Friday, February 28, 2014

Some Last Thoughts on Love

 

"In the end these things matter most: How well did you love? How fully did you love? How deeply did you learn to let go?" --Buddha

Day 28. Here we are at the end of our month-long focus on love and I find myself with two weeks' worth of quotes still to go. A lot has been written about love. A LOT. And yet, it eludes many of us in one form or another.

Some of us have romantic love, but not self-love. Some have self-love, but have yet to find their life partner. Others have the love of many friends, but long for the love of a family. Some of us could use more of all of the above.

Whatever your situation, I hope that 28 Days of Love has helped you to deepen, grow and expand the love in your life.

Before I call it good, I would like to share with you a few favorites among those quotes that didn't make it onto the blog before now. (Links to old posts, where available, are included.)

"Kindness is love in action." --The Universe, to me, while writing this blog post

"Love which expects something in return is not love at all." --SN Goenka

 "LOVE is contagious." --My take on a Sandra Cisneros quote "Anger is contagious."

"This is an illusion – all that matters within the illusion is to show love." --The Universe to me at Disneyland  - In my opinion, this can be applied to the illusion of life on Earth as well :)
  
"We're not here to earn God's love, we're here to spend it!" --Swami Beyondananda - How can you spend God's love today?

"It matters not who you love, where you love, why you love, when you love or how you love. It matters only that you love." --John Lennon

"Love cures people, both the ones who give it and the ones who receive it." --Karl Menninger from @ainebelton on Twitter

"The great thing about feeling deep, profound, earthshaking love...is that you can start with anyone. Next." --The Universe on TUT.com

"Seek to love and not to be loved. Love without expectations. Love expecting nothing in return. Love because it feels good. LOVE!" --The Universe to me in a journal entry after reading The Art of Loving

"Words from the heart of love awaken love in others." --Unknown

"If you're going to have love, first you're going to have everything come up that is not love." --Carlos W Anderson, Assoc Pastor at Unity of NY

"Whatever the circumstances, it is better to love, create and construct than to hate, undermine and destroy." --Helen and Scott Nearing from their book The Good Life

"Love is my only function; Love is why I am here. Love is your only function; Love is why you are here. Love is our only function; Love is why we are here."  --A Course in Miracles

"The problem, if you love it, is as beautiful as the sunset." -Jiddu Krishnamurti via Caeriel Crestin

"My Life is Filled With Opportunities to Love and Be Loved." --From an advertisement

"The first duty of love is to listen." --Paul Tillich

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." --MLK, Jr

"Dissolve and Destroy your fear of love." --RUMI

"There is no life without love. None worth having anyway." --Hank Moody

"The whole world is a marketplace for Love." --Attar

And finally, a blessing for you, by way of Master Stephen Co

"From my heart to yours, I shower you with unconditional love."

Today. Now. Always. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

I don't know you, but I love you.


"I love you. I don't know you, but I love you." --Lydia at Unity of Burbank

The Universe is always giving us opportunities to learn and to grow and to "walk our talk," which is why it should have come to no surprise that this month has been full of opportunities for me to love when that was not my first instinct.

Last Sunday at church for instance.

As I approached the pews there was a woman standing in the aisle waiting for someone to join her before she sat down. I chose one of three or four empty pews nearby and sat down.

When her friend had joined her, she slid into the aisle right next to me and sat down.

"Ugh. Doesn't she know the empty bus seat rule?" I thought to myself.

It got worse a few seconds later when I realized she had a cold. Ah-choo!

She was sneezing and sucking on cough drops and smelled like menthol from - I assume - some vapor rub. And I was off.

Oh, great. Now I'm going to have to shake her hand and then I'll get sick and the kids will get sick and why couldn't she just sit in an empty pew?

It took me a few minutes to remember: Oh, yeah. I'm in CHURCH. We're supposed to be kind to each other here. And accept each other here. And LOVE each other here.

So I took a deep breath and tried to overcome my prejudice against this poor woman with a cold.

It reminded me of the time I went to Unity of Burbank with my sister:

On Sunday morning we hoofed it over to Unity of Burbank to hear a friend of my sister's give the message and we were surrounded by angels. 

From the moment we entered the building we were welcomed with open arms and open hearts by all we met. And everyone we met, it seemed, had a connection to either New York (where my sister lived) or Seattle. 

There was the man from Unity of Kent helping his Uncle with some home repairs. The woman from New York who still wore a Yankees pendant around her neck. The man from LA who used to lived in New York AND Seattle. And, of course, there was Lydia. 

She used to live in New York, had moved to LA in the 60's with her husband and family. Had raised her kids here and was now, mostly alone. She was quiet, a bit shy, but friendly. We chatted for awhile and then it was time for the service. 

It started with song as most Unity services do. First, "We Are One in the Spirit," which did our former Protestant hearts good to hear. Then "It's in Every One of Us," which was new to me, but lovely. And finally a rousing rendition of "Good Morning God." In spite of being a small congregation, they really know how to bring down the house at Unity of Burbank.

After the singing was the Opening Prayer and then the Welcome. 

When I said, "small congregation," I was exaggerating slightly. The congregation is tiny. Around 25 people attend services on an average Sunday. 40 or so on a big day like Easter or Christmas. But boy is there a lot of love in this house. 

During the Welcome, music is playing and everyone wanders around the sanctuary hugging everyone. And I mean EVERYONE. Why not? That's only 24 hugs!

I hugged the people I had met and people I had never seen before in my life. And I hugged Lydia. When I did she said to me, "I love you. I don't know you, but I love you." And with these words she touched my heart, brought tears to my eyes, and made my day. No, my vacation. 

Ever since, I think about her whenever I am surrounded by strangers and I ask myself, "Do I love these people even though I don't know them? Could I love them even though I don't know them?"

Sometimes it is hard enough to love those we do know, but loving those we don't, loving everyone, is what we are here to do. Lydia reminded me of that.

During the passing of the peace this past Sunday my sneezing, coldy pew-mate did something similar.

When it came time to greet our neighbors, instead of reaching out her hand, she grabbed me and gave me a big hug. It was as if she was saying, "I love you. I don't know you, but I love you." 

And in that moment, I forgot all about her cold and loved her back.

[This photograph is of another Unity angel, this one at Seattle Unity.]

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Ways of Practicing - Emanate Love


"She truly loved herself and therefore had no reason to hate anyone else." --The Universe to me in an old blog post, reprinted below.

December 17, 2010

"Emanate love to all in your sphere without distinction or prejudice." 
--Sunyata Satchitananda from the website www.mythiclove.net

I went to a Holiday concert this week that a friend of mine and her children were performing in. It was a lovely performance; the director was enthusiastic, the songs were uplifting and everyone seemed to be having a great time.

There was one woman in the choir who particularly stood out for me. She was standing in the back, not doing anything special, but as she sang she just radiated love.

I watched her closely throughout the whole concert, trying to figure out her secret. I studied her face to try and see what was different.

Physically, there was nothing special about her face. It was more attractive then some, less attractive than others, but a pretty basic human face. Still, there was something about it that went beyond the physical.

Her face was open. Her face was loose and broad and radiant. Her face was smiling all the time.

I kept finding myself thinking: I want to do that.

And asking the question that followed: How do you do that?

As I continued to look at the woman with the radiant face what I saw was Total Acceptance. Of herself and of others. She truly loved herself and therefore had no reason to hate anyone else.
I know that I am not there yet, but I hope that's where I'm headed. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Love is All Around


"Love really is all around." --From the opening scene of Love Actually

Have you ever had one of those days when love really is all around? For me it was Saturday. All day, everywhere I looked, the Universe was sending me reminders to love, love, love.

At my yoga class I parked my mat in the first row (which I never do) and there in the floor was a little heart formed from the whorls and swirls of the wood.

As I came inside the house after class, I stopped at our Little Free Library and there, staring out at me, was a small hardback volume of a book entitled How to Love.

And later, when I sat down to relax with a cup of tea, I picked up a coffee table book we have had for years (Monet: Water Lilies) and came across this quote, "Everyone discusses [my art] and pretends to understand, as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love." (Claude Monet)

This strikes me as a profound statement about life as well as art. It is not necessary to understand, it is simply necessary to love.

If you are like me you spend a great deal of time trying to understand things. WHY did this happen and not that? WHY did that person do that or react like that or say that? WHY do things feel so hard sometimes? WHY? WHY? WHY?

This is not a bad thing in and of itself, but it can hold us back when trying to understand becomes an excuse not to act or not to love.

What signs are you being shown today to just love, love, love?

[I photographed this straw heart last year in a diner on the Olympic Peninsula. I looked down and there it was, a little reminder to love. Drew Barrymore has written a whole book about these chance encounters with love. It is called, "Find it in Everything."]

Monday, February 24, 2014

Amrit Desai on Love


"Love begins with yourself. The moment you accept what you are, you awaken your capacity to [give and to] receive love."  --Amrit Desai

Kind of like all forgiveness is self-forgiveness, all love is self-love. If we don't love ourselves, how can we love others?

After my first ten-day Vipassana meditation retreat, I came home and wrote these three rules on my fridge:

Three Rules for Life

1) Be kind to yourself

2) Do not harm others

3) Purify your mind

According to Vipassana teacher SN Goenka, being kind to yourself comes first because if you are not kind to yourself, you cannot be truly kind to others. You can try to be kind to others and you can pretend to be kind to others, but you cannot be truly kind to others if you are feeling angry, dissatisfied or stressed out.

I think about this a lot when I am feeling tense or annoyed or angry. I try and ask myself: How can I be kind to myself? Which is kind of like asking: How can I love myself?

So, how can you love yourself today? Make today a self-love-fest and see how it works for you. Is it easier to be kind to others? Do you have more patience? More kindness? More love to give when you start with yourself?

If you want to go deeper in your work with self-love, I highly recommend the work of Elisa Balabram. She has lots of great tools and articles on her website to help you learn to love yourself. Check it out!

I leave you with one final quote about spiritual work and self-love:

"There is a way which is supremely effective. Just look at yourself as you are, see yourself as you are, accept yourself as you are, and go ever deeper into what you are." --Nisargadatta Maharaj

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Heart. Broken.

"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken." CS Lewis

My heart was broken tonight by seven kids with a basketball.

I am the assistant coach of my son's basketball team and the head coach (my dad) was out of town which meant I was in the hot seat. 

Let me interject here, in the interest of full disclosure, that I have never coached anything before and only played basketball in a very casually organized way on a club team in England. England! Where basketball is like cricket is to us. Most people have heard of it, but no one really knows the rules and certainly not the fundamentals.

Because the kids are just finishing up mid-winter break and many families are out of town,  I knew we were going to be down a few players. 

Earlier this afternoon I got an offer from a boy one grade above our league to sub for us tonight. I was torn - if we had this player we would have a much better chance of winning the game - but really it would be cheating. 

And while on the one hand, it's under ten basketball, on the other hand it's under ten basketball. In the end I couldn't do it, but don't let me tell you I didn't consider it. 

So I made my lineups for five players and for six players and for seven players, hoping to God we'd have at least one sub. No luck. We would be playing with five, which meant one of our post players would need to play guard (wing). 

I chose the most versatile of the three posts and put him at wing. When the other two posts got wind of this they immediately asked to take a turn at wing. Up against the wall for the second time today. 

Because here's the thing: we had a much better chance of winning if our posts played post. Both are big kids, tall for their age and quite often able to dominate under the hoop. Both of them had a great game last week, playing at post. The only thing that made any sense really was to keep them at post.

And here's the other thing: only two of the kids on our team have ever played organized basketball before and they are all still learning the game and that is what it's supposed to be about at this stage of the game, learning. How can you learn if you don't get to try new positions? 

So I said yes. 

It was a close game. A VERY close game. We were tied for most of the game and the game was won in the last minute of play. 

Down by two points, we had a chance to score and missed. They got the rebound with 25 seconds on the clock and held the ball long enough to keep us from getting another chance to score. They won.

Defeat. Devastation. Heartbreak. 

We went through the motions of post-game - the "good game" handshake, the post game pow wow where we talked about what everyone had done well, and I handed out some snacks - but nobody's heart was really in it. Least of all mine 

On the drive home my son was in tears and I was torn. 

My decisions had cost us the game, of that I had no doubt. I knew they were the right decisions, but it was really hard to have much confidence in the face of such a heart-breaking loss and my son's tears.

A part of me was angry at the Universe. If you make the right calls - the fair calls - shouldn't your team win? Isn't that the way it should work? 

I don't have all the answers right now. Maybe the other team's coach made some even tougher calls. Maybe they needed the win more than we did. Maybe they were simply the better team last night. All I know is that my heart broke for our team when it was all over.

And yet, underneath it all, I feel I am one step closer...to something. 

[NB. I feel I have learned as much, if not more, from watching my sons' play sports as I ever did playing them myself. Here is one of my favorite blog posts ever about winning and losing - The Game of Life.]

Friday, February 21, 2014

Loving the Fool


Me, looking foolish

"I must learn to love the fool in me - the one who feels too much, talks to much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries. It alone protects me against that utterly self-controlled masterful tyrant whom I also harbor and who would rob me of human aliveness, humility, and dignity but for my fool." ~Theodore I. Rubin, M.D.

The other day while swimming laps I made a complete and utter fool of myself.

The pool was crowded that day, there were four people in my lane alone and our rhythm was totally off. As soon as one swimmer let someone go ahead of them, that person would switch to breast stroke and be holding everyone else up. Then someone else would drop out for a few minutes to adjust the timing and another swimmer would drop their kick board and start sprinting. It was a mess and a very frustrating way to get my exercise.

I was about twenty laps from finishing when the woman in front of me started swimming breast and I just knew I had to get around her. I counted as I swam....1...2...3.... Everyone in my lane was present and accounted for, I could make my move.

I started to swim around her, and to pick up speed so I could pass her before reaching the wall, when BAM! I ran smack-dab into another swimmer.

At first I was confused, where the heck did she come from? But when I did the count I realized someone else had joined our lane and we were now five. FIVE. That's a lot of ladies in one lane.

I apologized profusely and she took off down the lane while I sat at the end for awhile, rubbing my head and trying to decide if I should keep going or call it a day. I really wanted to quit. A few years ago I would have quit for sure, if only to avoid meeting her in the locker room. I would have scurried away, tail between my legs, hoping never to see her again.

I didn't do that this time. I decided to finish my work-out and see what happened next. .

As I was swimming the remainder to my laps, I started to obsess about meeting her again in the locker room. I really didn't want to have to face her, naked, in a room full of other naked women.  My stomach hurt and my face flushed at the very thought.

"What is this feeling?" I asked myself. "And why is it so strong?"

As I swam, I looked up with every breath and there on the walls were big cut-out hearts, reminding me to look for the love.

"What is this feeling?" I asked myself again. "And why is it so strong?"

Finally it dawned on me - SHAME. I was ashamed. I had done something stupid, something careless, something a bit arrogant and it had bit me right in the ass or, rather, hit me right on the head.

I remembered shame.

It's what we do to kids when they spill a drink or talk in church or break a window. We make them feel ashamed for having done something they had no control over. For something that is an accident (definition: an unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally, typically resulting in damage or injury). And I was doing that to myself.

I did have some control over this situation, I could have stayed behind the other swimmer instead of trying to pass, but I also used good common sense. I counted the other swimmers in my lane and only passed when I (thought) I knew where each of them was. This was an accident, pure and simple, but I was still shaming myself.

Once I got that, I was able to let go of the shame a little bit and finish my workout, but I was still not looking forward to the locker room scene.

Sure enough, as soon as I hopped out of the pool, there was the woman I had run into. We showered together, dried off together and were getting dressed together. I was standing in the middle of the locker room feeling ashamed again and nervous.

I knew I should say something to her. I wanted to say something to her, but I was just so embarrassed I wasn't sure I could manage it. I thought about other people I know and what they would do in this situation. My husband would make a joke out of it. My friend G would be direct and apologize. My friend O would fawn over her, offer her an ice pack or a snack bar from her purse.

Just as she was about to leave the locker room I screwed up all my courage and said, "I'm really sorry for bumping into you. Are you okay?" 

"That was you?" she asked in a tone of total nonchalance. "I'm fine."

Not only did she not know it was me - as I had imagined and assumed - neither did anyone else. (In my head everyone in the locker room was starting daggers at me, "the reckless swimmer.")

Immediately she asked me if I was okay and then took off while all the other ladies in the locker room commiserated with me. 

"That's happened to me before."

"It's so easy to do."

"It was SO crowded today."

And I felt the love. The love that only came because I was willing to love the fool in myself.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Cheryl Strayed on Love


"Love is our essential nutrient. Without it, life has little meaning. It's the best thing we have to give and the most valuable thing we receive. It's worthy of all the hullabaloo." --Cheryl Strayed from her book Tiny Beautiful Things

I love this idea, that love is our essential nutrient. It implies that, like vitamins, we can do something about increasing our intake.

We don't just wait around for the Universe to send food from the sky like in Cloudy, with a chance of Meatballs, we go out and get what our bodies need. And our bodies tell us, in the form of cravings, what nutrients it needs. So do our hearts if we listen.

What does your heart need today? What essential nutrients are missing? Maybe some quiet alone time? Maybe a night out with your sweetie? Maybe a massage or other body work? Maybe some chocolate???

Whatever love you need, whether you need to give it or receive it, make the time to do it today. It's essential.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Remembering Love (Ways of Practicing)


I had a dream the other night about an old boyfriend. In the dream we were the same age we are now, but we were together. Even in my dream state I knew subconsciously that something was wrong with this picture, that in reality we each had different partners, but what really stuck out for me was the love that I felt between us.

Ours was a summer love and in that way it was almost completely unencumbered. We were free to sit out under the stars, take long walks, and spend hours talking over burgers and fries at our favorite diner.

He was an awesome boyfriend - kind, generous, affectionate, attentive, patient and understanding - which really came across in the dream. I remembered what it felt like to be loved in this way and it sparked something inside of me.

I walked around all day the next day feeling loved. No matter what anyone did or didn't do, said or didn't say, I felt loved. It made me want to recapture that feeling and to share it with others so I asked The Universe for a meditation that would help me to remember love.

 ~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~

REMEMBERING LOVE MEDITATION

  • Find a comfortable position either sitting up straight in a chair or on the ground with your legs crossed or lying down with your knees up. 
  • Close your eyes and take a few deep, cleansing breaths. Breathe until you feel yourself start to relax and sink into the ground.
  • Connect yourself to the Earth and to Source (as you imagine it) by sending a cord of energy down from your root chakra (at the base of your spine) into the center of the Earth and another cord of energy from your crown chakra (at the top of your head) up to Source. Feel your connection to both Earth and Spirit and breathe into this connection for a few breaths. 
  •  Now focus your attention on your heart chakra. Breathe into this space for a few breaths. Really feel into your heart. What does it feel like? Is it joyful or sad? Does it feel full or empty? Is it easy to access or quite difficult? Whatever your experience, just continue to breathe into this space. 
  • When you feel centered in your heart space, bring to mind a time you truly felt loved. Don't go searching for a time, rather let the memory come to you. It may be a recent memory, or something from the past, it may even be a past-life memory. Try not to connect to the person, or to the past event, but to the feeling of love. Even if you don't remember the specific incident that is okay - it may be something that you have forgotten or something from a past-life - as long as the feeling of being loved is there. Allow this feeling to expand within your heart space. Breathe into it and observe as it fills your entire heart. 
  • Once you feel your entire heart is filled with love, start to expand the love outward, filling your whole body. Start wherever you would like, but fill every part of your body with love. Fill your shoulders, neck, head and arms. Fill your abdomen, back, pelvis and buttocks. Fill your legs, knees, ankles and feet. Allow love to permeate your entire being. 
  • Continue to breathe for a few more rounds as you grow comfortable with this feeling. When you are ready, open your eyes and stand up. 

~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~

I hope you will find - as I did - that remembering a time you felt loved helps you to feel more loved right now and enables you to expand and emanate that love to all those around you.

[To my long-ago summer love: Thanks for the memories! :)]

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Loving what is.


"Love what IS." --The Universe (inspired by the work of Byron Katie)

We are experiencing some technical difficulties with our internet today so this is what I am practicing - loving what is. And that includes Mercury in retrograde

This is one of those practices that feels essential, like if I could master it, I would have mastered everything else almost automatically. 

If I were loving what is I would be living in the moment, I would be forgiving in the moment, I would be working towards peace and spreading love and so on....

So I invite you to love what is today, even if that includes some technological snafus! (This also works well on other homo sapiens :)

[Thanks for this post goes to my sister, Jennifer Alhasa, who introduced me to the work of Byron Katie and who is always there for me with a reminder to Love what IS!]

Monday, February 17, 2014

A Course in Miracles on Love (Ways of Practicing)

 

"What is not love is always fear and nothing else." --A Course in Miracles

I have been thinking a lot about fear as I explore the topic of love.

So much of what stands in the way of love is fear. Fear of rejection, fear of embarrassment, fear of intimacy, fear of joy.

We have been taught - in so many ways - to fear love that we can be paralyzed in the face of it. In the face of expressing it: telling someone how we feel, asking someone out, or even letting someone we are in relationship with know how important they are to us and in the face of receiving it: allowing someone to do something for us, graciously accepting a gift, or feeling worthy of the relationship that we really want.

If you believe, as I do, that all fear is at its core a fear of death, you can see why we are all so afraid of love. If we believe that the lack of love leads to death, that makes the stakes pretty high and many of us would rather circumnavigate this fear rather than face it, hoping to come up with something that is "close enough" and doesn't leave us vulnerable.

Here is something to try this week, also from A Course in Miracles: "I will not be afraid of love today."

Affirm each day that you will not be afraid of love and then mean it. Look for ways in which you protect yourself from love or the lack thereof and stop. Try to dwell in your fear and see if it dissipates or face your fear and see if courage shows up.

Whatever happens, try not to be afraid of love. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Thomas Merton on Love


"The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them." --Thomas Merton

UPDATE TO THIS POST:

Sunday night my husband and I had a bit of a fight and Monday night we had a great talk about it.

What I realized during our talk was that our fight was exactly because I was not doing the above. I was asking him to be more like me. To think like me, to act like me, to have preferences about travel and family time that were just like me. I was trying to twist him to fit my own image and it was NOT working.

No matter how much I tried to argue him into being like me he just couldn't do it. Because he's not me.

I think we finally came to that realization by the end of our talk on Monday and it was both enlightening and a bit scary.

In order to truly love him, I have to let go of my delusions about who he is, some of which I really quite like. It feels both liberating and a bit disappointing to have to face this truth, but there is no other way to live. Or to love.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Father Jim Coyne on Love



"Love is to will the good of the other FOR the other." --Father Jim Coyne 

I heard this quote at a wedding I went to last year, in the Priest's remarks to the couple, and I thought it was brilliant. I wonder how many married couples share this kind of love?

It is so easy when you get married to let the good of the whole over shadow the good of the individual and to lose yourselves in the relationship and in the family. I know this happened to me for far too many years, and I am only beginning to see how willing the good of my husband is good for me and how willing my own good is good for all of us.

I think we could all use a little more freedom in our love relationships - freedom to be who we are, freedom to be who we used to be, freedom to be who we want to be - and this seems like a good place to start.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Ted Mosby on Love


"...[T]here is a word for that, it's love. I'm in love with her. Okay? If you're looking for the word that means caring about someone beyond all rationality and wanting them to have everything they want no matter how much it destroys you, it's love. And when you love someone you just...you...you don't stop. Ever. Even when people roll their eyes or call you crazy. Even then. Especially then. You just... you don't give up. Because if I could give up, if I could just take the whole world's advice and, and, move on and find someone else, that wouldn't be love. That would be some other disposable thing that is not worth fighting for. But that is not what this is." --Ted Mosby, How I Met Your Mother, Season 9 Episode 17

As you know, I am a big fan of How I Met Your Mother, not in the least because it acknowledges The Universe and its mysterious ways, but it also contains more than its fair share of quotable moments, usually thanks to the loveable - but lovelorn - Ted Mosby.

Here is his take on love. What it is and what it isn't. I am not sure I agree with him 100%, but you gotta admire his commitment, especially on Valentine's Day.

Happy Valentine's Day! May your day - and your life - be full of LOVE.
 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Krishnamurti on Love


"Love implies generosity, care, not to hurt another, not to make them feel guilty, to be generous, courteous, and behave in such a manner that your words and thoughts are born of compassion." --Krishnamurti

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

What is love anyway?


"Patience. Understanding. A hot cup of tea. A salt water bath. The wing (what we call it when I crawl in underneath my husband's arm and snuggle up next to him). Passionate kisses. An ache in my heart. Chocolate. Dark chocolate. Dark chocolate caramels from Trader Joe's. Kindness in the face of my anger. Receiving exactly what I need without having to ask. A heart-felt card. A good book. A sappy movie. Twelve hours of uninterrupted sleep. My son's smile. My son's hair. My son's energy. The way my son smells. The sun on my skin. Writing, when it's going well. Helping someone in need. Right now." --My answer to the question, "What is love?"

Love is squirrelly, isn't it? I don't know about you, but I am having a much harder time with love than I did with forgiveness. Forgiveness seemed pretty straight-forward to me. Feel wronged (or that you have wronged someone), write a Forgiveness Letter, Let It Go, Repeat. Love has been trickier for me.

Maybe because I have never focused on it before. I have felt it, I have fell in it, I have lost it, and I have looked for it, but I have never really spent time focusing on it in this way before.

What is love, really?

Is it passion? Is it romance? Is it commitment? Is it hot sex or a warm cuddle? Is it agape or eros or philia? Is it all of these things or none of them? Or all of them AND none of them, at the same time? 

The "quote" for today is a list of some of the things that feel like love to me. This isn't an exhaustive list by any means, just the first things that came to mind when I sat down to write.

For the rest of this week I am going to publish quotes that I think get at the heart of what love is. I hope you will chime in with your love words.

What is love TO YOU?

[BTW....Wikipedia has a whole series on LOVE. Can I just say, I LOVE this!?!]

[This photo is of a Valentine's Day card I got in the mail from The Heifer Foundation. I <3 it too!]

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Presence=Love


"When we are present to our loved ones, LOVE shows up." --Karen Lindvig, Senior Minister at Seattle Unity Church

Yesterday was one of those days that I was fully aware of how very difficult it is to be fully present. All day, no matter what I was doing it seemed, I was thinking of something else.

While making breakfast, I was thinking about writing my blog post. While writing my blog post, I was thinking about watching a movie. While shopping, I was thinking about taking a bath before dinner. While meditating before bed, I was thinking about what I wanted to get done the next day. It was a seemingly never-ending cycle of not being present.

Except for after dinner; after dinner I got it right for a little while. 

The kids had been fighting since about five o'clock. Dinner is usually at six, but I could tell they were getting hungry so I tried to push things up a bit and after dinner things got better almost immediately, but there were still remnants of hard feelings between the two of them and exhaustion on my part.

After cleaning up, I made a cup of tea and sat down to read my book. Just as I did, my younger son asked me if I would play Cranium Brain Breaks with him.

[Public Service Announcement: If you have never played Cranium Brain Breaks, I highly recommend it as a family game. There are no winners and no losers - and thus NO TEARS or FIGHTS - because you are all working together against the clock to complete various tasks. It really is a lot of fun. Okay, back to our regularly scheduled blog post.]

"Oh," I thought, "I was really looking forward to reading my book....especially after all the fighting." So I said, "I will in a bit. Once I finish my tea."

Immediately I got the hit that I wouldn't. That something else would come up and he'd get tired of waiting and move on and then I'd be ready and he'd ask me to wait and I'd move on and we'd end up not playing together at all. This happens at our house more than I would like to admit.

So I asked myself, "WWLD?"

I knew the answer. Love would play Cranium. Right now.

So that's what I did. And guess what? Love showed up.

My younger son and I played for awhile and had a great time. And then my older son came downstairs and asked if he could play. And we all had a great time.

Our favorite challenge was trying to find five items each from around the house that made noise and bring them to the table before the time ran out. We had the best time finding, unplugging, and carting our various noise-makers to the table. Even my middle-schooler who is starting to roll his eyes at certain types of family fun, had a great time completing this task.

Later on, after the dog was walked and teeth were brushed we all crawled into bed together and I got to read my book. At that moment, I wasn't thinking about anything else.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Crazy for Love


"The distinction between children and adults, while probably useful for some purposes, is at bottom a specious one, I feel. There are only individual egos, crazy for love." --Donald Barthelme

[This photograph was taken at Earth Sanctuary on Whidbey Island.]

Sunday, February 9, 2014

We are Citizens of the World!




"The truest religion is love." --Citizens of the World (With thanks to Jonathan Marshall)

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Love Wisdom from Alexandra Jaye Johnson



"Let love guide you." -Alexandra Jaye Johnson

May love be your guide today and every day. Namaste. 

[Photo of my son letting love guide him on the beach at Grayland, WA]

Friday, February 7, 2014

Love means letting those you love off the hook...



“Tell everyone you know: 'My happiness depends on me, so you're off the hook.' And then demonstrate it. Be happy no matter what they're doing. Practice feeling good, no matter what. And before you know it, you will not give anyone else responsibility for the way you feel – and then, you'll love them all because the only reason you don't love them is because you're using them as your excuse not to feel good.” --Esther Hicks

For those of us prone to over-responsibility this can be a tricky one. Over-responsibility is how we have kept ourselves safe. If we take too much responsibility how can anyone be mad at us? Or disappointed in us? Or fail to love us?

Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way because we can never fully anticipate the needs of another so over-responsibility does not work one hundred percent of the time. AND it keeps us from developing the true intimacy with another person that comes from giving and receiving. It can also lead to resentment if we expect others to behave in the same way because they often don't.

My husband and I run into this a lot. As a new mother it was my job to anticipate every need of my newborn baby and try to meet that need, often at the expense of my own happiness. This became a habit that has been hard to break. I still take too much responsibility for my sons' needs and sometimes I feel all alone as a parent, despite the fact that my husband is one of the best dads I know, because I am taking on too much and basing my happiness on their appreciation and his reciprocation.

What I have learned is that sometimes I just need to go to bed when I am tired and not worry that the boys will not get to bed at what I consider a decent hour. Sometimes I need to sit on the couch with a cup of tea and a good book after dinner instead of managing homework time. And sometimes I need to ask my husband to pick up dinner instead of cooking.
  
In other words, I need to take responsibility for my own happiness and well-being and start expecting them to do the same.

Last night I signed up for a webinar from 5:00-6:00 pm - the worst possible time for our family because this is when I usually make dinner. I was working with the boys to figure out how we could possibly get homework done and dinner on the table without everyone ending up grumpy when my older son said, "I'll make dinner Mom, what are we having?" 

It was one of those moments parents live for, when you feel like you have actually done a pretty good job and it is all coming together. And it never would have happened if I hadn't been willing to set aside my sense of over-responsibility (in the past I would have said "No" to this class simply because of the timing) and seek my own happiness.

It is scary. And it is risky. But it is so much better than the alternative. For years I made my husband and my children responsible for my happiness and what I mostly ended up feeling was anger. The more I experiment with taking responsibility for my own happiness, the happier I am. And surprisingly, the happier they are too.

[This photograph is of a heart-shaped bowl my younger son made for me out of some mulch he found in the backyard. It was kind of sticky so he thought he had found some clay and wanted to make something with it.]

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Open Your Eyes!


"Love lives in everything. Little or big. Open your eyes." --Unknown

Someone wrote this in the guestbook in the ladies restroom at one of my favorite restaurants and it has become one of my favorite quotes, maybe ever.

Not only is it a beautiful sentiment, beautifully worded, but the thought that someone came up with it in between peeing and washing their hands delights and astounds me.

This person was not thinking about the food in her teeth or how she'd like to change her hair or what she was rushing off to do next, she was thinking about love and how to share it with the next person that walked in that door, sat down and picked up this book.

Want to see love in everything? Open your eyes!

[This little lady shared our table at an outdoor restaurant we ate at this summer. I took this picture to text to the kids who were back at home with the babysitter.]

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Love Wisdom from Anodea Judith


"Love is not a matter of getting connected. It is a matter of seeing that we already ARE connected within an intricate web of relationships that extends throughout all life. It is a realization of 'no boundary' -- that we are all made of the same stuff, riding through time on the same spaceship, faced with the same problems in the world, the same hopes and fears. It is a connection at the core, that makes irrelevant skin color, age, sex, looks or money." --Anodea Judith

Addendum to the Post:

I found this video on Facebook today that seems to illustrate the above quote as well as anything. Click here to be amazed. 

[This photograph was taken on the beach at Salt Creek Campground on the Olympic Peninsula. I loved the way this seaweed formed a circle on the beach. It felt like the Universe's way of reminding me that we are all one.]

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Eyes of Love (Ways of Practicing)


"L ☺ ☺ K with eyes of love." -- The Universe 

I have no idea where this quote came from - did I hear it somewhere and forget to write it down? - but it sprang to mind, fully formed, this morning as I was talking to a friend. 

She wasn't feeling so attractive and was lamenting how her body had changed over the years, how she was aging and feeling just plain ugly. 

I empathized and commiserated and finally advised her to look upon herself with "eyes of love." And then I made her say three things she liked about her body before we hung up.

Because that's the key isn't it? How we look. 

We can look with eyes of judgment. We can look with eyes of guilt. We can look with eyes of hatred or even with eyes of lust, but none of these give us the clearest picture of ourselves or others. It is only when we look with eyes of love that we see as God sees, as we truly are. 

So I challenge you today to look with eyes of love upon all that is around you. At your friends, your family, your neighbors. At the strangers you encounter as you move through your day. At that pile of laundry that has been sitting in the corner of your room for weeks, at the car that desperately needs washing, at the stack of papers you have to get through before tax day. 

And, of course, at your one and only beautiful Self.

[This photograph is of our dog who always looks at us with eyes of love, even when she desperately needs a grooming and can hardly see at all.]

Monday, February 3, 2014

Love Wisdom from Coleman Barks


"Whatever you love is your path." --Coleman Barks, Rumi translator in The Sun magazine

Last week I wrote about feeling lost, not knowing what I want to do with my life or where I am headed right now. Over the weekend I got a little clarity when I sat down to write my final post for 30 Days of Forgiveness and I realized I didn't want it to end.

I really enjoyed sharing my favorite quotes and my experiences of forgiveness with you. I enjoyed finding just the right photograph to go with that day's post. And I enjoyed connecting with all of you on Facebook and Twitter around the topic of forgiveness. And that's when I knew I didn't have to search for what I wanted to do, I am already doing it.

I felt the same way when I sat down today to get started on 28 Days of Love.

Since I didn't know I was doing this until a couple of days ago, I am a bit behind in my preparation. I didn't have any quotes picked out, no themes identified, no plan in place, just a vague idea of what I want to do with Love this month and the idea for the exercise (WWLD?).

So I sat down today and went through my quotations and started picking out some quotes about Love. I ended up with seventy-three possible quotes after eliminating a few that just didn't speak to me right now. Seventy-three! Almost three months worth of quotes about love. This isn't going to be easy....

But, as I worked through my list, I started to get excited about each one - what I could write about, what photo might go well with what quote, how it might become someone else's new favorite...I was in love with what I was doing and that's all I need to know right now.

I don't need to know how I am going to make money doing it or what my book is going to look like or if this will be my "life's work." I know that it is because I am living and I am working. What I am doing each day, right now, is what I love and that's all I need to know to know that I am on the right path.

[Despite this epiphany, I am still planning to attend the Beyond Stuck webinar by Elisa Balabram this Thursday so that I am ready next time these feeling of confusion come up.  I would love to "see" you there!] 

[The photograph on this page was taken on the Cape Flattery Trail, a trail that leads to the most Northwestern point in the lower forty-eight States.]

Sunday, February 2, 2014

WWLD?

WWLD?
"What would love do?" --The Universe

The exercise for this month is simple: every time you encounter a situation which is difficult, painful, or confusing, simply STOP. Breathe. And ask yourself, "What would love do?" Then wait for the answer.

If this feels too vague, here are some alternate questions to try:

• What is the highest good for all concerned in this situation? 

• How could this situation be win-win? 

• How can I show love to myself/this person right now?

You might also come up with a question that works for you. 

If the answer doesn't come right away, continue to breathe until you feel you have more clarity. Or, if you need to make a decision right away, make the best decision you can make in the moment, knowing you are doing your very best at this time. 

Later you can go back and reflect on your decision; was that what love would have done? If not, what do you think love would have done? Can you try that next time?

The idea here isn't to be perfect, but to bring more awareness, more presence and - hopefully - more love, to our every day experiences. 

I will let you know how it goes for me and I would live to hear your experiences, either here or on my 28 Days of Love Facebook page.

In the meantime, I am going to go and make some reminder cards for myself and hang them up around my house: WWLD?



Saturday, February 1, 2014

All You Need Is (28 Days of) LOVE!



 "Love, Love, Love. Love, Love, Love. Love, Love, Love....All you need is love. All you need is love. Love is all you need." --The Beatles

Now that January is over and we have completed 30 Days of Forgiveness, I find myself asking, "What's next?"

And while a part of me wants to answer, "A big old rest," there is another part that wants to keep the momentum of this thirty day experiment going. And that voice is the loudest right now so I am going to listen to it.

The theme for February - LOVE - may seem obvious with Valentine's Day just around the corner, but it also seems to follow naturally from forgiveness. By opening our hearts to the possibility of forgiveness, we open to the possibility of love.

The format for this month will be a little bit different, and less comprehensive, but I hope you will stick with me. Come back tomorrow and I will talk about the exercise I am going to be practicing this month to try and find more love in every corner of my life.

Until then, Love, Love, Love. It's all you need to do.

[The photograph on this page was taken in the business lounge at the Farmer's Daughter Hotel in Los Angeles, CA.]