Nourishing Love

‘Keeping Love Alive and Well’ is similar to nourishing a garden. Gardens, like people thrive with Victoria Faith Huntley“tender loving care”.  This means we must actively ‘cultivate’ with our partner.  Left untended, a garden or a relationship will be less beautiful and in the worst case it may whither and die.  Grab your garden apparel and get ready to show off your green thumb!

Feed The Relationship:  Respect, trust, appreciation, generosity of spirit and deed are basic and vital ingredients in your ‘Garden’. These components are akin to rich planting soil.  Begin each day with renewed kindness.  Make it genuine!  Faking it feels awful and phony and creates mistrust and tension.  Being consciously ‘kind and aware’ of your responses and behaviors like any good habit takes repetition and lots of practice.  Relationships are a complicated dance…”It takes two to tango”.

***The old saying, “Catch your Partner Doing Something Right” and tell him or her about it.

Actively reduce and work toward eliminating criticism and negativity.  They do nothing but cause erosion and decay.  Contempt and defensiveness are ‘Relationship-Killers’.    Accentuate the Positive!

Water the Relationship:  Communication is so important to the foundation of all intimate relationships.   Men are often less comfortable putting thoughts and feelings into words.  Be patient and ‘invite your partner to think about what has been talked about, give him some time to mull it over and ‘check back later’.

***Men may need more time to absorb information, especially if it is about ‘feelings’ and is emotional.  Badgering your partner to talk generally ends up with more silence.  Extended silences turn into withdrawal.  Withdrawal feels awful and is contagious…this becomes a vicious cycle.

***Do not expect your spouse to be a ‘mind reader’.  If you know what you want, make sure you express yourself…and do it clearly without anger and accusations.  Communicating can also take place on many different levels.  Simple eye contact, a warm nod, or knowing smile can speak volumes without uttering a word.  If you see an attempt made…do not ignore it.  Reinforce any pleasing behavior!  Positive reinforcement really works!

***Expressing interest by asking questions is an excellent way to express caring.  However, do this only when you can be a good listener.  Nothing feels worse than having someone ask us something and then “half” listen while being disinterested, distracted or preoccupied.

Provide Sunshine:  Think of sunshine as the ‘pleasures’ of marriage.  Make sure you ‘plan fun’.  Who does the planning?  Who cares? Do not keep a tally.  It is the result that counts.  Just make it happen. Date night, no matter how simple, are good antidotes for difficult days.  The sweetness produced in one evening can last for days…but not forever.  It is imperative to ‘create’ more fun again and again!

***Is either one of you using money as an excuse to avoid having fun?  Why?  Fun does not have to be expensive or take up a huge amount of time.  Create a ‘wish list’ that represents each of you and see where there are some crossovers. The sky is the limit…it is only a list!  Couples can be very different and still enjoy each other immensely.   Sharing dreams and exchanging ideas without fear of judgment are what happy couples learn to do with one another.

Eliminate the Weeds: Finally, yes, you are going to find some weeds growing in the garden.   Weeds are like the problems and disappointments that are bound to occur in any relationship.  They are to be expected.   They will exist in the most magnificent of gardens.  Simply, get out there and take care of them.   Don’t ignore them because they will multiply in time…and choke out the flowers.

•Perfect Gardens Exist Only In Paintings-

•Perfect Relationships Exist Only In Our Dreams-

•Weeds Are Never The Problem, Neglect Is!


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The Art of Listening

People attribute their relationship problems to a lack of, or poor communication.  But, what active-listening-notexactly are the elements that make or break communication in a relationship?

The answer is simple.  We have FEELINGS that ‘bump’ up against logic.  Research shows when people are angry, fearful, deeply sad, or even overjoyed, our listening can be selective at best.  How do we listen if we are full of feelings? Think about a time when you were upset with a partner, friend, or work associate.  Were you effective at telling them what your distress was about? Were you effective at listening to their reply? One beneficial skill of listening is taking turns, like we were taught to do as children.  If you know that you are going to get “A TURN,” it is easier to relax, take a deep breath, and CONCENTRATE on what the other person is saying, not on what you are going to say next!

If you notice you are rehearsing your reply, forget it, you are not listening.  Simply give yourself a gentle nudge and refocus.  If you are talking to someone familiar, you can even say, “forgive me, I wandered for a moment and I really want to listen to you.” We have all had the experience of speaking and the listener has a blank stare on their face, or worse yet their eyes are wandering all over the place.  You can tell by their expression they are not listening.  Challenge yourself to be a better listener from here on out.  You may be surprised by what you hear.

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Am I Depressed?

Depression is a feeling of sadness, sometimes called the ‘Blues’, usually accompanied by depression_1-ad78d208bfd0907a122c249a74cd8f6ff184705e-s6-c30fatigue, lethargy, and various degrees of withdrawal from daily living.  Some depression is caused by loss, such as divorce, death, illness, a move, job change, or retirement.  Any change can create a mild shift of mood.  Usually feelings of sadness or “off balance” are a reaction to a specific life event.  Frequently, with time and the ability to talk about and express the emotions, the depression will lift.  Other depressions that seem to be long lasting without being triggered by a life change are due to deeper more complicated conflicts that may require professional help.

The most common signal of depression is sleeplessness or constant fatigue.  People who suffer from depression may fall asleep each night only to awaken in the early morning hours unable to fall back to sleep.  A general lack of enthusiasm often accompanies a depression.  Disinterest in sex, friends, and family is common.  Overeating or under eating, actually extremes in any direction may be a masking the discomfort.  A lack of self-esteem with feelings of worthlessness, helplessness, and hopelessness are pervasive.

Again, many depressions clear up spontaneously, however, if you identify yourself within this description AND it has been a long time since you felt good, perhaps it is time to take some action.  Mobilizing yourself is the first positive step toward dealing with depression. Depression responds well to appropriate treatment.  There is NO DOUBT; the acknowledgement of how you feel and getting help is a sign of strength and healthy determination to improve the quality of your life.

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The Workaholic-Versus The Hard Worker?

Do you qualify as a true workaholic?  A person who works long hours, loves their work yet hinh-2-1387335650370MAKES and HAS time for pleasure and leisure IS NOT a WORKAHOLIC.  A true workaholic suffers from a driven-ness and a compulsion that dominates their life.  There is a frantic quality in their daily behavior.  If not frantic, then totally preoccupied.  Either way, it is hard to find a way ‘to get in front of this person’ in a meaningful way.  A sense of rushing and busyness, constantly thinking or talking about work, a reluctance to take time off from work and MOST importantly, a severely diminished and impaired social life are the hallmarks of Workaholics.

Interestingly enough, ‘Workaholic’ behavior is the only addiction that members of our society actually brag about.  Unfortunately, small business owners tend to have a high incidence of ‘workaholism’… they feel solely responsible for the success of their business.  As a result, they become indispensible and actually become prisoners to their work.  Technology although spectacular, has created another major problem when it comes to taking a needed break.  Texting, e-mails, websites and all our devices beckon the workaholic.  Control is a big issue for the workaholic.  Feeling out of touch with the business becomes terribly uncomfortable.  These overly “hard workers” are truly lost without this addiction.  It is the only way they can recognize ‘who they are’.  Beneath the driven behavior is often a frightened and lost Self who is uncertain of their value…without the Addiction.

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Daring For Success?

So often I hear people talking about not taking risks because they are frightened of failing.   success_street_signHere is a surprise!  There are many who are as afraid of success as of failure.  Why would anyone be concerned about succeeding?  Actually, succeeding stirs up many sleeping issues.  For most of us, one set of feelings and thoughts about “Who We Are” are predominant over the other.  We get very “comfy” with how we see ourselves.   Breaking out of our self-definition is the challenge. It may be more familiar to think and feel, “No, I can’t – it’s no use, I am not a person who can ——”.  Treading on the unfamiliar territory of positive thoughts and actions of succeeding might feel odd or even feel silly.  However, going against what feels familiar (especially if it is negative and harsh) is the fist step toward exploring other possibilities that might result in a newer updated version of YOU!   Can it hurt to try something new and different from what you “always do or say”?

Remember, to succeed or to fail is strictly BETWEEN YOU AND YOU. Using expectations of others as a guide for the outcome of your life will keep you OUT of the driver’s seat and having the rewards (and hard work too) of creating and directing YOUR life.

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The Formation of The Pleaser!!

ar124586171973294A child around the age of two begins their explorations into the bigger world.  Parents often mistake the child’s need to practice independence and autonomy as disrespect, stubbornness, or selfishness.  Not  True!   At two, a child’s ‘rebellion’ is not disrespect but rather an attempt to listen to new and emerging messages. The little person is having an explosions of  sensations, feelings, and ideas.  It is their first tiny attempt to exert an “itty bitty” Separate Self.  All humans begin what is known as “The Practicing Stage”.   And we keep on practicing don’t we?  Children must try out their independence in a variety of ways.  Some ways of being don’t work so well and they get “extinguished”, others become part of the personality.

Hmmm, you ask,  do we just let  a child  do their own thing?  “Isn’t  some guidance and limit setting necessary?”  Of course!   However, OVERLY compliant children grow up to be overly compliant adults.  Such people have only the foggiest idea about what THEY want, feel, or think. Their only guide for living is to please others and to do exactly what is expected.  I hear so many adults describe themselves as “Pleasers”.

In order to change, adult Pleasers, have to “re-find” themselves.  Humans are born with the capacity for independence and autonomy.  How we are encouraged and supported during our early efforts to separate will vary tremendously.  It is, however, never too late to pay attention to YOU.   We generally know what we want and need even if it is only a quiet inkling (that we keep to ourselves).  Making room by taking YOU seriously is what creates the process of change.  Simply tune in and turn up the volume!   You will be surprised at what you find.

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The Secret Sauce Of Parenting!

Every child needs experience to develop self-reliance.  Self-reliance is perhaps one of the most Authoritative-parentingvital components of a healthy, well-functioning adult.  Discipline that is democratic, gives the child the opportunity to practice his or her self-reliance.

Democratic discipline is the willingness to share power.  Frequently, parents confuse sharing power with giving it away, thus creating an over-permissive environment.  Democratic discipline means involving the entire family as soon as possible with the complex process of interacting with each other.   Young children can learn how to participate.  Leaning to express feelings and openly work on conflicts creates a household filled with caring and an emphasis on cooperation.  When a child feels his opinions, feelings, and thoughts are valued, he or she will feel loved.  When a human being feels loved AND valued he wants to cooperate; he or she is much more interested in negotiating conflicts and far more capable of being flexible.

Many adults enter into parenthood with a strong need for power since they have grown up under the restrictions of “tough” parents, teachers, and employers.   It is only natural that when a person becomes a parent (a position loaded with power), there may be a tendency to unilaterally call the shots.  It is easy to parent the SAME as or OPPOSITE from what we knew.  Copying or being polar opposite is not the answer.  Finding your own style and creating a balance of love that exhibits strength, kind leadership, and true compassion is the “Secret Sauce” of Parenting.

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A Look at “The Perfectionist”

08eb4ceThe term “Perfectionist” is used to define a person who generally strives to do things perfectly AND also may those around him or her to do the same.  Very often these people are extremely high achievers.  They seem to accomplish multiple tasks and do an outstanding job.  Although striving for quality and high standards can be a positive attribute, it can, as with anything else, be taken to an extreme and become a real problem.  People who live, love or work with a perfectionist often feel subtle disapproval of the smallest infraction or deviation from the PERFECT.  This can create tensions in the relationship. It’s important to remind a ‘healthy perfectionist’ that not everyone is the same. In fact, we are all different!

 The perfectionist…often complains of feeling overly driven and bothered by trivial details that many others can overlook.  They are left feeling disappointed in others and resentful.  They vow that to get anything done correctly, they must do it themselves!  This leaves an ever-growing mountain of tasks to be accomplished.  Overwhelmed and exhausted, the perfectionist may become cranky and sound more like a ‘drill sergeant’. Unrealistic expectation to place on yourself or those around you is unsustainable.  Try to distinguish between what is high quality and what is perfect… there is a tremendous difference.  One is attainable and the other is not!

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Being AN Unpopular Parent (Occasionally)!

controlling-mom-1200x800Can you tolerate being an “unpopular” parent at times?  Too frequently in this day and age of psychological awareness parents, want their kids to understand their reasoning for a decision, not be upset by it.  Some moms and dads worry about being seen as “Cool”.  Some parents get really nervous if their children are upset with them.  They actually feel worried that they are “mean” and their child will not love them.  The very nature of parenting is that the parents are the grown-ups and our children are still children.  Although kids deserve respect and love unconditionally, they do not and should not be expected to understand our parental motives and reasoning.  We are helping them by modeling boundaries and limits. Therefore, almost daily we are going to make decisions that our children do not like.  The only way to avoid ‘waves’ is making NO differing decisions and allowing your child to rule the roost.  You may avoid being unpopular NOW, but you will also have bigger headaches ahead.  Children would much rather feel guided by bumping up against the “No’s”, than no parenting at all.  Kids without parenting are akin to a runaway train. Especially during the teen years, when parents become unpopular for longer stretches of time, we must remember, that this is part of healthy parenting and in time, this too shall pass.  It is actually their job to feel annoyed at us.  It helps them separate and prepare for the world at large. We, as good parents base our decisions on long-term goals and the overall welfare of the child.  It takes COURAGE to be a Good Parent!  We teach very important LIFE lessons: Life is Complicated, Life is not FAIR, and Sometimes, things do NOT go our way.  Not easy for any of us….big or small!

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Divorce and Children

Divorce1Divorce is a difficult and painful occurrence, yet with over 50 percent of marriages ending in divorce, it is a reality we must accept.  When there are children involved, divorce becomes even more complicated.  It is important to know that kids DO survive divorce, yes it is difficult and painful, but the resilience of children usually prevails with the love, support, and encouragement of their parents.  It is absolutely imperative, that parents make the process of divorce as bearable as possible for children by adhering to a strict set of do’s and don’ts.  Research shows that parental conflict is far more traumatic for children than the actual separation.  Therefore, badmouthing one another in front of the children and putting a child against the former spouse is extremely destructive.  Children feel torn and overwhelmed beyond belief when they find themselves in the middle of feuding parents.  Keeping the children out of the crossfire is by and large the most important rule to adhere to.

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