The language of love

Many years ago, I read a book about love languages. The basic premise was that people give and receive love in 5 major ways:

  1. Quality time.
  2. Acts of service.
  3. Gifts.
  4. Words of affirmation.
  5. Physical touch.

I wrote my love language in the order I like to receive love. It’s complicated though and sometimes I wonder if I unconsciously avoid receiving love.

For example, quality time is the number one way to show me love. However, even though I am currently not employed, I have a long list of things I need to get done every day. I am not the type of person who will drop everything to sit and talk to you. In fact, that rather annoys me to be interrupted while I am in the middle of something.

I leave the ringer off on my phone. I avoid answering calls. I will only answer texts between tasks. One might ask if I really enjoy quality time. If you catch me early in the morning while I am having my coffee or late at night when my chores are done I will gladly spend time with you.

Let’s talk about my second love language, acts of service. This is also complicated. I never ask people for help. If people jump in and help me, it bothers me if they do it wrong (i.e. not my way). I also hate to sit and watch someone else do my job. If you do your job then I feel like it is really not an act of service for me. Again, I am refusing to be loved.

I prefer to show people I care about them by doing acts of service. I would gladly work my fingers to the bone to show people I love them in this way. But no one in my house really feels loved in that way. It’s frustrating.

My husband is a words of affirmation guy. I am horrible at this. It’s pathetic really. I have been blogging for 4 years now. Unless I am on vacation, I have consistently wrote at least once a week since then. I don’t seem to run out of things to write about, but somehow can’t think of any encouraging things to say to him.

My husband’s mother was great at encouraging words. His mother really didn’t have much to offer. She was an uneducated single teenage mother who struggled to make ends meet. Yet she told him he could do anything he put his mind to.

I, on the other hand, struggle with affirming words to say. I am the ‘good job’ type of person, not the “I’m so proud of you for building a successful business out of nothing” type of encouraging.

It doesn’t come naturally. Encouraging words seem in-genuine. You see, I’m not really sure that you can do anything you put your mind to. I feel like I am lying when I say what his mother said. If I say something nice, you can bet I really mean it though. It’s easier for me to say something encouraging after the fact. A ‘wow you did it’ is a lot easier than an “I know you can do it” because like you, I worry you can’t.

Maybe it really doesn’t matter how we give or receive love as long as we make the effort to speak each other’s language.

 

500 followers!!

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Thank you!!

Thanks for following my story! I really don’t tell you how much I appreciate you often enough. (Or maybe I am thinking about my husband…). I need to encourage more and criticize less…

What can I say? I’m always a work in progress…a story that needs writing.

I don’t mean to get sappy and all. But I just wanted to let you know how important you are in my life.

For once, I feel at a loss for words…

The first half of the weekend roller coaster ride

This whole last weekend was a roller coaster ride of emotions.

On Saturday, Alex went to state for solo and ensemble. We didn’t know if he was going to state for sure until Thursday evening. He was failing some classes, including band, which would make him ineligible. It was a stressful week not knowing. Plus he had a duet and trio, so it wasn’t just himself that he would be letting down.

Friday night, Paul and Darryl started the project of replacing light fixtures in our house to get it ready to sell. Friday night after the work was done, we played cards.

Paul’s step-dad Darryl joined a couple of new dating sites. He showed us a couple of women that he was interested in meeting and let out a few obscenities when his computer didn’t work right. He is totally lady crazy..

The next morning we went to state. We saw Julia, the mom of the girl that Alex was doing the duet and trio with. She leaned over and said that she heard he almost didn’t make it. She would’ve had every right to shake her head, but instead said that the reason she made it out was to see my son play even though she was sick. The first time I met her she called my son the genius, the savant. She kept pouring out the positives, which is something I don’t hear a lot of people say about my son. Julia said she tries to see the best in everyone.

I told Julia that we should be friends. Every time I feel discouraged about my son, I could give her a call. Julia said that she could use a few more friends in her life. She said that just the day before she quit her job. She was too sick to go to work, but they wanted her to come in anyway. She said that she has lupus and has been in and out of the hospital over the past year. She is quirky, eccentric, neurotic, blunt, and fun…everything I want in a friend.

Julia met up with us later to watch Alex’s solo. It was getting close to his time, so I couldn’t watch her daughter perform one of her group songs. Julia said she recorded her daughter performing, but she couldn’t get the whole group in the recording. She said she cut out the homely girls at the end of the row and asked if I still wanted to be friends. I laughed and said that made me want to be friends with her even more. I got her number.

Alex’s solo was the last one of the day. I was a nervous wreck. Could he pull it off?? He was playing a graduate level piece as a junior. It was the hardest piece that he could play. My heart was pounding. I thought I was going to have a panic attack. I felt extreme fear and exhilaration at the same time. It was like riding a roller coaster that is way out of your comfort zone. He pulled it off magnificently. The judge said that hearing Alex play made his day at state worthwhile.

Alex got 3 firsts at state and achieved an exemplary award of excellence. He now has a total of 2 exemplary awards at state. I was so excited and proud of my son’s accomplishments that we decided to take him out to eat at the restaurant of his choice.

While we were eating, Darryl was hitting on the hostess. He asked her if she had a boyfriend. It was rather embarrassing since she appeared to be around 30 years old. After the meal, Darryl went off searching for the hostess. Our waitress sent the hostess to our table. We pointed to Darryl across the room saying that he wanted to talk to her. She told us not to worry that her parents do embarrassing things too. It really annoyed Paul, but he didn’t say anything.

It was an interesting start to the weekend…

Paul’s journey, part 4

One day Martha loaded up her Pinto and headed out of Chicago. Her youngest brother found a new home in Wisconsin and urged his sister to leave the city behind. Paul and his grandmother, who had recently retired from the candy factory, joined her on the journey.

For a short period of time, they lived with Martha’s brother. Now at the time Martha’s brother had a family of 5. Things got a little cramped at his house. They wanted a house of their own. Martha got a production job at a cheese factory. She found a house and tried to get a mortgage. But the application was denied. A woman simply did not get a mortgage alone in the 1970’s. I heard that Martha cried, cajoled, and begged until finally the mortgage officer had a change of heart.

I can’t even imagine the culture shock they went through moving from one of the poorest neighborhoods of one of our country’s biggest cities to a small unincorporated northern WI town. Paul felt like an outsider. Let’s face it, he was.

The kids picked on him. He was poor and wore ill fitting clothes. His mother had a different last name than he did, but she had no husband and he had no father. His grandma shared his last name. Kids laughed and said mean things about his family situation. One teacher even spanked him in front of class and ridiculed him for not having a dad. As if it was his fault he didn’t have something he wanted that everyone around him seemed to have. His mother was working all the time so he had to attend most school family events alone. His grandmother didn’t drive.

The kids and teachers told him that he was stupid and never would amount to anything. Paul thought that the words they said were true. He didn’t bother trying and got bad grades furthering everyone’s belief in his stupidity. His mother was slow, so why wouldn’t he be?

It was during those years, however, that Paul realized he was smarter than his mother. His mother tried to get her GED but couldn’t pass in math. Paul earned a MBA and takes a special interest in finance. But I am getting ahead of the story. Paul’s mother thought if he graduated from high school that would be an enormous accomplishment.

Although everyone told Paul that he wouldn’t amount to anything, his mother always told him that he could do anything he put his mind to. For not being very bright, her encouragement and belief in him was a very smart move as a parent that didn’t have much else to offer.

7. What is your dream job?

7. What is your dream job, and why?

When I was younger, quite a bit younger, I wanted to be a counselor. I earned a Bachelor’s degree with a counseling emphasis. I had every expectation to get my Master’s degree and become a licensed counselor, but didn’t.

To tell you the truth, I wanted to fix broken people. I wanted to change them. I wanted to take their weaknesses and make them strengths. I wanted to make flowers grow in a patch of weeds.

I never told you this before, when I was younger my mom would pair me up with younger girls that also had difficult sibling situations. Sometimes I would visit for a few hours or a weekend. I think that the purpose was to counsel and console them like I did with my mom. There was no doubt I would be a counselor.

Then my last year of college happened. We had a professor that was a counselor. She made me doubt my career ambitions. She took away my unrealistic expectations and told us what it really was like being a counselor.  She told us how her holidays were interrupted because she had a take calls from suicidal clients. She told us of the times she lost clients to suicide and spoke of how difficult it was to handle. I questioned my ability to change people. I mean, I couldn’t even change myself or my loved ones who were struggling.

Really, who did I think I was? God?? To think that I could save people?

I thought about going back to school to be a counselor off and on over the last couple of decades, but no longer have the interest to do so. I don’t think I could listen to people talk about their problems and not do anything to fix them. I really lack compassion for those who are unwilling to change and just want someone to complain to. I think it would be incredibly hard to watch someone spiral down into mental illness and not be able to pull them back out. I would take every suicide personally as a failure on my part.

I also dreamed of being a librarian..surrounded by books in quiet serenity…organizing books..

I dreamed of being a lead singer in a band…exciting weekends being a star.

I even dreamed of working alone in a lab analyzing samples…checking for little details that might be off…water samples…pap smears…biopsies…DNA testing…being away from people using my analytical skills.

But right now, more than anything, my dream job is to be a writer.. I have been considering leaving my job of nine years and going back to get my Master’s degree in writing…The first thing that I would do is write my story…growing up with an autistic sibling… I would make it my life work… I would tell my mom…receive her blessing…get all of her journals that she used to write in to compile with mine… then write…offer hope to (without trying to fix)  people who are struggling…it has been something I have always felt compelled to do… then I would be free from it and spend the rest of my life being a freelance travel writer…travel the world off the beaten path…take many pictures and write…

That would be my dream job..

 

More encouraging “notes”

Back in January, I wrote a post about receiving a hand written thank you note in the mail complimenting Angel and I for singing at church. The encouraging note really meant a lot to me and I decided to pay it forward. I would write a hand written encouraging note to someone that I thought was deserving. I found that person.

I decided to do something a little different today. I am posting a video of my daughter singing I Could Have Danced All Night from My Fair Lady at the senior mother-daughter banquet. The person that I wrote the note to was Angel’s high school choir teacher. This teacher went above and beyond. She took the students on several trips, even international trips, where Angel had the opportunity to sing in several countries. This teacher puts in long hours before and after school practicing with students. Then more hours to prepare for solo and ensemble, concerts, workshops, Christmas caroling, shows, musicals, and probably countless other things that I don’t even know about.

This teacher demands perfection and she gets it. She holds her students accountable for how they treat others. She makes sure that her students are at practice when they are supposed to be and has impeccable organizational skills. She has devoted her life to teaching and making this world a better place. She has the ability to take students where they are at vocally and bring them to their fullest potential.

My daughter has decided to go on to college for a career in vocal performance. A lot of her decision was influenced by having a remarkable teacher. I am thankful for everything that she has done. So I decided to tell her that.

Many years ago when I was in high school, I would’ve given anything to have had a choir teacher like her. If I did, I know that it would have changed my career path. I would have walked down a different road. Sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like if I did. That dream is fading away from me, getting harder and harder to reach with every passing year. Even though I am a bit envious, I am happy that my daughter will have a chance to walk down the path that I never tread.

My second marathon

Am I still alive? At this point, I don’t know. I feel like I have the flu. Every muscle hurts. I almost feel feverish. My C-section scar hurt for the first time in over a decade. My middle toenail on my right foot is bleeding. I almost feel like it is flipping me off for running. My skin is hot to the touch.

I woke up before 5 this morning and choked down a half a bagel. Other than half of a banana, I didn’t have anything to eat for 10 hours. By the time I finished, the food was almost gone. All they had left were a few greasy brats that they soon ran out of. Yuck! I ate when I got home, but felt sick afterwards.

I didn’t do that well, no better than last time. It was a hot day. I ran slow and steady most of the way. Slow and steady wins the race, right? Well, apparently not. 

Why did I run so slow? I don’t know, maybe because I ran too fast the first time and got hurt. Maybe it was the heat, but my friend who is older than me finished in a little over 4 hours. Maybe I am just not good at this. I have to face that. Please don’t tell me how great it was that I finished. I felt humiliated afterwards when I sat in a group of runners that finished in under 4 hours and most of them were quite a bit older than me. Why can’t I be like that? Why is my body so weak? Or is it my mind? 

I feel like crying, but no tears roll out. I want to sleep, but can’t. My head hurts. Every muscle aches. 

I did meet some awesome runners along the road. Their stories carried me on the last several grueling miles. I ran side by side next to a man for the last 11 miles. He didn’t leave my side. He helped me get through. The support of fans and other runners was phenomenal. I have never seen anything like it. I can’t even explain how much that meant to me. Paul and Angel were there as well to cheer me on. 

I am going to keep running, but I am not sure anyone could talk me into doing another marathon.

You’re fired!

Have you ever wanted to fire a customer??

Yesterday, when I was at work, a customer hung up on me. That was after 20 minutes of calmly listening to her scream at me.

Is the customer always right? Thank God she is a small customer that only calls on us about once a year. She didn’t understand why some products have variable prices. She explained to me that if she was being charged $15, then she shouldn’t have to pay more than that. I explained to her that in some instances, the price is variable because we have to pay more than what we are charging. Unfortunately, this happened to be the case in her situation. We were asking for less than we would have to pay.

So she said terrible things to me about how stupid I was, how I didn’t know what I was doing, etc for almost 20 minutes. Even though I have been doing the same thing now for almost a decade and she was calling me asking for help. Then she told me that she expected a call back from the owner (my husband) and promptly hung up on me.

All it takes is one customer like this to wreck a good day. It made me wonder if all of the hard work of owning a business is worth being treated this way at times. It really wears me down after awhile and burns me out. It takes away my joy and motivation. I know I should just let it roll off of me and for the most part I do.

Having this business has changed me, hardened me. I often see the worst of people. I don’t like people. I don’t trust what they say. I feel restless and bored. I lack compassion in order to protect myself from caring too much. I fantasize about retirement, having money and living on the beach in a warm climate. Seeing the world, sailing the world.

Encouraging words are few and far between. I saved a handful of emails over the years from clients that thanked me for helping them and told me how much they appreciated all that I do for them. These clients are the real treasures, the ones that motivate me to keep on doing what I do. There needs to be more people like this in the world!

How hard can it be to be nice to someone for a few minutes? Be a jewel and not someone that everyone hates talking to. Thank God the irate client is an infrequent customer and not a family member! How could you live with someone like that all of the time??

About a half an hour later, the irate customer called my employee. She spent another 20 minutes complaining about the $15. Seriously, we had a lot of work to do. Our time that she took was worth a lot more than the piddly $15 that she was complaining about paying. Maybe we’ll have to assess a difficult customer fee. Lol. Although I wouldn’t want to be the one that has to explain those charges!

I hope I don’t have to take anymore calls from that customer or anyone like her in the near future. It’s so frustrating. She was challenging my patience and composure. I just wanted to yell, “You’re fired!!”. But I am too nice to do that even to a competitor.

Something good did come out of the situation. My employee complimented me on my ability to keep calm and professional throughout the trying customer service call. It sure did take a lot out of me though.

Well, I had better get back to work…the phone is ringing!!

 

Encouraging “notes”

Yesterday my daughter and I received a hand written thank you note in the mail from someone that we know, however not someone that we know well.

I wanted to let you know how much we enjoyed hearing you sing on Christmas Eve. You have such beautiful voices, and we are so blessed that you are willing to share them with our congregation. God has truly blessed you both with an amazing gift. We hope you continue to bless us by sharing it with us-OFTEN!

Where were you 25 years ago??? I really could have used your words of encouragement then. For some reason my choir teacher hated me. I am not even sure why. My opinion was that once again it had everything to do with having an autistic brother. There were some teachers that looked down upon my family as if my brother’s autism was caused by poor parenting. This teacher always had a smile on her face. Maybe she hated me because I was always down. Maybe it was because I had a hard time smiling back because my home life turned my smile into a frown.

There was that time that I tried out for cheerleading when this choir teacher was the judge of who made the team and who didn’t. On the day of tryouts, I was at home sick with the flu. The teacher said that being sick was no exception. So my mom took me to school with a fever so I could try out. I was the only one that didn’t make the team. Then I lost some friends because the cheerleaders became the popular girls. I was so sad when I saw everyone’s name posted on the wall except for mine.

Then I was homeschooled between 8th and 10th grade. It was during that time that I sang a song for my mom and convinced her to sign me up for singing lessons. I had singing lessons for a couple of months. I didn’t really like the songs that I sang because I thought that they were babyish. After a couple of months of practice, we had a recital. I got up on the stage by myself in front of a lot of people and froze. Barely a whisper came out. My mom didn’t sign me up for singing lessons after that. I thought to myself that I was a failure.

When I went back to school as a junior, I was behind in so many things. I was far behind in sports. I didn’t join band because taking three years off from playing the flute put me way behind the other kids. I did join the choir. I tried to perform a solo and ensemble piece, however after singing through it twice the choir teacher said that it wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t good enough. What I really wanted more than anything was to join jazz choir but I didn’t even bother trying out because I knew from experience that I wouldn’t make it if that teacher was the deciding factor. Once I got to college I wanted to join the choir but didn’t because I thought that I wasn’t good enough despite being able to sight read music and having a 3 octave range.

A few years back at my high school class reunion, we had karaoke. After I sang several songs, I was approached by the spouse of a classmate who said, “I bet that you were the star choir student in high school.” I hated my choir teacher at that very moment. I allowed her to steal my gift.

Even though I felt hatred for that teacher, I have to look at myself. Am I any different?? Do I give words of praise and encouragement? Or do I condemn and criticize? I can tell you that I am not where I need to be either.

This year I want to be more encouraging. I am going to look for someone to thank with a hand written note for doing something that everyone else overlooks.