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*     Pass IT on very carefully, especially to young people.

Do you know what IT is and are you passing it on? IT was passed on to you when you were a kid; and now it’s your turn. The youngster may live at your house, deliver your paper, be playing across the street, or just walk by; but pass IT on you do.

Is IT warm and gentle, friendly and accepting? If so, IT feels like acceptance and being valued, inclusion and being important. If IT’s cold and indifferent, detached and suspicious, IT feels like¼; well, you know how IT feels.

*     Give more emphasis to being a better model for kids than to molding them.

As you pass IT on, remember you are the model. To be a great model, you walk the walk, talk the talk, have all the right moves, and amaze your fans. If you have kids or hang-around with someone who does, you have already got an enthusiastic following; and follow you they do.

Given time, they will walk your walk, talk your talk, and your moves will be theirs. You are the model and they are your work-in-progress.

*     Take care of your stuff.

There is stuff others expect you to do, stuff you are responsible for, and stuff unexpectedly coming up from time-to-time only you can handle. If you are too busy, too tired, or over-committed elsewhere to attend to your stuff, don’t expect much from your family and don’t be surprised if they aren’t there for you when you need them.

*     Mom isn’t conveniently in the next room, ready to clean up your tooth paste or any other messes you make.

How I got the tooth paste all over me and my new shirt doesn’t matter anymore; but even at six, I knew I couldn’t get it back into the tube before my mother¼. Call my dilemma The Toothpaste Principle. It also applies to harsh words, bad decisions, little things getting out of hand, and a lot of other opportunities coming and going, not to return. You can’t undo what is already done; and it’s no longer your mother you have to account to.

*     Taking the first step with people who are special to you best serves your interests.

Think about someone special to you with whom you aren’t getting along very well. Now, consider taking personal responsibility for your side of the relationship. You do this by being interested in and valuing the other person’s ideas, point of view, and activities.

Listen to what the other person has to say, ask questions about what they have been doing, find out what is important to them, and remember what they have shared with you. You are making it easier for them to have a better relationship with you.

*     When people share their troubles, listen to the feelings, offer a little empathy, and follow up with tangible help.

Listen to the feelings instead of only hearing the words. For example, “I’m about to lose it, going to school, my job, the kids, and everything.”

Responding only to the words, you might say, “If I were you, I’d¼.” The exact advice doesn’t matter, since you likely wouldn’t appreciate or follow the same advice anyway, especially if it came from someone else.

Instead, you respond to the feelings, “That’s rough; but I am helping you.”

*     Don’t repeat what you hear about other people; don’t repeat personal things others tell you about themselves; and only share private matters with people who have proven themselves to be trustworthy.

When you listen to other people’s feelings and share yours with them, there is a secret the truly trustworthy take for granted. They simply assume little people talk about other people, medium-size people talk about things, and the big-guys talk about ideas. Ben Franklin or some other certified big-guy probably said that first; but once little people have let the cat out of the bag, even Ben himself couldn’t put it back. Let this serve as a wake-up call warning you to never be the one who frees the cat.

*     Within the loving touch, life is at its fullest reality.

There are private matters and then there are private matters; and the loving touch certainly qualifies as a private matter coming in many flavors. A sentimental card or candy in a pretty box may be today’s flavor as may be an expensive present or a warm embrace. Flowers and a romantic dinner may at times work as well. Whatever form it takes, the loving touch means it’s an uncommon moment, a moment for special friends and lovers.

But alas, the cards are read and the candy eaten, expensive presents discarded and sincere words forgotten. In time the flowers wilt and the romantic dinner is but yesterday’s fond memory. Something more is needed: a loving touch not to fade, not to be forgotten. This touch lasts longer than the day and keeps reminding, keeps saying, “I love you.”

This spirit is hard to capture in a well-intended gift or simple verse. It isn’t found in things you touch and hold. Rather, the spirit of the loving touch is in the bond between friends, within the tie that binds. It is hard to define but impossible to miss.

*     To give the loving touch that lasts, the kind that keeps saying, “I love you,” fill it with added value lasting far beyond the moment.

What are the extras making the loving touch linger past the moment? The added value includes affection any time your beloved needs a hug; and just as your beloved accepts you, warts and all, it’s a two-way-street; but there also are ingredients far less adult, far less mature. They are playful and gentle, spontaneous and mischievous. They are full of fun and good times, private games and warm summer evenings. These ingredients are for you and your beloved and for all the little kids like you who have to sometimes act your age, be adults, take care of business, and do what you have to do as best you can.

*     Your saying, “I love you,” means you can be entrusted with the key to your beloved’s heart.

The tie that binds is more than the entwining of lover and beloved. Being friends and being partners are equally important ingredients in the glue forming the bond.

Think of your relationship as a triangle with lovers, friends, and partners as its sides. Love, then,  is the force binding the sides together, the key to richness and risk, danger and opportunity; and you are the guardian of the key.

*     If your friendship’s going down the tube isn’t anyone’s fault, then nurturing your friendship wasn’t anyone’s responsibility.

What happened? You used to be happy, knew what kind of reactions you were going to get from each other and how things would go. Your world wasn’t always rosy; but the two of you could handle it.

When things weren’t going well, you talked about it. You worked it out; but lately both of you are tied up in knots. You are always on edge; and you could cut the tension with a knife. Any more, you don’t even go through the motions of caring about each other’s feelings or acting like you care what is being said. It’s just one of those things.

*     When either of you gives up on your partnership, that is all she wrote, as they say.

Your partnership is a shared responsibility and can quickly go down the tube; so what happened? You used to be great partners, would talk and decide together what was important, what your priorities were. You were always up-front with each other about what you thought about things and were open to the other’s ideas and opinions. You didn’t always agree but it worked.

If there were problems, you worked them out and didn’t blame or accuse or threaten. You were a team, always found a solution you both could live with; but you were trying a little harder, gave a little more, and were more responsible than your partner. That wasn’t fair and is why you quit trying. Oh well, it’s just another one of those things.

*     When you feel the magic slipping away, concentrate more on being a better lover than on being loved better.

It may be all she wrote for your being lovers. You know how it goes. It’s just one of those things. Sure, it used to be magic. You and your lover each knew what the other wanted, how to scratch the itch, so to speak. Love making was passion at its best and most intense. You were considerate of each other’s feelings, each other’s needs. No one was in charge, no one gave more or got less. It wasn’t that kind of thing anyway. It was magic and you took turns being the magician; but one thing lead to another and then to another and it was gone; but now you finally get it, even if a bit late. Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, love is in the heart of the one who is loved.

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