There Are Many Ways to Say I Love You

When my husband makes me a sandwich, he often gives me the bread heel, because he knows I love it. He also happens to love it, so that makes the sacrifice even more special. He also scratches my back without me having to ask, and he holds my hand when I’m going down the stairs because, let’s face it, I’m a klutz.

There are many ways to say I love you.

It’s remembering someone’s shoe size or their favorite flower. It’s putting up with insane relatives. It’s making sure someone is wearing their seatbelt.

It’s dropping someone off at the front door so they can avoid the rain. It’s handing them their vitamins after breakfast. It’s taking better care of yourself so you’ll be able to take care of someone else.

There are many ways to say I love you.

Sometimes, I love you means biting your tongue. Sometimes it means speaking up. It always means listening.

It’s giving someone else the last bite of apple pie. It’s sharing your secrets. It’s trusting and being trustworthy.

There are many ways to say I love you.

It’s stepping aside and it’s stepping up. It’s walking hand in hand, and it can sometimes be walking away. It’s sitting through a movie that wouldn’t have been your first choice.

Anything that demonstrates that you have given thought to what makes someone happy is a resounding I love you. Putting someone else first is another I love you (if you find the right balance). Allowing yourself o be vulnerable is perhaps one of the biggest I love you’s of all.

There are many ways to say I love you.

But sometimes people just want to hear the words. That’s important, too. Never assume someone knows. Tell them. If you truly feel it, you’ll never regret saying it.

Happy Valentine’s Day, dear reader.

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No, It’s Not in His Kiss

I was listening to Cher’s cover of The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s in His Kiss) on the way to work the other day, and I realized that that isn’t really true. I’m speaking as someone whose boyfriend just drove 7 miles to give me lunch before I headed out for swing shift.

It isn’t in his kiss. It’s the stuff he does when you aren’t looking. It’s in the many ways that he thinks of you when you’re not around. It’s the fact that you happened to mention exactly once that you like petunias and he actually took that on board and bought you some a few months later. It’s that he’s willing to help you with your yard work. It’s that he remembers how you take your coffee and that you don’t like lima beans.

Love is an action word. It’s the things you do when you want the object of your affection to be happy. It’s “I saw this really cool card and I thought of you.” It’s wanting to participate in each other’s bucket lists.

It doesn’t hurt that he’s a great kisser, too, God knows. But I’m saying that you might want to look a little deeper.

Listen to me, acting like the voice of authority when this is probably the first time in my life that I’m getting it right!

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One Slap at a Time

I am convinced that the reason so many violent and/or abusive people in this world get away with their bad behavior is that we have a tendency to break things down into separate incidents. If you look at a wife beater’s conduct one slap at a time, for example, it should still be considered unacceptable, yes, but it’s a lot easier for society to discount. (That is, unless you are on the receiving end of such treatment.)

When forming an opinion about someone, it’s really important to look at the totality of their actions. If an individual has a bad day and is moderately nasty only once, and shows some form of contrition, that’s one thing. But if that person is moderately nasty the majority of the time, that tends to add up. Working or living with someone like that can be exhausting.

It’s an insidious form of abuse, because to the outside observer, who is seeing only one incident, it may appear that the victim of this abuse is overreacting. But context is important. That’s why it’s so vital to speak up. If you don’t share that history with the wider world, then you enable your abuser.

Think about it. Before police agencies were able to share information about criminals, they were able to get away with a lot more. They could just continue their shenanigans in a different city, county, state or country. Now it’s not quite as easy to turn crime into a career.

We are still lagging behind, though, when it comes to disclosing the behavior of domestic abusers and the small percentage of the mentally ill who pose a danger. Knowledge is power. Until dangerous behavior is shared among various social agencies, there is no way we’ll be able to reduce the number of tragedies that occur every single day.

The system is broken. It needs to be fixed. That needs to be a priority. How many more people need to die before it becomes one?

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Fear and Worry for the Morrow

There is no bigger waste of time and emotion than agonizing about what may or may not happen in the future. It’s pointless, because the anxiety won’t change anything at all about it. All it will do is make the present a lot less pleasant.

Don’t get me wrong. One should most definitely look toward the future and make as many contingency plans to mitigate potential disaster as one can. For example, if you have an examination in your future, you should study for it. But don’t waste your time worrying about how you’ll do on it. Just lay as much groundwork as you can for a positive outcome. Study, study, study.

You should also remain fully aware that all your actions will have future consequences. If you take a rifle and open fire in a crowded building, it’s a safe bet that you’ll wind up, at the very least, in prison. But perhaps rather than worrying about winding up in prison, you should take responsibility for yourself and maybe seek the mental health support that you so desperately need rather than doing the deed.

It is always a good idea is to make choices in the present that won’t negatively impact your future. For example, if you can’t afford to have another child, maybe you ought to take action so as not to get pregnant. This will go a long way toward reducing your need to worry in the future.

When you feel yourself starting to feel stress about something, ask yourself if there’s anything you can do to prevent the situation. If the answer is yes, then do that thing. If the answer is no, then don’t waste your time thinking about it.

I actually think I’m becoming quite good at this, but not because I take my own advice. It’s more a function of getting older and having less energy. I simply can’t be bothered.

See there? No need to worry. There is a plus side to getting old!

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Words of Encouragement and Emotional Support

I was just talking to a friend of mine and she told me a story. When her husband was in hospice, his mother would talk to him on the phone but would never tell him she loved him. In fact, in the 60 years he had been on the planet, she had never told him. Not even once.

One day after one of those phone calls, which the son ended by saying, “I love you, Mom”, and the mother ended by saying “Bye”, my friend went barging into her mother-in-law’s room and said, “What is WRONG with you? Why can’t you tell your own son that you love him?”

She replied, “He knows I love him.”

“No, Mom, actually, he doesn’t. He’s your only child and he’s dying. You should be rocking him in your arms. You should be telling him that you love him. You should be telling him you are proud of him. The fact that you aren’t doing so just shows what a cruel and heartless old shrew you are.”

The woman didn’t say a word. She stayed in her room the rest of the evening and then went to sleep. The next day she woke up and called her son and told him she loved him. And she did so every day for the next several weeks until he finally died. And it meant everything to him. It’s all he had ever wanted from her.

This is not an isolated incident. There are a lot of people out there who think that their actions are enough, that they don’t have to reinforce them with words. Yes, that man’s mother had fed him and clothed him and sent him off to school and made him chicken soup when he had a cold. Yes, those are forms of love. She never neglected his needs and she wasn’t physically abusive toward him, and he turned out to be a good person. Maybe that should be enough.

But why is it so hard to add just one more simple thing to the mix, the one thing that costs not one penny, and takes no physical effort at all? Words of encouragement. Words of support. Confirmation of love.

Here are some words that are worth more than gold, that I, personally, have longed to hear on more than one occasion:

  • I admire you.
  • I have faith in you. Don’t give up.
  • I’m proud of the life that you live.
  • I love you so much.
  • You are my favorite person on earth.
  • You have always been there for me. Thank you.
  • I want to be just like you when I grow up.
  • You are doing a good job.
  • I’m so glad you are a part of my life.
  • Thank you for all you’ve done. I know it hasn’t been easy.
  • I’m a better person for having known you.
  • I think of you often, and I smile.
  • I appreciate all that you do.
  • You can do it.
  • I’m proud to be seen with you.
  • I like your style.
  • You are a good person.
  • I always look forward to seeing you.
  • You mean the world to me.
  • You make a difference in my life.
  • Thank you for everything you’ve taught me. It hasn’t gone unnoticed.

If you just chose one of these phrases a day and said it to someone who is a part of your life, whether it be a friend, a relative, a neighbor or a coworker, it would take less than 3 seconds of your time, but you would see a positive change in your relationships.

So the next time you feel the urge to tease someone or take them for granted, try this instead. The next time you feel the urge to close yourself off or withhold affection, try this instead. The next time you THINK something positive but don’t have the courage to share it, try this instead. The next time you say something nice ABOUT someone but not TO them, try this instead. Think of it as an experiment if you must. It might feel awkward at first, and it may make you feel vulnerable, but it will be the best thing you’ve ever done in your life, and you’ll be amazed at the positive feedback you’ll receive.

You can do it. I have faith in you.

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[Image credit: booooooom.com]