Intentional Loving Series

Feb
28

Intentional Loving Series Day 28: Love Is Choice

by Christine

"Love is a choice. So get up everyday and choose to take the actions that nurture your relationship with the people you love." ~Christine Somers

I run. Okay, in the interest of full transparency I'm actually following a plan of intervals that when completed will result in me running continuously. Right now it's more a walk/run exercise. And I know running is a verb. Running requires me to get up off the sofa, lace up my sneakers and put one foot in front of the other until I complete the 3.2-mile course. I don't cheat, I don't lie about my time and I work at it everyday because if I don't, I am the one who suffers.

From the sidelines it may look easy, particularly when I place second in my age group but it's not. Some days I don't feel like it but I still choose to run. I'm committed to being a runner and choose to do what it takes to make that a reality. Running makes my whole life easier because I am healthier and happier when doing it but don't think there aren't days when choosing to run is difficult. It is difficult at times but I am making an intentional choice to make running part of my life. 

Love is also a verb. Loving is about getting up everyday and taking the actions necessary to intentionally love another person. Commitment, loyalty, giving of your time and speaking kindly are a few of the tools I wrote about in February that support and nurture a loving relationship. Some days you may not feel like you love your spouse, children, family or friends but a wise person knows that love is not a feeling. Love is a choice. So get up everyday and choose to take the actions that nurture your relationships with the people you love. 

I am sure you've heard a friend say, "I fell in love with her the minute she walked in the room." Heck, I've even used that vocabulary myself. The phrase "fell in love" sounds like  love is about losing control and falling into to a big vat of love. I don't discount those feelings but I can guarantee that a day will come when your pink bundle of joy will turn into a 15 year-old who rolls her eyes every time you walk in the room. On those days you choose to love your child until the feeling returns or she leaves home.  

To live life intentionally means to identify and state your priorities so that you can dedicate your finite time and resource to accomplishing your stated priorities. Intentional loving means to identify the tools necessary to nurture and nourish your most precious relationships. Do you intentionally love the people in your life? 

This past month we looked at what love is and how to nurture you most intimate relationships. I would love to hear your thoughts on the series and anything you would like to add is welcome. 

Hugs,
C

Feb
27

Intentional Loving Series Day 27: Keeping Your Word

by Christine

"Be impeccable with your word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean." ~Miguel Angel Ruiz

I've found with age, I've become more cautious about the commitments I make. When I was a younger I found it easier to agree to do something than it was to say no to the person who was asking. After I married and the kids were born, time and energy was scarce so I had to cowboy up and learn to say no. It was an uncomfortable lesson but I understood the correlation between keeping my word and my relationship with my friends and loved ones. Committing to an action and then failing to deliver could hurt my relationship with those I cared about in my life. I had to be honest with others and myself because I no longer had the freedom to agree to every request for my time.

Keeping your word is fundamental to a healthy, loving relationship. Following through on your promises builds trust with others and confirms with your loved ones that you are reliable and respect their needs and concerns. Your relationship with your family and friends is built on trust that is earned over time. Without it the relationship will eventually wither and die. 

But it goes beyond how keeping your words effect others. It is about you and the kind of person you will be; it's about self-esteem and self-worth. Will you feel good about yourself if you are continually letting down the people you love? I am not talking about the occasional bout of forgetfulness. I am talking about being careless with your word, not following through on your promises. Are you a person who keeps your word? If not, why?

Hugs,
C

 

Feb
26

Intentional Loving Series Day 26: Are You A Loyal Person?

by Christine

"When you get married, your loyalty, first and foremost, is to your spouse, and to the family that you create together." ~Phil McGraw

Only 22 months separates the birthdays of my two oldest grandsons. Blood has been drawn in conflicts between them and as their grandmother I meditate on how to help them resolve their disagreements peacefully or at least without drawing blood or leaving bruises on each other. Yet they are fiercely loyal to one another. Woe be it to the one who is unkind to one brother because you will suffer the wrath of the other. It is all a bit Shakespearean.

Loyalty like commitment is a thing unto itself. It is a trait you own without the expectation of it being reciprocated. It is being faithful to another regardless of their behavior. To be a loyal person requires that you define your code and be willing to live by it. A key ingredient to being successful as a friend, a parent or a spouse is loyalty.  Without loyalty, you run the risk of hurting those you say you love by your lack of faithfulness.

This doesn't mean to turn a blind eye to bad behavior. It means to love them even when they are engaged in wrongdoing. An example would be when a friend who is cheating on their spouse wants you to cover for them. Refusing to lie is not being unfaithful to your friend. Loyalty requires that you reframe from helping your friend cross the line between right and wrong. But first you must be clear on your own code. You may find that your loyalty may be misplaced and that you need to distance yourself from someone who would use your love in a negative way. 

Loving another person requires loyalty but your loyalty must be clear of purpose. Do you lie for you friend because it is easier than having the hard conversation your friend may need to hear? You must ask yourself what does being loyal mean to you?  And are you a loyal person? 

Hugs,
C

NEXT: FORGIVENESS

 

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

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