What’s Your Language?

Yesterday I took the Love Languages Test.  I found it really interesting and truly accurate.

I few years ago, I read the book and made my best guess as to which language was my top one.  For those of you who are unfamiliar, here is description I took from the Love Languages website:

  1. Words of affirmation: These are things you say that are encouraging and affirming. I imagine that they are complimentary in nature as well.  Things like, ” I am so proud of you.”
  2. Acts of Service: These are things one can do for other people: cutting the lawn, taking out the trash, making dinner.  These acts service help the other person in some way with seemingly mundane tasks.
  3. Quality Time: This is time spent with another person where each person is actively listening and engaged with the other.
  4. Gift Giving or Receiving: This involves a tangible object that is given as a gift. It does have to be something big and expensive, but it shows thought.
  5. Physical Intimacy: The site was clear to state that this does not have necessarily involve sex, but it could include hand holding, hugging, cuddling.

Before I took the test, I already knew that a big one for me was Words of Affirmation.  A score in any one area can go as high as 12.  Words of Affirmation scored a 9.  This was followed by Acts of Service which scored an 8.  The final of the big three was Physical Intimacy with a score of 7.  Gift Giving/Receiving ended it all with a 1.

Again, I was not surprised by the way my scores played out, but it did start to give me additional clarity.  Some of my miscommunications with my boyfriend and children may stem from the fact that Gift Giving/Receiving is probably a much higher number for them.  My boyfriend gives me gifts all of the time, but he often finds it difficult to verbalize his feelings.  It’s important for me to put my feelings in check after I write him a detailed message about the reasons I find him so amazing and all I get is a t-shirt.  It also helps me to explain to him why he may feel like he is doing everything he can to help me feel loved, but I am being needy and distant all at the same time.

The other part of this text that I absolutely loved is the idea of a Love Tank.  We all have one and it is on various levels of filled and empty through the course of any given day.  My son running up to me just to kiss and hug me “hello”- Love Tank full.  My other son complains about the dinner I just made for our family- Love Tank empty.  It is not only important to know which language makes you feel like your tank is full, but also the language of your partner and children so they can feel full.

Overall, when we look at love as a reciprocal thing that has pre-conceived conditions for each person, it can give us more control over how we feel in our relationships.  Perhaps my not feeling loved is merely a matter of perception.  Or when I see how my son feels love simply by a small gift I procured at the store, I can know that his Love Tank is full.

And isn’t that what it’s all about?  Giving and receiving love…what could be simpler?

Click on the link below to find out what your love language.

http://www.5lovelanguages.com/

Additional Resource from fiercemarriage.com:

Sometimes- A Break for Some Poetry

Sometimes I realize how close I am to the ground.

So close that I can see very small stones and pieces of dirt that I know taller people can’t see.

Sometimes I become very dissatisfied with myself and the fact that I often wear jeans twice in a row without washing them.

Sometimes I see people talk.

Their lips are moving in a fish-like motion.

They even look like fish…

large Angel fish, the kind that always rip the other fish to shreds and pluck out their eyes.

Then in the tank, you have these eyeless fish floating through the water.

They lack any real direction until they bump into glass walls.

Sometimes when people talk to me

I watch their teeth and their tongue moving back and forth, up and down.

Their words are soundless. Their eyes are bright.

There are no Angel fish to pluck them out.

Promposals

Prom2As a high school teacher, I am privy to many strange adolescent activities, but there is nothing like the fluttering of prom season.  Every year students wait for it, plan for it, dream of it, and every year it comes and it goes with a sea of limousines and multi-colored fabrics and flowers.

Though all of this is perennial and one grows accustomed to the excitement and whirlwind the prom creates, there is nothing to compare with the newest of adolescent incantations: the Promposal.   Teenage boys are now required to ask females to the prom with a pomp and circumstance that rivals a wedding proposal.  January through February now brings carefully lined up flowers that spell “Prom,” tea lights surrounding large posters that ask the question: “Will you go with me?”, and lockers filled with chocolate candies with wrappers instructing the young lady to go out to her car where she will find her boyfriend waiting with a dozen roses.  This entire practice makes me sick to my stomach.

“I love it,” my coworker says as she opens her laptop.  “These girls have power and they’re using it.”  She smiles as I shake my head.  She starts to type.

“I am not seeing how this shows strength at all,” I answer. I have now turned my body in her direction.  My coworker is a strong woman.  She speaks her mind, she stands her ground, she never backs down from a fight, so if she sees this as a power move, I am curious to know why.

“It shows that the boys have to jump through hoops to get them. If they want them to go, they have to do something special, to win them,” she adds.

“I still don’t see it,” I answer.  “This jumping through of hoops just seems prissy and archaic.”Prom3.jpg

“No,” she answers. “It’s power.  We have it and these girls are using it.”

At this moment, I am still questioning this.  A woman’s right to make men do certain tasks to get what they want could be seen as power. It could also be seen as a chance to encourage the male/female hunt.  Could Promposals be a great equalizer or just another way for girls to act like a prize to be won as opposed to a person in a relationship?  Do we want to encourage our males to be with females who need to be put on a pedestal and jumped for instead of just asked and appreciated?  Do we want to encourage our girls to be a product instead of a person who also wants to attend the same social event without all of the social conventions?

 

 

Single Mom Life Part 2

In his novel The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom writes, “All parents damage their children. It cannot be helped. Youth, like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers. Some parents smudge, others crack, a few shatter childhoods completely into jagged little pieces, beyond repair.”

When I first read this, I was in my early 20s, savagely blaming both of my parents for my myriad of hurts.  I felt as if I were the final description, the shattered glass on the floor, broken beyond repair.  I have since learned that this damage is reversible.  I have painstakingly tried to glue the pieces back together in a pattern of my own.  I choose to look at the glued pieces or scars in a positive way, knowing that the light would refract differently off of me if I were still one piece.  Perhaps the repaired cracks are stopgaps.  I am more caring and empathetic to those who are also looking at their scattered remains.  If my glass was clear, I might not be so open.

Now that I am an adult with two little boys, I read this quote differently.  I wonder with each misspoken word what my smudges will look like. I can only pray that I have not nor will I crack a part of them.  Despite my eloquent twistings above about my repair job, I hope to leave this life without causing such damage.  I want only for my imprints to be easily cleaned away with some Windex and a fresh paper towel.  The rest of the world can leave its mark on my little guys, and I know that it will.  Their glass will be bumped and jarred and marked up by a multiple of hands that I may never even meet. Their first love, their bosses, their teachers, their friends…all of these individuals will have a chance and when they do, I want my sons’ glass to be as intact as possible.  There is a strength that can be had in the cracking of the glass.  There is a benefit to knowing how hard you can be hit before you crack.  Both of these things are true, but I believe that my job is to help them through the hits, not be the one who is doing the breaking.

I am sure that I will continue to make my fair share of mistakes.  Greasy, peanut buttery fingerprints will be streaked down their glass from my fingers. I am sure of it.  At the end of the day, I still want to be able to say that the damage I did was wipeable, washable, dissolvable.  I only want them to truly know that they are loved.

The Single Mom Life

 

My closest family is made up of my two little boys.  They both bring a level of contentment to my life that is unmatched. Kissing their little cheeks before I leave for work at 6:15 am is the single most favorite thing in my life.  The warmth of their skin and the sweet smell of their breadth as they exhale upon being slightly jarred by my kiss is joy.  My little one whispering, “I love you, momma,” before he rolls over to snuggle deeper into his blankets makes me smile.  I think it is the way he says “momma.” He gives it a long, two syllable draw which causes him to sound younger than he is.  After I get my fill of him, I going over to the older one.  His blonde hair is all I see and I push it away to kiss him goodbye.  He is less likely to talk, but sometimes he shoots a sudden arm into the air to give me a hug around my neck before I go.  He draws me in and pulls me so close that I fear I am going to fall over, but I let him do it anyway because I fear the day it ends.

This is my morning.  I go off to work to make the only paycheck our family will see.  I am the breadwinner, the bill payer, the laundry doer, the food shopper, the ear cleaner, the band aid giver.  I feel blessed to be part of the thirty percent of single moms above the poverty level.  I feel defeated in the fact that my ex-husband gives me no financial support because one cannot get blood from a stone.

Being a single mom is the hardest thing I have ever done, and I dread the consequence of each painful mistake I make. I secretly pat myself on the back when I have a parental win.  I know many people look down on single moms.  The way I see it there seems to be two concrete stereotypes that exist in our culture.  First is the single mom superhero stereotype.  She is capable of doing everything and anything for everyone.  She takes care of her children and does the job of two parents with ease.  She may even be working two jobs and going back to school.  I have heard of these moms from adults who were raised by them. I have not actually seen or met one in real life. Of my friends, I am the only single mom.  I hope to be viewed as this type of single mom, but I feel I fall short on many occasions.

The second stereotype is the single mom mess.  This is the woman who is more preoccupied with dating than her children.  She clings to her ex for money and support, but she ends up using that money on herself.  She misses school conferences and doesn’t drive her kids to soccer practice.  She would rather troll dating websites for her next man than make dinner for her kids.  She smokes, has tattoos, drinks too much and talks loudly and disparagingly about her useless ex-husband.

I know I am somewhere in between these two worlds.  I would be lying if I said that there haven’t been moments where I was more concerned over my boyfriend’s text message than helping my son put on his cleats before soccer practice.  Sometimes I just want there to be other things in my life than caring for the boys.  I also know that if effort in anyway accounts for anything, I put in a valiant effort every day.  I care more about raising my boys to be kind, respectful young men than I do anything else.  The days that I peel myself up and get them to bed and make sure that they brush their teeth and are all snuggled in are taxing.  They exhaust me beyond words.  But I know the importance of building memories and of being a stable force.

So despite my worries and my fears, I know I must always go back to my mat and trust, trust, trust.

 

 

 

 

“Make friends with pain, and you will never be alone.”-Ken Chlouber

mountainsI recently read this quote in Born to Run.  Ken Chlouber was a Colorado miner and the creator of the Leadville Trail 100, which is an ultramarathon trail that goes through the dirt roads near the heart of the Rocky Mountains.  An ultramarathon is 42.195.  I enjoy running. I have even done a half marathon.  An ultramarathon, though interesting to think about, is not something I could ever see myself doing. But it is not running that draws this to me.  It is the idea of pain.

BornIf you’ve never read Born to Run, I highly recommend it.  Written by Christopher McDougall, it talks about a unique tribe of Indians called the Tarahumara.  It all starts because McDougall was experiencing a tremendous amount of pain in his foot.  Pain leads him to uncovering this group and their unbelievable ability to endure.

We all seek to avoid pain at some level.  Some numb it with drugs or alcohol or relationships, but there are others who dive right in.  They embrace physical pain and ride out the storm to obtain some higher sense of self.  McDougall writes, “And the mileage.  The sheer stress on their legs was off the charts.  Running one hundred miles a week was supposed to be the shot to a stress injury, yet the ultrafreaks were doing one hundred miles in a day.”  This amount of running is unfathomable to me.  This ability to ignore the bodies needs and demands to put that amount of miles between you and somewhere else…amazing. At this level that’s what it is all about: making friends with your pain.

I am trying to make friends with my pain, not so I can run through the Copper Canyons, but so I can finally feel whole and abundant while watching the pain pass through me.  Perhaps if the pain from my past becomes an amicable companion who is just there to remind me of how far I’ve come and how much farther I still have to go, I can have a shot at loving unconditionally.  Pain does not have to stop me in my tracks. It does not have to be the red light to get off at the next exit.  It can be an asset and ally.  My god, think of how life changing that would be.

Trust. Trust. Trust

Wondering About the Nature of Love

heartWhen does someone know she is in love?  Is it just a level of caring that overtakes her softly and then sideswipes her over and over again until she wonders which way is up?  Or is love a combination of waves crashing on a beach, sometimes soft and lapping other times thunderous and raw? Does it matter if the other person loves us back?

I have read every relationship book ever created.  I have read The Rules, and It’s only F*cking Dating, He’s Just Not That Into You, Ignore the Guy and Get the Relationship You Want, Rory Raye, and Bruce Bryans, The Key to Getting His Heart, How to Be the Girl Who Gets the Guy…just to name a few, and I feel I have found the common thread that links them all together.  It is about loving myself first.  Unfortunately, this is the tough part, and these books aren’t entirely helpful in explaining how a person does this.  One suggests “circular dating”, and another is more keen on buying something that the person who is a successful relationship would own.  This way you are already materializing the good things you will have in the future. There are visualizations and experimentations, drawing clear boundaries, and feeling your emotions.  It’s all pretty exhausting.

A few months ago I went to the 2017 Flower Show at the Convention Center in Philadelphia.  I decided to go alone. I was going to take advice from one of my countless advisers: Just date yourself for awhile.  As I walked among the myriad flower displays, a cold loneliness washed over me. It was surreptitious at first.  I had fooled myself into thinking that I was totally having fun weaving in and out of the vendors, closely studying the beautiful displays.  It was right around then that I started to notice couples everywhere.  They were holding hands or kissing under arbors, snuggling up to catch a selfie, and I felt the bottom drop out.  I texted my mom.

Me: At at the Flower Show

Mom: That’s great, Honey

Me: I am on a date with myself

Mom: Oh, that’s wonderful

Me: I just realized something

Mom: What’s that?

Me: I don’t even want to date me

Silence.  It was at that moment that I realized I had run into a wall.  If the truth was that I could not even have a good time with myself, then what was I expecting on the other side of all of this.  I realized with sudden clarity that it was not love I was seeking, but a body to fill the void and keep me from me.  But why?  Why go to such lengths just to avoid me?  It would be in meditation that the answer was found.

In the silence, I remembered.  I remembered being that sad, little girl sitting in her room, ignored by the adults around her.  I remember my dad laughing and telling people that he could always hear me talking to myself. I was alone so much.  A child of divorce and a father who worked seven days a week…there wasn’t much time for me.  The thought of being alone catapulted me back to that moment if I wanted to go there or not, but then I remembered something Eckhart Tolle had said, “Our past is merely an interpretation of events.”  The loneliness certainly didn’t feel fabricated.  It felt very real and I resented those adults who didn’t care for me.  Either way the past was sitting in my lap during my meditation and I allowed it. I gave the pain and the loneliness space to be.  I did not deny that little girl the feeling of her loneliness, but I reminded the adult me, who was coming to realize that she was already whole.   I tried gentleness as opposed to an egoic tug of war with myself.  I allowed it to just be.  I wish I could say that it all dissipated and at that moment I was free, but any student of meditation knows that it seldom works that way.  My little girl self returns with a vengeance or sometimes a gentle tapping, but she always returns for the compassionate reassurance that she is not alone.

So going back to love…I feel that the best is on the mat, deep in meditation and silence.  I go within when I am overwhelmed with these emotions, even if going to the mat means I stop in a public place to catch my breath.   Currently, I am in love with a man.  I am trying not to let my white, hot loneliness take over, but I am filled whearts3ith fear. I want to nail this down, figuring it out, give it a title, know that it is all going to work out, but I have to go back to my mat.  I need to recalibrate and focus on what is real.  Love from Source.  Love that is already me.

Trust. Trust. Trust.