The Most Overused Word in the English Langauge

I have been thinking a lot about the word “love”.  It is the most overused word in the English language (and probably in most of the almost 6900 languages in the world).

Why do we find the need to describe every feeling with the word “love”?

I love that show!   I love my shampoo.  I love Bradley Cooper.

Really?  Is it really love I feel for television, products, and actors?

Seemingly, I find some programming to be well-written, comical, or thoughtful, and so some shows outweigh others.  But does that mean love?  No, it would probably be more accurate to say I am partial to certain programs because I feel a sense of pleasure and enjoyment while I am watching them.

As for my shampoo, I mean it really does make my hair feel soft.  Because of its quality, I think I feel an allegiance to my brand.

And, most women would agree that Bradley Cooper is a hottie, and most men would agree that he is a good actor.  However, I do not know Bradley Cooper personally, I know the characters he plays in films, and the way he portrays himself in interviews.  Yet, I do not know him know him, and so I think what I feel is fond of his abilities.

Love.  I feel it is important to use this word sparingly, and only in a context when I mean it.  If I say “love” it should come from my heart and be real.

love

Case in point: When we were younger, my brother and I were ridiculously close.  He is five years older than I am, but we were best friends, and the love we felt for each other was clear to anyone who knew us.  However, we ran into a hiccup in our twenties.  We began experiencing life differently.  We used to seem to have everything in common, and then suddenly we didn’t.  One day I realized that my focus in life was vastly different from my brothers, and instead of accepting each other and our individual outlooks on life, we developed a clear resentment for each other.  For no apparent reason, we didn’t really like each other as much as we did in the past, and I found that as siblings do, we worked hard to push each other’s buttons.

After my parents passed away seven years ago, we both realized that we needed to reconcile or our immediate family would be gone.  We were all that we had left.  For the first time in years, we made efforts to see each other and talk on the phone.  I found that we were both trying and when two people make an effort, what evolves is a ripening relationship.  Nonetheless, in all of those years, I still found it difficult to say “I love you,” although the love I felt for my brother had definitely began to return.

This past Christmas Eve, leaving his house, we engaged in the same awkward embrace that we always seem to share.  This time, it was different.  As I hugged my brother, for the first time in years, I said, “I love you.” I felt a sudden flush of emotion.  I blinked hard so as not to cry because what I said I meant and what I meant made me emotional.

You see, I think that is what should happen whenever I say “love”.  I think love should make me feel something deep in my core, and if it doesn’t, it’s probably a liking, amity, fidelity, or affection.    All of these words are important to emotional well-roundedness, but they are not love.  Love is a powerful word that should not be abused.  When I say it, I want it to mean something.

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January 1st… Here We Go Again!

I am a fan of beginnings and I am not a fan of endings.

I find endings to be anticlimactic.  Walking across a stage, walking down an aisle, walking away from a job– I always think that something should materialize in these auspicious occasions– an orchestra or a parade.  Yet, nothing happens.  It is just… over.  All that anticipation, all that anxiety, and that was it?  I “walked” and it was over.

But beginnings!  Beginnings are magical because the future is unknown, and I know deep in my heart  that I have the power to influence what is to come.  Lucky for me, January 1st comes once  a year, and with the new month in the new year, I can start over.  I can make changes in my life and start fresh.  The year is a tabula rasa, and I am the ink in the pen stroke.

What will this year be?

  • Healthy: mentally, emotionally, and physically.
  • Energetic: anyone want to race?
  • Rewarding: time to take charge of my life.
  • Enterprising: maybe it’s time to stop being afraid of failure.
  • Whimsical: play more/worry less.
  • Eleemosynary: this word mean generous, and I like new words.  Oh, and generosity is the freedom from possession.
  • Gratified: thankful for all my blessings.
  • Observant: of those around me and of their needs.  A kind word goes a long way.
  • Accepting: forgive and forget, and then really forget.
  • Good-humored: I do like to laugh!
  • Affectionate: kisses, hugs, and compliments for all!
  • Imaginative: dream in color, live inspired!
  • Non-judgmental: who am I to judge?

Yes, 2014 is upon us, and I have a pretty good feeling about what will materialize this year.

To you and your families, I wish you health, happiness, and love in 2014.  May all of your dreams come true!  Happy New Year!

Advice To My Teenage Daughter

This year my oldest daughter is entering the high school atmosphere, although she will only be in eighth grade.  Our school system restructured schools this past year and moved the eighth graders into the high school.  Albeit, they have their own wing and our separated from the older kids, but the environment will be completely new for her, nonetheless.  You see, she has been attending Catholic school for the last eight years, and her class has been under twenty.  She has been with the exact same kids for all of this time, and she knows how to manipulate her way in a very small minefield.   She does hot know yet what it means to switch classes.  She does not realize the myriad of influences that are going to bombard her and test her moral compass.  I am not nervous that she will make poor choices.  No, she has a good head on her shoulders; yet, I am nervous for what else is to come.

Thus, I want to speak directly to my daughter and giver her advice that was never overtly given to me.

Carson,

High school can be challenging on many levels.  Academically, I know you want to excel and get good grades.  Do not be upset if you earn a B or even a C.  Look at it as a challenge to study harder for the next test, or spend even more time perfecting the essay that is due.  If you do well, feel spirited, but do not boast about your success.  No one wants to hear, “Oh Jeez, I didn’t even study, and I got a 97%.”  Someone sitting near you may have studied hard and achieved a B+.  Before you spoke, that boy was proud of his grade, but then you shot it down with one off-handed remark.  Don’t be that kid.

Socially, high school is a roller coaster.  You may meet friends that are your friends for life, or you might not.  Don’t seek people who you perceive as popular.  Seek people who share similar interests as you, who share a similar belief system as you, who look at right and wrong in the same fashion.  You should never feel pressured by your friends to do anything you do not want to do.  If you feel pressure, they are not real friends.

Relationships change and grow and evolve.  When someone filters out of your life, it may feel like a loss for a while, but trust me, you will make a new friend that fills you in a way the other friend could not.  I believe every single person who enters our lives enters to help us grow.  Never feel regret over a failed relationship.  Instead, savor the good moments you remember and the positive experiences you shared.

It’s okay to stay home on a Saturday night.  It’s okay to go to a movie with one friend when everyone else wants to go to a party.  It’s okay to want ice cream instead of drinking underage.  It’s okay to call me if the driver you are with makes you uncomfortable because of something he or she has done.  You will experience many new things in the next few years; make sure you are comfortable in the experience.

Individually, you will experience so much emotional flux that at times you will not feel like yourself.  You may feel sad and happy all at the same time.  I think this comes from pressure.  Don’t put so much pressure on yourself.   Life is constantly changing; that is in fact the only true constant.  If you find you are down than find something that will bring you back up.  Dance.  Read.  Play catch in the driveway.  Things change quickly, but paradoxically, we must sometimes slow down and be patient and wait for the change.

Most of all, be kind to others.  Pay attention.  Be the person who includes the kid who never seems to be included.  If your friends think this action is weird than they do not understand compassion.  Teach them.  Help them see that an open heart and an open mind opens a great many doors and opportunities for goodness and happiness.  Do your best to succeed, but do not sacrifice enjoying yourself.  Doing well in school and your extracurriculars is your ultimate goal, but do not be so involved that you stress and forget to laugh until your stomach hurts.  Most importantly, be true to yourself.

I am always here for you.  Always.

Love, Mom