How To Stay In Touch With A Long-Distance Friend

letters, friend, in touch, moved

letters, friend, in touch, moved

 

Some people have lots of friends.  Anyone they like or spend time with or talk to regularly becomes a friend.  It seems like they everyone ends up in the “friend” category.

I have acquaintances.

Don’t cry for me yet.  I have just as many acquaintances as some people have friends.  I just categorize relationships differently.  It’s an introvert trait.

I consider a friend to be someone who is just as interested in my well-being as I am in theirs.  They understand where I’m coming from.  They get me.  I don’t have to quantify or qualify my thoughts or feelings to them.  These people are rare gems in my life.

My friend moved away.

Suddenly “friendship” has become a study.  (A typical INTJ trait is to turn emotions into studies.)  My friendship is worth keeping even though we are nearly 1000 miles apart.  But I worry about “out of sight, out of mind.”  So how does someone keep a friendship real and fresh despite the miles?

The key to long-distance friendships is frequent and consistent contact.

When we sat at each other’s kitchen tables on a weekly basis and had face to face conversations, it was easy.   We didn’t measure the time between visits.  It just happened.  “Drop in for some coffee.”  “Let’s take the kids to the park.”  “See you at church.”

None of those things are available to us now.  The only thing for us to do now is make a conscious decision to stay in touch.  The technology available makes it easier, but it still takes human effort.

How to stay in touch with a long-distance friend.

1.  Text often.  

When we could sit for a coffee chat, we didn’t plan what we would talk about.  We just chatted about life, kids, faith, ups, downs, and whatever.  It wasn’t all deep, life changing thoughts and theological debates.  Sometimes it was very unimportant, mundane stuff.

Whatever is happening in your life or your day for that matter, share it.  Seriously.  Who else could really sympathize with me when my coffee maker died?  My friend.  She know as much about the weather here as she does about the weather there.

coffee maker, cuisinart, on tap, gauge, goodwill,2.  Send pictures.

Pictures of yourself.  Pictures of the kids.  Pictures of the coffee pot.  (Yes, I sent her a picture of my new coffee maker.)  Pictures keep your life real and a visible part of her life.  It says, “You’re not here, so I’m sending it to you.”

3.  Write letters.

It’s harder than it sounds.  But it’s worth the time.  Especially if you have something deeper in mind that you want or need to share.  Sometimes I just want to share with someone I know will understand.  And for someone like me, it’s easier to put it on paper.

coffee, chat, text, phone, call, visit, friend, talk4.  Call.

It may seem obvious.  It’s not always the best means of communication.  Especially when there are children involved.  It’s easier to have a phone conversation when you can give your undivided attention.  My kids are like magnets though.  As soon as my phone is to my ear, they need me for this or that.  There is sure to be a fight that breaks out that I have to go referee.  Still, it’s good to hear your friend’s voice.

We try to schedule “coffee chats” (much of our friendship revolves around coffee) around our schedules and when we think our children will be in pleasant frames of mind.  Sometimes it works out.  Sometimes it doesn’t.

5.  Face-time/Skype.

I find this means of contact to be best suited for family greetings or for the kids to get a chance to chat.  It’s not the same as sitting across the kitchen table, where a few silent moments pass unnoticed.  Silence can be very awkward during face-time.  I see you.  You see me.  We can’t think of anything to say.  Unless you’re into making faces at each other.  Whatever suits you.

6.  Chat/Hangouts.

It works much like texting.  I tend to use it more often when I’m sitting at my desk with my laptop.  I like my keyboard way more than that swipey keyboard thing on my phone.   It’s good when we’re both working on our computers and the conversation doesn’t always require immediate responses.

7.  Mail packages.

Receiving little gifts are a sweet reminder that you were thinking of your friend.  Even a card is a token of friendship.  It is literally giving a piece of your world to them.  It doesn’t have to be much or even sentimental.  When there is a distance between friends, you lose the physical part of your friendship.  Gifts keep that part intact.

travel, visit, friend, long-distance, friendship8.  Visit.

As much as possible, whenever possible.  It might be once a year.  It might be for only a couple of hours.  If you’ve done a good job of staying in touch through the months, it will seem like nothing has changed.

 

Good friends are hard to find.  They are worth the effort to keep.

What’s the hardest part of keeping a long-distance friendship alive?  Do you have any tips?  Leave a comment.

 

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Which Animal Language Do You Speak?

5 love languages, five, gary chapman, words of affirmation, physical touch, giving gifts, quality time, acts of service

5 love languages, five, gary chapman, words of affirmation, physical touch, giving gifts, quality time, acts of service

What do you have in common with puppies, cats, canaries, and goldfish?

Love.  Sweet love.

You may be familiar with Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages where he outlines five basic ways people feel and show love.  He explains that in order to communicate love with our spouse or our children effectively, it’s important to know their love language.  Then we can be sure that when we love them, they feel loved.

Author Andy Andrews writes in his book, The Noticer, that four of these five love languages have animal metaphors.  The way these animals react to human interactions helps us understand the way people interpret the different ways we show love to each other.

Puppy - Words of Affirmation

1. Puppy – Words of Affirmation

Words carry a lot of weight.  They can be heard for a lifetime.  Good words and harsh words.  They can make or break our day and our dreams.

Puppies speak this love language.  When you call Puppy, your tone changes.  It’s light and higher.  Puppy goes crazy over it.  He doesn’t just wag his tail, but his whole body wags.  He’s so excited to hear your voice.

When you train Puppy you use positive reinforcements.  You say things like, “Good boy!” He will do the same trick over and over just to hear your words.

Puppy is also devastated by harsh words and an angry tone.  He will tuck his tail and hide in a corner.  His world becomes a scary place.

Some people speak the language of Words of Affirmation.  They respond to compliments and verbal support.  They will work tirelessly and serve diligently just to hear those words of appreciation.  They don’t need gifts of money or badges of honor, just a kind word or compliment.

People who speak Words of Affirmation will cower to criticism.  Even if it was meant to help.  Tone of voice means everything to someone with this love language.  Harsh or cool demands make this person feel utterly unloved and alone in the world.

Cat - Physical Touch

2. Cat – Physical Touch

A body is made with the purpose to touch and be touched.  We have many senses that can be stimulated just by physical contact.  These senses tell our brain if something is warm or cold, soft of hard, pleasing or painful.

Cats speak and feel affection entirely with physical touch.  Cat doesn’t need someone to care for her.  She can take care of herself.  She spends hours bathing herself and when she’s hungry, she can hunt to feed herself.  Cat doesn’t care what you say to her or how you say it.  Don’t call her.  She probably won’t come.

Cat wants to be touched.  She wants to be scratched under the chin and rubbed behind the ears.  She leans into a long stroke down her back and starts to purr.  In return, she rubs her face against you.  Touch means everything to Cat.  She receives it and gives it back.

If Cat has been abused by touch, she will never allow herself to be touched again.  She’ll hiss and lash out with her claws.  Causing pain in return with her touch.  It will take a lot of time and gentle effort to repair the damage that abuse has caused.

People who speak the love language of Physical Touch feel loved when they have physical contact with others.  In a marriage relationship it might be sexual in nature but it doesn’t have to be entirely.  A meaningful touch could be as simple as a kiss when arriving home, holding hands while walking to the car, or putting a hand on a knee while watching a movie.

The physical touch speakers need consistent (not necessarily constant) touch to feel loved.  It doesn’t really matter what is said as long as they feel the assurance of touch.  Even in the midst of a conflict, they’ll feel secure and loved when touch is involved.

When touch is withdrawn or used in an abusive way, people with the physical touch language will recoil and even lash out in very unloving ways.  They may intentionally use cutting words toward the object of their love as repayment for the hurt they feel inside.  They will withdraw emotionally to keep from being hurt again.

Canary - Quality Time

3. Canary – Quality Time

Togetherness is an important show of affection.  When we’re dating we spend every possible moment with our partner.  Sometimes, if we can’t be physically together, it’s enough just to hear the other person breathe into the phone.

Canaries are timid creatures.  They don’t require sweet words.  They don’t notice when they’re fed.  They don’t even seem to appreciate a clean cage.  Canaries certainly don’t need to be touched.  They only have a song to sing.

Canary needs someone to sit near his cage and listen to his little tune.  He can become very lonely when isolated.  His one desire is for someone to be there to listen and appreciate that he’s a living creature.

People who speak the Quality Time love language need the presence of another human more than anything.  They don’t need you to say anything.  Just be there.  They don’t need you to fix anything.  Just be there.  They feel loved when they are with the people they love no matter what the activity.  Being in the same room is enough.

When quality time is not spent together, these language speakers can dive quickly into depression.  Nothing makes them feel more unloved and isolated than by being left alone.  Especially in times of importance… times of struggle, times of celebration, times of emotional stress. If you’re with someone like this during hard times, the most important thing you can do for them in is just be there.

Goldfish - Acts of Service Gift Giving

4. Goldfish – Acts of Service

When we serve others, we are putting their needs ahead of ours.  This act shows that we value that other person and want to give of ourselves to help them.

A goldfish is perfectly content in its bowl whether it has company or not.  A goldfish doesn’t need you to talk to it or pet it.  The only thing that gets a goldfish’s attention is when you feed it.

Goldie responds to what you do for her.  She will swim to the surface when you feed her.  She feels cared for by the things you give her.  Without the gift of food and the act of feeding her, she will soon perish.

Those who speak the Acts of Service love language feel cared for when others do deeds to help them.  Anything from helping with the dishes to washing the car shows they are loved.

(5. Giving Gifts)

The fifth love language of Giving Gifts may also fall under the Goldfish metaphor.  These people crave little gifts or tokens of love.  At first glance, you might think it shallow for someone to only feel loved when they receive gifts.  But when someone gives a gift, it says loudly they were thinking of the person who would receive it.  “It’s not the gift, but the thought that counts.”

People who speak Acts of Service or Giving Gifts love languages will feel neglected when not given a gift or some help from time to time.  They work hard for the people they love and are constantly giving of themselves.  So they feel most appreciated when their load is lightened by someone who cares.

Cat and Dog

Balance and learn a second language.

We all love when others are speaking our love language.  But we will also benefit from the other languages.  A relationship of all words and no touch would be out of balance.  We need both.

We can also be harmed by the lack or misuse of the other languages.  Harsh words, isolation, physical abuse and neglect are hurtful to us all.

In order to have healthy relationships with those we love and to avoid accidentally harming them, we need to find out what love language they speak.   You can usually figure it out by watching how they love and care for you.  That’s how they need to be loved in return.  It might not be your love language.  But it’s worth trying to speak it to them.

Take the time to learn a second love language.  Watch the spark of realization when you start speaking the same language.  You will love well and be well loved.  And, hey,  you just might start a fire again.

 

What’s your love language?  Does your spouse speak a different language? Share your insights in the comments.

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14 Valentine Gifts From The Heart

valentine gift him her unique love

valentine gift him her

Valentine’s Day is just a few days away.  Love is in the air.  Guys are starting to panic.

Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate being together with the people you love.  Yes, I said people.  Because Valentine’s Day shouldn’t exclude those without a “significant other.”  However, if you do have a spouse or lover, by all means, take advantage of this special day of togetherness. (wink, wink)

When it comes to getting a Valentine gift, it should to be something that celebrates the uniqueness of your relationship.  Anyone can buy jewelry or a bouquet of flowers.  Come on.  Think a little harder.  Put some heart into it.  (Puns are so easy sometimes.)

 

1. Something homemade.

Are you handy at something?  What’s your special talent?  Can you build a trinket box?  How about knitting a scarf?  Something that you made with your own hands shows that you’re willing to use your talents and time for your partner.  They know that all the time you spent working on the gift was time you spent thinking of them.  Awwwe!

Valentine's Dinner

2. Home-cooked dinner and clean-up.

This is especially an awesome gift for a busy mom. Pick a day that you know is particularly stressful for her, offer to make dinner for her and the kids AND do all the clean up afterwards.  It takes a load off her mind and allows her to relax.  That is, of course, if you don’t burn the food or the kitchen.  If you can’t cook, you could give her a gift card to a family restaurant.

3. A c.d. of love songs.

Not any love songs.  The songs that are special to you.  You’re first dance song.  The song that was “your song” when you were dating.  The songs from your wedding.  Love songs from your favorite artists.  Songs from your favorite genres.  This is not a c.d. that you could buy.  This is special just for the two of you.

4.  Book of poetry.

Now if you can write your own poetry, that’s boss.  But if you’re not the poet, pick up a book of sonnets.  Shakespeare, Walt Whitman, Maya Angelou, W.B. Yeats, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  And here’s a hint.  Something pocket sized is very endearing.

First Date

5. Reenact your first date.

Go back to the same restaurant.  Watch the same movie.  Remember how nervous you were?  See how much of the date you can remember together.  One memory leads to another.  You’ll find lots to laugh about.

6.  Find a photo booth at the mall.

Be silly together.  Do duck lips.  Go glamour.  Show some ‘tude.  You already now how awesome you are.  Show it off.

7. Custom photo cell phone cases.

You can order cell phone cases with a picture of you together on it.  Or get one for him with her picture and one for her with his picture.  These are available just about anywhere that prints photos.

Jazz Band

8.  Tickets to an event.

Do you like the theater?  Orchestral music? The ballet?  Basketball?  Bare Naked Ladies? (The band. Obviously.)  Go together and make some special memories.  Don’t forget to take lots of selfies and post them all over FB and Instagram.

Prinstagram, photo, album

9.  Photo album or book.

Put together an album of pictures of just the two of you.  In a day of digital media, people just don’t have very many physical pictures.  This is an awesome keepsake.  You could also go to Printstagram and order a bound book with your special pictures from your Instagram account.

10.  A unique craft.

You can find all kinds of unique gifts at a craft fair or on etsy.  Find a one-of-a-kind necklace.  Have a wall hanging customized for the two of you.  How about an ostrich egg with your names painted on it?  Seriously.  I have one.  I love it!

Antique

11.  An antique.

Some china or crystal or even a first edition book.  Something that has stood the test of time and is still just as beautiful.  Let it be a symbol of your relationship getting stronger and more beautiful through the years.

12.  Special desert of treat.

Does she love coffee?  Does he like cheesecake?  Make it extra special.  Go gourmet.  I love whoopie pies.  The best I’ve ever had are the little gourmet whoopie pies dipped in chocolate.  Mmm-mmm.  Taste the love.

52 Things I Love About You Book (made with playing cards)  - DIY Valentines Day Projects

13.  “Why I Love You” list.

Create the playing card book above.  52 cards and 52 reasons.  Or fill a mason jar with little rolls of paper.  Write a reason for your affection on each one.  Remember to include all the little things you find so lovely.  Like, “that little noise you make when you sleep.”

flower bouquet him

14. Flowers, card, and chocolate.

Don’t think I’m letting you off on this one.  Sure it’s typical.  But you can make it special.  Make your own card or find one on etsy.  Pick out the most unique or exotic bouquet of flowers. The best chocolates.  Or maybe a tiny jar of chocolate sauce and a spoon.  Make it personal.   And besides, what girl doesn’t like flowers and chocolate?

 

I hope you can spend your Valentine’s Day with the people you love the most!  That’s the best gift.

 

What was the best Valentine’s gift you’ve ever received?  Share in the comments.

 

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Simple Ways To Invest In Others

community, help, invest, talent, ability, work, together

invest, friends, work, together, ability, talent

 

We need each other.

It’s pretty easy to get focused on ourselves in life.  We’re intent on getting the best out of everything.  We’re going to live the high life and do what it takes to take care of me and mine.  And that’s okay.  But don’t forget that to get the best requires tapping into the abilities and talents of others.

I can’t take care of everything by myself.  I can’t fix my car, I’m not a mechanic.  I can’t rewire my house, I’m not an electrician.  I can’t plow the snow out of my own yard, I don’t have a snowplow.

I don’t have the knowledge, tools, or the motivation to do any of those things.  However, there are other people that can do those things.  They have the knowledge.  They obtained the knowledge for the purpose of helping others.  Some may have the right tools and are waiting for someone to ask for their help.

 

We all have different talents and abilities.

I, personally, don’t have a talent for making small talk in a crowd of strangers.  I feel awkward, stumble on my words, look for a place to hide, and generally make it uncomfortable for everyone involved.

I have a friend that lives for talking.  We make a good team.  She makes the small talk, learns everyone’s name and makes the introductions.  Once past that initial breaking of the ice, I’m ready to join the conversation.  When the topic turns philosophical, my friend finds someone else to chat with while I’m in my glory.

 

Be an encouraging friend.  

It’s so important that we encourage those around us to tap into their natural talents and abilities.  To work on them, practice them, and grow.  We all make up a community and have the same goal, individually and collectively.  To win.  I want helpful people in my corner.

Take time to foster relationships with a variety of people.  You never know when you might need the very talent they have.  And they may just be waiting for someone to ask them for some help.

Think about it.  It’s a pretty awesome feeling to win a race.  But it’s more exciting to play as a team and your team wins.  Then you have others to celebrate with.

Investing in others around you doesn’t have to be hard.  It only takes a little time and an honest effort.

1. Compliment them on their talent.  

We often discredit our own talents.  Complimenting someone on their talent helps them to see that it is an area where they excel.  It’s also something that is unique to them and is needed by others.  Everyone wants to be needed.

2. Ask them to help you with a project that needs their talent.

By putting their talent to use, you are showing them how much it’s needed.  It gives them a chance to practice what they know and help someone in the process.

3. Always believe they are more capable with their talent then they think. 

We all need a little push now and then.  It’s not easy to move beyond our comfort zone.  But when there is someone who truly believes in our capabilities we are more willing to stretch.  That’s how we grow.

4. Offer a book or website that deals in developing their talent.

A talent that doesn’t grow is a talent that stagnates and atrophies.  Ever hear someone say they’re “a little rusty” in an area.  It’s time to sand the rust off and hone those skills.

5. If they lack in an area, offer the name of someone who is a natural to help them.

As a community, we are all here to help each other.  It’s about give and take.  We don’t have to be good at everything.  We just need to know where the resources are.

6. Don’t be stingy with your talent.  Offer it to them in some way.  

Show someone that you’re willing to use your talent to help others.  Be an example of encouragement and support.  Let others know that your talents are available to those around you.  Everyone’s a winner when everyone shares.

 

Create a community around you that can help you win.  Contribute your talents and your encouragement.  An investment in others is an investment in yourself.

How have you invested in someone else? I’d love to hear your comment.

 

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Benefits of Saying Thank-You

Benefits of Saying Thank-You

I’ve often thought about sending out more thank-you notes.  Just to show some appreciation for others around me.  To say, “Hey, I want you to know your hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed.  I appreciate you!”

For some reason though, I’ve never really got around to it?  I think I’ve finally figured out why.  I’m scared.

  • It’s humbling.  I’m admitting that I was lacking in some area and the help I received from this person was needful.  That’s okay.  Come down off your pedestal.  We all need help now and then.
  • It makes me vulnerable. Because it brings out real human emotion.  Opening up to someone else in authentic human interaction also opens you up to criticism.  Which is, of course, an irrational fear.  I mean, really?  Who is going to criticize you for appreciating them?  I’m an introvert.  It’s a constant fear.  Irrational and constant. But not impossible to overcome.
  • My motivation will be questioned.  Won’t they think I’m trying to butter them up so I can ask for some huge favor?  Not entirely.  Although that isn’t my main motivation, it does play a part.  I want to be surrounded by helpful people.  I want wisdom and talent on my side.  Even if it comes from others.

Looking my fears in the face makes them seem so much smaller.  I’ve laid out some of the benefits that I would gain by simply saying “thank-you” to people that have been there for me in some way.

 

 5 Benefits of Saying Thank-You

1.  It draws people in.

By opening yourself up to others, you widen your personal sphere.  You allow others access to a piece of your life.  That can be a very good thing because you may need to draw on the strength and talents of others sometime in the future.  It’s easier to ask for help from someone who is in your personal sphere of influence.

2.  You gain credibility in others’ lives.

If you can show appreciation for good work, than you must know what good work looks like.  That also means you have more room to offer insight to help someone improve their skills.  Criticism should always be sandwiched between compliments.

3.  It boosts others’ confidence.

Think about it.  By saying thank-you, you just gave a compliment.  You’re saying that whatever the other person did was worthy of appreciation.

I don’t keep birthday cards, but I do keep thank you notes.  Not “thanks for the gift cards,” but thanks for your hard work, thanks for your help, thanks for your support, thanks for being a friend, type cards.  It’s a reminder that something I did made a difference to someone else.

4.  It makes others feel worthwhile.

Maybe the motivation behind what they did was only obligation or expectation.  You just took a meaningless activity (to them), and turned it into a feather in their cap.  They didn’t expect recognition, but receiving it is a blue ribbon.

5.  It builds a support team.

By saying thank-you, you’re putting helpful people in your corner.  You become a person who is easy to help because everyone wants to be appreciated.

 

Do you know who it’s easy to do things for?  Thankful people.  Become one.  Say thank-you to someone who has done something small for you.  Reap the benefits.

BTW/ I sent out 3 thank you cards this week.  Guess what I got back?  “Thanks for the card! It meant so much to me.”

High five, Me!

 

What’s you’re favorite way to say thank-you?  Text? E-mail? Card?  Leave a comment!

 

 

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