Category Archives: Relationships

Do You Know Your Love Language?

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Back in elementary school, when we were essentially forced to make Valentine’s cards for each other, we never discussed love or compassion. We were taught that a good partner should intuitively know what would give the other person happiness.

We were definitely not instructed to ask for what we want.

Ideally, we are supposed to to put aside own egos and give what we know would bring our partners joy.

Even if we aren’t totally into it.

That kind of sacrifice is called love.

Compassionate love is hard to sustain.

But without it, relationships fail.

No doubt, cutting out construction paper valentines was fun, especially when paired with a cupcake and a nappy.

But it taught us the wrong message.

Store bought cards signed without any sentiment aren’t enough, even if paired with a handful of Hershey’s kisses.

If we really want to show someone that they are important to us, we need to think about what they want and be mindful to do so in a way that they will most appreciate.

Several years ago, I read Dr. Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages. In his book, Chapman asserts that it’s rare for two people to speak the same primary love language, and we become confused when our partner does not understand what we are communicating.
Chapman reiterates that the euphoric high of the honeymoon stage wears off after about two years, and while we still try to express love, the message may not be received because we often speak to our partner in what is, essentially, a foreign language.
In order to have a successful relationship, Chapman says it’s necessary to understand one’s own primary love language as well as that of our partner. And he asserts we must attempt to express love in his or her primary love language.

What Are These Love Languages?

Chapman identifies the five primary ways that people show love:

  1. Words of Affirmation:  You feel most cared for when your partner is open and expressive in telling you how wonderful they think you are and how much they appreciate you. Basically, you need people to remind you that their world is a better place because you are in it.
  2. Acts of Service:
    If your partner offering to watch the kids so you can do what you’d like to do gets your heart racing, then this is your love language.
  3. Physical Touch:
    If you like to hug, kiss and touch a lot, and/or if naked time with your partner makes you feel most loved, this is your primary love language.
  4. Quality Time:
    This love language is about being together, fully present and engaged in the activity at hand, no matter how trivial.
  5. Gifts:
    If you feel most appreciated when your partner takes the time to buy you something you’d really like, this is your primary love language.

When I took Chapman’s test in the back of the book, I learned that my primary love language is “Physical Touch” followed by “Quality Time.”

Chapman asserts that we have to figure out what our partners really want based on their primary love language. When our unique needs are met, he asserts, it feels like “our love tanks” have been topped off; however, if our needs aren’t being satisfied, we will feel drained and experience health problems.

What am I doing this Valentine’s Day?

1) Treating myself to a pedicure. 2) Celebrating my son’s 16 & 1/2 birthday; and 3) Remaining hopeful that one day I’ll find someone who understands me… and my love language.

Which language is your love primary language? What about your partner? What would you most love to receive for Valentine’s Day? Are you willing to do something different this year in the name of love? I’d love to hear from you!

 tweet me @rasjacobson

 

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Many Happy Returns Of The Day

Today is my parents’ anniversary. They’ve been married for 52 years, and they still really enjoy each other’s company. This is a video that I meant to share on my blog shortly after they celebrated their 50th anniversary. Unfortunately, I never had a chance to make it live. Better late than never, right? Please join me today in wishing my parents continued joy, love and acceptance. Whatever they’re doing, it’s working.

a broken knee, a broken heart

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Back in August, I walked 5 miles on a really uneven surface.

In cowboy boots.

I knew I did something dumb almost immediately since both my knees started making audible popping sounds.

I tried anti-inflammatories and ice and heat. Nothing helped. At one point, it got so bad that I couldn’t walk at all. That’s when I got scared.

I don’t like to run to the doctor too quickly, and it takes me a long time to admit that something is wrong.

In November, when I couldn’t walk without tears, I knew it was time to make an appointment.

After an exam and x-rays, my doctor determined that I have arthritis in my knees and meniscial degeneration. That’s simply a fancy way of saying that my knees are old and plum worn out. He also said that things weren’t so bad that we had to consider surgery.

My right knee healed quickly, but my left knee earned a cortisone shot (holy big fat needle!), and I’ve been wearing a heavy-duty knee brace for the last 8 weeks.

I seriously didn’t think I’d ever walk without pain again, but it’s getting better. It’s just happening slowly.

Apparently, that’s the way healing works. It takes a ridiculously long time so we feel grateful when we finally get thru it.

All my knee stuff got me thinking about pain.

Some of you may know that my husband and I recently separated.

It sucks.

It’s confusing. And it hurts.

Some of the time, I appear to be fine.  Some of the time, I’m lonely. And sometimes, I’m downright afraid.

It’s an invisible wound.

I never appreciated the pain associated with divorce before now. In fact, my ideas about divorce came mostly from movies. I imagined two people screaming and trying to push each other down a staircase.

But my situation is nothing like that.

My husband is a good man.

We’ve just grown apart.

These days my heart actually aches the way knee aches.

My day is punctuated by awkwardnesses.

I still like to receive his texts. I still reach out to touch his knee when we’re seated together because it feels natural, even though I know I shouldn’t do that any more. I want to confide in my husband the way I once did because… well… he’s been my confidante for over 20 years.

How do I ask my parents to take down that painting of me that they’ve got hanging in their living room: the poster-sized me wearing my wedding dress, holding all those purple irises? What do I do when a someone I’ve known for my entire married life decides to ignore me in the grocery store? And how do I stop crying when I hear love songs on the radio?

People keep telling me to be brave, to stay strong.

That the pain will get easier.

Unfortunately, no one can predict how long my heart is going to hurt, and there are no cortisone shots to take the edge off the pain.

Which is worse? A broken body or a broken heart? Any practical advice would be appreciated.

The Purrrr-fect Gift

The dog formerly known as Mojo, 2009

In 2009, around this time of year, we got a dog. The world was white and unbearably cold, and getting a pet seemed like a wonderful idea. We were dogless and surrounded on all sides by barky-barkers. We figured, how hard could it be, if everyone has them? Hubby researched carefully, making sure to find a breed that would be a good fit for our family.

Looking back now, it probably wasn’t the best time to read Marley and Me. I was nervous about lineage and more than a little anxious about making sure to pick the right dog from the litter.

In the back of my mind, I remembered how my friend Cindy had brought home two freaky Wheatland terriers, and she hated them. Hated. Them.

“Do they smell? I feel like they smell,” she kept asking.

I swear she lost 10 pounds in the few days she had those dogs, and they quickly went back to the breeder.

I told my family I was nervous about our decision to get a dog. I told them I’d never had a dog, that I didn’t really want a dog, but my husband and son promised they would help with everything. They would pick up the dog poo every day. They would feed the dog. They would change the water. They would play with the dog. I wouldn’t have to do anything except enjoy the  dog.

I know people love their doggies like family, but I kept thinking of them as eternal babies, and I couldn’t figure out how we would ever be able to take a spontaneous day trip ever again. Everyone kept telling me I was just nervous about the unknown. I don’t think that was it at all. In fact, I think I knew exactly the right amount.

What I knew was that I didn’t want a dog. I just wasn’t great at vocalizing my truth because I didn’t want to upset everyone.

Eventually, I did though. And yes, everyone was upset. But I knew that as mom, ultimately I would be the one who would have to care for the family pet. The truth was I’d wanted a cat for my entire life, but Hubby was allergic, so I figured the whole cat thing was never going to happen.

Fast forward 4 years. Almost to the day. Hubby called to say he’d been to a breeder, someone who specialized in hypoallergenic Siberians.

Oh no, I thought. We’re talking about dogs again.

But we weren’t talking about dogs at all.

Hubby had been looking at cats.

He'd been looking at this guy.

He’d been looking at this guy.

He wanted me to go with him to see the latest litter.

“But you’re allergies…” I stammered.

They say good things come to those who wait.

And in our case, our good thing showed up as a tiny, white, long-haired kitten. He was purr-fectly perfect in every way. He loved to be cuddled and held and hugged — and he always went in his litter box, so none of us had to go outside in the bitter chill of winter. Mo loved to chase wadded up balls of paper and string. He seemed to love us, and we all fell in love with him.

One year later, Mo greets us each morning with emphatic meows; an exquisite snuggler, he pushes his head against our hands to let us know he’s in the mood for attention. He gazes into our eyes, plays tag, and soothes us with his purr. This boy gets lots of love.

Mo hanging out on a favorite chair.

Mo, 1 year old.

We are truly fortunate to have Mo as a member of our family.

If you’ve always wanted a cat, but you’re concerned about allergies, look into Siberians. And check out our breeders’ website HERE. Laurie knows what she’s doing!

How did your pet become a member of the family?

tweet me @rasjacobson

Moving Beyond Where I’m From

The place I grew up. My parents still live there.

i’m from a little gray ranch hidden behind overgrown bushes on a steep hill.

i’m from beneath the willow tree and a field-stone wall, peopled by imaginary friends.

i’m from high expectations. from complex equations left unfinished on the backs of paper restaurant menus; from pink plastic flowers; a bedroom with curtains that matched the wallpaper and the bedspread.

i’m from praise whispered in one ear and criticism hissed in the other. from “stand up straight” and “every penny counts” and “be a big girl.”

i’m from confuzzled truths and secrets and lies.

i’m from strong Judaism watered down. from Torah and tallit and kippot, lox and bagels, noodle kugel and matzah ball soup. from a broken Borscht Belt, stories of what once was, memories of a dark pew in a fire-bombed synagogue.

i’m from want. from a hot-headed Polish Papa who once threw his plate on the apartment floor. from his ketchup and eggs, like bloody clumps soaking into the carpet. and my Nan who silently cleaned up his mess.

(don’t tell me this isn’t true. i was there.)

i’m from a fractured family of brothers who tried to make a business work. from Muriel who nurtured her garden but didn’t do as well with her children. from Ruby who spent too many hours at the store and on the golf course, and smoked too many cigars.

i’m from cracked paint and faded couches; the girl hiding under a blanket in a drafty room.

i’m from a crooked house on a steep hill that rarely houses guests. from parents who were present but also not. from powerful magic love that made me feel invisible.

for too long a sense of obligation tethered me to all that grey.

i am done trying to please them.

time to take care of me.

Where are you from? Throw me one line.

• • •

This meme was very hot a while back, but I was not confident about sharing such a personal piece. Since then, I feel less afraid.

Thanks to Jenny Hansen for encouraging me to move beyond the first sentences and to Sharla Lovelace for inspiring Jenny. If you go to HERE, you will see this exercise is based on a poem by George Ella Lyon called “Where I’m From,” and if you’d like to try it yourself, the original link is there.

Friday Dance Party: A Birthday Dance For Dad

For as long as I can remember, my father has sent me a birthday limerick. These poems are never naughty (because that would be creepy), but they definitely rhyme – and I always get a kick out of them.

My father’s birthday falls just a few weeks after mine.

This year I’ve decided I’m tired of giving him pajamas.

This year I’m feeling more creative.

So I’m giving him a dance.

(Not that kind of dance. That would be creepy.)

Let me explain.

Growing up, I remember my father singing two songs. The first is called “A Song of Safety.” Actually, I don’t know what the song is called. That’s just what I call it. Somebody must’ve created a public service announcement for children back in the day to make sure they weren’t crushed by cars. You know, “Always use the crosswalk and look from left to right” that kind of stuff. Because my father used to sing this wacky song me, I know all the words in the first stanza.  I don’t even know if there is a second stanza.

Anyhoo, I scoured the Internet in an effort to find this song, but absolutely nothing came up.

And we all know if it’s not on the Internet, it isn’t real.

The second song I remember my father singing to is the one I’m featuring today.

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Click on my nose to see me dance.

Happy B’day, Dad.

Hope you enjoy the song and my dance of appreciation and adoration.

And my big ole mane of hair.

What are some of your favorite birthday traditions? 

tweet me @rasjacobson

Wordless Wednesday: My Kitty Cat

Could there be a more gorgeous cat?

Like a doting puppy, our Siberian waits at the door when he hears the garage door buzz. Mo joins us in bed for morning snuggles, and he kneads my tummy with his chubby paws. Mo plays with traditional toys, but there’s obviously nothing better than a box or a bag or a tray or a battery. He eats his kibble, but he really appreciates a rogue piece of raw chicken or shrimp.

Growing up essentially pet-less (besides a couple of goldfish and that one gerbil), I can tell you that I’ve never known anything like the pure, uncomplicated love that I have for my Mo-Mo.

I mean seriously. Look at dat face?

Tell me about one of your beloved non-human family members. If you have a link to a photo/video/painting, please feel free to include it!

tweet me @rasjacobson

PS: There’s still time to win an original piece of art. Interested? Click HERE.

When Good Intentions Go Wrong

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Photo by Lynn Kelley. Click HERE to check out her blog!

While standing in the checkout line at the grocery store with a full cart, a woman showed up carrying a carton of milk, a tube of toothpaste, and a screaming infant.

I remembered what it was like when my son used to freak out like that. His shrieking used to make me feel jittery and self-conscious. I wasn’t in any hurry that day, and I wanted to help. “Would you like to go ahead of me?” I asked.

“Why?” the young mother accused. “Is his crying bothering you?”

“No, I just figured you have two dinky items and I have a whole cart,” I said. “You can jump ahead of me…”

“Screw you!” She frowned. “I’ll find another line.”

As she stormed off, I was bewildered. I had just wanted to help. And yet there I was, feeling strangely guilty.

Sitting in my car with the food meant to nourish my family, to fill them up, I felt completely emptied out and kind of nauseous.

I turned on the radio in my car to find NPR was running some kind of old interview with Maya Angelou. She spoke for a few minutes before she said:

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And that was all I needed.

I would not let what had happened in the grocery store ruin my day.

My intention had been to be helpful.

I had no hidden agenda.

I don’t know what was going on with that poor young mother, I only wanted her to let me help her in some small way. But maybe she felt she needed to do it all. Maybe she’d heard the same messages that I’d heard during my life. Pull yourself up by the bootstraps. Be strong. Figure it out. Maybe admitting she was struggling that day felt like failure. Maybe she felt like she sucked eggs as a mother because she didn’t know how to soothe her infant.

All I know is that one woman’s rejection is not going to stop me from trying to connect with other people.

I’m a connector: reaching out is what I do.

{For the record, you totally want to get in line behind me at the grocery store.  And if I offer you “headsies,” there are no strings attached.}

Do you have a quote that has inspires you? Please share it here!

tweet me @rasjacobson

One August

Click HERE to see more work by Poly Cinco via behance.com

Click HERE to see more work by Poly Cinco via behance.com

One August, a man I loved tried to kill me.

Only he didn’t kill me.

Earlier that day, we had gone kite-flying.

I stood quietly by his side watching the blue of the kite blend with the blue of the sky, watching him control the kite, make it do what he wanted it to do.

Later that night, he took my body and showed me that his was stronger.

That he was in control.

His leg weighed tons, and I couldn’t wiggle out from underneath him. At first, I thought he was just fooling around but he wasn’t laughing and he didn’t get off of me even when I told him I couldn’t breathe.

Afterwards, he took my head and tried to make me believe that he wasn’t a monster.

But he was.

Even though he sent me long, love letters filled with apologies.

Even though he put a heart-shaped rock on the windshield of my car.

Even though he tried to make me remember sweet, summer peaches.

I could only picture them bruised and split down the middle.

I remembered how he pushed me under water and tried to drown me.

How it almost worked.

Except it didn’t.

Every August, for over twenty years, I find myself remembering this man.

And, strangely, I feel an odd sense of gratitude.

Because that night, in a stranger’s room, in a borrowed bed, I learned that I could be broken.

But I also learned that I could put myself back together again.

And somehow, it’s August again and I find myself in a park wrestling with a kite.

It is windier than usual and tough to fit the cross spars in their slots because the kite fights me impatiently.

I think it knows what I have planned.

Finally, I stand up. The tails snap, wanting.

I run backwards, feeling the pull.

I run, turning my back to the wind.

With the front of the kite facing me, I release it into a gust and pay out line and pull back to increase the lift.

In thirty seconds the kite is far out over the lake, pulling hard.

I run around the muddy field, making the kite dip and soar, dive and swirl.

From the ground, I control that rainbow diamond in the sky –  make it answer my commands.

I remember how he hated things that refused to be controlled and so it is with great swelling pleasure that I release a new kite each year.

I like to imagine him chasing after the dropped driftwood reel, his hands outstretched, the Screaming Eagle kite a quarter of a mile up, blazing.

Blazing.

Like me.

NOTE: This piece originally appeared on Deb Bryan’s blog. I needed to call this one home.

The Gift of Magic To My Son Away at Summer Camp

It’s Tech’s birthday. He’s 14 years old today.

For those of you who read my blog regularly, you know, he’s not home.

He’s at summer camp.

I wasn’t planning to write today, but my sister-in-law happened to be at camp earlier this week when she unexpectedly ran into our son. Knowing she had only a few minutes to chat, she asked him to tell her what he wanted for his birthday. He shrugged and he said something like “I don’t want anything. The two things I want my parents are already getting me.”

This was my response:

1

Because I had no idea.

Also, I had no plan to send anything to Tech for his birthday.

I knew from his previous summers at camp that Marilyn, the chef, would make him a chocolate cake to share with the other kids in his bunk.

I figured that was enough yummy frosted birthday goodness.

I asked my sister-in-law if she knew what Tech was talking about.

2

I couldn’t help it. I called the camp and asked the assistant director to see if she could squeeze some information out of our kid.

A few hours later, I received a text message.

Rhonda note

Poor thing. To her ears, it must have sounded like my kid was speaking in tongues. I can imagine Tech waving his long arms and yammering about “life points” and “damage” and “mana”.

The boy who graduated from LEGO to Minecraft has a new addiction: Magic: The Gathering.

From what I understand, Magic is a card game that involves battles between wizards (“planeswalkers”) who use spells, items and creatures depicted on the cards to defeat their opponents.

Or something.

Apparently, Magic appeals to math lovers. And it involves more complex rules than most other card games.

Why am I not surprised?

Of course my kid would love a game with tons of rules.

My kid loves rules.

And he loves math.

Duh.

I can’t believe the game hasn’t been featured on The Big Bang Theory yet.

It’s that nerdy.

All I know is when we walked into Millennium Games and Cyberstorm Lounge last night (the equivalent of the comic store where Sheldon, Leonard, Howard and Raj hang out), Hubby and I were the only people without pierced septae.

{septae? that looks weird. but you know what i mean, right?} 

Anyway, we were painfully uncool.

{or possibly we were the coolest people in the room}

Because we were 100% illiterate when it came to Magic.

The others?

Knew. Everything.

Wall of Magic Cards in Henrietta, New York

Wall of Magic Cards in Henrietta, New York

Luckily, the kind (and uber patient) people at Millennium Games were more than happy to school us.

Thanks to them, I now know:

  • Magic was introduced in 1994
  • Some playing cards sell for as much as $3,100
  • This year’s Magic tournament held in Las Vegas hosted over 4,500 players with $40,000 going to the top player
  • About 12 million geeks people play Magic worldwide

So.

Our package is en route to our son. He’ll get it later today.

Tech rarely asks for anything.

{which is probably why I jump when I hear there’s something he wants}

More than anything, I hope my son’s friends make him feel special today. Maybe the staff will sing to him over the PA system and make him skip around the room.

{twice}

Hopefully, he’ll have chocolate cake with his bunkmates.

And hopefully, our kid will kick butt with his lightly played Chandra the Firebrand card.

{whatever that is}

What unusual gift requests have you made/received?

tweet me @rasjacobson

This post was not sponsored; however, I imagine I’m going to be spending a lot of money at Millennium Games over the next few years, so if they’d like to offer me a discount, I wouldn’t complain.