Don’t Retire, ReFire: A look at relationships

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By Gail Supplee Tatum, Columnist, The Times

What gives us all the greatest joy in life is to love and be loved. Although it may sound cliché, it truly is one of those few facts in life.

“Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead,” — Oscar Wilde.

The word “love” encompasses many things and comes in many forms and through many ways.

In this day and age, we cannot define love in what would be considered, by most, the traditional manner. Thinking about and picturing the ocean is a good analogy for defining and describing what love looks like. Sometimes it’s calm and still, sometimes the powerful waves crash onto the shore and like the rising tide, sometimes it’s low and sometimes it’s high. The power of relationships can build us up or leave us unsettled.

A quote from Wayne Dyer, “How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.”

Our most fulfilling life is when we surround ourselves with people we love and trust and who we know we can count on. In turn, they know that love and trust is reciprocal, without a shadow of a doubt. The mark of a good relationship is when each of us can be ourselves. We can have disagreements. We can have a difference of opinion. We don’t always have to be right. We can admit that we’re wrong or that we made a mistake. We’re able to forgive. It is with acceptance and respect for one another that allows such freedom in a relationship, whether it be partners, family or friends. Truth and honesty is at the core.

“Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth,” Buddha.

It may take time to realize whether or not a person is being true. I have found that the older I get, the better I get at quickly recognizing whether honesty exists. Is their ocean deep or am I in shallow waters?

Here are three ways to consider how to sift, sort and recognize the truth in a relationship or the lack there of:

  1. Write down four of your most trusted people in your life. First and foremost, we each must be at the top of that list. We forget about ourselves when we think about the people in our lives, who we hold dear to our hearts. The most important, significant and challenging relationship we will ever have is the one we have with ourselves. That’s the one that is essential to cultivate. It’s difficult to deepen any relationship without knowing who we are. Many of the parents of us baby boomers didn’t know enough to teach those skills. We owe it to children and grandchildren to instill that practice. The other three people should be easy to list, especially for those of us who have lived several decades!
  2. Write down the characteristics you want those friends or significant other to have and why. We all have “deal-breakers” and although they may be few, we can’t deny their significance. More than likely the positive characteristics we look for are similar to our own qualities. They could also be characteristics that we want to cultivate, so we surround ourselves with people who have those qualities, in order to bring them out in ourselves.
  3. Commit to rekindling friendships that we’ve lost touch with for no other reason than distance and time. Commit to making a connection, whether it is writing a letter, a phone call, a Facebook message or an email, to those friends. Tell them how much you appreciate them and miss them and want to bridge that gap of time. I started doing this several years ago and I can tell you, it feels great! As we know, “time flies!” What we often need to be reminded of is each of us is our own “Pilot.”

Live deeply, deliberately and fully. “Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love,” Mother Teresa. I agree with Mother Teresa. You can tell a lot about a person by their smile. It’s the first invitation to creating the relationship, big or small.

I would love to hear your thoughts on how you develop and retain your relationships.

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