Do You Dare Be More Loving?

by Tess on August 9, 2009

Warning! My blog will challenge you to be more, give more, live fearlessly, take more chances and show up in the world unstoppable, daring and bold.

                              Mondays equal 1/7 of our lives. Let’s make them magical!

Lake Michigan Cottage

Lake Michigan Cottage

I don’t care how poor a man is; if he has family, he’s rich.  ~Dan Wilcox and Thad Mumford, M*A*S*H

My friend Linda allowed me to use this photo her father took of his grandduaghter and grandchildren. They were spending a couple of weeks at a cottage on Lake Michigan. What a fabulous moment in time Bob captured of his family.

Spending quality time with family and friends is a cherished activity and priority for many of us.  Yet sometimes life gets in the way and the people most dear to us are last on our to do list.

There are several ways to connect,  and create strong bonds with each other.

Tell them how you feel. Do your family and friends know how important they are to you? Say, ” I love you. I appreciate you. Thank you. You are special. I’ve been thinking of you.” Relationships thrive on terms of endearment.

Reach out.  Think of a friend or family member who is difficult to love. What extra step could you take to improve this relationship. Sometimes little things mean the most. Text, call or email saying, ‘I’m thinking of you. Let’s get together.

Offer your help. Everyone is struggling with something today. Offer to do run an errand, do a chore, lend an ear, solve a problem. Coach a game. Go the extra mile. This can literally change the course of one’s day.

Surprise someone. Bring home flowers or candy. When was the last time you did the unexpected?   Send a card, hand written note or love letter. Take your children individually some place special.

Visit. Meet for lunch, try a new restaurant or have a picnic. Invite someone you haven’t seen for a while for dinner and use your best china. Fix something special.

I once knew a man who picked up his mother and took her to dinner every Tuesday. Can you imagine how special that day of the week became to her?

Watch movies together.  Often times families watch movies or television in separate rooms. Instead make popcorn and other snacks and enjoy unusual togetherness.

On Sundays our children’s friends weren’t allowed to come over. We wanted the girls to ourselves. Over the years we created memories that will last a life time.

Take an interest in their interests. It’s not all about me! I have learned how to golf because and enjoy CSI because it’s important to my husband. He walks, runs and bikes with me because I like to be active. When you forget about yourself and put another first love grows!

Establish a “no electronics day.” No cell phones, computers, television etc. If you can’t do a whole day then at least a half day. Spend the quiet time playing board games, taking walks or other outside activities.

Read together. When our children were growing up there were no DVD players in cars. We would take a book everyone could enjoy and take turns reading on long road trips. It created intimacy. When is the last time you read to a child or elderly person?

The opportunities are endless, the memories are priceless. ..the reward is a loving support system. It doesn’t get much better than that!

Forgive. Don’t hold grudges. Release wrong doing. Learn from the past and move on. Don’t replay the past in your mind. Choose love over and over again.

Could you go without electronics for a day, half day or evening?
Is there someone you would like to reconnect with?
What has helped you keep the people you love a priority?
Linda Freed is last weeks winner of the CD. The person who leaves the best response today will receive a paperback copy of my book, “Flying by the Seat of My Soul.”

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    { 30 comments… read them below or add one }

    antique engagement ring advice - Stephen 08.09.09 at 6:54 pm

    I’ve recently installed a variation of a “no electronics day” where I fast from the computer for a whole day. It has been a wonderful experience as I have so much time that I can invest in the important relationships around me. You suggested that maybe you should try half-day if you can’t do the whole day. I think another suggestion would be to choose a particular electronic i.e. computer or television and fast from it for the day..

    I also love the idea of reading a book while on a road trip. It is definitely something I’m going to implement when my kids get a little older and can read. I really thank you for that tip

    Jannie Funster 08.09.09 at 7:09 pm

    We have tried the no electronics nights before but they have fallen through. I’d like to reinstate that come this fall.

    Someone I’d like to reconnect with? Hmmn, good question. I’m sure I’ll find some in Canada when I’m up there soon.

    To keep my immmediate family a priority I tear them away from the house and out to the lake and eother xotic places like around the block for a walk.

    Jan 08.09.09 at 7:09 pm

    Hi Tess!
    What a great question…I can go entire days without electronics and love it. We opted a few years back to let go of our TV and absolutely love our life without it. My car’s radio and cd player died and we are letting it stay that way. Now when I ride in the car (even 3 hrs. to Grand Rapids) there is pure silence. Love it!

    As for a family practice…every Friday we pick up our granddaughter (who is 8) from school. We get a snack then come back to our house to play games, have dinner and hang out together. Every Friday is her day with us. We all love it and have grown very close because of it. Plus, it reminds us adults how important it is to play! Last Friday, we played “My Littlest Pet Shop Monopoly” out in the yard under the trees. Talk about fun! I know we are creating beautiful memories together, as well!

    Lance 08.09.09 at 8:12 pm

    Hi Tess,
    This was hard to read, and I think that’s because I could relate to several of these - at least to some degree. And it made me think, where are my priorities? Something good for me to think about for sure. My wife signed us up to help at vacation bible school this week, and it started tonight. I was a bit reluctant to go - but it ended up being so much fun - and all of our kids helped at it - working together with us and with other kids - and it was a great way to come together, outside of home, and in a very fun setting! So, this should be a fun week! And a good way to bond as a family…

    Positively Present 08.09.09 at 8:25 pm

    I really love the ideas in this post. I don’t think I dare to be as loving as I could be. I feel loving but I don’t always act that way and you’ve given me some great ideas in this post about how I can open up and love more.

    Daphne @ Joyful Days 08.09.09 at 8:47 pm

    Tess,

    This morning I got an inpromptu invite to join my sister and her family on a last-minute outing. Without even having to think about it, I said yes, dropped everything I was doing, and was out the door in 5 minutes. I am SO glad I went because of the fun and bonding that we had.

    I really like the point about visiting. This is something I used to do a lot when I was younger, and now it’s more rare to drop in on my friends. I’d like to start doing that again. Thanks for the reminder!

    Joy 08.09.09 at 10:26 pm

    What a sweet picture!

    In the past year, I’ve decided to leave my cell phone in the car or at home if I’m spending time with someone–my children, my friends, myself. I think it shows I’m honoring our time and commitment by giving my undivided attention. Sometimes I’m unavailable for hours and those trying to reach me get frustrated, but when they are the recipient of my attention, they enjoy the peace.

    My children and I have lots of quiet time built in, to just hang out, play together, share activities. We are all energetic and spend so much time with other people that we relish our “alone” time, which we aim for daily. One ritual they’ve started is to play the “conversation game” at dinner. As you go around the table, you suggest a random question such as “what is your favorite article of clothing?” and we each take turns answering. Our guests play as well. They also like to play the “truth” part of truth or dare, which has been an amazing communication tool because they are comfortable saking questions about concerns or issues and they expect the truth, and they know they are expected to give the truth. At 9&11 they can be wise little souls:)

    Henie 08.09.09 at 10:31 pm

    I so appreciate you, Tess! Thank you for the little reminders that mean so much!

    When Twitter went down for a couple of days, I actually went down to the coffee bar *where everybody knows my name* and exhanged *real* hugs!

    When Twitter came back up, I had shared with someone how delighted I was to get *real* hugs instead of just *virtual* hugs and I wished I could convert all my virtual hugs into reals hugs…well a twitter friend of mine said that I went for *analog* hugs instead of just *digital* hugs! Not only is this funny to me but I much prefer analog hugs any day!

    Thanks again for the wonderful tips!

    Caity 08.10.09 at 12:54 am

    That is so sweet. Those are such fantastic tips. So often we get so caught up in our own lives when we come home that we forget to share with our families! One thing I loved growing up was dinner time. There were no distractions - everyone just talked to each other about their day and anything that was going on. We always tried to wait for everyone, too. Some nights we would eat at 6:00pm and other nights we would wait for 9:00pm so that we would all be able to eat dinner together!

    Megan "JoyGirl!" Bord 08.10.09 at 3:58 am

    I love all the comments here - almost as much as the original post (which was great to read!). Gosh, I don’t have a big family or even any kids of my own, and currently live alone. So the no electronics thing can either be super easy or feel like a lung is being removed from my body (depends on my mood that day!).

    Every so often I will send an email or text to someone I haven’t connected with recently just to let them know they’re on my mind. And I even changed the phrasing around so the focus is on them and not me. I used to write, “I’ve been thinking about you…” but realized that was me-focused. So now I say, “You’ve been on my mind,” and it feels better somehow.

    Another thing I love - that I only just had done for me on vacation earlier this year - is being read to! Oh my gosh… Such a simple thing, yet so intimate. My boyfriend read to me one night as we were cozied up next to each other, and I thought, “This is heaven.” I can’t wait until he’s home so we can do some more of that!

    Tess The Bold Life 08.10.09 at 7:42 am

    Stephen,
    So true…choose on electronic to fast from is a great idea. Many variations that will help relationships and even break addictions.

    Jannie,

    Your trip to Canada sounds wonderful and I believe you’ll strengthen all of your connections by being your wonderful self and Kelly too!

    Jan,
    Wow you are a brave soul. I don’t think I could go without music. Maybe one day a week in my car and then two but wouldn’t want to turn it off any more than that.
    What a reflection time you have created for yourself and your granddaughter sounds lovely.

    Lance,
    I think you do plenty of bonding with your family. In fact I’m not sure I know any family like yours. One think I’ve watched my friend do is make sure they’re together when they’re together with electronics off during that time.

    Dani,
    One step at a time practice small acts of being loving and you will grow at your own pace. You are very loving with all the reaching out to others you do through your writing!

    Daphne,
    Aren’t sisters fun? You’re a wise sister to have. I don’t think anyone in the US drops in anymore but a quick phone call to a friend asking if this is a good time is a great way to find out.

    Joy,
    What a loving mother and family. You’re exactly right and I don’t take my phone either. It’s off if it’s in my purse when I’m spending time with those important to me.
    One day at a time and one step at a time we can make the people we’re with feel like the important people they are.

    Hennie,
    I love coffee shops, friends and hugs. And twitter too! LOL

    Caity,
    And this is why you lived at home for so long! How loving and memorable these days are for you.

    Megan,
    I’m thinking your boyfriend must be as wonderful as you are. I understand when you live alone and there is much distance between you how important connections are to others off and online. You are blessed Megan to have found someone to spend the rest of your life with.

    Carolynn 08.10.09 at 8:01 am

    This is a tough one for me when it comes to my family. I’ve done my best to let go of the past, however, I’ve also learned through experience, that the best way to be loving to myself is to keep my parents at arms length. After 48 years, I’ve finally accepted that they’re toxic for me. I’m able to be loving with them…from a safe distance.

    A blogger friend provided me with a wonderful idea that I implemented earlier in the year. I wrote some of my best memories of time spent with each of my parents on slips of paper, put them in pretty jars, and mailed them off. It was a way for me to focus on the good aspects of our relationship and communicate my love and appreciation for the little things that have meant so much to me.

    Carolynn

    John 08.10.09 at 8:33 am

    Seeing as I’m 18 and I come home for college, I’d say that I’ve had plenty of family togetherness. My mom constantly nags me to death about caring for my sisters whenever I come back home. While I do understand what she means, I get kind of sick of it at times.

    When I have a family, I’ll encourage love and togetherness, but not to the point that will push them over the edge.

    Still, great post, Tess.

    Julie 08.10.09 at 8:35 am

    Tess, you continue to remind us how the simplest of things can make huge differences in the quality of our lives. It these things, all the small moments and activities in our days, that are life!

    Electronic entertainment? I could probably go for months without any. My husband couldn’t go a day. We’ve learned to find a balance, and, like you, I’ve learned to enjoy shows I wouldn’t normally watch. Putting the focus on our togetherness make watching things such as “The Terminator” even remotely bearable. ;)

    Jodi at Joy Discovered 08.10.09 at 9:15 am

    Tess, these are wonderful tips!! I love it that you wanted your girls to yourselves on Sundays–I am sure those memories are priceless. That’s so sweet. Your comment that Mondays are 1/7 of our lives hits home–when you think about it that way, it’s a call to action! Gotta make this day count!

    Chris Edgar | Purpose Power Coaching 08.10.09 at 10:14 am

    Thanks for this. What I find is that I’m more capable of staying open and loving with my family when I take some time to really give myself a hug and appreciate myself — so that I keep in mind that, no matter what gets said or done, I’ll always be there for me.

    jonathan figaro 08.10.09 at 12:36 pm

    Loving your family is essential to living a fulfilled life style.
    Making sure your kid are halthy, and your spouse is happy is
    something you must try to going. There maybe hard times in life but we
    must keep out family together.

    Hilda 08.10.09 at 1:31 pm

    These are all wonderful ideas, I especially like the reading on car trips. When I was a child we used to sing in the car.

    I love the idea of the truth game that Joy’s family does - what a wonderful practice for children to grow up with!

    Mark 08.10.09 at 1:39 pm

    Wonderful photo followed by sage advice. I love the “no electronics day”, this is very powerful and forces us to be creative with our time and each other.

    Tess The Bold Life 08.10.09 at 3:03 pm

    Carolynn,
    What you write is very powerful. As a therapist I often suggested loving people from a distance. It’s also possible to focus on their higher selves and send them loving thoughts, blessing or prayers.

    Your friend is very wise and the exercise you did was a beautiful thing! You’re a healthy and wise soul and I’m happy to get to know you!

    John,
    I understand what you’re saying. I used to be an over bearing mom myself! One of the things a mother wants the most is for her children to love each other. However it’s necessary to surrender that wish because it’s totally out of our control!

    Julie,
    Your funny and I know exactly what you mean. We are in the same stage of life.

    Jodi,
    When I first became aware of Mondays counting for so much it surprised me as well. It’s easier to love Mondays when we have work that we love.

    Chris,
    Very good point and one that I missed.

    Jonathan,

    I think when we’re happy or families are happier. It starts from me and from within. It’s then easier for them to choose their own happiness.

    Hilda,
    Singing is fantastic. It’s the magical small things we do together that mean the very most. And we are blessed to have had them.

    Mark,
    I love your blog and it doesn’t surprise me about your no electronic days. Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate all that you write.

    Giovanna Garcia 08.10.09 at 5:58 pm

    Hi Tess

    Great message here. I love the photo :-)
    Tell them how you feel is one of those things that is so simply yet, often time people forget to do. I really don’t like it when I hear people say, “I love you more than you know!” Why would that be, all they have to do is to tell the other person.

    Thanks for sharing.
    Giovanna Garcia
    Imperfect Action is better than No Action

    Keith 08.10.09 at 6:47 pm

    Hey Tess,

    Excellent article today! So much good stuff here. Some of what stands out to me are:
    “Relationships thrive in terms of endearment”
    “Surprise someone. When was the last time you did something unexpected?”
    “Watch movies together”
    “Read together”

    ..and there are more but these are awesome!

    You really make a difference with your blog Tess and I hope more and more people find out about it.

    Thank you

    Zeenat{Positive Provocations} 08.11.09 at 12:06 am

    What awesome suggestions Tess.
    This is my first visit to your blog..and i am literally kicking myself for not being here sooner. Firstly i love your goldfishes right up there on your page and your welcome box…just a lovely kick to open your eyes up. I just love it.
    And this article is simply perfect in the timing sense..cause of-late i had been asking myself the same “am i spending too much time on the computer?” Maybe yes. But you know the funny thing is….i can still do without being on it for a few days. I mean i would miss it…but it aint life or death. I am multifaceted like that:)…can do lots of stuff to keep myself busy. Reading is surely one thing i would love to catch up on.
    So, for me the no electronics day..is by far the best tip of all. Thanks.

    Kathy | Virtual Impax 08.11.09 at 7:27 am

    Last night I got a phone call which broke my heart. A relative’s daughter is in the middle of a melt-down which has sent their family into crisis mode.

    As I go through the things mentioned in this blog post - most of these are things we do “naturally” in my home - things that this relative obviously thought were unimportant.

    What’s truly upsetting is - as my family talked about this situation last night - we agreed that the dominoes were being carefully arranged to stage this “show” for nearly a decade.

    Now, they’re experiencing real pain as the crisis continues to spin out of control. The old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” comes to mind here. This is a list of PREVENTATIVE measures you can take with your family so you won’t find yourself in need of a CURE.

    Great post. I hope you’re not just preaching to the choir with it. I hope you reach someone who NEEDS to put this in practice now - before it’s too late.

    Tess The Bold Life 08.11.09 at 7:48 am

    Gio,
    Well isn’t that the truth. I’m committing to saying “I love you” 3x as much as I do now and I’ll increase from there. You make a good point.

    Keith,
    If you spot it you got it. That means your blog carries the same weight. Together we’ll continue to do our part of making the world a better place. I’m a better person for knowing you and your smile makes your photo fantastic.

    Zeenat,
    Don’t kick yourself…that hurts! Thanks for the comment on the goldfish. I was thinking of changing it and suddenly I’m getting all kinds of feedback. I’m happy you stopped by!

    Sara B. Healy 08.11.09 at 8:11 am

    Tess — You know how every once in awhile you come across a post that thumps you up the side of the head. That’s what this post did for me. It reminded that I need to call my sister and have a chat.

    We were estranged for many years for a reason that caused me a lot of pain. We’re both much older now and are trying to mend things, but I don’t always find it easy to forget the past.

    What struck me in this post is what you said about “forgiveness.” I need to sit with this for awhile because I think it’s what’s holding me back. Thanks for this reminder of how important family really is:~)

    Amanda Linehan 08.11.09 at 5:38 pm

    Hi Tess - I particularly liked “reach out.” Often we want to avoid people who are difficult and, yet, that seems to make them more difficult. Facing relationships head on is probably the best way.

    Hilary 08.12.09 at 6:19 am

    Hi Tess .. there’s an awful lot of wisdom in here - both in the post and from your readers’ comments .. a great deal we all experienced or have to deal with in one way or another.

    I liked Megan’s words .. I used to write, “I’ve been thinking about you…” but realized that was me-focused. So now I say, “You’ve been on my mind,” - I must do that in future.

    I have challenges with my family and none of us have children - which makes the connection some more tricky .. and I’ve been happier abroad where I can be myself and be accepted, not judged. Still the blog seems to have hit them in the gunwhales somewhat - so perhaps that will in time make a difference.

    We had some great times as kids .. but tv wasn’t really around much; now I don’t watch much - usually doing something else at the same time .. the pc is on a lot and gets interlinked between visits to my mother and uncle (who left his phone off the hook for the last 24 hours .. so I thought I should just see if was alive and kicking - he was: I’m relieved to say - but I could have done without the trip!).

    I sit here and work in silence .. and don’t often have music on - but love it when I have the space etc. I should be out more - and will get there once I can free up my time a little .. now September .. but it will happen.

    One thing I’ve learnt is - I am my own master and really it’s up to me - if things will happen I have to let them and guide them ..

    Thanks - great ideas .. reading in the car - doesn’t make me feel too well, even thinking about it! We played games .. cricket via the pub signs?!

    Go well - enjoy the holidays etc .. and I see you’ve learnt “to golf” .. not play it .. that says a lot?!
    All the best - Hilary Melton-Butcher
    Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

    Tess 08.12.09 at 6:46 am

    Amanda,
    Yes I’m reaching out more as well. Still trying to meet more people. We’ve been here just short of two years now. Unbelievable.

    Hillary,

    Amen to creating our own reality and guiding and making it happen. Yes I’ve learned to play and I do play however my instrutor told me I’m a beginner for 3-4 years.
    That takes the pressure off.

    janice 08.12.09 at 9:50 am

    Love those lists, m’dear! I’ve just had a gap of ten days between posts, loving my family better, looking after my dad and catching up on housework. I speak to my elderly dad every morning so that he starts his day knowing he’s loved and I know he’s healthy. I shop for him, too, and because it’s across counties, he’s very appreciative. After his heart attack, it’s the only way I can be sure he doesn’t slip back into old dietary habits. It’s exhausting sometimes, but I sleep easy at nights, knowing I’m doing my best.

    Blogging’s different though; it has to be tamed or my kids suffer. This break has helped me prioritise and get clarity.

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