Wednesday, June 29, 2011

THE LANGUAGE OF THE SOUL


My incredible grandson, Ethan

“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” ~ Anthony Robbins

Today, my grandson, Ethan, began teaching me beginner Spanish. In a few weeks he will be 14. I’m on the south end of 50. He is amazing, to say the least. Okay, I know, I’m his Nonni, but still, others agree that he is beyond smart.

Ethan is what I call an old soul. His maturity is way beyond his years. He can keep up his end of a conversation with any adult. However, if an adult starts “talking down” to him like he is what he is—14— communication stops. He simply will not talk like a junior high kid.

I’m trying to learn a verbal language, and this old puppy is having a hard time learning new tricks. However, one language I learn readily is the language of the soul. It is the understanding of different personalities, different values, and the way this determines the actions of those around us.

I’m sure you have heard of personality-type assessments such as the Birkman Method, The Four Humors, Myers – Briggs, and my favorite, The Elements. All are designed to help us understand why others react and respond the way they do, and gives us tools to work with others and not against them.

There is another language that is important to learn, the Love Language. Dr. Gary Chapman wrote The Five Love Languages and I recommend it to everyone. From him I learned that different things say “Love” to different people. While I express love in my language to someone else, it may not be their language and they may act indifferent to my expression because they do not understand that is what I’m doing. Then I feel rejected. For instance, my love language is words of affirmation (go figure), and my husband’s is physical touch. So while I’m affirming him (thinking I’m showing him love), he may just nod his head because he understands love as a hug or a pat on his arm. He may be hugging me (thinking he is showing me love) and I smile and continue with what I’m doing because I understand affirmation as love.

Why learn about different personalities and love languages? Two reasons, to understand and communicate. Think of how much better this world would be if everyone tried to honestly understand the other and communicate on his or her level. And while we cannot force everyone to do this, we can start with ourselves. Another reason is to understand ourselves. Why we react or respond in different situations. It helps us to understand and use our strengths to a better advantage. Also, it exposes our weaknesses in order for us to overcome them.

For the next few weeks, I want to explore the different personalities. As for the love languages, if you’d like more information go to:

Carl Gustav Jung said, “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” Isn’t that the truth? Let’s make the effort to learn the languages of the soul and make our world a better place. 


Next week: Water People

Monday, June 20, 2011

THE PAINFUL TRUTH


“Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” 
~ Proverbs 27:6 NIV

There are certain personality types who have no problem confronting someone and telling them like it is. Not me. It is never easy for me to tell someone something they do not want to hear. 

Still, if I am a friend—someone who honestly loves or cares for a person—I must tell the truth even at the risk of losing the relationship.

Remember the story, The Emperor’s New Clothes, by Hans Christian Anderson? The Emperor hires two tailors who promise to make him a suit of clothes from a fine, magical fabric, that is invisible to those who are unworthy of his position or just hopelessly stupid. When they bring him the clothes he realizes he cannot see them, but doesn’t admit it for fear of exposing his unworthiness and stupidity. He puts on the “clothes” and parades up and down the street completely naked. Because everyone wanted to please him, they praised his fine new clothes. It took a child to point out to him that he was naked. This gives others in the crowd courage to speak up. But even though the Emperor knows it is true, he continues walking in deception.

Some of us have people we love parading up and down life completely naked thinking they are wearing the finest of fabrics. The “kissers” around them would rather praise them than speak the truth, because frankly, they don’t really care about them enough. But a true friend will—with gentleness, kindness, and humility—speak the truth even though it might wound. To the kissers, it doesn’t matter. A naked Emperor isn’t their problem.  

However, if we are the friends we should be, it does matter.



Saturday, June 11, 2011

POWER THROUGH PROCRASTINATION





There are 2 more rows in my garden that need to be covered with newspaper and then straw. I’m procrastinating. I don’t want to do it. But it has to be done. But I don’t want to do it.

All the while weeds are growing. If I wait any longer they will overtake those rows. I know this. But I don’t want to do it, so I find other things to do. Things that can wait, but they are not in the hot sun, I don’t have to fight the wind while trying to spread newspaper, and won’t choke me up like straw.

Still the weeds are growing and my little plants would really appreciate some room to stretch their roots and for the moisture to remain in the ground instead of evaporating.  

So here is my choice, procrastinate and let the weeds win and my vegetable plants die, or spend two hours—max—mulch those rows and be done for the summer?

It isn’t just gardens that weeds destroy. Weeds of life will do the same if we procrastinate. They will take over leaving us feeling defeated, frustrated, and more helpless than ever.

Is there anything you are putting off? Well, don’t. Just do it, okay? I’ll take my own advice and go to the garden right now. 

Friday, June 03, 2011

GRAVEL AND GRIT



“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci

Location, location, location. That is what we were thinking when we built our home in the woods. We thought of the beautiful esthetic setting without considering the fact that our building site was on a downward slope.

Bad location.

Every spring since we have lived here the floodgates of the heavens have been thrown wide open and we have been hit with walls of water. Rushing streams pour off the street, cut crevices through our graveled driveway, and race toward our house leaving our yard a muddy mess. It was annoying, but, oh well.

However, this spring is different. This spring I have a water feature and a rose garden.

One morning after a night of storms and heavy rain, I walked on the front porch to survey the damage. Six inches of gravel and silt blanketed my flowerbed and our water feature full of silt. The water’s color was that of coffee with a lot of cream. That day I shoveled out two wheelbarrow loads of rock and grit wondering how I could prevent this from happening again because heavy rain was in the forecast.

I surveyed around me and my gaze fell on a pile of large stones that Neal had found for me on the property. That should do the trick! These things were so big that I had to roll them in place. But at the end of the day I had a nice wall that should stop the rock and silt slide.

It didn’t.

Two mornings later after another night of furious storms I walked out to find the same scenario. I stalked out and examined the barrier to find the water had dug under and between these huge stones creating a crevice for gravel and silt to flow through.  

I had to rethink my strategy. After I rolled the stones out of the way, shoveled out the gravel and replaced the stones I noticed the irregularities in the rock that had allowed the water to flow under and around. So I found smaller stones and wedged them under the large stones to keep the water from digging under them. I also used small rocks to fill in the cracks between them. Then I found gravel to fill in between the small rocks and tamped them in until they were tight.

That did the trick.

As I surveyed my barrier, I thought of how we all need each other to fight off life’s onslaughts. Even the most powerful among us has irregularities that someone else can fill. Neal and I are perfect examples of this thought. We are complete opposites in every personality test we have taken. But instead of letting our differences separate us, we’ve learned to embrace them. Where I’m weak, he is strong. Where he is weak, I am strong.

Neal is organized, logical, and neat. I’m not. I am creative, social, and adventurous. He’s not. He is the gravel that fills in around my creativity. He helps organize my chaos. I am the gravel around his logic that softens he absolute and helps him see the possibilities. 
From him I’ve learned to be organized (just don’t look at my desk, I know where everything is—really, I do!) He has learned from me how to be pleasantly social.

Think about the people in your life. What can you learn from them? Don’t feel you must do everything on your own. Yes, you may be strong—like my stones—but life has a way of finding our irregularities and sometimes sweeps us away. Be open to someone helping you. And, if you see someone who has a need you can fill, be available.

Bottom line, we need each other. No matter how different we are.