Satan Is a Liar!!!

Every day I hear the lies that Satan whispers or shouts at clients, friends, and loved ones. When we hear lies over and over again we sometimes come into agreement with them.

Then we make declarations around these lies, such as I will never allow myself to love again, or I'm on my own, or I will never trust again....

Suddenly we are walking through life wounded and attempting to protect ourselves by not embracing the very thing that will allow happiness - vulnerability.

Yes, we can be hurt, but if we don't ever let anyone in, we will also NEVER know love, or truly be understood. Protecting ourselves by blocking out the bad ALSO blocks out the good!

The answer is to raise our Emotional Intelligence (EI) and make better choices of who we let into our inner sanctum of friends and intimate partners.

Raising the EI takes effort just like anything else we determine to learn. We don't live "happily ever after" without learning how to be happy.

We put so much time, energy and money into our careers, our physical activities, hobbies, our cars, houses and vacations...

Give yourself and your family the gift of time, energy and resources into developing your emotional world.

It's so easy these days! Try it. Download a book, watch free videos, read counselor's and pastor's websites, see a counselor online, attend a seminar... There is so much information at our fingertips! Go for it!

The Opposite of Control is Trust

In my late 20s I decided to enter therapy and see what part I played in my divorce. I wanted to make sure this never happened again in order to not bring more hurt to my children. Little did I know that I needed to guard my heart and not bring more hurt to myself either.

You see, I thought I was tough. I thought I could handle everything. I learned many, many important lessons from the 9 months I was in therapy. I learned what love is and what it is not, I learned what boundaries were and how to implement them (I had no clue what a boundary was!!), I learned to say no and that it was okay to say no and I learned that it was okay to make a mistake. I literally didn't know it was okay to make a mistake. How weird is that?!?

This journey ultimately resulted in a diminished need for control and I gained a peace from allowing things not in my control to simply "be." It was so freeing to finally be at peace!!

Whenever I pick back up the desire to control the outcome through expectations or plain wrong thinking, I get hurt either through the sadness of being let down (unmet expectations) or via another's poor choices that impact them painfully (maybe the people I love did not listen to my input).

The key to control is this: the opposite of control is not giving up. The opposite of control is trust.

Trust that the things we have no control over are going to be okay. Trust that other people can figure out their lives even when they make mistakes. Trust that not everyone and everything has to be going our way to be okay. This is where life gets peaceful.

Most importantly, when we trust God then we obtain that peace that surpasses ALL understanding. When we trust Him is when we can be content in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.

Just for today, every time you think about controlling a situation, can you stop and tell God you need His help because this situation is out of your control? You can? Great!!

And by the way, do that tomorrow, and the next day and the next... and before you know it you will see that your life is grounded in peace.

Things do not have to be my way to be okay.

Are You a Good Receiver?

Life is an endless sea of ebbs and flows. One of the biggest lessons life has to teach us is how to accept gifts from others. When we give, we feel good about it. It warms us inside to know that we've helped. 

But when it comes to the times in life where we could really use some help, small or large, we shy away from asking or accepting it. And if we do accept help from others, we usually feel bad about it. I'm not talking about "the entitled" that think every body else should pay for them. I'm referring to the average Joe or Jane that does their best to make ends meet. Self-reliance is good in many ways, but painful and even deadly in other ways. 

You know how good you feel when you help others? Think of it this way, when you accept help from others, you are making them feel good to be able to give!

So how can self-reliance be bad or even deadly?? When we rely upon our own knowledge, we often wind up frustrated, confused, anxious or depressed because life isn't turning out the way we expected. However, when we rely on God and His knowledge, His way, life becomes peaceful and content.

I may not know how He is going to work everything out and it might not be what I think is best, but I know 100% that His ways are better than mine. That He knows what is best for me before I even have a clue.

Life is so much easier when I step back from my way of doing things and ask God what are His ways? What would He like to do or show me in my life with regards to a  situation? Prayer is powerful BEYOND our ability to understand. We need to be asking for His input. Dying to self daily means asking God's will daily. 

The real lesson here is that until we are good at receiving, we really won't be the best at giving. When we can freely receive, we understand that we all need each other, we are all connected and that the greatest gift of all is right at our fingertips, if we but ask. 

God wants us to ask! He is calling, waiting, wanting to give you His gift of redemption. The greatest gift of all - Jesus.

Are you Complaining or Criticizing?

Do you know the difference between a complaint and a criticism?
I hope so, because the difference is extremely important! 

A complaint is about specific issues or behaviors, while a criticism is an assault on a person's character. 

A complaint lets someone know there is a problem (and there are solutions to problems!). Criticizing someone leaves a person feeling rejected, attacked and alone and doesn't lead to change.

One example that I use to illustrate the difference concerns being late.

So for some reason Joe is usually late. He's the guy that's been told he will be late to his own funeral. You've met a Joe or two in your life, right? And his wife Beth is once again disappointed when Joe is 20 minutes late to pick her up. This delay starts a chain of events that disrupts the rest of their day. So Beth tells Joe, "You are always late. You never think of what that does to me or the kids. You just don't care about us. You are so selfish!" 

Joe is blown away! He does think about his wife and kids all the time and greatly cares for them. He loves them. But when he hears his wife speak to him this way, he gets defensive and his response might be, "What are you talking about? It's only 20 minutes, it's not a big deal. You always over-react. You are such a nag. Get over yourself." 

Now Beth feels unheard, disrespected and rejected. Did either of these statements help move this couple toward a more workable situation around being on time? No. They both attacked each other on a personal level and neither understands why the other is attacking them. This kind of critical communication tears down connectedness in the relationship

So what could they have said and done differently? First, Beth needed to talk about her own feelings, how the situation of him being late is affecting her and she needed to use a soft start-up. The research shows that 96% of the time how we begin a conversation is the same way that the conversation will end. So we want to be gentle when we speak to each other. 

Beth could have said, "Joe, I am really looking forward to all of our plans for today. I'm afraid this late start has set us behind. We may have to skip taking the children to the park and they were really looking forward to that. I'm disappointed because I was looking forward to that too. Is there something I can do next time to help you get ready?"

Now Beth has explained that she is disappointed and that the children may be disappointed too due to Joe's actions of being late. She has not attacked his character. She used a soft start-up and only spoke about her feelings. Now Joe has an opportunity to respond without feeling threatened.

Joe might say, "I am so sorry babe. I really wanted to go to the park too and I guess I just didn't budget my time well this morning. Next time I will ask for any help I might need."

Now this couple can go about their day feeling heard and respected rather than on guard for another attack. They can't do anything now about being late, but they can choose to make the rest of their day, a good day

Remember that a complaint is nothing more than feedback. Feedback given via a complaint rather than a criticism is all good stuff! Feedback allows us to make choices to change behavior and help our relationships grow and flourish.

When a woman or man cannot accept feedback and really listen to their spouse, then that relationship is on a downward trajectory.

So choose to listen. Choose to understand that we ALL make mistakes, we ALL need to grow and we ALL can benefit from loved ones giving us feedback in the form of a complaint.
As John Gottman says, "Behind every complaint is a deep and personal longing." 

The Formula:

1. Use a soft-start-up
2. Speak about your own feelings
3. Talk about the behavior and not about the person
4. Take responsibility for your actions
5. Listen to each other to hear the longing behind the complaint

I love how the secular research supports biblical principles:

Proverbs 14:29 ESV
Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.

Proverbs 15:1 KJV
A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

Proverbs 12:1-28 NKJV
Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid. (And haven't we all been here? I have!)

Proverbs 18:2 NKJV
A fool has no delight in understanding, But in expressing his own heart.

Proverbs 17:27 NKJV
He who has knowledge spares his words, And a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.

Proverbs 3:13 NKJV
Happy is the man who finds wisdom, And the man who gains understanding.

Reconnect in 5 Magic Hours

John Gottman's research discovered that the Master's of relationships invest the time to stay connected to their mates. Based on that finding, Gottman proposes the following 5 Magic Hours to spend with your significant other each week. 

PARTINGS Make sure you know one interesting thing that will happen in your partner's day that you can ask them about when you reunite. Then go your separate ways in the morning after a six-second kiss and an "I love you." 

This only takes 2 minutes (1 minute per person) a day for 5 working days.

In total that's only 10 minutes of your time each week!

 

REUNIONS Reunite with a six-second kiss, followed by a stress-reducing conversation in which each of you share your frustrations, anxieties, and a brief recap of what happened in your day. Share good things too! Remember, this is a time for you and your partner to engage in active listening and provide emotional support. Active listening involves stopping what you are doing, turning off interference, and focusing on each other.   Rule: Understanding must precede advice! 

Spend 20 minutes (10 minutes each) a day for 5 days on reunions.

Total = 1 hour and 40 minutes/week.

 

ADMIRATION AND APPRECIATION Find some way every day to genuinely communicate admiration and appreciation toward your partner.

Dedicate 5 minutes a day to this for 7 days. Total of 35 minutes per week.

 

AFFECTION Kiss, hold, grab, touch! Playing together is a good thing, so don't forget to do it! Make sure to kiss each other before going to sleep and follow the admonition in Ephesians, “Do not let the sun set on your wrath.” Let it set on affection instead! 

Spend 5 minutes of your day for 7 days on giving affection to your partner.

This comes to a total of 35 minutes each week.

 

LOVE MAPS Make sure to update your love maps (how well you know each other) and use them to create opportunities to turn toward one another. Set aside time for a date with your partner to catch up on their life and to just enjoy each other's company. Rule: Date night isn't the time to bring up issues, rather a time to have fun. Play time is important for everyone in the family, not just the kids!

Spend a total of at least 2 hours a week having this quality time together.

Even the smallest of changes
can have huge positive impacts on your relationship.

Make your relationship a priority!

Implement the Magic 5 Hours this week!
Give 100% and watch where it takes you...

 

Some couples will read this post and be able to implement the 5 Hours fairly easily, while other couples may need a bit more input. If you need help with this or any other marital issues, give Ann a call today!

7 Romantic Love Lessons Learned

1. A one-sided relationship does not work. When only one person is choosing to give or capable of giving, a mutual relationship where both partners have their needs honored and met is not possible. I have never seen this type of relationship change either personally or with clients. Someone that doesn't reciprocate in a relationship usually has a character flaw or personality disorder. Character flawed individuals don't seem to be capable of taking responsibility for their own actions, truly feeling another's pain or changing their behavior patterns. If you find yourself saying or thinking, "This is all about them," then you likely are in a relationship with this kind of person. It's more like a child-parent relationship where obviously the parent is the giver and the child is the one continually taking. Waiting for this person to change can create co-dependency and years of struggle, but don't be too quick to judge the ones that wait! They usually are loyal, caring, giving partners that truly desire a successful relationship!

2.  Acceptance is KEY!! Let's say you do have that wonderfully giving relationship where each partner admires, respects and honors the other. There still will be things about your partner that drive you nuts sometimes. Rather than try to change your partner, practice acceptance by focusing on all of their admirable qualities. Make a gratitude list and read it often. When we focus on the positives, we see more positives. When we focus on the negatives, the negatives cloud and obscure the positives. 

3. Don't put all of your eggs in one basket! How true. But how does that saying relate to relationships? (I thought you'd never ask!) Our mates cannot meet all of our needs and we shouldn't look to them to be our all-in-all. As Christians, there is only one all-in-all: God. He is the ONLY one we can count on to never let us down and to meet all of our needs. While our spouses should be high on the list of those that help us meet our needs, cultivating other ways to get our needs met produces a much happier relationship by decreasing stress. Some ways to get needs met are to: Develop friendships with same sex men or women that enjoy activities your mate absolutely doesn't like, such as hunting, fishing, boxing, mountain climbing or pedicures, manicures, shopping, theater, symphony... Join groups that promote endeavors you enjoy. Take a class and learn something that interests you. Engage with family and friends. Finally and primarily, lean on God! 

4. Live your life. I've seen so many people wait for their spouse to join the team before living their lives. They wait for the man to get involved with the children, or for the woman to make a social calendar. Stop that! The best thing you can do is to continue "as if" the other person is already on board. Go ahead and get the kids involved in little league. If the spouse comes online, then great. If not, they will have missed out (as will the entire family for not having both parents involved). But the children will not have missed out on living their lives! And husbands, make social plans too! Always coming up with the social calendar is a lot of work and women could really use your input. There are many others areas of life in which people wait for the spouse to want to be involved. Are there any areas in which you are waiting? 

5. Maintain your individual relationship with God. Rather than relying on the partnership's spirituality, maintaining an individual relationship with God is imperative. What happens if (Heaven forbid!) your mate is incapacitated, leaves or passes away. How do you then lean on God by yourself when you have only been worshipping, praying or reading together? Having an intimate relationship with the God of all comfort gets us through those times, guides our paths, heals our wounds and puts that peaceful smile on our face!

6. Take your time. "Only fools rush in" is a fairly accurate statement. We must be emotionally connected, but when we allow emotion to make decisions, many times the relationship does not stand the test of time. SO BEFORE engaging in an intimate physical relationship, get to know the person you are dating. Make sure this is someone whom you respect and admire. Ask some questions. Would you be proud to introduce them to your friends and family? Would you have this person as a friend even if you were not a couple? Is this someone you would want to be the mother or father of your children? In the "olden" days, chaperones were utilized during courtship because men and women have been fearfully and wonderfully made by the Creator to desire each other! It's not a bad idea to have chaperones around because falling for someone based on the bond created during sexual intercourse has led to many a divorce. 

7. Good fences make good neighbors and good boundaries make good relationships. If one partner always gives into the other partner by not speaking up for their needs and wants, resentment is not far behind. Communication is THE #1 complaint I hear from every couple. Effective communication involves learning to: express needs and wants, manage conflict, show appreciation, turn toward our partner's bids for connection, listen without problem solving, encourage each other's dreams and develop the rituals, roles, and rules for relationships. Learning these skills takes time and intentionality. Happily ever after doesn't just happen. 

Discover what makes love last and create the relationship you and your partner deserve!

His Way or My Way

When we disconnect from the Source and rely upon ourselves to determine good or evil, we might look upon something good and call it evil, or we might look upon something evil and call it good. But if we connect back to the Source (Yahweh) to determine the way in which we look at things, then we can see clearly through the intent of the heart.

Allow me an example pertaining to a hot topic - 50 Shades of Grey: For believers, I see nothing in the bible speaking of marriage that says the way we treat our spouse will be based on our underlying fears, insecurities, and perversions. In fact this is why so many couples are in counseling because they are acting from insecurities and fears.  

Honestly, for the believers who have seen this movie and think nothing of it more than a pleasurable, alternative lifestyle, I ask you this: If your Lord and Savior was sitting next to you in the theater, would you watch it? Knowing how He feels that our hearts should be set on all things noble, right, pure and lovely?

I confess I place myself in this category. If my Savior was sitting next to me, I wouldn't watch some TV sitcoms I really like. I wouldn't watch some movies I enjoy. But the thing is, He isn't sitting right next to me. He is closer! He is IN me. My heart is convicted. I need to stop watching certain shows that take my focus off of the things I ought to think on. I've been feeling this way for a week or two, most likely since the FSOG debate began. 

I am the first one to preach - we get what we think on the most. If I truly believe this, and I do, then I must take care of my heart and be cautious of what I allow to enter into its presence. This is not another TO DO list. This is a heart change. Do I care enough about myself to reconnect to the source and ask for His guidance, His way rather than my way and my desires? Do I love myself enough to ask God to change my heart to think on the things from above. Yes, I do. He will perfect this work in me, but your prayers are always coveted. 

Drop The Baggage and Lighten The Load

Are you tired of carrying around emotional baggage that interferes with your life and relationships today?

I can help you get rid of that baggage in much less time than traditional talk therapy.

Dr. Bradley Nelson explains trapped emotions:

"Just about everyone has some amount of emotional baggage from painful life events, right? It's not all in your head! Emotional baggage is very real, and although it's invisible it can really mess up your happiness, your success and your health. It's like lugging around a suitcase from every difficult event you've gone through- eventually the load gets too heavy not to notice. I call each "suitcase" a Trapped Emotion- a bit of emotional energy that was created, by you, during an emotional event, and got stuck in your body somewhere." 

"Trapped Emotions are literally like balls of energy, vibrating at different frequencies depending on what the emotion is (for example, Anger is a different vibration than Sadness or Insecurity). Trapped Emotions are negative, destructive vibrations, and tend to affect the body wherever they are stuck, creating pain and malfunction of bodily tissues, even disease. They can also cause depression, anxiety and loads of emotional problems. Trapped Emotions sure can make life miserable, but you can get rid of them using The Emotion Code and lighten your load for good!"

To reduce your emotional baggage, make an appointment today!

R - E - S - P - E - C - T

What does it mean to you? (Yes, I do feel like breaking out in song right now!)

Have you been in a relationship and done absolutely everything you can think of to make that relationship work, but nothing seems to help? Or have you gone beyond what you feel comfortable with and pushed past your own values in an attempt to make your significant other happy?

Many times one person in a relationship "goes along to get along" so much so that the other partner winds up losing respect for them. If John knows that he can push Sarah beyond Sarah's own boundaries, then John eventually thinks less of Sarah. When this happens the relationship is usually at the beginning of the end. 

This is human nature. For instance, if my boss never complains when I'm 15 minutes late to work each day, then I will eventually push to see if I can come in 20, maybe even 30 minutes late.

It isn't that I am normally unprofessional. It's just how the human race operates. Human nature says - Why should I care about coming in to work on time if my boss doesn't care? But this is HUGELY disrespectful. I accepted the job and I know the terms and conditions I agreed to - like coming into work on time; therefor, I should choose to uphold the agreement no matter what my boss does or doesn't do. That is treating myself and the workplace with respect.

For me to treat my employment so cavalier means I begin to devalue my work environment and my boss. We do the same thing in relationships. If my man always lets me pick the restaurant then eventually I won't think to give consideration to his desires when eating out. 

I know this seems trivial - a restaurant pick, but this is exactly how loss of respect begins. In a partnership, for respect to be maintained there needs to be equality.

Do partners make decisions together giving consideration to each others preferences?

Do they truly understand why their partner wants to: save money, spend money, go on a vacation, remodel the house, eat in versus eating out, make a child work to pay for his or her first car, have a bedtime routine for their children...?

When we understand the dreams behind our partner's desires, it is much easier to maintain respect, be understanding and choose good compromises. 

What are you doing in your relationship? Are you going along to get along? Or do you put in the time to understand each other and make choices based on that understanding? 

Gottman Couples Therapy helps couples discover how to have a true partnership and create a win-win!

I hope you have achieved this in your relationship, but if it's not quite there, then make the decision to set an appointment today and get started on your win-win relationship!

One Week Left to Live

After eating healthier foods, drinking only water and herbal tea, and taking all kinds of supplements and oils, I am on the mend!! In four days I crushed a nasty virus! It is truly amazing when we take good care of our bodies how quickly they respond and heal. God gave us incredible "homes" to live in while here on earth.

I applied this same principal to the emotional me. I asked myself: What if I cut out things in my life that are emotionally toxic to me and I focus on taking better care of my emotions?

Well this is what I tell my clients all the time - You can't give what you don't have, so take good care of you! But do we really take good care of ourselves emotionally? Do we love ourselves? Because we cannot give love to others well if we do not love ourselves well.

Who or what is toxic in your life that is causing you emotional harm? A job you can't stand? The morning traffic jam? The way you speak to yourself or the thoughts rolling around in your head? A friend or loved one?

Setting good boundaries with others begins with setting good boundaries for ourselves.

If this was your last week on earth, would you spend it doing the same things, or would you make changes? What would it take to go ahead and make just one small change today that would improve your emotional life?

Do something small, not big, and build upon it. Large change is more difficult and has a higher chance of failure. For instance, my eye doctor finally gave me the green light to exercise again - after 2 years!!! YEAH! So I started by walking on the treadmill 3 times a week for however long I felt like it. I began with 20 minutes and was flexible with the days so I wouldn't feel stressed. Amazingly I have done it every week (except this sick week) and I walk longer than I intend every time! You might be asking how this helps emotionally, well exercise, sunlight, and eating healthy all improve mood! They are nature's natural anti-depressants!!

When you implement those small changes, let me know what happens!

The Two-Step Happiness Equation

Remember in the 70s (for those of you who are old enough) all of the "Happiness Is…" t-shirts, bumper stickers, and coffee mugs?

Well I finally figured out what Happiness really is thanks to combining Viktor Frankl's work in logotherapy and some biblical and secular teachings.

Are you ready?

Wait for it, wait for it…    Ok, Here it is!

 

Happiness is the byproduct of living a meaningful life

AND

choosing to think on all things

that are good and right. 

 

Can it really be that simple????       YES!!

So how does this manifest?

We must discover our meaning in life. Meaning is highly personal and changes over time. Periodically we need to assess it, so that our meaning can guide our choices.

For instance if helping others is what gives you meaning, then where in your life are you helping others?  If work does not allow that to be brought forward and you haven't been doing volunteer work or something to manifest your meaning, you may find that life has become stagnant, unfulfilling, and your happiness may be on the low side of the scale.

Right now you are probably asking yourself, "But how do I discover my meaning?"

That is a great question!

90423904988536401_rghzgfy4.jpg

People find their meaning in many ways, but one way is to assess your values and discover what is important to you. Values are powerful tools that evoke meaning!

There are online values assessments, books that can guide you, or a couple of counseling sessions can help you uncover your values and discover your meaning. (Check out my next blog for a breakdown on how to discover your values.)

The second part of The Happiness Equation is choosing to focus on the good in life, the positive, the beauty that surrounds us, the honorable. The secret is to focus on what's going right rather than placing our focus on all of the negatives, the what ifs, the longing for a change in circumstances. 

We really do get what we focus on the most.

The reason I said "secret" is because it is THE secret. 

The law of attraction truly is a law! If I choose to focus on all the negatives in my life, then that is all I will see.

AND I will actually attract more negative things into my life because I am resonating negativity and like attracts like.

Here's an example. Remember when you first fell in love, had a baby, or got that exciting new job? You were so focused on the positives and the opportunities that you didn't notice the little (or the BIG) irritating problems - like the fact that your mate is messy, the baby takes a whole lot of work, or there are still office politics even at that great, new job. 

There will always be problems and negatives even under the best of circumstances!

One of the seven principles that makes relationships great is a positive sentiment override. When a couple is stuck in negative sentiment override it means that every little thing that happens is seen with a negative slant. But when a couple is operating under positive assumptions, then the little things aren't so irritating and are not taken personally.

The secret, the key, the imperative is to focus on the positives while working with the negatives. The most wealthy people in the world know this and practice it. When negatives occur they see them and wonder what is going to happen next to make everything work out. 

In closing I offer a sports analogy. I love golf because it mirrors life so much. Golf is just between me and the ball - how I can make the ball fly high and land softly, punch it out low and run along the ground, chip it just over the edge of the green and let it trickle to the hole, but there are obstacles in my way EVERYWHERE!

I cannot always avoid the sand traps, the rough, out of bounds, or the water (that dang water!).

So why do I keep playing golf with all of those annoying obstacles?

Because the good shots thrill me and keep me coming back.

I focus on making it better the next time, rather than focusing on all of the poorly executed shots and sand traps that lie in wait for me!

In life the only person I have control of or can change is me! I am the golf ball.

(Be the ball Danny!)

So if I choose to focus on doing things better the next time, then I improve my life/my game!

If I choose to focus on all of the hazards, then I make no improvements, see only the negatives, and  experience little to no happiness. 

What gives meaning to your life?

And what do you choose to put your focus on - the positives or the negatives?


I would love to hear your answers to these questions. Leave me a comment.


And YES, it really is that simple!


4 Tips for Dealing With Grief After Losing a Loved One

What is Grief?

Grief is a highly personal process with no time limits. Who is to say that a month is enough when a loved one passes, or should it take a year or even three? Long after the initial shock and sadness wanes, there will be times that bring back the sorrow – birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, a song, a beautiful memory… These times may also bring up good memories - and that is the hope!

As with anything there are productive ways and unproductive ways to handle a matter and this also applies to grief. Here are some constructive approaches to assist with the grief process.

Rituals     Set up rituals to remember your loved ones. At giving holidays honor them with serving their favorite food, setting out their favorite holiday decoration, or sending a donation to a charity they supported. For Thanksgiving while stating to your family what you're thankful for around the dinner table, include why you were thankful for your loved one too! On Mother’s or Father’s day take flowers to the graveside, or go out to eat with the family to your loved one's favorite restaurant and recount stories that make you laugh. Remembering the good times and focusing on how our loved ones added to our lives helps us accept the loss.

Designate Time     Allow yourself a set amount of time to grieve and then go back to your regular routine. For example, let’s say it's your loved one’s birthday and in the first few years of their passing maybe you set aside that whole day or half a day to grieve, that's okay. Listen to music they loved, read their poetry, look at videos or pictures of them, get together with friends and family and throw a party in honor of them or a small gathering to eat cake and ice cream. As the years pass you may find that the dedicated time becomes less. This is normal. 

Do whatever makes you feel close to the loved one. One family I know who lost their dad goes for a flight in a small airplane on his birthday each year because dad was a pilot and loved flying.

I just lost my brother in January and I was very close to him. His birthday was February 23, and since it was a Sunday I chose to stay home and listen to his music (John Denver) while I cleaned house. I also posted pictures of us on social media, ate cake and ice cream (great excuse to cheat on a diet!), sent his wife a loving text, emailed my sister and discussed how we shouldn’t take each other for granted, and allowed myself to cry as the feelings of missing him rose to the surface.

Possessions     When you are ready (and only you will know when that is!), have a friend help with selling or donating any personal possessions that you don’t want or need such as clothing or that collection of shot glasses acquired while on family vacations. It’s always a good idea to have a friend to lean on and help you get through this time.

Forgetting     Some fear that if they go on with their lives or are happy that this equates to disrespecting or forgetting their loved one. When this happens, the question to ask is, “Would your loved one want you to be happy, or would they want you to stay in this pain and sadness?” The next question to ask is, “If you passed before them, would you want them to continue with their life and be happy, or would you want them to stop living?” If the answer to both of these questions is to be unhappy and sad, then consider professional help with a therapist that specializes in grief counseling.

Grieving is about honoring your feelings and honoring your loved one. Any healthy way you choose to do this will help you heal. There are no linear steps to the grieving process. It’s a circular evolution. You will move in and out of different emotions experiencing them again and again, but hopefully as time goes on the emotions will be less intense.

We are never done with grieving

because we are never done with loving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your Love Language is The Perfect Gift

Are you trying to figure out the perfect gift for your sweetheart? Do you want to get them something they will always treasure and remember? 

You may have heard about this in passing, or maybe you even read up on it, but have you used it? What is it?? It's the love languages.

"How do I get that for someone?" you may be asking. Well, you look online or get the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, learn what they are, figure out what your language is and also what language your partner speaks. Then start speaking to your partner in their love language

I hear you. One of you out there in blogland is inquiring, "Why would I ever want to do that?" Well it's simple. If I only speak English while my partner only speaks Italian we are going to have a pretty difficult time communicating. Sometimes we may feel understood, but mostly there is going to be massive confusion.

It's the same principle for love languages. One of my clients, Charles, a 30-year-old man, came to me because he was having relationship problems. After listening for several sessions it became apparent that he and his wife had no clue how to speak each other's love language. They didn't even know what their own language was to tell the other what they needed in order to feel loved!

For 3 months I urged Charles to get the book and read it. It was my belief that about 50% of this couple's problems would disappear if they would learn how to speak love to each other. 

Charles came back after our Christmas break and bounded into my office. I said, "You sure look chipper!" And he said, "Ann, my wife bought me the love language book for Christmas and I read it!" Charles explained that they figured out what each other's love languages were, made a list of things that they would each like the other to do, and their relationship had improved immensely. 

Usually what happens is we try to speak our own love language to our partner and if their love language is the same, then fantastic! Easy peasy! But what happens if your love language is physical touch while your partner's love language is words of affirmation?

You keep trying to cuddle and they keep saying they never feel appreciated!

They are wanting to hear your words that tell them how much you appreciate and love them! When you speak their language and they feel loved, then they are more likely to give you the cuddle time you are looking for in order to feel loved. Win - win!

Miscommunication abounds even when there is love all around. So what to do???

Get the book, borrow it, (someone you know has it) and surprise your love by discovering and speaking their language. And be sure to inform them of what your love language is too!

This IS the gift that keeps on giving. The more loved your mate feels, the more they will want to make you feel loved! And the circle of love begins!

Give it a try and let me know what happens. I can't wait to hear from you!

 

 

12 Tips for Making Your Marriage Merry

Ensure that this Holiday Season is one to remember for all the right reasons!

These 12 actions, based on definitive research, are priceless and can transform relationships!

How are your relationships? Whether it is our partners, friends, relatives, co-workers, bosses, or the person who delivers toner to our office, we’re talking about relationships. Relationships are really all we have, even when it comes to our possessions ~ our cars, houses, boats, clothes…

All of these relationships and our belongings need attention and care. If we don’t wash our car, put the proper gas in it, do regular maintenance, and replace the tires every so often, our car will eventually stop working. Right?

This same concept applies to relationships. We just need to discover what care and maintenance each relationship requires. In the spirit of the 12 Days of Christmas, here are 12 tips that can enhance your relationship and even transform it from a neglected old station wagon into a hot little new sports car!

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