Conditional Love

Yes, you read that correctly. I’m not talking about unconditional love. You know, the kind parents have for their children; or the love they’re supposed to have for their children.

The unconditional love we have for family, whether we agree with them or not, is what family has for one another. Or it’s what we’re supposed to have.

It’s not always easy. I daresay there are a lot of people who say they love their family, but they don’t like them. They don’t like their political or social views. They don’t like something they’ve said or done in the past. 

But most often, if someone asks about that family member they’ll say they love them, but they don’t really see them any more because they’ve had a “falling out” and they’re waiting for the other side to apologize. Which isn’t likely.

But then there are other times when family members decide they want nothing to do with other family members, simply because they won’t do what they want them to do. And because of that, they cut them off, refuse to see them or talk to them, because they won’t do what they want.

We’re talking adults here, not children. And we’re talking especially about parents and their children. Parents who try to control their children long after they’re grown, many times with children of their own, simply because they want them to do what they want, in return for their version of love.

That is not love. That’s control. And it does nothing but destroy family relationships. Parents insisting that their children, or grandchildren for that matter, do what they say or else, instills feelings of abandonment, resentment, loss of self esteem, or the inability to form lasting relationships with others. 

Why should they care about others, or why should others care about them, because if they do something wrong, something the other person doesn’t like, then that person or persons will discard them like a useless pile of trash.

That is what we call conditional love. “I love you as long as you go by my rules; if you don’t, then I don’t want you.”

And that is so far from love, I don’t even have words to describe it.

I’ve seen it in a number of natural or dating relationships in which one person attempts to force the other to do what they want, regardless of their partner’s feelings. That’s bad, and it’s a form of emotional abuse. Which no one should ever have to put up with.

But what about when it’s a parent or grandparent who acts that way to their children or grandchildren? That even worse. Parents and grandparents are supposed to love their children and grandchildren whether they agree with their decisions or not. They can give advice to those who are older, but making their love or acceptance contingent on doing certain things isn’t love.

It’s control, or conditional love, which can be taken away as quickly as it’s given. And it’s not healthy for either side of the spectrum.

I’ve seen this far too often in family relationships. And almost always it results in broken families, broken relationships, and children, cousins, nieces and nephews, or grandchildren being estranged or emotionally damaged because of no fault of their own.

Parents, grandparents, and other family members, this message is for you. If you’re doing this, stop

It. Look at it from the other point of view. How would you like to be treated that way? Or even more, if you were treated that way, how did it make you feel? 

And if you are honest with yourself in admitting such actions made you feel bad about yourself, why are you doing this same thing to people you’re supposed to love? Why are you continuing the cycle of emotional abuse?

Conditional love isn’t love. It’s control; a way of making you feel important by making others feel unimportant. And it gets you nowhere.

Parents, love your children. Treat them with respect and love. Guide them but teach them to make their own decisions. So they’ll be able to teach their children the same things.

Unconditional love is the key to those relationships. You cannot put a price tag on love. 

It’s not conditional.

Life Rules

If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. In fact, you’ll never even have a chance, because nothing is ever handed to you on a silver platter. No one is ever going to come up to you and say “You look like you deserve this……” and just give you something for nothing.

If you don’t ask, the answer will always be “no”. And you’ll forever wonder why you never get what you want. 

If you don’t step forward, you’ll always stay in the same place. And everyone else will end up in front of you. Because they stepped forward to accomplish what they wanted. 

If you always keep imagining yourself in another place, another job, another relationship, but you don’t do anything  to make it happen, it never will. Good things do come to those who wait, but you have to do your part to make them happen.

If you don’t follow these rules, you’re most likely going to miss out on what you’re waiting for.

So what are you waiting for?

Are You Leading By Example…or Something Else?








Self righteousness




Don’t do as I do…Do as I say

All of these behaviors do nothing to build someone up, to make them want to be a better person. Instead of leading by example, you’re making people feel worthless, incompetent, and destroying whatever self confidence they once had.

All because YOU want to be seen as a power figure, someone important. Someone who knows so much more than anyone else.

And why is that? Could it be that you’re really not all the confident and self assured? That you don’t want anyone to know you don’t have all the answers? That someone else may actually have a better solution for a problem than you?

Why do you always have to be right? Why do you always have to have the final word?

A true leader doesn’t need to resort to the tactics I mentioned in the beginning of this post. A true leader leads from strength, concern for others, and by listening to those around them, and letting others speak what they feel without fear of reprisal.

A true leader is respected, not feared. They don’t try to bully others into doing what they want.

And this is true in your personal relationships as well as business situations. While there should never be a “leader” in a relationship, since a relationship is a partnership, neither partner should try to make the other do something using any of the methods listed above.

Look at yourself closely. Are you using any of the negative tactics mentioned above? And if you are, don’t you think it’s time for some self-evaluation?

If You Don’t…

If you don’t call me, I’ll understand…

If you don’t text me, I’ll understand…

If you don’t acknowledge me when you walk by, I’ll understand…

If you don’t respond to my invitation, I’ll understand…

If you ignore me in a restaurant, I’ll understand…

And if I forget about you, you’ll understand.

Because obviously I wasn’t important to you in the first place.

So why did I bother?

Stop Beating Yourself Up

You are a work in progress. We all are.

Which means you get there a little at a time. Not all at once.

Others may get there ahead of you. And it’s not because you’re not good enough, or not trying hard enough. It just may not quite be your time.

The others that get there before you may actually not be ready to be there. They may have taken a few shortcuts, stepped over others, in order to get there. And as a result, they won’t be successful there because they aren’t truly ready.

You’ve probably heard the saying that “slow and steady wins the race.” Think about that.

You’ll get there as long as you kept trying. One step at a time. Patience. Another step.

A work in progress isn’t finished in a shortened time span. It takes the time it takes. 

Hurrying something along only makes it take longer to complete.

And when that work in progress is completed, you’ll realize it was as all worth it.

Don’t Make A Permanent Decision…

….based on a temporary emotion.

It never turns out good.

And you’ll find yourself suddenly living in the land of regret.

Sure, you may be devastated because your significant other just broke up with you, but that doesn’t mean you have to quit your job and move to another town where you don’t know anyone and start over because you’re afraid people will talk about you. 

You may be angry at your employer, angry enough to quit your job to “show them how much you’re” needed”, but all that does is make you unemployed with no immediate job prospects and no hope of a good reference from that former employer.

Or you may be upset because of the way you thought one of your friends was treating you and decide to tell them exactly how little you think of them. Only a day or two later you discover you were wrong, and lost several of your other friends because of your actions.

Uncomfortable or life-altering situations occur in our lives more often than we’d like. And our first reaction to such situations is often anger or in some cases devastating heartbreak, as in the loss of a close loved one. At those times we’re not thinking rationally, and our thought processes are turned upside down. 

We’re not able to totally comprehend the gravity of what may have just happened, let alone think clearly enough to make permanent decisions based on what happened. Because the next few days may start to clarify things that will enable you to make more rational decisions. 

We’ve all heard stories such as this, like the woman who thought she’d caught her husband cheating, and went home and destroyed all of his clothes, his important papers, and told his employer what she’d supposedly “discovered”. Only to find out the woman she’d seen him with was a travel agent helping him book a surprise vacation for their anniversary.

Farfetched? Not really. Most of us have been in or heard of similar instances. 

Our emotions can easily get the best of us when we’re angry, stressed, or facing a difficult situation in which we can’t see a way out. Making permanent decisions when we’re in that frame of mind are a recipe for total disaster. And if you sign your name on the dotted line, there’s usually no turning back.

The lesson here? Don’t make major, permanent decisions until you really think them through. A day or even better, a week or two, will give you a cooling down period in which you can determine the best way to handle your particular situation. 

Because if you don’t, you’re most likely going to regret it.

We Make the Best Decisions We Can

With the information we have at that time. 

If we knew what the future held, we might have made different decisions. 

Which would have changed what our future was. 

Think about that….

Think about some of the major events in our history which could have been so different if other decisions had been made. And the way history would have changed our world.

The Kennedy assassination. If he hadn’t gone to Dallas and ridden in an open car.

The Martin Luther King assassination. If he hadn’t stepped outside on that balcony in Memphis.

People make decisions based on what they know at the time.

A young girl finds herself pregnant and has no idea where to turn. She has an illegal abortion and ends up unable to have children.

A woman stays with her abusive  husband because she’s embarrassed over her mistake of marrying him; until he throws her down the steps and breaks her back.

Then again, some decisions we make which we look back on with regret turn out to be the best decisions when we later think about it.

For instance, if I’d gone to law school instead of letting my husband at that time convince me I shouldn’t, I’d probably never have met my forever husband at that mall in Washington.

If he’d become an architect like he’d planned, instead of giving up because he hated geometry and decided to go into sales, he’d most likely have never been in that mall in Washington.

And, all that being said, we wouldn’t have our daughter Ashley or our two, soon to be three, grandchildren.

We make decisions every day based on what we know at the time. Some end up happily, and some we regret forever. Others, we realize after time, were not only right, but exactly what was meant to be.

If there’s decision you made years ago that you’re still regretting, think about all the things that have happened since that decision and what you would be missing today if you’d done differently. 

Yes, there are some decisions that have a disastrous effect on the rest of your life, and some that made your life happier than you could’ve imagined.

But the decisions we make along the way shape our lives into what they are today. And they shape others we meet along the way as well.

And because of our decisions we’re exactly where we’re supposed to be at the time.

No One Ever Injured Their Eyesight

By looking on the bright side of things.

And if you’re trying to look at things in the dark, you’re not going to see clearly unless you turn on the lights.

If you’re always trying to find the worst in a situation or somebody, you’re going to overlook the best part because you’re trying not to see it.

If you’re going around thinking that something bad is going to happen at any time, it probably will, because you’re too busy looking for the bad and ignoring the good.

Nobody ever injured their eyesight by looking on the bright side of things. 

Everyone Is a Writer

No, you say. Not me. I couldn’t do that. I have no talent.

Or, why would I do that? I don’t like reading.

Or, I have no time to write. No desire.

But think about this. You are actually in effect writing. Because you’re writing your own story as you’re living your life.

It’s up to you to determine how the story goes. 

Yes, there are always other people in your story who come along and complicate things, but you’re the main character, the one who deals with the complications and puts things back together. Or changes things for the better.

What chapter are you starting today?

Making Mud Pies

Do kids even do that anymore? With all the different play food items there are in stores today, do they even need to try to enjoy the fun of making mud pies?

Our granddaughters have all kinds of play food items, plus all kinds of kid’s kitchen appliances, cooking utensils, plastic dishes, etc. They like to see what they can put together for each other, and what “meals” they can make for mommy and daddy and their dolls, but the “food” they “cook” with is plastic, perfectly shaped and colored to resemble real food, from ice cream to pizza to cakes and pies and burgers and hot dogs. And everything in between, or so it seems.

They don’t have to imagine they’re making something that doesn’t really look like what they say it’s supposed to be. Everything is “served” looking like what it is, and no one has to guess what they’re being “served”.

I’d have loved to have had all the fun food toys we bought for our daughter to play kitchen and tea parties. And our granddaughters have even more, or so it seems, especially since they have most of what we’d saved from their mom’s toys.

But having all the play food and kitchen toys didn’t instill any love of cooking in our daughter, but that’s a whole other topic.

But maybe it’s because she never really learned the art of making mud pies. Even though she’s an only child, she spent a lot of time with other kids at daycare as well as with other kids in our neighborhood. They didn’t make mud pies either. She never really wanted to. It just didn’t interest her.

Maybe it was the times I grew up in, as well as being an only child with not a lot of other kids my age to play with living nearby. And not having the huge selection of toys that kids have today. I had a small set of play food, but it wasn’t anything like what kids have now. And my dolls did seem to enjoy it.

But I sure enjoyed making mud pies. That’s actually one of the memories I do have from being a little girl. I pretended for hours I was really cooking, and was so proud of myself when I presented my mother with all of my goodies.

My mom actually let me use one of her old saucepans that was clearly beyond its useful life. And she found a few small aluminum pie plates and cake pans that I could use to “bake” my creations. And a couple of very old kitchen spoons.

In my little girls’ world back some 60+ years ago I didn’t need anything more to make my creations!

I carefully mixed the dirt I dug up from different areas of the flowerbeds, making sure I didn’t leave a gaping hole that my mom would see, or step in. We had several water spigots outside where I could get just enough water to make my “batter” the right consistency. Experimenting taught me that the thinner batters made for better “cakes” and “pies” while the thicker batters were better for “cookies” and “biscuits”.

“Baking” was really important, and it took forever (so it seemed) to get them done. You see, when making mud pie creations you have to let them bake in the sun. And sometimes that takes longer than you’d think. You had to check them often to make sure they didn’t crack.

And of course you had to serve them in the pans you prepared them in. Otherwise it would be a disaster. I can still see them in my mind. Of course most likely the actual creations look nothing like I remember, but we didn’t have digital cameras then, so there are no pictures to compare them to.

As my mud pie baking skills improved I’d add bits of decoration to them. I started with grass in the cake tops to look like coconut. That was interesting. Then I tried adding dandelions (I knew not to bother my mom’s flowers) to the top. They looked good at first but the next day…not so great.

Rose petals looked good, too, but I was careful to use the ones that had already dropped on the ground. I also experimented with putting pebbles in the “cookies”, you know, sort of like chocolate chip cookies?

And when my mom “tried” them, she was always so pleased with my creations, and said they were delicious! Thank goodness we all had enough sense not to really eat them!!

You’d think with all my “baking experience” I’d have really gone all out when I became an adult, making and decorating cakes and cupcakes. Unfortunately my talent was in the actual baking, not the decorating. That’s not my forte at all. But I do like to make cookies, and I use that talent every Christmas.

But maybe this spring I’ll start to teach our granddaughters the fine art of making mud pies. At their parents’ house of course. And remind them their baby brother won’t be quite old enough to help yet.

They’ve already learned how to decorate real cookies with tons of sprinkles, so I’m sure they’ll be good at mud pies. And I’m sure they’ll end up wearing a lot of mud like they did the sprinkles.

Anybody have some favorite mud pie “recipes” to share with the girls? Maybe they can even put together their own cookbook!

A Dream of Flamingo Land

The other day my husband told me about his dream about our adventure at a lush tropical paradise we were fortunate enough to visit. 

Did I mention this was a dream? Maybe something to do with Valentine’s Day? Or not…..

Ben said we drove for a few hours and arrived at the gates of a huge fortress, sort of like a castle.  He stopped and blew the horn several times until the gates swung open, and we entered into a large area where we were stopped by guards and had to show our ID’s to go any further. They saw our names on some sort of list and told us to drive on.

At that point we drove further up to the gates of a large castle-like structure where we were greeted by a tuxedo-clad flamingo with a pink clipboard who checked off our names on his list, then parked our car for us, and directed us to enter the building.

As we entered, the entire setting turned into a tropical paradise, with a sign saying “Welcome to Flamingo Paradise”! 

And we didn’t even wonder about how it could be possible. It was a dream, after all!

Everyone who worked there was a flamingo who could actually talk! And we understood them perfectly. Why not? This was a magical place, after all!

We headed to the reception desk and checked in to our suite. Another flamingo sent our luggage to our room, and when we got there a blonde haired flamingo was unpacking our bags for us. (Remember, it IS a dream, after all.) She told us if we needed anything to just call the front desk and they’d take care of it. 

And she left an itinerary of activities for the weekend. Which began with cocktails and lunch on the terrace, which was a meet and greet for other couples who’d signed up for the weekend. 

“When did you sign up for this?” I asked my husband. Who replied he didn’t remember anything about it, so we should just enjoy it! I didn’t dare ask the cost! He probably didn’t know, anyway!

It was HIS dream, after all, so that’s what we decided to do.

Lunch was a luxurious seafood buffet on a beautiful terrace filled with huge pots of colorful flowers, and more tuxedo-clad flamingo waiters serving wine and tropical drinks. 

We were seated at tables of four, and introduced to other couples who’d supposedly signed up for the weekend as well. Funny thing…they didn’t remember signing up for it either. But we were determined to make the most of an amazing situation!

After all, how lucky could we be to be in a tropical resort with talking flamingos waiting on us hand and foot? 

Could this be an updated dream version of my favorite song “Hotel California?” 

Maybe this was “Hotel Flamingo”? 

After lunch we were directed to enjoy several saltwater pools around the flamingo estate. There were cabana-boy flamingos offering us towels and more drinks, books and magazines, sunscreen, and plates of food. A person could gain 50 pounds here during a weekend, but the flamingos assured us that wouldn’t happen! You don’t gain weight in a dream! Or get sunburned. Or intoxicated either, based on the amount of drinks we were consuming!

After a relaxing afternoon we returned to our room to find an engraved invitation to a special formal dinner that evening. Of course we didn’t think we’d brought formal clothes, but as we finished reading the invitation there was a knock on the door, and two flamingos walked in carrying a tuxedo for Ben and a beautiful cocktail gown for me, decorated with sparkling teal jewels, along with matching shoes! It was amazing! And both the tux and the dress and shoes fit perfectly! The dream flamingos thought of everything.

And what a night to remember! Champagne and hors d’oeuvres on the terrace followed by an amazing dinner served by the flamingos, followed by dancing to an all-flamingo band who played music by our favorite older groups from the Beatles to the Four Seasons to the Eagles and Chicago and more!

As I’ve said, it’s a dream, so anything can happen!

The next morning we were treated to a room service gourmet breakfast served on our balcony by another flamingo, who also gave us our itinerary for the day. I looked over it and immediately worried that I wouldn’t enjoy any of it.

“Trust us,” he said, “ you’ll enjoy it all. We’ve never had an unsatisfied guest!”

The activities planned for the morning included scuba diving and parasailing. I knew Ben couldn’t do the scuba diving because of his breathing issues, and I had no desire to try. However, it was his dream, so I had to go along with it. 

And since it was a dream, when we got to the boat we both put on the scuba gear as instructed by our flamingo guide, and went into the water. It was actually easy, and we enjoyed swimming into schools of brightly colored fish and seeing lots of coral reefs, as well as remains of sunken ships. The flamingo instructor was our underwater guide, and he did a great job. Plus Ben had no breathing issues, and I had no problems under water, even though I can’t swim. But obviously in dreams, anything is possible!

Then it was parasailing with another flamingo. I don’t like heights, but because it was a dream I enjoyed it, and so did Ben. Flamingos know how to have a good time!

We ended our day on a beach where the flamingos were sunbathing along with other guests at the resort. Of course there were flamingo cabana boys in t-shirts and shorts bringing drinks all around. We were all talking with the sunbathing flamingos, who obviously had the day off from their duties at the resort.

At the end of the afternoon we all headed back to the hotel to prepare to leave. What an incredible two days it had been! And like at the end of every vacation, we found ourselves not really wanting to leave, at least not right away.

Obviously other guests felt the same way, as we discovered while we were checking out. The flamingos assured us it would be ok, and that everyone feels that way at the end of such a magical stay at such a romantic resort.

And then….what do you think happened? Of course, like with all dreams, Ben woke up and shared his story with me so he wouldn’t forget it.

But how would you write the ending? Because I’m not sharing what his was, at least not right now.

You Can’t Analyze Love

It just happens.

Sometimes when you least expect it.

Sometimes it develops over time. It can also fade over time if it isn’t well cared for.

Sometimes it’s not reciprocated.

Sometimes we think it’s love when it’s not.

Sometimes we try to make love happen when it’s not supposed to.

Sometimes we want it to be love so much that we make more of it than it actually is. We imagine it is, and then discover it was all in our imagination.

Sometimes we look back and rethink everything that happened in the relationship to determine what went wrong, what we could have done differently, and what we could have done to prevent everything from falling apart. And we blame ourselves every time.

And that’s analyzing it. Which you just can’t do. Because you’ll never come up with an answer that will change a thing.

As I said in the beginning, love just happens. When it’s time.

And if you don’t have a special someone for Valentine’s Day, it’s not your time yet.

But it will be…when it’s time.