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A Newsletter for Creating & Maintaining Relationships
By Dawn J. Lipthrott, LCSW


Welcome to the first edition of on-line SUCCESSFUL RELATIONSHIPS (formerly CONNECTIONS)--the newsletter for creating and maintaining successful relationships at home and in your life.

For more information on relationships or the loss of them,see the articles sections on this Web site.


--Idea for Holiday Gifts that Nurture Relationships and Won't be Forgotten!

-- A Story Related to the Gift Idea


Ideas for Holiday Gifts that Nurture Relationships

Recipe for a Relationship Gift that Won't be Forgotten:


* At least 1 person that you love, care about, and/or appreciate

* 5 qualities or behaviors of that person that you love, appreciate, or that have been a gift to you in this past year

* A few minutes of your time

* Paper and pen optional

* Sift through the time you have known this person, especially this past year, until all that remains are the 5 best qualities or behaviors (and WHY you love and appreciate those particular qualities/behaviors). Think or write out the following:

For Personal Relationships:

"One of the things I love about you is. . . . . and the reason is. . . ." "Another thing I love about you is. . . and the reason is. . . ."

Or: "One way you have been a gift to me this year is. . .and the way it has touched me is. . ."

Work Relationships:

"One of the things I appreciate (or admire, or respect) about you is. . . and the reason is. . . ."

Or: "One way you have been a gift to me this year is. . .and the way it has helped me is. . ."

* For relationships at home or with friends, create time on the eve or day of the holiday you celebrate. Some prefer to serve this recipe at the dinner table. For work, create time a day or two before the holiday the person celebrates.

* When all is quiet, tell the person those qualities or behaviors that you have sifted or read your list and reasons that you have written.

Some people are uncomfortable saying it out loud and prefer to put the qualities and reasons in writing and give it to the person as a gift. This also allows the person to keep them and go back to them at a later date.

Serves at least 2 people abundantly for a long time!

(This is also wonderful to do for children and adults, at holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, etc.)


Story About The Importance of Telling the Positive

This story made the rounds on the Internet a year or two ago, but we can all use a reminder about the importance of speaking our appreciation, respect, admiration and/or love for others. Telling the person the positive brings out more of their potential. They act from those places of strength instead of out of places of fear. (I'm editing the story a little because the original was quite long.)

Written by: Sister Helen P. Mrosla

He was in the first third grade class I taught at Saint Mary's School in
Morris, Minn. All 34 of my students were dear to me, but Mark Eklund
was one in a million. Very neat in appearance, but had that
happy-to-be-alive attitude that made even his occasional mischievousness
delightful. Mark talked incessantly. I had to remind him again and
again that talking without permission was not acceptable. What
impressed me so much, though, was his sincere response every time I had
to correct him for misbehaving - "Thank you for correcting me, Sister!"
I didn't know what to make of it at first, but before long I became
accustomed to hearing it many times a day.

At the end of the year, I was asked to teach junior-high math. The years
flew by, and before I knew it Mark was in my classroom again. He was
more handsome than ever and just as polite. Since he had to listen
carefully to my instruction in the "new math," he did not talk as much
in ninth grade as he had in third.

One Friday, things just didn't feel right. We had worked hard on a new
concept all week, and I sensed that the students were frowning,
frustrated with themselves, and edgy with one another. I had to stop
this crankiness before it got out of hand. So I asked them to list the
names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving
a space between each name. Then I told them to think of the nicest
thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down.
It took the remainder of the class period to finish their assignment,
and as the students left the room, each one handed me the papers.
Charlie smiled. Mark said, "Thank you for teaching me, Sister. Have a
good weekend.

That Saturday, I wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet
of paper, and I listed what everyone else had said about that
individual. On Monday I gave each student his or her list. Before
long, the entire class was smiling. "Really?" I heard whispered. "I
never knew that meant anything to anyone!" "I didn't know others liked
me so much." No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. I
never knew if they discussed them after class or with their parents, but
it didn't matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose. The
students were happy with themselves and one another again. That group of
students moved on.

Several years later, after I returned from vacation, my parents met me
at the airport. As we were driving home, Mother asked me the usual
questions about the trip- the weather, my experiences in general. There
was a lull in the conversation. Mother gave Dad a side-ways glance and
simply said, "Dad?" My father cleared his throat as he usually did
before something important. "The Elkhounds called last night," he began.
"Really?" I said. "I haven't heard from them in years. I wonder how| Mark is."

Dad responded quietly. "Mark was killed in Vietnam," he said. "The
funeral is tomorrow, and his parents would like it if you could attend."
To this day I can still point to the exact spot on I-494 where Dad told me about Mark.

I had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. Mark looked
so handsome, so mature. The church was packed with Mark's friends.

Chuck's sister sang "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." Why did it have to rain on the day of the funeral?
It was difficult enough at the graveside.

The pastor said the usual prayers, and the bugler played taps. One by one those who loved Mark
took a last walk by the coffin and sprinkled it with holy water. I was the last one to bless the coffin.

After the funeral, most of Mark's former classmates headed to Chuck's
farmhouse for lunch. Mark's mother and father were there, obviously
waiting for me.

"We want to show you something," his father said, taking a wallet out of
his pocket. "They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought
you might recognize it." Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two
worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and
refolded many times. I knew without looking that the papers were the
ones on which I had listed all the good things each of Mark's
classmates had said about him.

"Thank you so much for doing that," Mark's mother said. "As you can
see, Mark treasured it." Mark's classmates started to gather around us.
Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, "I still have my list. It's
in the top drawer of my desk at home." Chuck's wife said, "Chuck asked
me to put his in our wedding album." "I have mine too," Marilyn said.
"It's in my diary." Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her
pocketbook, took out her wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to
the group. "I carry this with me at all times," Vicki said without
batting an eyelash. "I think we all saved our lists."

That's when I finally sat down and cried. I cried for Mark and for all
his friends who would never see him again.

The purpose of this letter is to encourage everyone to compliment the
people you love and care about. We often tend to forget the importance
of showing our affections and love. Sometimes the smallest of things,
could mean the most to another. I am asking you to please send this
letter around and spread the message and encouragement, to express your
love and caring by complimenting and being open with communication. The
density of people in society is so thick that we forget that life will
end one day. And we don't know when that one day will be. So please, I
beg of you, to tell the people you love and care for, that they are
special and important. Tell them, before it is too late.


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I welcome your constructive comments and suggestions about the material on this website and how we can all be most effective in co-creating the kind of relationships and world that is honoring and respectful for all people.
©Copyright of the Dialogue Process as used in Imago Relationship Therapy belongs to Harville Hendrix, PhD

© Dawn Lipthrott, The Relationship Learning Center, 1998 Renewed 2008

(May be copied and distributed as long as this identifying information is retained on copies. Reproduction for financial gain is prohibited.)