resurrect the tradition. 

Sharing music, the songs of your heart, is a romantic and meaningful way to communicate your feelings for another. Whether you sing a lullaby to your little one or select "'our song" on your first date, music is the food of love. If you were going to assemble a mixtape for your loved ones, what songs would you choose?

Here is my mixtape for February 2014. 

Love Song - Elton John

To Love Somebody - Janus Joplin

It's Magic - Doris Day

Fly Me To The Moon - Frank Sinatra

I Say A Little Prayer For You - Aretha Franklin

Til I Fell In Love With You - Bob Dylan

Something - Beatles

Darling You Know I Love You - B.B. King

Love Blues - Keb' Mo'

Look Of Love - Leslie Gore

Always On My Mind - Willie Nelson

Hugs,
C

 

 

 

 

Feb
12

Intentional Loving Series Day 12: Improve Your Listening Skills

by Christine

"I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen." ~Ernest Hemingway

Listening is hard work, which may explain why so few of us actually listen to the people in our lives. At home and in public our attention is divided between the TV, cell phones or any one of a number of distractions that clutter our lives. The busier life becomes the harder it is to actually listen to what another person is saying. 

If you want to show your loved one you care, improve your listening skills and start actively listening. Here are 3 key points that can help you become a better listener. 

1. Give your loved one your undivided attention. This means look at them, turn off the TV or close the computer and don't immediately start to rebutt his or her comments when they start talking. 
2. Show that you are paying attention by nodding occasionally, making eye contact and smiling where appropriate. 
3. Show respect by responding appropriately. Be open and honest in your response while at the same time asserting your opinions respectfully. 

To actively listen shows love and respect for the speaker. To listen requires that we slow down and take the time to engage with the people we love. Would you want the people you love to do the same for you? Do you listen to your children, your grandchildren or your spouse? Do you take the time to listen? 

Hugs,
C

NEXT: THE BEST LOVE SONGS

Feb
11

Intentional Loving Series Day 11: Remembering

by Christine

 

"Remembering is painful, it's difficult, but it can be inspiring and it can give wisdom." ~Paul Greengrass

Have you had someone you met briefly and only once call you by name when you meet up for the second time? I have and it is a wonderful feeling to be remembered. Remembering another and what is important to them makes that person feel special.

I'm the first to admit that my memory is faulty. I forget and in an effort not to miss appointments, birthdays and other important events, I keep a detailed calendar. I have lost all the information on my electronic calendar more than once causing panic in my life. But remembering is more than recalling statistics. It is remembering shared experiences and meaningful events in the lives of those we love. My grandchildren love to hear stories about the family particularly events that included them. Remembering is a way to show we care. 

Before my daughter gave birth to her first child, she would ask me a lot of question about milestones in her childhood. Once she asked me how old she was when she started to walk and I said I honestly couldn't remember. In that half teasing, half serious tone Kathryn can get sometimes, she said, "Come on Mom, just make something up." It was an eye opening moment for me. Kathryn wanted me to remember because remembering meant I cared.

Love is remembering. It's love to remember to call and ask your grandchild about their favorite class. Or asking your husband how lunch was with the gang from work. Love through remembering is about following up on the big and small events in life and showing you cared enough to remember. Do you remember to ask about the events in the life of your loved ones? Do you remember only the "big stuff"? Do you think remembering is important?

Hugs,
C

NEXT: LISTENING

 

 

Feb
10

Intentional Loving Series Day 10: The Art Of Gift Giving

by Christine

"A wise lover values not so much the gift of the lover as the love of the giver." ~Thomas a Kempis

Gift giving is a special talent that I can't profess to have mastered. One of the best Valentine's gifts I was given was from a friend and colleague who bundled up a romance novel and a few chocolates in a pretty Valentine's themed gift bag with a card that read "for a sweet weekend of romance." I loved it! My friend creativity brought together all the elements of the holiday to bring a smile to my face. 

On Valentine's Day, it's really "the thought that counts" particularly as we age. For most of us, we have given or received the red roses at work and had the fancy dinner at that special restaurant with dessert being a "little something" from the jewelry store or Victoria Secrets. Now we crave the "thoughtful" gift, which means the other person has given some thought to our gift.

This year for Valentine's Day Marty and I are going to see the movie, A Winter's Tale. Your first thought might be, "you are only going to the movies?" The film is based on a book written by Mark Helprin and is a romantic story set in New York City. Marty loves New York and suggested I read A Winter's Tale shortly after I moved to New York as a way to share that love with me. The book has meaning to the both of us and now we are going to share the experience of seeing the film. 

Gift giving isn't about dollars and cents but about the thought put into finding the "perfect" connection. As you shop for Valentine's Day or for any gift giving opportunity, remember it is about the thoughtfulness behind the gift. Honest it is. Enjoy the season of love.

Hugs,
C

Next: Remembering

 

Feb
09

Intentional Loving Series Day 9: The Actions We Take

by Christine

"Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do...but how much love we put in that action." ~Mother Teresa

On day 8, I talked about the power of words in showing our love for the people in our lives. Today is all about our actions. I'm not talking about grand gesture or great feats of accomplishments but the small deeds that make life pleasant and remind our loved ones we care about them.

Each time I came to visit my son at college, he would checkout my tires and give me the all clear or explain that I needed to get them changed. I was touched at his thoughtfulness and I felt cared for, loved and connected. The small act of walking around my car and looking at my tires translated into love. Matthew cared about my safety and me.   

Do you say you love someone but never show him or her you love them? Do your actions reflect the love you have for your family, your friends or you community? Are the actions you take on behalf of an other done with love? Taking positive action is good but do you complain the entire time about what you are doing? Loving is about the actions we take. What are you actions expressing?

Hugs,
C

NEXT: THE ART OF GIFT GIVING
 

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