Friday, October 31, 2008

New toy! Here's me!

Just figuring out how to use my Photo Booth on my MacBook ... here's me right now!



I'm sitting at the World Headquarters for STEP-Carefully Inc. - my local Panera Bread! I'm contemplating the Creamy Tomato Soup for lunch - yummers!

"see" you!

Good History lesson for your kids ... and all of us!

Make Mine Freedom (1948)

This insightful "cartoon" still applies 60 years later! Isn't that an amazing tribute to American freedoms. Let's keep them!

Who - or What Do You Love?

Love - real, true, honest-to-goodness love - never ends. It can't. Well, it can't if you love a person. If you love a person, you love them no matter what they say or do ... or how they change.

I hear so many divorcing couples say they stopped loving their spouse, or their spouse stopped loving them. And, if I have the time and inclination (and patience) I ask them what they mean. How does that happen? What in them has changed to cause their original conviction and loyalty to just quit?

Of course, most tell me that it wasn't they who changed, but their soon-to-be ex who changed from the person they "fell in love with" into a different kind of person whom they didn't like or care for or love. Their love, they tell me, just died.

But, I counter, love never dies; it goes on forever no matter how differently the other person may act. I ask them, "So, did you love that person, or were you just attracted to the way they acted or spoke or smelled?" Which is generally met with dead silence and blank stares. Which actually is answer enough.

So, I ask you: do you still love those whom you have claimed to love before? Do you really believe that love - real, true, honest-to-goodness love - never dies? Or do you believe it is dependent on how you are spoken to, or treated, or acted towards?

And if it is conditional on actions, do you love - really, truly, honest-to-goodness love - your children, say, when they are acting out, or when they say "I hate you!," or when they turn their backs on you for someone else?
"But wait," you say, "that's different. He's my child. It's different."

Oh? what kind of love do you feel for your child that you did not feel for his father or mother, your ex? Loyalty? Protectiveness? Deep in your heart concern and tenderness? Well, there you go. If you never felt any of those for your ex, then, in my humble opinion, you never loved them. You were, as the Wise Ones say, only "in love." and that is a whole other animal from Love.

"Well," you might demand, "just what do you think Love is, then?"
Far be it from me to try to define anything so elemental as Love. I am but a man who is shaped by his past, his chemistry, and his emotions, just like you. But I do know where to find definitions for those sort of Big Questions:

"Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts,
always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails."

Any other definition - or opinion or attitude - about Love is based on chemistry and past illusions or disillusions. If you have ever loved someone - really, truly, honest-to-goodness loved someone - then you still care for them. You still love them. You may have, for some very good reason or another, moved on to another relationship. But that love is still there, in your heart and your memory. To deny it, either out of a perceived loyalty to a new love or out of belief that's what you're supposed to do, to deny it is wrong and damaging to you and everyone else you love.

Because, if you can convince yourself that you can dismiss love - real, true, honest-to-goodness love - for one person, then you begin to expect that you can dismiss love for someone else. And you begin to expect them to do the same to you.

It is NOT wrong to still love the father or mother of your children. In fact, for your children's sake you should still love their other parent. Does that make you disloyal to your current spouse? Don't be silly. Does it make you disloyal to your other spouse if you still love your mother or your father or your children? Of course not. Any spouse who tries to tell you that you should love only him or her is selfish and their love for you is seriously questionable.

As an adult, you have the ability to understand the human heart's capacity for love. You have the mental faculties to understand that you can, for example, love one child with your whole heart, and another child just as completely, and still another child totally, too. The human heart (as we call our love-center) was Designed to be able to expand to the maximum we ask of it.

"Love - real, true, honest-to-goodness love - never fails." It just grows to take in more people in your life. Only you can choose to give up on love. And when you do, you cheat yourself, your children, and everyone in your life.

Love one another.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Our Container Garden

Our first container garden is still producing super goodies:


We got these just last week. It's nice to know they're all organic and all packed with good stuff.

Here's our garden:


This was taken last Spring, after we'd just started the garden adventure.

Detail to show that everything is grown in containers - just cheap plastic tubs from the dollar store. But they have worked out great. It was amazing to see how well everything grew, much better than I've ever seen in regular, in-the-ground, hard work gardens.



We put the garden by our front porch, by the carport so it was easy to remember to water in the morning before we left for work, and quick to harvest on the way into the house. We'll definitely continue our new garden next year, probably expanding it a bit. Eventually, we will be able to grow all our vegetable needs out of little buckets!

I highly recommend this as a family project. Let each kid have their own container to be responsible for and let the whole family reap the rewards!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

New links to STEP-Carefully!

I'm really getting into this on-line networking - and it's paying off for us! In response to a few business newsletters I receive, I have joined some social networks. The idea is to get the word out through as many venues as possible about our services for stepfamilies and for breaking/broken marriages. So ...

you can now find me on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Startup Nation, and MyMission2. On each of those sites, I'm offering our tried and true helps to keep stepfamilies healthy, happy, and together.

Visit me at the following: (just click the name of the site to go there)
> Facebook
> Twitter
> Startup Nation
> LinkedIn
> MyMission2

And be sure to leave a comment to let me know you visited - PLUS leaving a comment moves that site higher in Google's search engines, which means more families will find help.

Thanks! See you there!

Bob C.

Building next newsletter ...

Hi all, I'm busily building our next issue of the STEP-Carefully! newsletter. Is there anything I can address for you or your family? The economy is a big topic, but so is (as always) marital peace and family stability. Then, there's the upcoming holiday excitement.

Email me with your ideas, questions, or needs for this or any upcoming newsletter.

Thanks!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Give It Your All!

Did you ever watch kids at a school dance? Notice that some of them just sort of stand there, trying not to move too much in fear that someone will notice that they can't dance too well. Don't they look silly? Eyes on the floor, sneaking glimpses around to see who's watching them.

Then there's the guy who jumps out there and, no matter how goofy he may look, you can really tell he's having a ball. Maybe he's got the silliest dance moves you've ever seen, but MAN! isn't he having a great time! His partner probably is, too. Because he throws all caution to the wind and jumps right in, he and his date ... and everyone around him have fun.

Who looks the dumbest: the guy who is trying not to move at all lest some sees him, or the happy guy who is dancing his heart out? I always felt sorry for that first guy because the harder he tries to not look silly, the sillier he looks. I also always admired the second guy. At the end of the dance, guess which one of them had the better memories of the dance? Guess which guy's date hugged him tighter?

You're that guy! (or gal)

In your relationship, you have the opportunity to either look the reluctant incompetent or the all-in happy person enjoying life and lifting everyone else's spirits.

How openly do you love your mate? How obvious is your relationship to anyone who might be glancing your way? What do your kids see in your commitment? How loved does your sweetheart feel when you're out for dinner or at church or just at home with the kids?

Well? Are you the goofy looking one or the one everyone else what's to be like?

Get in there and give it your all!

Relationship Tip: Develop Fierce Loyalty!

Here's an idea to give your sweety a jolt of happiness and your relationship a shot in the arm. Practice developing a personal sense of Fierce Loyalty toward your mate.

By Fierce Loyalty, I mean an ardent, strong attitude toward taking your partner's side, no matter what the situation. Let me give you an example. Recently a client told me how embarrassed he gets when his wife gets loud in defending her child. Often, he says, if she'd just ease off, the situation would take care of itself, her child wouldn't be embarrassed, and neither would he.

Yes, she seemed to be going overboard in some cases. And, yes, she probably could have more effectively handled many of the situations without turning them into confrontations. But, as he admitted, this was just the way she deals with stress.

So, I asked him if he could think of a way to make her change her ways, to quiet down and approach things more peacefully. He said with a sigh that he couldn't really see her doing that in the foreseeable future; that's just her way. His demeanor clearly said, Poor me, I guess she'll just keep embarrassing me like that.


But wait a minnit! Isn't this your sweetheart? Isn't this the lady you couldn't stand to be without just a couple of years ago? And wasn't she pretty vocal even then? (Yes, but it seemed different, he said.)

Well, it looks to me like you only have two choices here: you can run away or you can take control of the situation! Running away means admitting you can't keep your vows, that you are wishy-washy about loyalty and love, that you arent' trustworthy. Bad choice!

Which leaves Taking Control of the Situation. Most men will admit they like the idea of taking control instead of turning tail and running away. Actually, most ladies feel that way, too, right? So how could he take control of his loud, excitable wife without starting a war with her?

Simple. Take her side. Develop an attitude of Fierce Loyalty for this sweetheart of yours. What does that mean in practice? Let's say she repeats the pattern - jumps overboard and gets loud in defending her child at, say, a volleyball game. Hubby now has a choice. He can duck his head and try to hide from anyone knowing he's associated with her. Or he can step up, put his arm around her shoulder and say, You tell 'em, Honey! I'm right here with you, Pardner.

What will that do for him? Well, at least he won't look like a wimp, hiding from his wife. Instead he's supporting her in her belief. It also shows his stepkids that he believes in their mom and is a full partner with her, which will affect the way they look at both him and their mother. Plus it will reassure his wife that he is fully engaged in her life, rather than just hanging around.

By the way, after my client started taking this approach with his wife, and consistently showed her his Fierce Loyalty, guess what began happening? She started calming down. Not completely, but to a noticeable degree. Seems that once she realized she wasn't having to fight all her battles alone, she wasn't as defensive.

What's this mean for you and your mate? When you married each other, it was with the full expectation that you were gaining a totally committed partner who would be with you through everything. Fierce Loyalty is the natural result of that commitment. You've promised to love and honor that special sweety of yours forever. Doing so - especially publicly - will help them appreciate you so much more, and it will allow you to feel like you are doing right by your love.

Show your partner and your kids what being in love is all about. Develop Fierce Loyalty for your mate and watch them blossom because of it.

Monday, October 6, 2008

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