THE STORY BEHIND THE LETTER:
I am pretty much estranged from a family member. I see them at family gatherings, but have little to no contact with them otherwise. A couple of years ago I wrote them a letter to share how I felt. I tried to focus on "I" statements, and got the approval of my therapist regarding the letter's tone before mailing. In response I received a letter that made me feel angry and that my attempt to open the lines of communication and start a dialogue was a lost cause. The letter had a defensive tone and seemed to be filled with a laundry list of excuses, justifications and but, but, buts...so I never responded to it.
Even today, as I reread the letter, it upsets me.
In the end it read, "I'm sorry I don't know how to express how much I love & appreciate you." Other statements in the letter led me to believe that they aren't even willing to try to learn.
I understand the difficulty of expressing ones self face to face. As an introvert, I much prefer written communication and writing down my feelings. I've left my husband quite a few letters over the years and my daughter and I keep a shared journal where we exchange those words we can't say sometimes about those topics that are a little embarrasing or too uncomfortable to share in the car or over the breakfast table.
I understand not learning to express love and affection as a child too, beause I didn't learn it either. But the buck stops here. As a mother I have made a conscious effert to hug my daughter daily and tell her I love her. I thank her when she does her chores and have found she doesn't complain when I ask her to do more. In fact, she often takes it upon herself to do more.
I kept hearing those words, "I'm sorry I don't know how to express how much I love & appreciate you." It got me wondering about all the ways you, or I, or they can express love and appreciation. It got me thinking about how we can share little pieces of ourselves with another. I began to think about how I have felt loved by others, and how one could express their love and appreciation with those who live near or far. So, I began to compile a list. Some require a little money, some do not. Some leave lots of room for creative interpretation and delivery. Most are nonverbal and do not require face to face contact.
LOVE IS SIMPLE (because sometimes we make it harder than it has to be):
- a compliment
- a thank you
- a random note or text message: "I'm thinking of you", "Good Morning", "Enjoy your day", "How are you today", "Sweet dreams"
- a video (most cellphones do this now--make it silly & fun or simply share a moment from your day)
- a phone call just to chat
- a hug
- an invitation
- a high five
- a photo from your day
- a photo of something that made you think of them
- a gift card for a cuppa (or other favorite thing--personally I'd rather have a $5 Starbucks card over a majority of the gifts I've received)
- a doodle
- a cartoon that made you laugh
- a poem that moved you
- a song that reminded you of them (YouTube & social media make this easy and you can even gift them via iTunes--my husband has done this for me)
- a word written on a random piece of paper
- a greeting/post card sent "just because"
- a random act of kindness
- a favorite book (used, vintage, or from childhood)
- a favortie magazine or other publication
- a favorite treat
- a smile
- a quote of encouragement
- a flower or plant
- a handmade anything (Etsy is a great resource if you don't know how or have the time to do it yourself)
- a pocket card highlighting their awesomeness that they can carry in their wallet
- a SASE (self-addressed-stamped-envelope)
- an art print
- a balloon bouquet (or a single balloon shipped in a box--my husband did this for me on Valentine's Day when we were dating and I was out of state)
I'm thinking I want to create this list as an art piece and hang on the wall for inspiration and reminding.
What about you? Can you add to this list? What little things make you feel loved and appreciated? Please leave your suggestions in the comments below.