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Advice4Life Take 2: Take Your Wife on a Vacation NOW!

baggageWhen’s the last time you and your spouse went away together? Now I’m not talking about a quick date night to the local pizza parlor, but actually hopped in the car and drove off to a distant land?

Some people see vacation as a luxury, but I see vacation as a NECESSITY. Especially if it’s the chance to go somewhere with your significant other. The reason is simple, in order to thrive you must be continuously stimulated and you can’t be stimulated if you’re looking at the same things day in and day out. So in order to thrive in your relationship, you have to occasionally change your environment!

Magic tends to happen when you decide to go on vacation. Here are the Top 3 moments you can take away from the experience:

  1. You get a chance to say what’s in your heart in a new environment… people tend to be more open and honest in unfamiliar surroundings
  2. You get the chance to get away from things that cause your relationship to not be your focal point… your relationship should be the priority and not seen as an interruption
  3. You’re given the opportunity to refresh and restart with contentment… food and drinks are abundant, the weather is perfect… you and your significant other can’t possibly find something to argue about

So if you feel like you’re stuck in a place of discontent, if you’re at each other’s throats, if you’re finding it hard to be an active member in the relationship… pack yours and your spouse’s things and vacate! Leave it all behind to focus on the future.

For more tips like this, listen to #Advice4Life’s podcast here.

What to do When You’re “In Your Feelings”

caught in web

We’ve all been there, we’ve all been so caught up in our emotions that our actions aren’t slow to follow. Sometimes we’ve gotten so upset that we throw things, yell at the top of our lungs, or worse… hurt someone we love. And sometimes when the dust has settled, we believe that we were in the right to act in such a way, using our feelings to justify our actions. But if you’re tired of that ceaseless cycle, there IS something YOU can do. Get yourself “out” of your feelings.

It may be easier said than done, but everything comes easier with a little bit of practice! First, we need to learn the difference between feelings and thoughts. Feelings and thoughts are closely related, but they are not one in the same. If you are confused about the difference, think about it this way: a thought is the rambling sentence that runs through your head while you try to sort out what you’re feeling. The actual feeling is only ONE word. I feel hurt. I feel sad. I feel disappointed. Those are your feelings, but people seem to confuse the two a lot. So when you think you’re “in your feelings”, you’re actually “in your thoughts”. Once you’re able to know the difference, figure out what you’re feeling and say it. Say it in your head, say it out loud. But when you say it, own it. This is where you will get your power.

When you say what you’re feeling, it’s not only a revelation to the other person, but it’s also a revelation to you. Amidst anger, you may have not realized you were hurt. Amidst annoyance, you may not have realized you were disappointed. Once you have this revelation, there’s so much more that you can do. So while you’re in the hole that we now know are our thoughts and not our feelings, we can start the climb out. Start this climb by engaging the other person in dialogue. Share how you feel, but also take the time to learn how they feel. But make sure you both slow down. Slowing the conversation down helps you really think about what’s going on with you and how you got to the position you’re in right now.

While we’re climbing out, it’s important to remember just how distorted feelings can be. Our thoughts will combine with what we’re feeling and we’re given a jolt to act immediately. When you slow down the conversation, you’re not only giving yourself time to govern yourself, but the other person is also given the opportunity to make decisions in a timely manner. Also remember that your feelings do not reflect the reality of the situation, but that they are personal only to you. In other words, your reality of what happened may be very different than the reality of the other person. Be able to sift through your thoughts and feelings and extract what is valuable in this situation. Maybe it’s a lesson learned, maybe you’ve learned something new about your self or your partner.

Any time you’re caught “in your feelings”, it’s important to remember that emotions are always fleeting… happiness, sadness, anger, fear… they all come and go. What will always remain is love.

Watch #Advice4Life sessions here.

A Gift to Remember


A few years ago, I visited my grandmother one afternoon after she had taken a weekend trip to New York. After asking her how her trip had been, hearing about how my family was doing in that neck of the woods, and just an overall report on New York itself, she  proceeded to reach over to her night stand and handed me a small container, about the size of my palm and in the shape of a guitar. Elvis’s face was painted on and Hard Rock Café’s logo was scrawled across the front. “Do you like this?” she asked me. I nodded and held my hand out to receive her gift. A pack of mints. That pack of mints still sits on my bedside table, plastic sealing still in tact to this day. Boy, did I hold on to those mints like they were diamonds.

Isn’t it special when someone gives you a gift? There’s even a specific love language for it: receiving gifts. But people whose love language it is to receive gifts are getting a bad rep. Sometimes others think that they’re being superficial and materialistic. But the gifts that this group receives aren’t really about the item itself. It’s not that I’m holding on to those mints for a special occasion or I think there’s a hidden prize inside, but that simple item had so much meaning behind it. My grandmother has over 20 grandchildren, but only 1 pack of mints, and she gave it to me. To ME!

When you come across someone whose love language is receiving gifts there’s one important thing to remember: be thoughtful. Have joy when you are giving this person a gift and they will have joy upon receiving it. After all, they have just as much joy giving as well. A tangible sign of “I love you” goes a long way, even if it’s something like a flower picked off the ground. They see it and they know, “this is mine because you loved me enough to give it to me.”

See, people who enjoy receiving gifts aren’t looking for expensive jewelry or an outrageous car; they are looking to see the heartfelt action. They need to see things to know you care. Having that tangible item in their possession, that tangible sign of your affection,  will give them a feeling that will last for years to come.

So if you see something across your path today that reminds you of your loved one, if it brings you as much joy as your loved one does, give it to them. You never know what kind of impact it can make.

Learn more on Advice4Life by clicking here.

Learn to Fly


Imagine you’re flying a plane. Now imagine you’re trying to land the plane. Regardless of whether or not you’ve ever flown a plane, there are some very basic things you need: direction and a place to land. That’s kind of how Family Strengthening and Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages work together for relationships… they’re directions and a place to land.

The Family Strengthening principles, also known as the lessons put forth by Al Laws Jr. and Advice4Life  help couples navigate through the trials and tribulations of any relationship. Gary Chapman introduced The 5 Love Languages in order to create an environment for couples that both people in the relationship feel safe and supported. When couples use both together, the flight may not be easy, but at least you’ll always know where you’re going.

There are 5 love languages – Touch, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and receiving gifts. The idea behind these love languages is to understand what yours and your significant other’s love language is and use them to express love to one another. While these constructs are easy to remember, getting to these places take a little more work. That’s where the lessons from Family Strengthening and Advice4Life come into play.

Let’s say your partner’s love language is quality time. However, you’ve been pulled into a million different directions at your job and you can’t help but spend more time at the office. You’re caught in the in between because your spouse feeling neglected and their love tank being on empty and keeping afloat in your professional life, creating a comfortable life for you and your family. The pressure is on, that plane is flying, what do you do?

You know where you want to go, but how do you get there? Family Strengthening will first teach you to identify what you’re feeling and be open and honest about it. The skills give a step by step process on how to communicate and share feelings in a healthy and non-combative way. This map is what will get you to your end goal… the love language. By communicating your thoughts, your position and having an exchange on ways to help alleviate the situation, your partner is now able to understand where you are, where you are coming from and you can work together to get to the solution for spending more time together – the love language.

This is just one example of the various ways you can use Family Strengthening in conjunction with the 5 Love Languages. While using one is a helpful tool in building and maintaining a relationship, the two together are a powerful entity in the preservation of friendships, marriages, and family bonds. So go ahead, learn to fly.

Watch the past #Advice4Life session here.

To learn more about the 5 Love Languages, click here.



You Get What You Pay For


Everyone says they want quality. Everyone wants to get quality. But does everyone know how and what to do to achieve quality? When you go to a show, you take time to scour a seating map to get the best view. When you buy a product online, you take time to read the reviews to make sure the product will meet all of your expectations. When you buy a house, you take time to tour and ask questions to ensure you’re making the best possible investment.

So what do you do when you want a quality relationship? You spend quality time.

There’s a certain amount of investment that you have to do when you want something of quality and our relationships are no different. While that investment may not be monetary, we make this exchange in the form of time and our effort. In other words, the best way to measure if your time is quality is if you  can come out of it being able to answer a few questions: How is that person’s heart? How is their mind? What do they need? What is this person made of? When you are investing time in a person, you are ensuring that you get the best of them… it only makes sense since you’re giving the best of you – your time, your attention, and your effort.

When you pay only half of your attention, you can’t expect to glean the most of a quality time situation. You can’t expect to get to know someone’s true self or become any closer if you aren’t willing to make the best investment. So today, think about getting what you pay for… and think about what you’re willing to pay for the best.

Watch past Advice4Life sessions on your new YouTube page here.

Great Expectations


We all have them… expectations.

As a public relations professional, I’ve been trained to deal a lot with images. So let’s think about the images we have of certain people. What’s the ideal image for a mother? What’s the ideal image for a husband? What’s the ideal image for ourselves?

While we conjure these thoughts in our heads, something’s occurred that we may not have even noticed. We’ve created expectations. Now it’s up to us to decipher if they’re realistic or not. Realistic expectations start with you taking those images of those individuals… and throwing them away. While there is nothing wrong with having expectations, we mustn’t live our lives being “expect-ors”.  That is, if we go through our lives expecting things from people… friends, family, coworkers… we’re in for a lot of disappointment. But not because people are awful… it’s because people are HUMAN. We fall short! Instead, cut right down to the very core of the person, so that we may see someone as who they really are – not what we want, hope, or expect them to be.

Now what do you want for that person and for your relationship with them? How can you help facilitate what you are expecting? When you find yourself in a situation where you’re expecting something from another person, turn that into INspection. What is going on within YOU? What are your needs? What are your own capabilities? Can you do what you’re expecting another person to do, yourself? This time of inspection leads to a more realistic point of view… a more realistic expectation.

Realistic expectations are born from healthy communication and clear vision. Once we put aside false ideals and start living in reality, our expectations of others will follow suit. So before you start thinking your partner should be able to read your mind, or before you start thinking that your partner should automatically do this or that, or before you start thinking that your mother and father should be this way or that… take some time to review and figure out if what your expecting is coming from reality or pure imagination.

Listen to the Advice4Life podcast here.

Relationships Aren’t Always 50/50… and That’s Okay!


How many of us heard that relationships are 50/50? That’s what makes a relationship successful, right? But what if I told you that that’s not the case. When we are in a relationship with another person, we are called to love as God loves… not just 50/50, but wholly. Not just on some days, but every day. Not just when you are in love, but on the days when it feels like you can’t even look at one another. That is how God loves us, and that’s how we must love others.

If you want your relationship to be 50/50… that means someone’s counting. And if someone’s counting, you’re not giving yourself freely. Will you only be kind when you’re met with kindness? Will you only be generous when you’re met with generosity? If that’s what your aiming to do, what credit is that to you?

What thankfulness or humility do you gain from being nice to the people who are nice to you, to love those who love you. What strength does it take for you to respond to that person in that way? It takes a certain amount of character and power to emit love in times when it’s the hardest. It takes character and power to hold your tongue and be humble in arguments. It takes character and power to sow patience in times of struggle.

But remember this: every time we are faced with a difficult situation, especially with our partner, it is God grooming us to be in His image. Because if we can’t love who’s right in front of us, how can we love someone we can’t even see? If we give ourselves fully to another person, despite the selfishness or fear that is naturally in our hearts, we are taking the necessary steps to get closer to God.

So let’s practice giving our whole selves into our relationship. Our whole time. Our whole attention. Our whole trust. And our whole heart.

Listen to the podcast here.

Learn more about Advice4Life here.



The Struggle with Forgiveness


A few weeks ago we talked about how we as human beings tend to hold on to the things that hurt us. It’s so easy for us to cling to those things as though they are our memories, but really, we tend to hold on because the difficult thing to do is to forgive.

Forgiveness is something that we all want but somehow we all struggle to give it ourselves. How is that possible? Well, when we’ve been hurt it’s our first instinct to protect ourselves so as not to repeat history. What we believe is the fool proof way to protect ourselves is to remember each and every offense and make it our case against the other person. It’s like we have things stored in our back pockets ready for the right moment. But what would life be like if everyone operated in that way? If everyone just constantly chose to stay angry or upset?

Let’s think about the times we’ve made mistakes, fallen short, or disappointed someone. Did we want that person to hold it over our heads, reminding us day in and day out of our shortcomings and what we did wrong? Well ,if you’re in a relationship like that, it’s time to think long and hard about what you’re doing because I would want someone to not just overlook my transgressions, but acknowledge that I am trying to be a better person. And since that’s how I would want to be treated, how should I expect to approach another person who has probably made all the same mistakes that I have?

Holding on to past hurt creates baggage in any relationship. This baggage has the potential to weigh you and your partner down so low that it’s no longer love that you manifest but something so much darker.

When you find yourself in a position where you want to point fingers,where you want to fight, where you want to blame, YOU have been fooled. Anger will never get you what you really want. Yes, you get fuel from anger… but you get freedom from forgiveness. The moment you choose to forgive, the baggage falls off and the weight will melt away. No matter how hurt you are, don’t let it kill your ability to love… because in the end, love is where the real power is.

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Choose Light. Serve Light.


Raise your hand if you are addicted to pain. The truth is, most of us are. Maybe not physical, but definitely emotional. As human beings, we are much more likely to hold on to what hurts us – painful memories, a painful past. We hold on to the things that we should be releasing.

We find pain so alluring because in a way we feel it gives us the excuse to treat anyone any way we want. But pain clouds all judgement and takes us further from who we were meant to be. One of the most painful experiences is becoming aware of our failings or shortcomings. So often, we think we are projecting to other people that we have everything together. We just want to be perfect. We just want to be good enough. It hurts when the times comes that we realize we are not. And that realization comes with a pain that we don’t want to host. We don’t want to host pain so what we are most likely to do is project blame on another person, another thing, or another  circumstance.

But you can choose not to blame. You can choose not to fight. You can choose to live in light.

Family Strengthening teaches us that although we are imperfect beings, seeing ourselves as such doesn’t have to be so hurtful. When you look in the mirror, you can choose to accept whoever you see – blemishes and all. And once we open our eyes to our true selves and our true process, we can move forward in making the adjustments we need to be better people – for ourselves and the ones we love. We can choose to accept that our shortcomings are no one else’s but our own. Our imperfections weren’t brought on by any other person or thing, but of our own hand.So will you choose to stay in darkness? Or will you choose the light?

The moment we recognize that we had control all along, we immediately have the power to change. We have the power to be more positive. We have the power to be more loving. We have the power to be more understanding. The beauty in living up to our own choices is that the power to change our situation has been inside us all this time!  All we have to do is keep our eye on the prize – our ultimate goal of who we want to be in this world and who God wants us to be. Once we know our purpose, all of our decisions have a clear and direct guide as to where they should go. In the end, we realize that we are good enough all along.

Listen to the Advice4Life podcast here.

Commitment: Not Just a Choice, but a Way of Life

houseLet’s say you build a house. Inside you have everything you hold so dear – your possessions, your family, your pets. But a storm comes and washes your home away. What did you build your house on? Solid or shaky ground? That house held everything and everyone you loved, and in a flash it was gone. This is exactly how some of us choose to build our lives with other people. Hurriedly, shakily, insubstantially. 

A new year calls for people to take a look at their commitment capabilities, whether it’s making a commitment to a weight loss goal or making a commitment to changing a bad habit. But what if we need to take a look at another commitment… the commitment to each other.

Sure when I say this, you’ll probably glance down at your hand, see a ring and think “That’s enough commitment right there.” But in reality, commitment can’t be summed up by an object, it is a choice you have to make each and every day. It started the very moment you began the relationship and it doesn’t only  occur when something pretty walks your way. No, the choice to commit is in how you choose to receive what your partner gives you, it’s in the choice of what you say to someone you love, most of all it’s what you choose to do in any tough situation.  Commitment is to stick with your partner through the good, the bad, and the inevitable ugly.

It’s so easy to say you’re committed to your partner when everything is just hunky dory, sunshine and butterflies. But how committed are you when you and your partner are going through your own storm? Will you let it all just wash away? What if he or she says something hurtful or does something offensive. Do you still choose them? Or do you  give up and walk away? This is the crossroad that you will face each and every day.

Relationships can’t be built on wavering ground; the foundation should be strong and steadfast. Yes, your partner will hurt you and it will probably feel worse than a friend or family member doing the same exact thing. But this is what comes with loving someone… being ready to withstand a certain level of discomfort or pain. In order to grow yourself and with someone else, there will be undoubtedly be aches and pains. You will learn so much more about each other  and much more about yourself when you decide to stick it out, and  when you make the commitment to see your relationship through, your bond becomes that much stronger and the things that will etch away at what you build will becomes weaker and weaker.

So when you’re working on building something, be as strong as what you hope the end result will be. Be steadfast, be unwavering, be committed. 

Listen to the Advice4Life podcast here.