He’s Not YOU and She’s Not ME (Oh, the Perils of Parenting!)

Don’t try to make children grow up to be like you, or they may do it. –Russell Baker

madhouseThe idea of being in charge of small people always seemed overwhelming to me.  Babies need constant care, toddlers keep you running, then come the tantrums…and all this during a child’s cutest phase!  And please, don’t be fooled by the false hope of the elementary school years…while the child is certainly capable of handling many tasks independently, elementary school is definitely a whirlwind all its own.  If questions and comments your child picked up from preschool friends had you blushing…just wait!  With a better vocabulary and dedicated lunch/recess time to “share,” your child is sure to come home with a couple of doozies!  I am just now treading into the tween and teen years of parenthood and I’m anticipating even more hurdles and embarrassing conversations.  I mean, these are the years they actually WARN us about 😦

In reality parenthood is everything they said it would be…good, bad, frustrating and rewarding.  We love our kiddos and I’m pretty sure the cycle of life isn’t going anywhere!  However, it’s come to my attention lately that dealing with my kids is getting a lot more complicated.  When they were little they exemplified typical “little” people behavior.  The moments of defiance and cuteness along with the awe of learning new things were just part of a normal day.  And newsflash–probably none of our children were truly exceptional at this point.  In fact, I’ve read several studies that suggest that most of our children all level out in kindergarten.  That means despite being the product of a stay-at-home mom, single-parent household, working parents, or daycare (home or otherwise,) all of our kiddos have reached the same milestones at this particular crossroad in life.  The differences become evident after our children enter school and not necessarily because of school itself.  It appears that a child’s personality begins to develop and solidify all within the first few years of elementary school (barring any huge life events, of course.)  I am not a psychologist, but I think the stats hold up.  An even-tempered child at age 6 likely maintains that even temper.  A selfish child at age 7 probably has selfish tendencies throughout life.  A sensitive demeanor at age 8 means the child has a good chance of maintaining that sensitivity well into adulthood.

So here’s where I stand with my now “complicated” kiddos.  As a 10 and 13-year-old, their personalities are well-developed and those same personalities are not afraid to go head to head with mine!  This is a good AND a bad thing.  As nature would have it, my kids and I have some similar personality traits.  For example, my son and I are suckers for comedies and enjoy wasting hours watching funny movies.  We laugh at the same dumb things and for the most part “speak the same language.”  My daughter and I both love organization, we approach problems very analytically, and LOVE to read and learn new things!  All three of us are artistic.  On the other hand, my kids are extremely social while I am an introvert.  Their constant need to be with friends and have friends over just blows me away!  They both enjoy sports while I threw out my hip playing kickball in my grandma’s front yard (no athletic ability here.)  They both love video games and I consider video games to be the ultimate waste of time.  None of this is a deal breaker, but we do spar over homework, practice time, and responsibility.  I wonder about their commitment level, attention to detail and their desire to work hard.  I have a tough time hearing them complain about problems that they can fix themselves, whine about situations that get a little difficult and sulk when things don’t go their way.  It’s in these things that I have to stop and remind myself, “He’s not you, and she’s not me.”

It’s not an easy thing to maneuver.  When I got into this parenting gig I never once contemplated the idea that these little beings could give me any problems or try my nerves.  In a naïve way, I imagined they would be some kind of “mini-me” and thus, they would be perfectly reasonable at all times (feel free to laugh out loud here!)  All any of us really have to go on when we enter parenthood are our own childhood experiences, the experiences of those closest to us, and maybe a couple of baby books.  So basically, we might as well go into this blind…because this is what I remember from my early days:

I’m pretty sure I was not your typical child.  In a lot of ways I was probably always a little bit of a grown up…or perhaps an old soul.  I was thoughtful in ways that most kids never think of…weighing the pros and cons of many decisions that others wouldn’t even consider.  I was very self-concerned and stubborn.  I worked hard.  By the time I was 8 I knew I wanted to go to college and I was driven to get there.  I was shy and serious.  I was afraid of failure.  I WAS BY NO MEANS PERFECT.  I put a lot of pressure on myself.  I hated making mistakes and vowed to learn from them.  I felt very safe and secure with my family.  I was creative.  I didn’t really care what other people thought of me.  I believed in a God who loved me and would never abandon me.  

This is how I “remember” my childhood, but this alone doesn’t garner enough information on how to raise a child…especially a child that in all likelihood would be very different from myself.  Oh, how I wish I had realized all this earlier!

Possessing an awareness that there are and will be differences is key to navigating my parenting responsibilities now and into the future.  This newfound credo of  “he’s not you, and she’s not me,” might be the saving grace that I need to get over this parenting hump.  Stepping back and realizing that we are all separate individuals and that our differences are okay (heck, we might even learn something from one another) could make these next years a growing experience for us all.  I know that the head to head battles will exist (there’s no way I’m going to let them grow up without a sense of accountability and purpose,) but hopefully the battles will also include some level of understanding.  I truly love these kiddos and I want to love them into being the people God called them to be…not a “mini-me” clone and certainly not the “ideal” person that lives in my imagination.  Most of us hope to raise children to be more than ourselves…we seek to give them not only the things that we had growing up but so much more.  We want them to have the benefit of all those who have come before them…us included.  The long-held belief that each generation should be better than the one before drives us in so many ways, but it’s also a belief that can cause us to “run-over” our own children.  A lack of understanding can stop them in their tracks before they’ve even had a chance to start…and we’ve all seen it happen far too many times.

My kids will not have a childhood experience that mirrors mine.  Their friendships and relationships will look different from the ones I knew 30+ years ago.  They will stumble and fall.  They will let me down and they will find a strength that I never knew they could possess.  These same kiddos will test the waters and sometimes they will get hurt.  They will succeed in areas where I’ve failed and they will thrive in places I would have been too afraid to venture into.  And really, the last thing the world needs is a “mini-me,” (because I am certainly not all that easy to deal with!)  In the end, when they finally reach adulthood, I pray that I would have loved them through all of it.  I know it will not be easy because I have high hopes and expectations (I’m still a mom after all!)  But these years–the tweens and teens, the “home-stretch” if you will, are far too valuable to just endure.  These are critical times.  Love your daughter.  Love your son.  And remember, “he’s not you and she’s not me…” it just might make all the difference.

Childhood is a short season.  –Helen Hayes

What About Bob? (aka A Fire Belly Toad Love Story)

No one has greater love than this, that one should lay down his life for his friends.  John 15:13

Love is a funny thing. It will make you take insane risks. You’ll find yourself in unbelievable circumstances. And sometimes, yes sometimes, love will cost you absolutely everything! But let me back up a little bit because every good love story needs a little background.

Sean Brings Home Pet Toad

Sean Brings Home Pet Toad–August 2010

So, a little boy showed up at school one day with a toad in a small plastic habitat.  And in “monkey see, monkey do” fashion, my son had to have one, too.  And since his birthday was coming up (and since I’ve been known to slip into moments of complete mom idiocy) we decided to add to our family.  After a trip into Wichita a purchase was made in a somewhat questionable pet establishment in an equally suspect part of the city.  The sales fella assured us that this was an easy enough pet to care for and that our new fire belly toad would happily enjoy the little plastic habitat that we had already purchased at Toys R Us.  (FYI:  living creatures almost never thrive in plastic containers.)

So, Todd the Toad moved into my son’s bedroom.  WAIT…I forgot to mention that fire belly toads (which are poisonous by the way…so should have looked that up before we brought it home) also need LIVE crickets every 3-4 days.  Okay–if you have never seen a toad devour a cricket you might be surprised to discover that it’s pretty amazing and just as cool as some of the things you’ll see on Animal Planet, except that it’s happening right in front of YOUR face!  So Todd would entertain us during feeding time, but that was about the extent of it.  And since this particular toad didn’t have much of an appetite, more crickets drown than actually made it into his mouth.  And this was a problem because cleaning this little plastic habitat became not only necessary, but also quite gross.  To top it all off, poor Todd wasn’t thriving.  He seemed miserable, sad and scared.  My only thought at the time was:  please, please don’t let us kill Sean’s birthday present!  Something had to be done and thus another moment of mom idiocy ensued.

Google is one of my best friends.  It wasn’t long before I had loads of info and armed with knowledge we headed back to a different pet store (in a better part of town) and looked for a whole new set up AND a companion toad (because two is always better than one and who doesn’t need someone to pal around with?  I know, even more mom idiocy!)  Almost $100 dollars later, we were set up with a new industrial terrarium and cover, a special light bulb, a new lamp, spring water, an electric thermostat and even a little greenery and log to keep our toad chums happy.  The children were ecstatic and tossed names back and forth on the drive home. They settled on Bob and Todd because it sounded like good radio DJ names (???) and the dynamic toad duo settled into their new digs.  We are such good parents 🙂

Bob and Trudy at home in their new habitat.

Bob and Trudy at home. Bob is bright green and on the left. Trudy is dark green and on the right.

So here’s where the actual love story begins…you thought I forgot?  Within a week my son had a few questions. There’s nothing quite like the “birds and bees conversation” presenting itself when you least expect it.  After a very matter-of-fact talking to…Todd was renamed Trudy and my daughter declared the two “married.”  Casey began praying for baby toads while I couldn’t believe what we had gotten ourselves into.  Back to Google…more research needed to be done.  (I am pleased to report that we were NEVER blessed with the “pitter-patter” of tadpoles!)

Bob and Trudy were quite the pair and displayed text-book fire belly toad characteristics.  Trudy was quite docile and ended up being much smaller in size than Bob.  Her skin stayed dark in color and she would secrete the poisonous milky fluid that wards off predators whenever she became frightened or uneasy.  Bob on the other hand ate like a champ, his skin color would fluctuate between various shades of green according to his male hormones, and he frequently “barked” through the night to communicate with his beloved Trudy.  (The barking sounds like a high-pitched dog bark, but it is so faint that for weeks we thought our neighbors must have purchased a small canine.)  Bob was very protective and frequently “bowed up” when we would get too close or stare a little too long at the goings on in the tank.  However, Bob displayed one unusual characteristic…while Trudy would hide and bury herself in the rocks, Bob was always trying to escape.  On more than one occasion we would find Bob tucked up in the top corner, trying to get out.  Although the crickets did manage to escape the terrarium on a regular basis, it basically seemed impossible that Bob could ever get out.  He was easily bigger than Trudy but still small for an amphibian (2-3 inches at best) and the tiny crack that separated the cover from the terrarium was just too narrow.  Bob wasn’t anywhere close to strong enough to move it on his own.  It just couldn’t happen, right?  Yet, he continued to try.  We imagined he was on a quest to take his beloved Trudy and blow this popsicle stand…aka our house.

These antics played out day after day, month after month, and eventually year after year.  We became regulars at the  pet store (our frequent cricket purchases earning us occasional freebies) and we became experts at fire-belly toad behavior and habitat maintenance.  These tiny toads became members of the family.  They were my son’s roommates.  We learned to recognize their barks and moods.  We had to arrange care for them whenever we traveled.  Not to mention, our dog was extremely jealous of his pet brother and sister.  Like any family member, they were thought of and cared for on a daily basis.  So imagine our surprise when sweet, little Trudy started slowing down.  She would bury herself in the rocks for days now or hide in the log.  While she was never the most active toad, her lethargy became worrisome.  When she stopped eating, we feared the worse.  We were about to lose a member of our little family.

We had lost ants (and countless other bugs) and a Beta fish named Swimmy, but on some level we all knew this would be different.  We had cared (and dare I say loved) the toads for quite some time.  They really were a part of our every day.  I wondered how the kids would take it.  Would they cry?  What kind of questions would they have about death?  And heaven?  And ultimately, our Great Creator?  I’ve read countless articles about the important lessons we learn through our pets and that death is a part of the life cycle that we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about.  And while all of this was milling about in my mind another thought occurred to me, what about Bob?

I wish I could say that we had plenty of time to delve into the subject of death and loss, but we didn’t.  Trudy’s time had come.  And afterward, Bob barked and barked and he continued to try to escape.  And it wasn’t but a blink after Trudy passed away that her companion, her partner, her protector, her “husband” (my daughter pronounced them married, remember) went missing.  MISSING!  A poisonous toad was lost somewhere in our house.  Good gravy.

Of course, the kids were distraught.  Bob just had to be found.  How could he have possibly escaped?  They couldn’t lose BOTH of them.  It was too much.  We searched the tank…uncovering rocks and logs and faux plant life.  Nothing.  We searched the bedroom.  Under things, behind things, and around things.  Nothing.  We systematically began searching the next closest bedroom, closet and hallway.  Finally, the thought occurred to us.  If Bob did manage to escape, would our dog have eaten him?  I know it’s gross, but we were in sleuth mode and had to check off all the boxes.  My husband made a quick call to the vet and we waited, but Maddie (the dog) was as healthy as ever.  And no Bob.

After a week all hope was lost.  We gave up.  We wondered if some how he managed to make it out of the house.  And the question became, if he did–how long could he survive?  We cleaned out the tank.  Repurposed the table it sat upon and eventually moved on with life.

Every once in a while the toad topic would come up.  Everyone had a theory.  1)  Bob just couldn’t live without Trudy.  2)  He escaped in a desperate effort to find her.  3)  He met his doom in the belly of our dog.  4)  Or….he some how managed to make it outside..found freedom and made a new life for himself.  5)  Perhaps, he was eaten by the crickets (I know this one sounds extremely far-fetched, but research shows that the crickets can and will turn on a predator and in large numbers crickets can actually take a small toad down.)  We just didn’t know, until…well, until we DID know.

About half a year later, I discovered Bob (or what was left of Bob) shriveled and flattened…hidden under a pair of old baseball cleats in the far corner of my son’s closet.  Now, before you think I’m a bad housekeeper I must say that YES…we had searched that closet dozens of times, YES…Sean regularly gets in and out of his closet, and NO we are not like many on the popular Hoarders TV show who neglect their surroundings to the point that critters frequently die and go unnoticed for months at a time.  I don’t know how Bob made it across the room.  I don’t know how long he survived in that closest (he would have needed a food source, water and tropical temperatures.)  What I do know is that he was found, the mystery was solved and my heart was heavy.  The love story was over.

RIP Bob

RIP: Bob the Toad

Those itty-bitty toads taught me many things.  First of all, I never thought I could love such exotic, and let’s be honest–ugly, creatures.  I didn’t think that something so small and needy would ever survive in our care!  I couldn’t imagine what a time commitment they would be or how much fun it would be watching them grow, play  and change. These tiny creatures were awesome in so many ways.  It is just another example of a truly amazing Creator!  How could I have known that these toads (like children) thrive in routine and schedules, they’re very social and live in a communal setting in nature, they pair up and protect one another, and at the same time they are remarkably equipped to protect themselves from predators of every kind?  They were such a wonderful example of a committed love relationship.  And in many ways they came into our lives at just the right time…their parting prepared us for difficult moments to come.  It still blows my mind.

Love truly is a funny thing. It will make you take insane risks. You’ll find yourself in unbelievable circumstances. And sometimes, yes sometimes, love will cost you absolutely everything!  What a wonderful lesson for our whole family.  In the past few years we have experienced loss (unfortunately, on more than one occasion) and as we grieved it occurs to me that while acknowledging the death we have also celebrated the LOVE.  The love of family and dear friends.  Of course it hasn’t been easy (it never is,) but I think we honor those who have gone on when we remember them well.  We still talk about the toads.  In fact, as I was writing this, I wondered did I ever take photos of them?  Will there be images to keep their tiny spirits and their special story alive?  And to my delight, I found many pictures and thus, many happy memories.

 What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.  –Helen Keller

 

 

 

February…How Do I LOVE Thee? (Song 14 in the Countdown)

Love Songs to Melt Your Heart and Move Your Soul: Song 14

Love is…having a Valentine by your side every day of the year. –me

Well…it’s finally here—Valentine’s Day! A holiday absolutely loathed by some and totally adored by others (all subject to one’s current relationship status, of course.) It’s also the final day of my love song countdown. While the list includes some romantic music staples, I’ve tried to include a few unlikely additions as well (no Barry White, Celine Dion or Mariah Carey here.) So in conclusion, I offer up this little goody by The Proclaimers 🙂   An absolute brain worm and feel good ditty, this tune is about one of the greatest love qualities that I can think of…song 14WILLINGNESS. It’s not a ballad that promises the world. It’s not a steamy song with lots of suggestive innuendo. And nothing about this song would break your heart or move you to tears. Rather, it’s one person saying to another…”if you’ll let me, I’ll be there in the morning, all throughout the day, I’ll be the one talking your head off, working hard to provide for you, growing old with you, dreaming about you, always coming home to you, and thinking about you whenever we have to be apart. I’m not perfect, but I am WILLING to be all that I can for you.” While this chart topper doesn’t necessarily fit the typical love song mold, I think it’s the perfect “dark horse” candidate to complete my list—unlikely, improbable and least expected…yeah, that sounds a lot like love to me. Happy Valentine’s Day 🙂

***This post is part of an ongoing series. As part of my cup half full approach to loving the month of February, I vow to jump in with both feet and embrace the whole Valentine thing with my own custom list of Love Songs to Melt Your Heart and Move Your Soul. Ambitious? Yes! Bold? Absolutely! Crazy? You betcha! Pointless? On just about every level. Regardless, let’s give it a go—I mean it’s February and how else am I going to get through the coldest, bleakest, cloudiest, shortest (and longest at the same time) month on the calendar. Let the countdown to Valentine’s Day begin! I (gritting teeth) LOVE February, how about YOU?

February…How Do I LOVE Thee? (Song 13 in the Countdown)

Love Songs to Melt Your Heart and Move Your Soul: Song 13

Love is…the best (and the worst) kind of mystery. –me

You may have noticed that I haven’t included much contemporary music in my love songs list. Not a diss really, I guess I’m just more old school. However, this song is currently on Billboard’s Top 10 and I find it especially moving. The lyrics could be interpreted a number of ways…pertaining to an unfulfilled or one-sided romantic relationship, a broken friendship, troubled family systems, a loved one dealing with illness, aging and maybe even loss. It could also be read spiritually. Like any good love song this one speaks directly to the soul, but it takes things one step further as song 13it addresses the difficult and unpleasant part of putting your heart on the line. Will you let go, are you willing to grow up and make tough decisions, how much are you able to give before it all becomes too overwhelming?

In this crazy world we never expect (or plan for) the rejection, hurt and pain that can accompany love.  The reality is that sometimes love sucks. Love isn’t fair. And often, as hard as it is to hear, it’s just not enough.  I’ve always believed that actions speak louder than words and when we finally get to the point of asking a loved one to “say something,” I presume that on a lot of levels we already know the answer.  And as difficult as that answer may be, it ultimately leads to this question…is it REALLY better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all?  Yes..a hundred times, yes.

Coming Up: Love Songs to Melt Your Heart and Move Your Soul: Song 14

***This post is part of an ongoing series. As part of my cup half full approach to loving the month of February, I vow to jump in with both feet and embrace the whole Valentine thing with my own custom list of Love Songs to Melt Your Heart and Move Your Soul. Ambitious? Yes! Bold? Absolutely! Crazy? You betcha! Pointless? On just about every level. Regardless, let’s give it a go—I mean it’s February and how else am I going to get through the coldest, bleakest, cloudiest, shortest (and longest at the same time) month on the calendar. Let the countdown to Valentine’s Day begin! I (gritting teeth) LOVE February, how about YOU?

February…How Do I LOVE Thee? (Song 12 in the Countdown)

Love Songs to Melt Your Heart and Move Your Soul: Song 12

Love is…talking about everything and nothing while sharing piles of French fries. –me

In the country music world, George Strait is king. And when it comes to heartfelt love songs, he easily keeps the crown. The song “I Cross My Heart” reads like wedding vows with sweet promises and pledges of fidelity. It’s the song 12kind of song that gives hope to the unattached, optimism to relationship newbies and profound joy to those who know and experience this kind of committed love. Easily one of my top three love songs of all time, not only does it ooze all the gushy goodness of love but between the lines it connotes dedication, respect and accountability. While this song may have been a number one hit in the early ‘90s, its timeless message will make it a favorite for decades to come.

Coming Up: Love Songs to Melt Your Heart and Move Your Soul: Song 13

***This post is part of an ongoing series. As part of my cup half full approach to loving the month of February, I vow to jump in with both feet and embrace the whole Valentine thing with my own custom list of Love Songs to Melt Your Heart and Move Your Soul. Ambitious? Yes! Bold? Absolutely! Crazy? You betcha! Pointless? On just about every level. Regardless, let’s give it a go—I mean it’s February and how else am I going to get through the coldest, bleakest, cloudiest, shortest (and longest at the same time) month on the calendar. Let the countdown to Valentine’s Day begin! I (gritting teeth) LOVE February, how about YOU?

February…How Do I LOVE Thee? (Song 11 in the Countdown)

Love Songs to Melt Your Heart and Move Your Soul: Song 11

Love is….knowing that I’m with you every step of the way (whether you like it or not.) –me

Love, laughter and loyalty. No, I’m not trying to impress you with some fancy alliteration; I’m simply listing the makings of a solid relationship. If we’re honest, we all know that love really isn’t enough. Sure, they say love can move mountains, it knows no boundaries, and it can conquer all, but there are too many instances out there where love alone is nothing more than a starting place.

song 11Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” addresses a cornerstone of any long lasting relationship—loyalty. Most of us can recall a time when someone’s unfaithfulness has brought us to our knees. Only time can heal those type of wounds. And in order for a relationship to truly have a solid foundation it has to be built on a mutual trust. Music historians say that King’s song was inspired by an old spiritual as well as the words of Psalm 46:2-3. This scripture expresses God’s willingness and His commitment to stand by His people through all things—both the highs and the lows. Loyalty and fidelity…having a confidence in the one who promises to love you everyday and in every way.  This is the best kind of love.

Coming Up: Love Songs to Melt Your Heart and Move Your Soul: Song 12

***This post is part of an ongoing series. As part of my cup half full approach to loving the month of February, I vow to jump in with both feet and embrace the whole Valentine thing with my own custom list of Love Songs to Melt Your Heart and Move Your Soul. Ambitious? Yes! Bold? Absolutely! Crazy? You betcha! Pointless? On just about every level. Regardless, let’s give it a go—I mean it’s February and how else am I going to get through the coldest, bleakest, cloudiest, shortest (and longest at the same time) month on the calendar. Let the countdown to Valentine’s Day begin! I (gritting teeth) LOVE February, how about YOU?

February…How Do I LOVE Thee? (Song 10 in the Countdown)

Love Songs to Melt Your Heart and Move Your Soul: Song 10

Love is….nothing to do and all day to do it (in optimum temperatures of course.) –me

No Valentine love song list would be complete without a little Frank. This classic crooner has so many wonderful songs to his credit that choosing one was difficult. So I went with my all time favorite Sinatra song—The Summer song 10Wind. While not his most well-known ballad, this tale of fleeting summer love seems timeless. Whether your story occurs ocean side, lakeside or poolside… those summer flings somehow manage to leave a lasting impression on us all. On a cold winter day in February, this song transports me to warm summer nights, staying out late stargazing, and (when I finally made it out of the Midwest) walks on the beach. I can practically hear the ocean waves crashing, the birds in the background, and that smell…salty and warm—oh, the summer wind!

Coming Up: Love Songs to Melt Your Heart and Move Your Soul: Song 11

***This post is part of an ongoing series. As part of my cup half full approach to loving the month of February, I vow to jump in with both feet and embrace the whole Valentine thing with my own custom list of Love Songs to Melt Your Heart and Move Your Soul. Ambitious? Yes! Bold? Absolutely! Crazy? You betcha! Pointless? On just about every level. Regardless, let’s give it a go—I mean it’s February and how else am I going to get through the coldest, bleakest, cloudiest, shortest (and longest at the same time) month on the calendar. Let the countdown to Valentine’s Day begin! I (gritting teeth) LOVE February, how about YOU?

February…How Do I LOVE Thee? (Song 9 in the Countdown)

Love Songs to Melt Your Heart and Move Your Soul: Song 9

Love is…unselfishly handing over the last piece of chocolate (and smiling when you do.)

One of the most quoted scriptures in the Bible (1 Corinthians 13:4-7) begins with these words, “Love is patient, love is kind….” Often read aloud at weddings this verse is actually not an ode to romantic love, but rather a call to love one another and to live in a spirit of cooperation and mutuality. In this type of existence, men and women would equally look out for one another without reservation, sharing and giving wholeheartedly. When I think of that kind of love, song 9this song by Jason Mraz comes to mind. In an interview Mraz says that these lyrics speak to “giving yourself or your time to someone else.” As we near Valentine’s Day (and the pressure to find the perfect gift mounts)—I can’t help but wonder if today’s definition of love centers around quantity or quality?  How many of us would happily accept an hour of uninterrupted time with a loved one (romantic or otherwise) over a box of chocolates or a dozen roses? In so many instances giving a gift is the easy thing to do while giving yourself is what really matters most.  In this Valentine season, will you be a giver or a taker?

Coming Up: Love Songs to Melt Your Heart and Move Your Soul: Song 10

***This post is part of an ongoing series. As part of my cup half full approach to loving the month of February, I vow to jump in with both feet and embrace the whole Valentine thing with my own custom list of Love Songs to Melt Your Heart and Move Your Soul. Ambitious? Yes! Bold? Absolutely! Crazy? You betcha! Pointless? On just about every level. Regardless, let’s give it a go—I mean it’s February and how else am I going to get through the coldest, bleakest, cloudiest, shortest (and longest at the same time) month on the calendar. Let the countdown to Valentine’s Day begin! I (gritting teeth) LOVE February, how about YOU?

February…How Do I LOVE Thee? (Song 8 in the Countdown)

Love Songs to Melt Your Heart and Move Your Soul: Song 8

Love is…laughing before the punch line (but the joke-teller doesn’t mind) because you both already know where this exchange is going.

What is love without laughter? Personally, I LOVE to laugh. It really is my favorite thing 🙂  This song made the list because it shows love from a yin and yang point of view. Keely Smith with her beautiful, sophisticated voice paired song 8up with Louis Prima and his talented, yet cut-up, vocal abilities. It’s the kind of duality that I can appreciate. I mean, I really think there’s something to this whole opposites attract theory. And as a more serious type, I love (and NEED) to be around others who can let loose and appreciate the lighter side of life. They keep me grounded. So maybe it’s not so much that opposites attract as it is that opposites complement and interconnect with one another. And when it comes to love, this dynamic just might be a good thing.

Coming Up: Love Songs to Melt Your Heart and Move Your Soul: Song 9

***This post is part of an ongoing series. As part of my cup half full approach to loving the month of February, I vow to jump in with both feet and embrace the whole Valentine thing with my own custom list of Love Songs to Melt Your Heart and Move Your Soul. Ambitious? Yes! Bold? Absolutely! Crazy? You betcha! Pointless? On just about every level. Regardless, let’s give it a go—I mean it’s February and how else am I going to get through the coldest, bleakest, cloudiest, shortest (and longest at the same time) month on the calendar. Let the countdown to Valentine’s Day begin! I (gritting teeth) LOVE February, how about YOU?

February…How Do I LOVE Thee? (Song 7 in the Countdown)

Love Songs to Melt Your Heart and Move Your Soul: Song 7

Love is…smiling like a fool at the first mention of his/her name. –me

I went 80s rock ballad today. And while this song was probably overplayed in it’s time (guilty as charged) I’m drawn to one aspect of it—and it’s not the “listen to your heart” chorus line. Rather, I think this song actually speaks to a “cause to pause” in love. Have you been there? Everything is moving so fast…you both have a thousand things in song 7common, you can’t spend enough time together, and a chemistry exists between the two of you that CANNOT be denied. This love train is racing down the track at full speed and the last thing you can think about is stopping to THINK. This is precisely the moment when you need to put on the brakes! Take a brief step back…I’m not talking about anything drastic. No dramatic break-up or ultimatum. Just a pause. Time to gain a little perspective. Reflect. While most of us use our hearts as a guide when it comes to love we all know it’s not a perfect gage.  So listen to your heart, but let your brain have a voice, too.

Coming Up: Love Songs to Melt Your Heart and Move Your Soul: Song 8

***This post is part of an ongoing series. As part of my cup half full approach to loving the month of February, I vow to jump in with both feet and embrace the whole Valentine thing with my own custom list of Love Songs to Melt Your Heart and Move Your Soul. Ambitious? Yes! Bold? Absolutely! Crazy? You betcha! Pointless? On just about every level. Regardless, let’s give it a go—I mean it’s February and how else am I going to get through the coldest, bleakest, cloudiest, shortest (and longest at the same time) month on the calendar. Let the countdown to Valentine’s Day begin! I (gritting teeth) LOVE February, how about YOU?