For years we have been told that you can find out a lot about a person by their non-verbal communication…body language. Basically it is their physical behavior in any situation, as opposed to what they say about it. Things like facial expressions, body posture, gestures, eye movement, touch, and the use of space are key ways to tell if someone is lying, angry, or excited. Body language exists in both animals and humans, and anyone who has come up on a mother bear or a moose, can tell you. Believe me, I hope that none of my readers have found themselves in that situation.
I have always been told things like…when you are being interviewed, don’t cross your arms, because it makes you seem closed off, as well as, that it is a nervous habit to play with your hair, but I happen to know that things aren’t always so cut and dried. Anyone who knows me knows that if my arms are crossed over my body…I’m cold. And if I am playing with my hair, it isn’t because I’m nervous, but rather it is just something I like the feel of. Basically, I think that while body language is an effective tool. it isn’t the only way, and sometimes not even the best way to read a person. Body language isn’t a spoken language, and so must be interpreted broadly, instead of having an absolute meaning corresponding with a certain movement, which explains why my movements can be misleading.
Body language is even more difficult, in that, interpretations can vary from country to country, or culture to culture. Some experts aren’t even sure that body language is universal. Body language is a subset of nonverbal communication, and really complements verbal communication in social interaction. Just think of how often you find people who can’t tell a story without using their hands…and their hands aren’t even saying anything specific. They are simply a gesture designed to clarify the story. Some researchers would say that nonverbal communication accounts for the majority of information transmitted during interpersonal interactions. It helps to establish the relationship between two people and regulates interaction, but beware, because it can be ambiguous, as seen in my own crossed arms not indicating being closed off, but rather cold. Facial expression is extremely important when expressing emotions through the body. If the body is saying one thing, and the face is saying another, maybe the person has something to hide, or the story they are telling is a lie. Combinations of eyes, eyebrow, lips, nose, and cheek movements help form different moods of an individual.
Some studies show that to really interpret emotions, both facial expression and bodily language must be taken into account. Behavioral experiments have also shown that “recognition of facial expression is influenced by perceived bodily expression. This means that the brain processes the other’s facial and bodily expressions simultaneously.” Participants in these studies were accurately able to judge emotions based on facial expression. This is because the face and the body are normally seen together in their natural proportions and the emotional signals from the face and body are well integrated. Things like a lack of crinkles around the eyes would suggest a fake smile. At one point, researchers believed that making a genuine smile was nearly impossible to do on command. I hadn’t thought about that, but it makes sense. When you’re smiling joyfully, they crinkle. When you’re faking it, they don’t. If someone’s trying to look happy but isn’t, you won’t see wrinkles.
I find it quite interesting to study the different interpretations that have been place in body language, and I think that many of them are probably pretty close to accurate, but it’s always a good idea to keep an open mind when it comes to body language. When we are too quick to make a judgment, we can find ourselves realizing that we were completely in the wrong in our interpretation of non-verbal communication.
As Thanksgiving approached this year, I found myself thinking of the things I’m thankful for. Of course, I’m thankful first and foremost for my loving Heavenly Father. He is always there for me. He will never leave me nor forsake me. How could I possibly ask for more than to have a God who cares deeply about every little tiny part of my life. No human cares that much, not even those who love me with all their hearts, because…well humans just don’t have a love so deep and unconditional.
While this year will find half of my family here and half in Washington, it will feel very lonely, but what I really care about is that my family is all happy, healthy, safe, and sound. And I hope they have a wonderful Thanksgiving too, even though we will miss them very much. I think the holidays are the hardest time to be apart, because the rest of the time work and activities keep you busy and you can forget that they are so far away, but the holidays…well, they are just different. The holidays are all about family. Maybe next year we can be together for one of the holidays. That would be really nice. For now, I am thankful that all of Amy’s family is together for this Thanksgiving holiday. And I’m lonely and sad because of the empty chairs we will have at our table this year.
And this will be the first Thanksgiving with both of my parents in Heaven, and that is very hard for my sisters, and our families. Yet, we are still thankful that our parents are together with other loved ones who have gone to Heaven too. I am so thankful that our parents brought is up to know the Lord, and to know the comfort of knowing where they are now and that they are safe in the loving arms of our Heavenly father. While we will miss them terribly today, as we do every day, and the empty chairs that they would have occupied will make us lonely, we know that they are celebrating with us, because they celebrate God’s love with thanksgiving every day, as do we. We will also be missing my father-in-law, and in reality my mother-in-law, who is in a nursing home. For Bob’s siblings, the loneliness is the same as my sisters and me, the empty chairs speak volumes, if we will listen.
Still, not all things about this day will be sad and lonely, because last month, right after I broke my shoulder, I was so blessed when Bob and I were “adopted” into my son-in-law, Kevin Petersen’s family. His parents, Becky and Duane Skelton invited us to spend Thanksgiving as part of their family. Kevin’s parents have been friends of ours for a long time, and it was just such a wonderful thing to do. I don’t think I was ready to try to put on a Thanksgiving dinner. By Christmas, I expect that I will be much more ready, when I host Bob’s family, but for now, I am very thankful for the kindness of such amazing friends. I love both of them very much, and I look forward to the memories we will have of this day.
Lastly, but in no way the least, I am thankful for new and renewed family connections. Over the past couple of years, we have reconnected with cousins that we haven’t seen in quite some time and some we had never met, which has expanded our family in areas that were lacking before. It is so wonderful to have such a large family, and to have the opportunity to get to know these cousins that we never knew. They are all such wonderful people with so many different interests and life stories, and yet, we are all connected in the deepest of ways…we are family. And that is definitely something to be thankful for.
While this Thanksgiving is filled with mixed emotions for me and my family, I am truly thankful for every day of life, for every member of my family, for each friend, for job, home, and the beauty of God’s creation here one Earth. And I am thankful that when this life is over, I too will live forever in the loving arms of my Father in Heaven. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!! Have a blessed day!!
What is it about reading a story that intrigues us? It is the content, of course, but there is something more. Sometimes, we just want to take a few minutes outside ourselves…to lose ourselves in another man’s mind. It was a quote by Charles Lamb in 1890, who wrote “I love losing myself in other men’s minds” that came to me in a cover letter for my Great Aunt Bertha Schumacher Hallgren’s journal. It was written to some of her grand nieces and grand nephew, her sister, Mina’s grandchildren, when she gave them a copy of her journal…the writings of her thoughts. And when I read the letter, I was intrigued. I was very curious about her mind. I never had the opportunity to know Great Aunt Bertha, who went by Bertie, and I find that very sad. It is my opinion that she was an amazing woman. In her letter, she points out that all too often, historical writings take in simply the events as they occurred, but leave out the human side of things…the thoughts, emotions, feelings, and the impact the events had on the lives of the people who lived them. She also points out that the family stories told by the very of people who lived those stories will impact the lives of their descendants for years to come. She looks ahead to the 23rd century, and wonders what they would think of the events that shaped the lives of their ancient ancestors. After reading her letter, I realized that my stories had barely scratched the surface of the events I was writing about.
I began to think of the day to day moments of our lives, and how much of the future history is being lost, because we have not recorded the thoughts and feelings we experienced at the time that we experienced them. Great Aunt Bertie suggested that if a person was interested in writing about family history, they should question their parents about the lives of their parents and grandparents. I immediately felt a sense of loss, because my dad and my father-in-law are both gone, and the opportunity to talk with them is gone too. I also felt a sense of loss, because my mother-in-law has Alzheimer’s Disease, and doesn’t always remember the events from her past anymore. I did feel an urging to sit down with my mom to see what things she could tell me, and also with my aunts, because I still have a chance to get their perspective on things. It occurred to me that while the desire is there, time will be the biggest problem, because of work and other obligations. Still, I want to take the opportunity while I can do so, and I know that I will learn many interesting things about my family.
I look forward to reading more of Great Aunt Bertie’s journal. She was an amazing individual, and she had the presence of mind to think in the future. She knew that the past has a very important place in the future, and that the future generations will never know the great things their ancestors accomplished, unless someone tells them about it. They will never know how their ancestors felt when they made the decision to immigrate to a new country, with their future very uncertain, but knowing that they had no future where they were then. And yet, she saw the importance of the here and now too…the everyday changes in the lives of family members around us…the accomplishments, hopes, and dreams for their future. She knew the importance of documenting the everyday moments of a life. Thank you for your wisdom, Great Aunt Bertie, and thank you Julie Holmberg Carlberg for blessing me and the rest of the family with this wonderful journal and the pictures you sent too. Great Aunt Bertie’s legacy will always be our priceless treasure.
My cousin Stephanie, who is my cousin Greg’s daughter, is one of the few family members who live back east…and the rest would be her family…and as far as I know that is it. Many of the family members don’t really know Stephanie, and that is unfortunate, because she is a great person. I have had the pleasant opportunity to get to know her through Facebook, and for that I am grateful.
Stephanie is a stay at home wife and mother, who is all about family. Her kids are her top priority, as is her husband Mike…but he can take care of himself…most of the time, anyway. As we all know, raising kids is no easy job, and as daughters go into the teenaged years, their emotions run high. Nevertheless, Stephanie handles Kate’s various crisis moments with as much humor as possible to ease the situation, and yet the right amount of compassion, when the situation is very emotional. Having become friends with Kate too, I can say for certain, that Stephanie and Mike have done a great job. Of course, they also have a son, also named Michael, who pretty much loves to goof off with his mom, dad, and sister. Little boys can be so amusing, and that is pretty much what he is. Michael is all smiles, and loves to be funny. I’m sure that brings much joy to the house as well.
I love the relationship that Stephanie and Mike have too, because they keep it very light. Too many people today forget to have a little joke once in a while, but these two, will just make some goofy comment of the other’s Facebook wall for fun. That tells me a lot about their sense of humor and also, why their marriage has worked. Life has enough serious moments and tough times, mix in a little humor, and you will feel a lot better.
Sometimes, you regret that you didn’t have the opportunity to be a part of someone’s life before so much time had passed, and that is definitely the case with Stephanie. Her light hearted humor and smiling face bring joy to the lives of those who know her. Today is Stephanie’s birthday. Happy birthday Stephanie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
When you think of your grandmother, how do you picture her? Is she gray haired and wrinkled, or can you picture the girl she once was? Most of us can only imagine our grandmothers as the age they were when we were able to have our first memory. That would put them in the vicinity of 40 to 50 years old, and of course, we are certain that they are ancient, mostly because when we are very young, anything over 20 is ancient. Rarely do we consider the idea that our grandmother could have been young once. We are sure she was born old…or at the very least, have not been young in such a long time that there is no way they remember it.
It can be so hard to picture as young, someone who we assume has always been old, but there was a time when our grandmother was a girl. She had to go through the same teenaged years, even though the times were different then. Could she possibly understand what kids go through today? I think she does, because even though she hasn’t gone through the exact things kids today have, she still had the same emotions and age related changes you did.
Bob’s grandmother grew to adulthood during the Roaring Twenties…a time of breaking with tradition. World War I was over, and everyone was in the mood to party and…well cut loose from the mundane. Jazz music became the “in thing” and I’m quite sure that the parents of that generation thought they were insane. And maybe to a degree, they were. Finally having the war over must have given them a feeling of euphoria. It’s like being under pressure for a long, long time, and finally the pressure is over, and you feel like you can fly.
That is the age when Bob’s grandmother grew up, and when I look at the pictures of her in those young years, she really looked the part, but of course, by the time she reached the age of 20, the Great Depression had hit. I can only imagine the emotions she must have gone through. The roller coaster ride from euphoria to depression within a matter of a few years. Now this generation of young people was going to have to really prove themselves. They were going to have to be the generation that would bring this country back from the brink. Imagine the emotions they must have gone through. Still, they did start our country on the road back from the brink to recovery. When you think about that, you are able to get beyond the idea that they couldn’t possibly have ever gone through the things you have gone through, to the point where you finally understand that it is you who have never gone the things they have gone through. It brings an appreciation of just how amazing that generation really was.
The expressions people make can sometimes be funny. From the first expressions of surprise on a baby’s face, to the faces kids make in play, our faces show the world how we are feeling at the time. They can show happiness, sadness, anger, and calm.
Kids like to goof off, and act up when having pictures taken, and those expressions can be classic. From mock scowls to the good old pucker up and whatever trend that is out there at the time, our kids can delight us with their antics and expressions.
Some of the funniest expressions are the ones the person has no idea they are doing. My father-in-law always sticks out his tongue at the side of his mouth when he is concentrating. Or the blank stare when a person is deep in thought…that looking right through you look. Our faces are filled with different ways of telling what they think or how they feel.
Of course, there is the mimic expression. These happen quite often with babies. When we are feeding a baby, and especially when they don’t really want what you are trying to feed them. You know what I mean. You say to baby, “Open up sweetie.” And it’s your mouth that opens, and your baby is thinking, “Why should I? You already did. Hahahaha!!” And then there is the first birthday for baby, and everyone in the room is helping blow out the candles, even though we are not actually blowing, just puckering.
Our faces are the expression of our emotions, and the expression of our thoughts. And sometimes that can be the funniest thing ever.
I have been noticing more and more children today thinking that the quality of their life and indeed, their very self worth, depends on how their day went at school, or whether a guy/girl likes them, or if their friend is mad at them. These things might seem like their life depends on the outcome, but the reality is that in a few years, none of this will matter. Their school years will pass, and they will look back and wonder what the big deal was.
The negative posts on Facebook, My Space, Twitter and more tell me that even the adults have somehow become caught up in that type of thinking. It concerns me that all the negative posts by adults are teaching our young people that this is just how adults act.
I would like to point out that very few people are still in the same dreary state in ten years, or often even the next day. Most people are going places. They are going to become something. Get married. Have children. Get jobs. These school years are so very short in comparison to the years of a life, that it is like a drop in the bucket of time. Sure, life is a wild ride, filled with its ups and downs, but most of you will survive the “horrible” moments…if you don’t give up on yourself.
So, next time you are tempted feel sorry for yourself about how horrible your life is, remember that today is but a fleeting moment in time, and the ups and downs that go with it, will be long forgotten very soon, because you are going places. Keep your chin up and look forward, to the future. It is just around the corner.