Sunday, November 23, 2014

Dialects of Love

I wrote the following a long time ago, so long ago that I think it must have been on my now-defunct website, Mothers Almanac, as I can not find it on my blog. But this morning my dear friend Diane asked for it, so - luckily - I was able to find it in my computer.

Dialects of Love

Two women, best friends, were once discussing their husbands. One lady loved going out. Her husband would vacuum the house but was reluctant to say, "let's go somewhere." The other lady's husband enjoyed taking her out to dinner or a dance but what she wished he would do was help around the house. The ladies, fortunately, laughed together over this.

We all have different needs and desires but more than this, we give and perceive love in different ways. Not so fortunately, sometimes a person tends to think someone doesn't love her because he isn't speaking her dialect of love. These needs, and these methods of communicating love, apply not only to romantic love but just as much to friendship, and our relationships among parents and children, siblings, and other relatives. And they do not seem to be gender-based nor necessarily passed from parent to child.

So how do we know how our loved ones perceive love so we can be sure to speak their language? One way is to observe how they themselves demonstrate love. Another is to ask them questions. And another is to notice their enthusiasm as you do things for them or with them. But perhaps we don't always have the time and energy (or even the inclination) to evaluate each of our loved one's individual needs in this regard. It seems that the more of the different love languages we "speak", the more we will meet the needs of all of our loved ones. There is someone who I think "spoke" in all the five general "love languages" and that was Mother Teresa of Calcutta. I will explain that on another page, after sharing with you here what the five love languages are, as named by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell, M.D., in their book, The Five Love Languages of Children.These are not their explanations; these are my words. But the names are theirs and the explanations are inspired by my understanding of their concepts and my observations of these concepts at work.

We probably all need all of these manifestations of love to some degree at different times. But generally a person has one or two which are most important to him or her. The beauty of this knowledge is both being better able to meet the needs of our loved ones, and also recognizing that when we don't feel loved by someone, it may be that the person truly loves us but is simply "speaking a different language". This understanding in and of itself may help, and we also may be able to communicate better to them our needs.

Acts of Service
Acts of Service may be doing something for someone. Or it could be doing something WITH them to lighten their load. Some adults like acts of service but definitely prefer "a hand" to something being done for them, while others would love to have you just do something for them to give them some free time to spend as they wish.

Of course, especially in dealing with children, we have to be careful not to do everything for someone else, but there are ways to manifest our love this way without taking away their incentive for independence. For example, we can do errands they want or need cheerfully without complaining, or cheerfully do other things that they cannot do for themselves yet or perhaps don't have the time at the moment to do for themselves.

Quality Time
For some people, the best quality time is spending time together recreationally, while the love dialect of some others might be quality conversations. Even quality conversation may have a different meaning to different people. To some it may mean that you are willing to listen to them without interrupting, while to someone else it may mean a give-and-take discussion on deep matters. Still others may prefer working together with their loved one. Quality time often means personal one-on-one contact rather than a group activity, and can be demonstrated by giving the person our full attention.

Physical Touch
Some people seem to avoid physical contact and some seem to thrive on it. Of course physical contact varies depending on the type of relationship. Besides the hug, or squeeze of the hand, of friendship among women, or handshake or hand on the back among men, there are other contacts which we may not think of right away as filling a need for closeness, eg. men playing basketball together or a parent and child sitting together reading a book.

Words of Affirmation
Again, there are different dialects within this "language" of love. Words of praise are important to some. Some are comfortable with giving words of praise but not with giving words of affection. But some people may feel a greater need for one or the other.

We all know that some women long for a box of chocolates or bouquet of flowers to feel loved. But depending on who we are thinking of, and our resources, a gift need not be extravagant. A rosebud or a candy bar might do in some cases. For a child, or other family member, a "gift" could even be something that he or she needs, presented in a joyous or surprising way. For a friend, it could be as simple as a candle or a magazine or home-baked goodies. If someone's love language is gifts, the gifts can be small; it is the thoughtfulness that counts.

PS: First of all, I believe the above is very good for awareness, even if it can often be difficult to implement. Secondly, I found out that someone apparently resurrected Geocities websites, as I don't know yet, if it's anything I can make changes to, or if it's "frozen in time"; but it's interesting that it's still there, complete with a picture of me, when I was much younger. 

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Free on Kindle: Myers Family Cookbook

You can get the Myers Family Cookbook free for Kindle or Kindle app tonight, or throughout Monday, November 3, 2014. 

You will find recipes, how-to's, and family memories. Come, take the book; use it or browse it; pass the word. Review it, if you would be so kind. 

Thanks so much! 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

It's not contagious

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about "the cross", the trials we have in life, and who we can turn to.

Today, I want to mention that our crosses are generally not contagious. Unless I have an easily-communicable disease, and you spend a lot of time with me, and we don't practice good sanitation techniques, you are most likely not going to 'catch' the things I have to deal with - or vice versa. 

As an example of what I'm trying to say, when we see someone who is homeless, if we think, "That could be me," that thought might make us more compassionate; however, on the other hand, that thought could instead lead to fear that the same thing could happen to us, and fear sometimes turns into shunning or blaming. 

"That could be me", can lead to: "What if that happens to me?", which can lead to..."Well, that won't happen to me because I'm careful with my money. That person obviously wasn't careful with his money." Really? Do we know that? No, of course we don't know that. It just somehow makes us feel better to think, whew, I don't have to worry about that kind of suffering. You know what? Probably we actually don't have to worry about that particular brand of suffering. But we can be compassionate. 

Or maybe it's an illness. Maybe we eat healthy and exercise, and maybe that person who is ill drinks too much and smokes. So, after all, it must be his own fault he's sick, right? So, now, I don't have to worry about getting that cross. But maybe it really wasn't anything he or she did (or didn't do). 

You see, the deal is that we don't have to worry about getting each cross we encounter on someone else's shoulders. I can be really and truly sorry for what someone has to suffer, without worrying that it might happen to me.

And then there's our perception of choice. Have you ever looked at all the people who wait at bus stops, instead of driving cars? Why do they stand out in the heat and the rain? It's possible that person has no other choice. Or it's also possible they make that choice so that they can spend their money on something else, maybe to get an education, or maybe they have spent the money helping family.  

Whatever the reason, it doesn't mean they enjoy it. Let's not rub it in by saying we 'couldn't do that!' And conversely, let's not ignore the fact that it's challenging for them, by reminding them of all the money they save on car repairs, or some other way in which it's really "a blessing in disguise". Let's let people find their own silver linings, if they wish. And just be there for them. In kindness.

And let's just keeping "being there", but if we've ever said anything that we think, now, wasn't very compassionate (and I know I sure have), guess what? We're human. And we're trying. Let's start each day anew, trying to be compassionate; and let's start with ourselves first, being compassionate to ourselves, and then reaching out from there to others. 

God bless you, my friends, and may He hold and comfort you in all your trials. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Glass Elevator

              This is a bit of prose, written by my late son Paul. I'm not sure what year he wrote it. 

              I hope you might like it. 

The Glass Elevator

               You will turn the knob slowly with your frail withered hand.  Stepping into the hallway, you will take in the familiar mix of aromas as the door swings shut behind you.  Chlorine, air fresheners and various cleaning products.  Your ears will be tickled by the sounds of rushing fountains, the light buzzing of the younger people enjoying their happy hour and the screams of several children turning this oasis of luxury into a playground.

                You will sigh and dig the tip of your cane into the thick carpet.  Life just isn’t what it used to be.

                You will make your way slowly down the hall gazing idly at the exquisite paintings on the wall.  You’ve looked at them so many times.  So many that it will surprise you that you still notice them.  But they remind you of me, like everything here reminds you of me.  You don’t cry.  You never have.  But it hurts, like a deep hollow in your chest, and you will try to avert your gaze and direct your attention to the distant lobby.

                An attractive young cleaning attendant will roll their cart past you, but you only smile and nod.  You were always faithful, yes, but in the past you would have looked.  Imagined what it would have been like to indulge.  Now you don’t care.  They are not me.  It is me that you miss.

                As you turn the corner into the main lobby, you will hear the gentle coo of songbirds.  Why would there be birds here?  You will wonder.  You will scratch your head, thinking you must be going crazy.  You will adjust your hearing aid.  The other sounds will still be there, but the birds will be gone.  You will shrug. 

                You will walk lazily toward the elevator.  You will not be sure why, but something draws you there.  It will open.  You will walk in and close the door behind you.  Not sure which floor you want to go to, you will hit every button.  You used to do that for fun as a child.  Now you do it because you don’t know what else to do.

                The elevator will begin to rise and you will be mesmerized as always by the view through its clear polished surface.  The flowing fountains.  The colorful flowers.  The ivy that seems to climb as you do.  The art and the architecture, some of the best in the world.  You will salute the beauty of it all and smile as if saying goodbye.  Again you will hear the cooing of songbirds.  You will adjust your hearing aid, but they will still be there.  You will take out your hearing aid.  Every other sound will vanish, but the songbirds will still be there. 

                You will laugh to yourself.  You knew you would go crazy sooner or later.  The elevator keeps rising and you realize that you are no longer looking at ivy and famous paintings.  You are staring at blue sky and puffy white clouds. 

                You will gasp in astonishment, not so much at the fact that the elevator is soaring through the sky, but at the fact that you aren’t more shocked by it. 

                The cooing of the songbirds will grow louder and you will start humming along with them.  Clouds will fall beneath you as you rise higher and higher.
                The light blue sky and white clouds will give way to a dark blue sky illuminated by thousands of bright twinkling stars of many different colors. 

                You will rub your eyes as if you can’t believe how beautiful it all is.  The stars grow brighter and brighter.  The coo of the songbirds slowly coalesces into a soothing hymn sung by a choir so sweet and lovely that it can only be angels.

                The light will become so intense that you can’t see anything for a moment.  You will blink.  Then you will see me.  Your beloved.  Your spouse of more than fifty years.  Reunited at last.
                You will rush to my side and we will embrace.  Then I will tell you that I want you to meet someone.  You will look at me quizzically.  I will smile.

                When you see him, you will fall to your knees.  You talked to him everyday of your life without fail.  Even when you doubted him, you still talked to him.  You wore his image around your neck.  And now here he is face to face.

                You will lower your head, not feeling worthy to look at him.  But he will take you by the hand.  He will fill you with his unbounded peace and love.  He will tell you to rise and walk with him.  He will welcome you into his home forever. 

                And I will take your hand in mine and walk with you.  Forever.

(By Paul Myers)