Month: November 2007

Six Months Later

Different things are significant to different people, but this month marks something of significance to me:  I have now been blogging for six months.

A lot has changed in that half of a year, for me… I’ve gone from 34 visitors my first month to over 50,000 in both October and November.  I have had my articles viewed over a quarter of a million times.

More importantly, I’ve gotten to know myself better, and I have grown (in the mental and spiritual sense) more rapidly since I started writing than at any other time.  I am doing something now that I am actually passionate about, rather than just doing what I need to in order to survive.

I have also found what it is that I want to do for a living:  write.  If I could do that off of A Miracle A Day, that would be fantastic, though I make very, very little money at all from it right now (I do run Google ads at the bottom of each article).  If it comes from some other source (I have started, though never finished, a book, a work of fiction), I would still be happy… after all, I run this site from a passion, not for the money.

That being said, regardless of income, I have goals for the website, and I’ll share them with you now… hopefully this will help me keep them in mind, and perhaps someone will read them and lend a helping hand, whether through advice, or simply spreading the word.

Goals For The Next Six Months:

  • 500 subscribers by the end of 2007
  • 1000+ subscribers by the one year anniversary of the blog (in May)
  • 10,000 visitors in one day (I’ve passed 7,000… 10,000 is the next big mark, but can only be achieved by spreading the word)

Of course, if you want to help me hit the first of those goals, you can subscribe now in a reader or by email (if you haven’t already), or you can recommend A Miracle A Day to a friend, and encourage them to subscribe.

Over the six months I’ve been writing, I have written 171 articles (this one is #172).  I like most of them, obviously (there are a couple I’m not so happy with, like this one), but some of them are ones that I particularly like.  Now seems like a good time to share my favorites, so here are a few of them:

My Personal Favorite Articles (from oldest to newest):

So… there you go, that’s where six months of blogging has gotten me, and where I’d like to go in the next six months.  And all of my goals depend on help from you, my readers… so if you like my site, subscribe (by email) if you aren’t already or spread the word and recommend it to someone you know (or a lot of people, I don’t mind).

Relationship How To – Rebuilding Trust In Your Marriage

Any marriage that lasts long enough is almost certain, at some point, to have something happen which strains, and possibly even breaks, the trust that is vital to its continued existence.

It could be something that seems small to one person, and not to the other, like spending a significant amount of money without discussing it, or it could be something that both know is big, like cheating.   Whatever it is, once that trust is strained, it takes work to repair.  If it’s broken, it can take a lot of work.

The good news is that if you love each other, and are both really willing to work on it (not just with words, but with real action, time, energy, and attention), trust can be restored.  If it has been broken, not just strained, however, it may take a very long time to get back to where it was.

So, what do you do if you have already reached this point?  How do you start to work on rebuilding the trust?

I can’t tell you every detail, because it is unique to your situation, but I can give you a general process that can help you to start setting things right.  So here goes for my first (first officially titled, at least) Relationship How To.

Rebuilding Trust In Your Marriage

  1. Give Up Being Right

    Any time trust is strained in a relationship, at least one person will have an “I was in the right” belief.  They may even be correct.

    It doesn’t really matter whether you actually were in the right or not, clinging onto this belief will get in the way of rebuilding trust.  It doesn’t matter who was right and who was wrong… it’s in the past, and if you want to rebuild the trust, you need to get rid of this limiting belief.

  2. Let Go Of Blame

    Chances are pretty good there is a lot of blame flying around when trust is strained.  Some of it may be blaming each other, some of it may be blaming yourself… it doesn’t really matter.  The blame game is a lose-lose situation… you can’t really move ahead until you start letting go of blaming your significant other and yourself.

  3. Talk About It

    After you let go of being right, and holding blame, or at least make a good start at it, then you need to talk about the trust, and all of the things that strained in on both sides… not just the one thing that caused a blow out.  You really need to let it out, here… holding back anything is going to make it much harder to rebuild trust in your marriage.

  4. Make A List Of Each Person’s Needs

    You both need to sit down again, after step three, and tell each other what you need in the relationship, including both things that you are not getting as well as things that you are getting.  Including both pieces can help keep this from becoming confrontational, with each person going “Oh yeah, well you don’t do that.”

    Make sure the list is written down somewhere, preferrably with each person having a copy they can (and do) look at frequently.

  5. Re-Dedicate Yourselves To Each Other

    Now is the time to move from clearing the air to actually starting to rebuild your trust.  You need to give each other a new commitment, a commitment to love each other, to work on being there for each other, to keep each other first in mind, first in heart.

    And this does mean explicitly, in words… if you put it in writing or say it in front of one or more witnesses, that’s even better.

  6. Re-Dedicate Yourselves To The Relationship

    Once you have dedicated yourselves to each other once again, you also need to make a commitment to your relationship.  This is a commitment to not just be friends, or get along, but to really be husband and wife.  There’s a lot of work involved, with some planning needed, as well as investments of time, energy, and attention.

    It’s easy to slip into just being friends… it takes much less work to be a friend than a spouse.  Don’t let your relationship fall into this rut.

  7. Go Back To Dating Each Other

    Your relationship has been strained, along with your trust.  The best way to rebuild both is to go back to “dating” each other.  That means going back to thinking about each other all the time, planning dates regularly, etc.  Get to know each other again.

    Going back to square one can help you to build trust the same way you originally did… from scratch.

  8. Keep Your Priorities Straight

    This is another place where it is easy to slip into bad old habits.  You need to review your priorities regularly… and make sure your actions follow them.  Your spouse should be your number one priority… if they are not, it’s going to be difficult to build your trust back up.

    In fact, it would have been very difficult to build it in the first place… falling in love (and the feelings that go with it) causes you to think about your significant all the time, keeping them your number one real priority, regardless of what you say it is.

  9. Have Relationship “Reviews”

    Once your relationship is starting to build back up, and your trust with it, you should have regular “reviews” of the status of your relationship.  This should involve talking about what’s good and what’s bad, what needs are and are not being met, how you feel about each other and the relationship, and anything else that comes to mind that involves the relationship.  It’s also a good idea to discuss how far along in the recovery process you each feel you have come.

    This is actually something that all relationships could use, not just ones that have had a problem.  Reviews can help keep your relationship stay on the path you want.

  10. Give It Time

    The last thing you need to do is to give it time.  Building trust isn’t a fast process, and rebuilding trust is even slower.  You shouldn’t expect your relationship to be back to its peak in a week… or even a month.  You should be thinking in terms of months for strained trust, and years when it has been broken.

    In this, as in life in general, don’t focus on how far you have left to go… always look at how far you’ve come.

So, there is a general plan for rebuilding trust in a relationship where it has been strained or broken.  It requires commitment, time, and energy from both partners in order to succeed… the effort can’t be one-sided, even if it was one person who broke the trust… that’s part of letting go of blame.

Effort from both partners are essential, as is the understanding that it’s not quick.  If either of you expect it to be, you’re likely to fail, as you won’t be prepared to give it the time and effort it needs.  Allow it to go at it’s own pace… be patient.

The reward is worth the effort.

If You Could Tell Your Younger Self Something

If you are anywhere past your early twenties, chances are pretty good that you’ve thought to yourself something along the lines of:  “Life would have been so much easier if I had known that back then.”  It wouldn’t even be surprising for younger people to have had the same thoughts.

So, if you had the chance to tell yourself something at that younger age, and actually make your younger self understand, what is it that you would tell, well, you?

I’ll share with you some of the things I would tell my younger self in a moment, but first I want to point something out.  I’m happy with who I am and where I am, so if I actually had this opportunity I would pass it by… any change made in who I was back then would most likely completely alter the trajectory of my life, so that I wouldn’t end up where I am now.

That being said, it’s still fun to think about, and here are some of the most common things that come up that would have made life easier had I known them when I was younger:

  1. Your Worth Has Nothing To Do With Others

    It’s only recently that I’ve truly let go of letting others determine how much worth I see in myself.  I was never as entangled in the opinions of others as many people are, but I’ve finally understood that my worth is independent of that.

    Your worth comes from your very individuality, your ability to make choices, and no one else can affect that.

  2. Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself

    I have always been much harder on myself than on others, easily forgiving something in others that I would beat myself up over for a long time.  Part of this comes from the fact that I know my own thoughts and temptations, even when I don’t act upon them, where I have no idea what similar things (or worse) might be going on in someone else’s head.  That is, I’m aware of all the bad things about myself, and only a small fraction of them about someone else.

    Step outside yourself every once in a while, and look at who you are and what you do as a different person.  What would you think of that person?

  3. Follow Through On Your Dreams

    I have had many ideas, dreams, goals, and hopes through the years, and most of them that aren’t quite short term have been given up.  This creates an expectation and a habit, making it easier each time I do it to do it again the next time.

    Following through and achieving a dream is one of the most wonderful feelings in the world, and well worth the effort.

  4. Love Will Come, Don’t Be In Such A Hurry

    I’ve known for a long time that I wanted to be a husband and a father.  I was looking hard for it, and in the process intentionally deceived myself about what love is and whether or not I loved someone, let alone whether or not they loved me.

    You shouldn’t try to hurry love… it doesn’t work, and you just end up emotionally wounded.  Be patient, and wait for the real thing… you’ll know it when it arrives.

  5. Do What You Love

    For a long time I did what made me enough money, or what I was good at, but not really what I love.  In fact, I’m still doing that to some extent… I keep holding off jumping into doing what I love with my whole heart and mind, mostly because of the uncertainty of the future.

    Do what you love… if you love it, you will put your heart, your energy, and your passion into it, and that will be obvious in the results.  You will always find more happiness and more success with something that you can put your heart into than with something where you are merely good (even if you’re really good).

  6. Don’t Let People Go So Easily

    When I was young, we moved around a lot.  This meant that anyone I started to form a friendship with was gone in a year or two (well, truthfully, it was me that was gone, but that’s not how I perceived it), which in turn meant that I never formed close friendships with anyone.  Learning to not let people close, and let them go easily, is still something that sticks with me today.

    Don’t let people go easily… relationships, whether family, friend, or romantic, are what makes the world go around.  You might be surprised at how much they can affect other areas of your life, too, like your job, your pay, and your ability to follow your dreams.

So, those are the things that I think of the most as things that would have made life easier if I had known them earlier.  What about you?

PS – I would specifically like to hear an answer from John and Aaron… so consider yourselves tagged.

Aaron has also responded:  My Younger Self Was An Idiot

Pippa thinks:  What I Would Tell My Younger Self

How To Deal With The Death Of A Loved One

Only one thing is certain in life… we will all die.  Barring unfortunate accidents, chances are that you will see at least one person you love die before your own time comes.

The death of someone you love can be completely devastating.  It has caused more than one person to completely fall apart, and even leads to suicides from time to time.

On a smaller scale, it can lead you to become passive, to give up really working for anything.  This, too, is a kind of death… a slow, sad death of self.

You can’t suppress these feelings and have them go away.  That’s one of the reasons that becoming passive is deadly, mentally… you never take the action that is necessary to healing.

The path that any one individual takes to heal from the emotional wounds of someone close to them dying is unique.  No two people deal with things in exactly the same way, not even twins.

There is one thing that all paths to healing have in common, however… taking some kind of action.  Below is a list of some actions that may help you to deal with the the death of a loved one:

  1. Admitting And Accepting How Much It Hurts

    The first, almost always unconscious, defensive reaction to someone close to you dying is to deny how much it hurts.  This is pure survival instinct, much the same as your mind blocks out too much physical pain.

    It is counter productive, however.  Denying and suppressing the pain just makes it stay there at the same intensity, never healing, hurting in the background.  Admitting and accepting how much it hurts means that you can start to send some of your mind’s (and your body’s) resources over to begin healing.

  2. Talking To Someone You Trust

    Talking to someone you trust is a good way to deal with any issue that has been bothering you lately.  You may even be surprised at what comes out… sometimes the thing that hurts the most is not what you expect, and it may pop out of your mouth unexpectedly while telling someone you trust.

    It also lets them know that you trust them enough to expose your vulnerabilities, which can strengthen a relationship that already exists (but can be really hard on a very new relationship), whether friends, family, or significant other.

  3. Remembering The Good Times

    Remembering the good times can bring a smile to your face, and rest to your heart.  It can help you to have those memories be what comes up when you think of the person who died, rather than the pain of losing them.

    This is particularly effective when it is shared… remembering the good times with other people who knew, and especially loved, the person who is gone can really help to ease the pain.

  4. Internal Quiet

    I’m a big proponent of what I call internal quiet.  It is the process of dealing with all the day to day distractions until your mind becomes quiet, and then allowing bigger, more persistent things to come up and have their time.

    More detail on internal quiet can be found here.

  5. Writing A Letter

    This is one that may sound odd to some, but really tends to let some of the pain out.  It’s simple, and just what it sounds like… write a letter to the person who is gone, telling them how you feel, what you miss about them, what your hopes and dreams are… essentially one last message to them, telling them everything you want them to know or wish you had said while they were still alive.

    This is one that I personally plan on doing soon, to my grandma who died early this year.

You don’t have to do these things immediately… after all, it’s been nearly a year and I’m just now thinking about doing number five.  Some of them are even things you may want to do many times, like remembering the good times.

You also don’t have to do these things… you just need to do something.  You need to take some sort of action to let the pain go and the healing start.

One more thing… it’s not an overnight process.  It isn’t even something that is done in a week, or a month.  It’s just a place to start, and let time and your natural healing processes have their effect.

PS – Thank you to my wife, who helped me with the second action listed above last night.

10 Fun And Different Things To Do On Your Anniversary

Your anniversary is coming up and you don’t know what to do to make it special.  You want it to be different, not just the same old dinner and a movie, something creative, but just can’t come up with any ideas.

For some reason, it is traditional that the man plan the anniversary events, although it’s certainly in the man’s interest to consult his significant other, too.  This can be a lot of pressure, especially since you’re expected to be creative at the same time.

If you’re a man with an anniversary coming up, and you have trouble being creative, today is your lucky day… in celebration of my own anniversary (today is my fourth), I’m going to provide a list of unusual and fun ideas for you to use on yours.

So here it is, 10 fun and different ways to celebrate your anniversary:

  1. Return To The Location Of Your First Date

    This doesn’t require much other explanation.  Returning to the spot where you first had a romantic moment together celebrates everything that has happened since.

  2. Start A Memory Album

    You can go purchase an album, and add a few pictures… some from this anniversary, some from previous anniversaries, if you have them.  The anniversary pictures are just to get you started… add to it every week, and it will bring you closer all year.

  3. Create A Time Capsule

    This can be a lot of fun… make a time capsule for the two of you to open 5 or 10 years down the road.  Also, you can each write (or write one together) letters to your future selves… you can put them in the letters in the time capsule, or you can just do the letters, if you’d rather.

  4. Renew Your Vows

    You may have heard of this one, and think it doesn’t qualify as unusual… but as you’re unlikely to be doing it very often, it will be unusual for you.  You can do it as publicly or privately as you like… just the two of you repeating them as you look into each other’s eyes, or in front of a preacher, friends, and family.  Either way, it will bring you back to the time of your original vows, likely helping you forget or let go of anything that has gotten between you since.

  5. Have A Weekend Away

    Have an entire weekend away, just to yourselves.  Find someone to watch the kids, if you have them, and refuse to take any calls except from that person.  Don’t go near any computers, either… this is a little less time for the rest of the world, a little more for the two of you.

  6. Make Something Together

    Making something together is fun, and if it’s something that will last, it will serve as a reminder of that joy for years to come.  It can be as big, or little, as you like.  One place that is fun, which I mentioned before, is Color Me Mine, which is a place where you can paint pottery which then gets fired.  It’s an easy way to have something that is yours without having to spend the whole day making it.

  7. Make Reservations (And Have Something Waiting)

    Making reservations for dinner isn’t unusual… it’s a pretty standard part of celebrating an anniversary.  If you arrange beforehand to have something else waiting there, though… that’s something to remember.  It can be small… it’s the surprise that will make the memory, not so much the gift itself.

  8. Ten Envelopes

    Take ten envelopes, and write on each one something like “For When You’re Lonely”, “For When You’re Sad”, etc.  Then put something in each one appropriate to that… a lot of the contents can be pictures, as it’s usually fairly easy to find pictures that are suitable, and it will bring up memories of the two of you together.

  9. A Personalized Charm Bracelet

    I made one of these for my wife a couple of years ago.  It’s a set of charms that link to one another, and each one has something of significance on it… my wife’s, for instance, has pictures of us and our kids, our birthstones, a couple of words that have special significance to us, etc.

  10. Photo Montage

    Creating a photo montage is essentially a chance to highlight any past occasions and memories that you choose, allowing you to set whatever mood you want… fun, closeness, or whatever else.  It can be small pictures printed on a piece of paper folded in half like a card, or full-sized pictures on a piece of posterboard, it’s up to you.  The bigger one probably has more impact, but the smaller one is easier to keep and look back at later.

There you go, ten different ideas for things to make your next anniversary special.  You can choose one or more of them… some of them can even be fun to do as a tradition.

Enjoy your anniversary… I’m going to enjoy mine.

PS – This post is pre-written… I’m not taking time away from my wife on our anniversary.

Internal Quiet – Where Emotional Healing Starts

As we go through life, we pick up mental and emotional wounds.  Some of them are big, and some are small, but everyone has received some at one point or another.

The nasty thing about emotional and mental wounds  (consolidated to just emotional for this article) is that we have a natural tendency to keep them from healing completely.  This leaves a constant drain on our mental and emotional resources.

It’s somewhat like an improperly healed broken bone.  The bone is no longer broken, and it appears to be fine from the surface, but there is still discomfort and possibly pain.

They share something else, too… in order to heal them completely, you have to first experience the hurt all over again.  To heal a bone properly that set wrong, you first have to break it.  In order to heal emotional wounds, you first have to rip off the scar.

Where do you start the process of healing?

You start with internal quiet.  Internal quiet is the state where you mind has become quiet, where all the distractions and thoughts from the day have had their chance.

When you reach this stage, your mind is free from the daily distractions that keep you from really getting anything accomplished.  That leaves you mentally “available” to deal with things from times other than today… like old emotional wounds.

So I’ve told you what interal quiet is, and one of its benefits (it has a lot of other benefits), so you may be wondering how you actually go about achieving it.  Here it is, the 6 step guide to achieving internal quiet:

  1. Find A Place To Be Alone

    The first thing you need to find internal quiet is a place where you can be alone, without interruptions.  Alone, in this case, doesn’t just mean physically… it also means turn off your cell phone and any other way that someone can interrupt you.  The last thing you need when trying to deal with the day’s distractions is more distraction.

    Being interrupted can be bad enough that you have to start all over again… so try to find a place, and time, where it won’t happen.

  2. Close Your Eyes

    Your mind automatically gives priority to what your eyes tell it, so closing your eyes robs it of this input, allowing you to focus on what has already been input.  You may be able to achieve internal quiet without closing your eyes… but you’re just making it harder to do so by providing more distractions and input with which you then have to deal.

  3. Concentrate On Your Breathing

    Breathe in deeply, and breathe out completely… and while you’re doing so, concentrate on the feel of the breath coming into your lungs and sliding out of your mouth.  As you continue with your breathing exercise, try to slow your breathing down as well as keeping it deep.

    This step deals with the physical tension that interferes with mental and emotions processes, causing tension there, as well.

  4. Let Whatever Comes Up… Come Up

    Now your body is relaxed (or relaxing), and things are going to come into your mind.  It might be pictures, thoughts, or memories… it doesn’t matter what it is, just let it come.  Trying to suppress or drive out these things that come up is counterproductive.  It causes mental and emotional tension just when you’re trying to get rid of it.

  5. Accept It

    Instead of trying to push away the images and thoughts, just let them be.  Look at them, acknowledge them for what they are, and accept them… they are your thoughts, coming from below the surface of your conscious mind, and denying them is ignoring what that deeper level is trying to communicate to you.

  6. Let It Go

    The final step is to let it go.  Let each thought, image, and feeling that comes into your mind be accepted as yours, and then let it go.  Almost all emotional and mental pain, other than at the instant the event occurs, is a result of not letting it go… holding it inside and, in the worst cases, dwelling on it.

    Each thing you let go is one less thing weighing you down, which frees up those resources for dealing with the next thing, and letting it go, too.

You’ll likely need to go through several cycles of 4-6 when you first start reaching for internal quiet, and again when something major happens.  Don’t try to push yourself or rush the process… it won’t work.  This is one thing that absolutely has to go at its own pace.

When you’ve completed the list above (however many times that takes), you should be in a calmer place.  How long it takes varies quite a bit… mostly with how much stuff you have built up over the years, how many and how thick your walls are.  If you keep up the practice of finding internal quiet, you will find you have less mental stuff pending, and it gets easier and quicker each time.

When you reach the state of internal quiet, where you thoughts are still, you should have already faced and dealt with all of the issues from the day.  That leaves you free to deal with older issues.

The emotional healing follows the same process, too… if you repeat the steps above, you will find that you can release a lot of old pain, leaving you feeling lighter mentally and emotionally.  That means that you have more resources to turn on healing the next old wound.

How To Deal With Insecurity’s Deadly Effect On Relationships

You have a good relationship going… you love each other, spend time with each other, maybe you’ve even gotten married.  After a while, though, you notice that you’re not getting any closer.  You seem to have hit a plateau.

Or maybe you’re just getting started in a new relationship, and you really like the other person, but things just seem to keep cropping up… one or the other of you keeps doing little things that seem to stop the relationship’s growth right when it’s getting started.

What do these two things have in common?  They are both things caused by something that no one likes to talk about in their own relationship… insecurity.

Everyone needs to have a sense of safety and security, a place that they can rest when life gets too chaotic.  The greatest provider of those feelings is a good relationship with your significant other… good relationships with friends and family can help, but just don’t have the same magnitude.

Now you come to the catch 22, though… your relationship can’t move past a certain point if you are insecure, but you need that relationship to provide your security.  What do you do?

The first thing you have to do is take action… without action, nothing will change.  That being said, here are a few steps that can help you get started.

How To Deal With Insecurity In Relationships:

  1. Find Out The Source

    There are several ways to find the source of your insecurity, but the two biggest and most effective ways are writing it out and talking it out.

    Writing It Out:  Get a pen and a piece of paper, or your computer and a word processor, and just start writing about what you’ve been thinking about, in a free flow of words and thoughts.  Expand on anything that touches that insecure nerve inside you.  It may take two minutes if you barely have it buried, or an hour if it’s deeper.

    Talking It Out:  Talk to someone that you can trust, at least mostly, like a close friend or a family member (or there could be one person who fits both descriptions).  You start out like you do in writing it… tell them what’s been bothering you lately.  The advantage and disadvantage of this form is that they can ask questions, which may cause you to probe deeper inside, or may distract you from the true source.

    Either way you take, you’re going to know it when you hit the true source of your insecurity… and it may be quite a revelation.

  2. Tell Your Significant Other

    Now that you know what the source of your insecurity is, you have to take the next step and tell your significant other.  This is probably the hardest part of the whole process, because you’re already insecure, or you wouldn’t be doing it in the first place.

    No matter how uncomfortable it is, though, and regardless of whether you think you can deal with it on your own, this step is vital.  That’s part of a relationship, you need to share anything that has a bearing on the relationship, and insecurity does have a major impact.

    Telling them also helps to cement it in your mind, and makes your commitment to dealing with it stronger.

  3. Make A Plan

    Now that you’ve found the source, and talked to your partner about it, it’s time to make a plan for dealing with your insecurity.  This is the time to get into specifics about what you’re going to do to take care of the specific issues.

    It may be very easy, something that can be done in a day… or it may be a difficult process that takes years.  Either way, your plan needs specific actions and a time table for those actions.  Without both of those things you are much less likely to stick with the plan, and much less likely to succeed.

  4. Take Action On Your Plan

    Now you have a plan… time to take the first action on it.  Even the very first action is often a major relief of all the issues stirred up by insecurity.  Each additional step takes away more and more of insecurity’s power over your life and relationship.

  5. Review And Update Your Plan

    This is a step that many people forget… your original plan may no longer be the best plan once you start moving forward.  You may even find that it’s hurting your progress more than it’s helping it.

    If that’s the case, change it.  If it’s off badly enough, throw away your old plan and create a new one from scratch.

    Once you’ve got a plan that seems likely to work, whether it’s the original one or a completely new one, repeat step four.  Then, after a while, repeat this step.  Keep up the cycle of steps four and five until you’re done, and the insecurity is a thing of the past.

You can follow this process with more than one insecurity at a time… but you should have a separate plan for each major source.  Many times, though, if you spend enough time on step one, you’ll find that there is one root thing behind seemingly unrelated insecurities.

The process of dealing with insecurity is often not fast… the insecurity may be coming from something years, or even decades, in your past.  If you’re still reading this article, however, you’ve already taken the first step:  admitting to yourself that the problem exists.  Now you just need to take the next step, number one above.

The funny thing about how our minds work is that you don’t necessarily even have to make much progress on dealing with the insecurity long term to start feeling the effects of being on the path to dealing with it.  Just having talked about it, and especially having some sort of plan to go forward with, is often enough to take the majority of insecurity’s sting away.

If anyone has any further ideas for things to help with what is, truly, a major problem, please share them in the comments.

Bride And Groom

7 Ways To Show Your Wife You Love Her

It is important in any relationship for both people to feel loved.  That isn’t too hard to figure out or remember.

What isn’t quite so obvious, or easy to remember, is that your spouse needs different things to feel loved than you do.  How you show your wife that you love her is different than how you show your husband that you love him.

I’ve already written about how to show your husband you love him (see link above), and now it’s time to write about the wives (and girlfriends, for those of you who aren’t yet married).  It’s only fair, after all… both sides of a relationship need to work to show the other person they love them.

How to use this list:  This is not a list of specific actions.  It is more of a set of general guidelines and principles.  You will have to find your own ways of doing each of the points, other than one or two examples.

So, on to the meat of the article, how to show your wife you love her:

  1. Show Her Appreciation

    Your wife needs you to show her that you appreciate her, in both words and actions.  That means telling her “I appreciate what you do” and “I appreciate who you are”… but mostly in a more specific sense, as in “I appreciate that you were there for me when I needed it the other day.”

    For ideas on how to show her appreciation through actions, you might want to read 7 Quick Tips On How To Make Your Wife Happy.

  2. Show Her Respect

    Men and women both need to be shown respect, but how you go about it can be very different.  You can show your wife respect by being old-fashioned when it comes to certain things:  open, and hold, doors for her, let her always enter before you, and standing up for her when someone insults her.

    You can also show her respect by things that aren’t so old-fashioned, things that will be important for as long as the human race is around, like paying attention to her and actively listening to her when she talks to you.

  3. Show Her Romance

    It’s unfortunate, but some men simply aren’t romantic by nature… and women can tell.  In spite of that, women will still appreciate the effort that you put into trying to be romantic.

    If it does come naturally, that’s even better.

    One thing to remember when you are being romantic is that it means a lot more when you are creative.  Rather than just take her to dinner and a movie, for example, you could leave her a small trail of notes, one leading to another, with the last one leading to the tickets.  Trust me… she will remember things like that.

  4. Show Her Love

    This can tie into being romantic, but is a whole lot more, as well.  There are so many ways that you can show her love… hundreds of little things.  And make no mistake, showing her love is all about the little things, not the big ones.

    In a relationship it’s much more important to get the little things right day to day than it is to do big things.

    Some of those small things you can do:  hold hands, listen to music that is special to you together, touch her face, kiss her, hug her, and one that’s important but also usually one of the first things to be forgotten – soul gaze.

  5. Show Her Respect For Family

    Women, in general, are more socially aware than men.  They pick up on how you treat others, especially how you treat family.  This includes both her family and your family.

    Treat family, on both sides, with respect.  This means helping them when they need it… without complaining.  It also means not speaking badly about them… which doesn’t mean hiding the bad parts, but rather that you be nice.  In other words, you don’t have to pretend that they do no wrong, but you don’t have to call them names.

  6. Show Her What You Love About Her

    Women, and men, too, for that matter, need to hear specifics about what it is that you love about them… and not just one time.  Your wife needs reminded of what it is that makes her special to you.

    This can be physical things, like her eyes, her lips, or her touch.  It can also be personality traits, like her honesty, compassion, or sense of humor.

    One of the really good things to tell her is what you love about how she makes you feel.

  7. Show Her She Is Number One

    This, again, is one of the things both women and men need, though men many times try to hide or deny it.

    When you are in a relationship your significant other should know that they are your number one priority.

    This is something that you should show them every day, through all the little things… when she is talking to you, stop doing other things and pay attention.  Stop what you are doing other times, too, just to show them love.  When she calls you, walk over to them instead of just shouting back “What?”.

    And don’t forget to tell her, too.  Tell her she is your number one, the most important thing in the world to you.  Tell her often enough to make sure she remembers.

Once again, as always ends up being the case, it’s all about the little things.  It’s the day to day, moment to moment things that build a relationship, and make it strong enough to last.

Remember… without the little things, there are no big things.

Tell her you love her, and show her that you love her… these are the things that keep a marriage strong.


How To Stop Inflicting Unnecessary Stress On Yourself

The modern life is full of stress.  It can build up, day after day, until it reaches an overwhelming level.  You may even feel like you’re on the edge of breaking.

It may be stress from financial difficulties, from your relationship, your kids, your work… there are hundreds of possible sources of stress throughout our lives.  The biggest source of stress of all, though, is ourselves.

How, you might ask, are we the biggest source of stress in our own lives?  The answer is simple:  the majority of stress from all of the things I mentioned above comes from focusing on the results of our choices to the exclusion of paying attention to the process.

That leads to the point of this article:  how to stop inflicting unnecessary stress on yourself.

If you want to release a ton of stress in your life, and prevent it from rapidly coming back, the secret is to stop focusing so much on the results of your choices, and more on the choices themselves, and the path along which they will lead you.

One major cause of relationship stress, for example, is focusing on the “fact” that you’re “not as close as you used to be.”  If you want to remove a huge chunk of that stress let go of the comparison, the focus on the results of your past choices, and look at what you can do right now to try to shrink that gap and get closer.

The same thing goes for financial stress… you are in the situation that your past choices have caused, and there’s nothing you can do to change that.  If you let go of your deathgrip on blaming yourself, you can actually look at your currently available choices and how they can lead you to somewhere you’d rather be.

The self-blame game is part of a vicious downward spiral.  It makes you focus on the past, it makes you harder on yourself (and thus less likely to go strongly after a new path), and quite frankly makes you less pleasant to be around, too.

This doesn’t mean that you should blame someone else, it means you should stop worrying about blame entirely.  The situation is what it is, and any energy spent on blame is energy that you cannot spend on getting yourself to somewhere better in life.

Letting go of the past, and any blame that goes with it, lets you also give up your focus on the results that came out of your choices and instead look at what choices lie around you now, waiting to lead you into a better future.

Letting go of the past and blame usually starts with internal quiet… a topic I have mentioned many times previously, and one I will dedicate an entire article to in the near future.

PS – This article springs from Jean’s request in my Group Writing Project In Reverse (it’s in the comments, #6).

10 Fun And Inexpensive Ways To Spend Time With Your Kids

Spending time with your kids can be fun and rewarding, bringing you closer together as you build shared experiences, memories to look back on in the future.

It can also be expensive, depending on what you do.  Amusement parks, last time I looked, generally cost $50 or more per person.

You can, however, have fun without spending too much.  That’s what this article is all about, fun and inexpensive things to do with your kids when you spend a day together:


  1. Fishing

    Fishing can be expensive the first time you go, since you have to buy the equipment, but it doesn’t cost much at all after that, and can provide an entire day’s worth of enjoyment.

    I have fond memories of fishing with my Grandpa when I was young… we’d go to a creek and sit there all morning fishing, and Grandma would cook whatever we caught (or something else if we didn’t get any fish) for dinner that night.  I wish I could do that again.

  2. Wienie Roast

    Wienie roasts are another one of those cool things I remember from when I was a kid.  You build up a little fire, cut a few long, sturdy sticks, trim the ends to a point (this also has the beneficial effect of removing any bark and dirt), and you’re ready to go.

    Of course, you have to bring along the hot dogs, buns, condiments, and other necessities (you know, chocolate, marshmallows, and graham crackers… can’t do a wienie roast without making smores!), but it’s easy and doesn’t cost much.  You do have to find a place where it’s okay to build a fire, though… no wienie roasts in the front yard!

  3. New Family Game

    Another cheap way to have fun with your kids is to buy a new family game.  You can usually pick one up for $20 or less… some of my favorites are Don’t Break The Ice, Operation, Jenga, Sorry, and Trivial Pursuit for kids.

  4. Natural History Museum

    Most larger cities have a natural history museum that is fun to visit and usually less than $10 per person.  Virtually all kids like to look at the fossils, be disgusted by the bugs, and see the other exhibits.

    This is definitely not one that you can do often, but it is fun every once in a while for something different.

  5. The Zoo

    Okay, so this one isn’t as cheap as the rest, but it’s still usually not too bad… maybe $20 or so per person.

    You can’t really go wrong with the zoo, unless your kids are surly teenagers who feel it isn’t “cool” to go… even most adults I know love the zoo!  How can you not love looking at big, dangerous, creepy, or just plain weird animals?

  6. The Beach

    This is, of course, not an option for everyone, but if you live within driving distance, a day at the beach is always good, and usually costs nothing more than parking plus drinks and snacks.

    You can swim, build sand castles, pick up shells… it’s easy to have a great day at the beach.  And the ocean is just soothing, too… seems to take away a lot of the every day stress a parent builds up.

  7. The Park

    The park is definitely one of the easiest, and cheapest, ways to have fun while spending time with your kids.  It costs nothing but the gas to drive there, and maybe the cost of a few toys, such as a frisbee, football, or basketball.  Little kids can go on the jungle gym or swings, and big kids can play with the frisbee or ball.

    You can make it even better by bringing a picnic, even if your “picnic” is just picking up something from the grocery store to eat when you get to the park.

  8. Color Me Mine

    This may be a local thing, I’m not sure… but you can probably find something in a similar vein near you.  Color Me Mine is a store that has unfinished pottery that you paint at the store, and then they fire it for you.  This can easily leave you with a keepsake, something you keep for the rest of your life because of the memories you associate with it.

    It does cost a bit more than some of the other things, but if you choose their small items, it shouldn’t be more than $10 – $15 per person… and there will be no doubt in your mind that it was worth it.

  9. Make Dinner Together

    Making dinner together can be a fun way to have some family time, plus you end up with good (hopefully!) food to eat… how can you go wrong?

    Bonus points on this one if you make something you’ve either never made before, or even better, never eaten before.

  10. Create A Memory Album

    This is an awesome idea, suggested to me by a friend.  It’s basically scrapbooking for kids… you buy a big album, and then each week you add another page.  The page might have a picture, a postcard, a letter to or from their grandparents, etc.

    This leaves you with a fantastic book of memories to look back through when you (and they) are older.  You might even be inspired to create your own memory album, not just one for your kids.

There are a lot of other ways to spend time together without spending a lot of money, too.  One other easy, but not as specific, thing you can do is to explore somewhere new.

Some of the ideas listed above are things that you might do once a year… others are can be done once a week, or even more.  It can be fun to have something you do every week, like adding a page to your memory albums, but it is a lot of fun to mix things up, too.

If you have more ideas, please share them in the comments.  If I get enough ideas, I will ttake the best reader suggestions and add them to the end of the post here.