Love

Friday Question

This week, I'm asking you questions!

IMG_7708

Today's question . . . is about playing favorites.

Let's say you can only choose ONE. What is your favorite flower?

IMG_4994 2

As for me, it's the humble daisy! I've always loved daisies, ever since I was a little girl. They were one of the first flowers I could accurately identify and name (the other being tulips), and every garden I'll ever grow will have at least a clump or two of daisies.

Here's a sweet daisy story for you. . . 

Back in 1981, I lived in Fort Collins, Colorado with Tom, my then-boyfriend, who was in grad school at Colorado State University. I had graduated from college with a degree in Elementary Education, but didn't have a teaching job. So I worked at the local newspaper. (I was the newspaper "dummier." It was a stressful job, but kinda fun, too. Back in the day, nothing was digitized - and there were very few computers at the newspaper yet, so I "dummied" with graph paper and a pencil each day . . . solving the layout puzzle and negotiating between advertising and editorial . . . and working closely with typesetting and "the press guys.")

Anyway. One day, I looked up from my desk in the big, wide-open newspaper office and saw a flower delivery guy bringing in flowers . . . loads of flowers. In fact, some of the people who worked in classified ads were helping to carry the massive amounts of flowers coming in . . . 

To me.

They were all daisies.
Loads and loads of daisies!
Along with this card . . . 

IMG_5084

Yep. It was Tom's proposal! He had gone in to a flower shop, knowing I loved daisies and intending to order a little bouquet for me of only daisies - to be delivered to me with his card. But . . . daisies are cheap. And in order to "qualify" for a delivery, he had to order MANY daisies. ALL the daisies, in fact. So he did! So many daisies that I needed to share them -- making a little bouquet of daisies for every desk in the newspaper office. With still plenty left over for me.

(I said yes, of course!)

So you'll always find daisies in my garden.
(And now you know why.)

==

I can't wait to hear about your favorite flower!

Thanks so much for playing along with me this week as I . . . ask questions. It's been so much fun to read your responses that, well . . . we're going to have to try it again another week.

Enjoy your weekend, and I'll see you on Monday.

 

 


Love in Action

Love Week continues.

Love week

My mom was not a forceful woman. She was quiet. Very loving. She laughed easily and often. And she was very, very kind. To my sister and I, for sure, but to all the people she interacted with. This didn't mean she liked everyone she interacted with. (Because she didn't.) But she was always, always kind to people. 

She used to say two things over and over (and over) as I was growing up:

Treat others like you want to be treated.

You catch more flies with honey.

Oh, how I hated it when she would repeat these mantras. Because as a middle-schooler (for example), I didn't find them to be true. I WAS nice. People weren't nice back. (Such is the way of adolescents.) But I did listen. And although I had hurt feelings a LOT of the time as I was growing up, I did embrace her mantras (even bestowing them on my own children when the time came). I tried hard to be kind. I still do.

Because that's what my mom was talking about.
Simple kindness.

IMG_4088

Kindness and empathy help us relate to other people (even strangers) and help us have more positive relationships with our friends and family, too. I'm sure that's not news to any of you who regularly read along here. It's common sense; it's life sense. (And I'm betting my mom wasn't the only one with those mantras, either.) But did you know that acting with kindness . . . is also good for your health?

  • Kindness releases feel-good hormones. When you do something nice for someone else, you get a little hit of serotonin (the neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of satisfaction and well-being). Kind of like when we work out, altruism releases endorphins . . . so we feel better emotionally when we do something nice or helpful for someone else.
  • Kindness helps ease anxiety and stress. I don't know that an act of kindness can stop a panic attack, but it has been proven to ease social anxiety. A study on happiness from the University of British Columbia found that participants who engage in kind acts displayed significant increases in "positive affect" (positive moods like joy, interest, and alertness). The study found that even small gestures can make a big difference when you're feeling a little anxious. Additionally, helping others helps us take a little break from our own life-stressors.When we can get "outside ourselves" - even for a brief period - it helps us build coping mechanisms for dealing with the stresses in our own life. "Prosocial behavior" (any behavior that builds your relationships with others) is an important component of coping with stress.
  • Kindness is good for your physical body. Sure, acting with kindness can "warm your heart," but it also turns out that it can affect the actual chemical balance of your heart. Kindness releases the hormone oxytocin, and according to Dr. David Hamilton, "oxytocin causes the release of a chemical called nitric oxide in blood vessels, which dilates the blood vessels. This reduces blood pressure and therefore oxytocin is known as a 'cardioprotective' hormone because it protects the heart (by lowering blood pressure)." Oxytocin also reduces inflammation in the body, which is associated with also sorts of health problems. Studies have shown that you're at greater risk of heart disease if you don't have a strong network of family and friends in your life. When you're kind to others, you develop more meaningful relationships and friendships . . . which, in the long run . . . can help you live longer.

Bottom line?
My mom was right!
It's simple: Treat others like you want to be treated, and you catch more flies with honey.
Kindness . . . is love in action. So . . . 

  • Be kind to yourself. (We all make mistakes and take missteps.)
  • Lead with compassion. (Recognize our shared human condition.)
  • Choose kindness. (We can't control others, but we can control the way we respond.)
  • And remember that kindness begets more kindness! (Be a good example.) (Which was another of my mom's mantras, actually. . . )

"Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind."
 --- Henry James

Have a great weekend, everyone. May it be filled with love and kindness!

==

In my research for this post, I discovered that February 14-20, 2021 is Random Acts of Kindness Week. You can learn more about the week by clicking here (Random Acts of Kindness Foundation). The site includes several ideas for specific acts of kindness you can plan for the week, including writing "love notes" (thank you notes) to people who have changed your life for the better and creating "blessing bags" to distribute when you encounter someone in need (filled with small items that might be useful to someone temporarily displaced from a permanent home, for example). 

 

 

 


Love At the Movies

Love Week continues!

Love week

When I was in sixth grade (1970), the movie Love Story came out in theaters. It was the TALK of the sixth grade! Of course, at age 11, none of us had seen it, nor were the chances good that any of us would be allowed to see it. But Sharon Jenkins had an older sister who did see it, and she shared ALL the details with us. I remember just being shocked by the sucker punch of an ending. Shocked. Because love stories could have sad endings???? (Oh, my tender 11-year-old heart. . .)

I didn't see the movie until several years later. Back then, you couldn't just grab a VHS and watch when you wanted, of course. If you missed a movie on its theater release, you had to wait until it showed up on TV at some point. (Bleak times for movie viewing, for sure.) And by the time I did see the movie, I had read the book (all in one day, ending up with a tearful session reading under the covers with a flashlight late at night) -- and had already cycled through "the poster" that hung in my bedroom for years. (I thought the movie was okay; nothing can compare to Sharon Jenkins describing every detail at recess -- and the book was better.)

Screen Shot 2021-02-11 at 7.15.04 AM

So. Movie love stories. Do you prefer tear-jerkers like Love Story? Or are you more a fan of the rom-com . . . where eveything eventually "fits" in the end?

When I started thinking about love story movies earlier this week, I figured I would come up with my best three movies about love . . . and call it good for a Three on Thursday post. But the more I thought about it, the longer my list became! Ultimately, I've got a list here that can't even remotely qualify for a Three on Thursday post. (Three-Times-Three-Plus-One On Thursday?) (How about that, Carole?)

So, here you go. My Three-Times-Three-Plus-One list of favorite movies about love . .  

  • Amelie
  • Something's Gotta Give
  • Shakespeare in Love
  • Under the Tuscan Sun
  • Brooklyn
  • Four Weddings and a Funeral
  • The Big Sick
  • The Holiday
  • Moonrise Kingdom
  • Bull Durham 

I could add more . . . but I decided to stop with my top 10. 
What about you? What are your favorite movies about love???

(And did you have that same Love Story poster hanging in your room? It was ubiquitous in my 1970s world.)

==

"Life is one big love story with hundreds of little love stories within it."
       --- Ram Charan

 

 

 


Just An Old Fashioned Love Song

Love Week continues!

Love week

Click here for a little soundtrack for today's post (worth a click for the little trip back to 1975).

I kinda got into a little knitting obsession last week . . . 

IMG_2555

I had just finished my Weekender sweater, and I was waiting on some yarn to knit a dog sweater for my grand-pup, so I thought it might be fun to knit up a little heart in the meantime. Y'know . . . a little "palette cleanser."

And, well. It was kinda like when you hear an old (fashioned love) song . . . and it gets stuck in your head . . . and you keep singing it over and over and over.

Because . . . before you know it, I had seven little hearts!

IMG_2550

Some of them have been drafted into Valentine-duty and are now traveling to destinations across the country. The rest of them will just sit around, adding a bit of whimsy here and there in my living spaces this month.

You know how it goes . . . when you start knitting up some LOVE!

You'll swear you've heard it before
As it slowly rambles on and on
No need in bringing 'em back
'Cause they've never really gone
Just an old fashioned love song
Coming down in three part harmony
 
==
 
"Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much a heart can hold."
    --- Zelda Fitzgerald

==

(You can find the details for my little hearts on Ravelry here.)


Love: Philosophically Speaking

Love Week continues!

Love week

There's a well-known Margaret Atwood quote out there . . . 

"The Eskimos have 52 words for snow because it is so special to them; there ought to be as many for love."
    --- Margaret Atwood

Well, Margaret. There may not be 52. But the Greeks have at least 7 words for love!

Eros. 
Eros (which is named after the Greek god of fertility) represents the idea of sexual passion and desire. Lust. Pleasure. Romance. Passion. It's driven by attraction and sexual longing. Think of this one as . . . falling "madly" in love; losing control, sort of . . . dangerous and fiery! The Greeks were a bit afraid of Eros love. (Too intense.)

Philia. 
Philia is friendship. Loyalty. Sacrifice. Sharing. This one is deep friendship -- the kind forged through intimacy and knowing; it's a soul-mate kind of friendship. Which could be with a platonic best friend or a romantic partner. This type of love was most revered by the Greeks.

Storge. 
Storge (related to Philia) is unconditional, familial love. It's the protective and kinship-based love you experience with family members. It's based on allegiance to family. You many not like your brother, but you still love him . . . it's that kind of love. Storge can also describe patriotism toward your county, or allegiance to your favorite team.

Ludus.
Ludus is that playful, flirtatious kind of love. Infatuation. A fling. Having a crush and acting on it. It's casual, sexual, exiting . . . and there are no implications of any future obligation. It's love . . . but "light."

Philautia.
Philautia is self-love. There are two faces to this one. When it's a healthy, feelin'-myself kind of love, it's all about postive self-esteem - and that's a good thing. But Philautia can also be a selfish, me-first kind of love, overly focused on pleasure or fame, highly concerned with status and what other people think. Philautia . . . can be the root of narcissism - not a good thing at all.

Pragma.
Pragma is longstanding love. It's the kind of love that's built on commitment, understanding, and long-term best interests. Think . . . mature, realistic love commonly found in long-established couples. Maybe it started as Eros, rooted in romantic feelings and passion . . . but, over the years, it morphed into Pragma as a couple grows to honor, respect, and cherish each other, accepting differences and able to compromise.

Agápe.
Agápe is selfless love -- the love we extend to all people, whether close to us or distant strangers. ("Agápe" was translated into Latin as "caritas," which is the origin of our word "charity.") It's a general feeling of empathy and love toward humanity itself. It involves caring for and loving others without expecting anything in return. Agápe is the foundation of great societies, communities, and most religious traditions in the world.

==

The Greeks considered Philia - deep friendship - to be the most valued kind of love. Aristotle further classified Philia into three categories:

  • Friendships of pleasure, which bring people together based on a shared hobby or activity. When the shared activity ceases, the relationship does as well.
  • Friendships of utility, which offers a tangible benefit to both parties. When the ability to meet the shared need is gone, so is the relationship.
  • Friendships of virtue, which draws people together because of the quality of their character and their selfless best wishes for each other. It takes time and intimacy to form, but it's powerful and enduring. This type of friendship is the most valued.

==

What do you think? Did the Greeks get it right?

And where do you think the love of . . . things, actions, pets . . . fall into this scheme?

==

"True love is singing Karaoke 'Under Pressure' and letting the other person sing the Freddy Mercury part."
    --- Mindy Kaling


It's Love Week!

Here we are . . . in February.
It's cold and still dark and winter and, well . . . spring feels a long way off right now.

At least there's Valentine's Day!

Now, I'm not a true fan of Valentine's Day. There are many things about Valentine's Day that make my skin crawl. (The whole commercial focus. The over-emphasis on having a "valentine" in a romantic sense. The feeling "less than" if you don't. That kind of thing.) But. I AM a fan of letting people know you love them and that you're thinking about them. I'm a fan of kindness. I'm a sucker for cute little hearts.

I also think it's a good idea to have all that red and pink show up in the middle of winter, y'know?

Anyway. This week? It's gonna be all love, every day here on my blog!

Love week

I'm just going to start by asking you . . . What do you think of Valentine's Day? Fan? Not a fan? Happy memories? Painful memories? Don't like red? Do you send valentines? Do you like to receive them? What are your best memories of Valentine's Day?

For me, I loved Valentine's Day when I was a little girl. My mom used to put red food coloring in all the milk in the house (right in the containers), so when we poured it out on our cereal in the morning, the milk was pink! She always feigned surprise in a Most Convincing way -- and told us the cupids must have done it in the night, spreading love. My sister and I were delighted! Every year. (She did this with green food coloring on St. Patrick's Day, too . . . claiming the leprechauns must have visited in the night, making mischief and and turning our milk green.)

I also loved designing and making my Valentine mailbox for my classroom party -- the shoebox, the construction paper, the doilies; so much . . . possibility! And I loved pouring over my little cards, deciding just who to give which Valentine card to (you didn't want to send the wrong message, y'know?). It was such a fun day for me. Until about 5th grade and it all began to unravel. But we don't need to go into that.

Once I did find my romantic "valentine" (who is a very low-key kind of celebrator when it comes to any holiday or "special" day) and I had kids of my own, I kept things simple. Wear red. Cupid-milk. Heart-shaped candies. And an emphasis on love. (And, as Erin reached middle school, kleenex for the hurt feelings.) (In our house, there were some serious gender differences when it came to Valentine's Day. . . )

==

Last week, I started thinking about the "Five Love Languages" (remember those?) Dr. Gary Chapman has created a whole "thing" (I hesitate to use the word "empire," but that is the word that first came to mind) around this love language concept, positing that "relationships grow better when we understand each other." He suggests that there are five basic ways people prefer to give and receive love -- the "love languages" - and that when we understand them, we can communicate love to each other in better and more effective ways. I have actually never read his original book, but I've heard and read enough about the concept to understand. I think there's something to it.

I took the quiz last night.

Turns out, my primary love language is "Words of Affirmation." I'd have to agree that it's . . . spot on. (My quiz showed zero points for "Receiving Gifts." Also very accurate.) (Lucky Tom.) Basically, then . . . tell me something nice, and I'm good to go!

How about you? Have you ever taken the love languages quiz? And if you did, what did you think of the results?

==

So. There you are.
Welcome to Love Week!

==

"Love is the answer, and you know that for sure. Love is a flower, you've got to let it grow."
--- John Lennon

 

 


The Things We Do for Love

(Click here for the soundtrack to today's post.)
(As if you're not already humming the song. . . )

So.  
Tom is a curler.  
And curlers tend to wear kind of . . . odd . . . things when they're out on the curling ice.  

Like. . . I've watched a team who wears hand-knitted skunk hats as part of their team uniform.  And Tom told me about a unicorn team he played against once (bike helmets with affixed unicorn horns).  And, of course, there are the pants.  (Yep.  That's a link to the video of the Norwegian curling team putting on their curling pants . . . without using their hands.)  (Well worth a watch.)  (Just sayin.)

So when I saw a pattern for a knit curling hat on Ravelry, I (correctly) figured Tom would want one.  And that he would wear it while curling.

IMG_6482

The things we do for love . . . 

IMG_6485

Ravelry details here.

==========

PS . . . Tom's team curls in plain old black pants.  And I know they put them on without any fancy dance moves.  They don't wear special team-themed hats or helmets either.  But they will be dressing as the "Brews Brothers" in an upcoming tournament -- the "Beer Spiel".  (Maybe I'll get a photo for you. . . )


My Funny Valentine

Me and my Valentine (who really is funny, by the way) . . . don't do anything special to celebrate Valentine's Day.  

IMG_6252

But I thought it might be fun to acknowledge the day -- AND the fact that it falls on a Three on Thursday -- by sharing some things (three, in fact!) that you probably don't already know about my Valentine.

1 -- Tom grew up in Manhattan!

IMG_1831

Here he is back in 1969 (Tom's the skinny blonde kid on the left) in J. Hood Wright Park, which was across the street from his apartment building.  For those of you familiar with Manhattan, he lived at Ft. Washington Ave. and W. 173rd St, and attended PS 173.  It was quite a shock (as in culture shock!)  . . . when his parents moved the family to Cheyenne, Wyoming, where he spent his adolescent years.  (And met me.)  (He can still bring back that NY accent when he wants to.)  

2 -- Tom used to be blonde!

Scan0079

Yep, there we are.  1980.  Tom's college graduation.  Blonde.  He was blonde as a baby, blonde as a kid, blonde when I met him.  Somewhere along the way, though, his hair turned dark brown.  His hair hasn't been blonde in decades -- but I still think of him as having blonde hair.  (Erin's hair was exactly the same -- blonde until she got out of college, when it turned dark brown.)  (And that photo?  That's my natural hair color.  Until it turned gray, of course.)

3 -- Tom is a "Poet Laureate". . . 

Tom curling

of the Kalamazoo Curling Club, that is!  Tom loves to play with words -- rhymes, funny turns of phrase, puns (and especially BAD puns, I might add).  He's also very good at telling jokes, and has quite a repertoire of memorized stories.  These skills have landed him a gig as the First Curling Poet Laureate.  He has written - and presented - many curling-themed poems and (rather naughty) limericks at curling events all around the region.

And now you know a little bit more about my funny Valentine!
Happy Valentine's Day to all of you.
XO

==========

Be sure to check out all the other Three on Thursday posts over at Carole's today.


Three Tom-isms: A Special Birthday Post

Today is a Big Day.

Yeah.  It is our Winter Solstice Party.  But that's not why it's Big Day.

It's a Big Day . . . because it's Tom's birthday.  His 60th birthday!

814CE83B-57C3-4E10-9EE3-E5E625550F31 2

It's hard for me to really grasp that we're celebrating his 60th birthday today.  Not because he's "that old" . . . but because I can remember celebrating his first birthday together-as-a-couple so clearly.  As if it were . . . just yesterday.  

December 20, 1979.  Tom was my boyfriend, then -- a senior in college at Boise State University.  I picked him up at the old Denver Stapleton airport when he flew home for Christmas break.  I gave him a gigantic crocheted afghan that I had lovingly stitched throughout the semester . . . in the parking lot at the airport . . . with irritated drivers who wanted our parking spot as our audience.

That was the first of many birthdays we celebrated together.  
40 birthdays together, actually.
40!  
Pretty much. . . 2/3 of our lives.

Amazing, isn't it?

IMG_3875

So many birthdays.  So many memories.  

As we go about our day today, working together to throw our big Solstice-Not-a-Birthday-Party (although I did get him a birthday crown to wear - and a flashing "60" button to wear), we'll also be kicking off the biggest Birthday Extravaganza in our history together.  (Well.  So far.)  

It's going to be a great year!

IMG_6640

And because today is a Thursday, I thought I'd share three Tom-isms with you - in honor of his birthday.  Three things about Tom and his general approach to life that have made the biggest impact on me and my own general approach to life:

1 - If you're going to commit to something, go all in.  Tom is always much more . . . considered . . . about what he commits to doing than I tend to be.  He doesn't take commitments lightly.  He always does what he says he's going to do.  He doesn't look for excuses.  He doesn't want to be let off the hook.  He also doesn't over-commit.  After 40 years, I'm still trying to follow his example.

2 - Function over form.  Every time.  Tuck your pantlegs into your socks (in public) to keep the ticks out?  No problem!  Create an eyesore in the back of your car by carrying every piece of gear you might ever need at all times?  Why not!  Wear a ratty old pair of shorts (in all seasons) with multiple layers of shirts and vests because you're cold in the winter?  Works for him!  (Stay back, girls!  He's All Mine!!!)  (Just sayin.)  Seriously, though . . . after all these years, some of his function-over-form lifestyle is finally rubbing off on form-over-function me.

3 - When it comes to deciding whether or not you should head to the gym for a workout, the answer is always, ALWAYS YES.  Whenever I feel too [fill-in-the-blank:  tired, sore, sick, busy, unsettled . . . etc.] to go to the gym, Tom always gives me That Look.  Then he says (in a But-It's-YOUR-Decision kind of tone), "I usually find that a workout helps."  And he's right.  It does.  (And I am the fitter because of him.)

So.

Happy Birthday, Tom!

(Let's get this party started!)

==========

Be sure to visit Carole today for more Three on Thursday posts!

 


Time Flies When You're Having Fun

Thirty-seven years ago today . . . 

IMG_6045

these two kiddos (my god we were young) walked down the aisle and said, "I do."

Today . . . we'll be walking down a different kind of aisle.  This time, we'll be looking for our seats at Hamilton in Chicago.  (Because you can't just see it once.)

Enjoy the rest of your week.  (I'll be back on Monday!)