Tag: love

As we get ready to shower mom with love and appreciation on this upcoming Mother’s Day, the idea of parenthood comes into question. How did your parents do as parents?

Hmm, good question. I’ve wrestled with a few complaints about mom and dad over the years:

  • They always have to be right. They don’t even listen to my side of the story; it’s only their way or no way. Don’t they understand they don’t know everything?
  • They want me to do everything their way. They won’t let me be my own person and learn my own lessons. Don’t they understand that I’m living my life, not theirs?
  • I’ll never measure up. Everything I do is never enough. Instead of congratulations, I get skepticism. Don’t they understand that it doesn’t have to look like they think it should?
  • It’s ok for you to do it but if I do the exact same thing, I get a lecture. Why is it wrong for me and not for you? Don’t they understand that nobody respects a hypocrite?
  • If I’m content being single, it must mean I’m unhappy and something must be wrong with me. God forbid, I get married later than 20 years old. Don’t they understand that some people choose not to rush into marriage?
  • They don’t even know what I do for a living. I’ve never had to repeat myself so often about what I do, for it to go in one ear and out the other. It’s like unless it promises a pension, I don’t have a real job. Don’t they understand this isn’t the 1950s?

You said it, Will; parents just don’t understand.

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‘Tis better to have loved and lost
than never to have loved at all.

My guess is Alfred Lord Tennyson knew a thing or two about love. I agree with his sentiment, “’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” Love is a transformative, powerful thing, and to be able to express that to and with another human being is the prize of life.

No matter if that human stays or goes.

Relationships teach us a lot about ourselves. Our hopes, our dreams, our limitations, our expectations. They teach us about how we get along with others, who we vibe with and who we don’t…and why.

They teach us about what we accept or tolerate, and what we refuse to.

What we trust and don’t trust.

They shine a light on our insecurities; the vulnerabilities we choose to expose and those we choose to hide.

They either hold us hostage or set us free.

We can learn something from everyone. Add a special intimacy to the mix and the lessons run very deep.

The biggest lessons come when we see ourselves in the other person, our reflection in their eyes. When we see our own actions in their behavior. When we see our truth in their truth.

We can open ourselves up to this insight—the penetrating similarities—or deny it. But when we deny it, we close our eyes to introspection. When we discern it, we let in empathy and self-love, because what we love in others, we love in ourselves.

My last relationship taught me a lot about love; loving and feeling loved. Loving without condition, loving with condition. Loving to escape. Loving to rescue. Loving to find, loving to be found.

Loving for all the reasons love isn’t, and loving for all the reasons it is.

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Close your eyes. Picture someone you love very much, with all your heart. Your mom, your daughter, your nephew, your grandpa, your best friend, your husband, whoever. Pick one. For the sake of this exercise, we’ll call this person the love of your life.

Get a clear image of that person in your mind. See their face, their hair, their hands. Notice their eyes when they glimmer, their smile when it sparkles, their voice when they’re giddy.

Feel in your heart how much you love that person. How much you don’t want that person to ever be hurt or harmed. How much joy they bring to your life.

Feel your heart bubble up with adoration, pride and gratitude for this person.

Now, take all that sensation and bottle it up in a huge water jug. Imagine pouring that jug into the valve of a fire hydrant.

Screw on the hose. Take the nozzle and release the throttle to send your love spraying out into the world.

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Each and every single day of our lives, we work toward love. The one thing we don’t need to work for at all, yet it is the one thing we work the hardest at. So much so, we never fail at it, searching and finding love.

We don’t always know we’re doing it, but we are. We seek to be loved, to feel loved and to know we’re loved. And we effort toward that through any means necessary.

We search and we find it however we can. Through compliments, awards, sex, food, drugs, gossip, Instagram, shopping, comparing, belittling…

A lot or a little at a time, we distract ourselves from true love and gravitate toward good-for-now. We’ve become addicted to those small detours away from self-judgment. Anything that gets our minds off what we hate about ourselves.

Doesn’t sound like love at all.

Nothing external can be a source (er, a reminder) of love, unless we first love ourselves. Love that comes inside-out is able to recognize love that comes outside-in. We see, feel and know only what’s already inside of us.

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“Keep it simple,” my mom would say whenever I was on the edge of a panic attack in college. Now her voice rings in my ears when I start to get stressed, anxious or burned out. It’s my trigger to let me know I’m doing too much. The stress I feel lets me know I’m putting way too much pressure on myself to get it all done.

Maybe you too have felt the crushing weight of stress and didn’t know how to handle it. I get it. Nowadays, we have more tools for getting stressed than we have for ridding stress.

Stress is self-inflicted; it is us torturing ourselves. We place expectations on the outcome of our pursuits, demanding that the orchestra of life perform a certain way. But what if it doesn’t? What if the chords are off, or an instrument is missing? We berate the conductor and the musicians. We challenge the sheet music and try to perfect the tempo, rather than just enjoy the beautiful rhythm.

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Let’s talk about attachment which happens when people form friendships, intimate relationships, have babies, etc. There’s some level of clinging that bonds us…and we aren’t aware of the tie when we’re not conscious and present.

I’m sure a newlywed bride and groom would put lots of effort in protecting and prolonging their honeymoon phase so that it goes on as long as possible. Because if that honeymoon phase ends, what will that mean? That the love’s gone too?

I’m sure most parents would admit to thinking that if anything happens to their child, they’d die. God forbid someone hurt their child, they’re ready to murder any suspects.

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We see things not as they are, but as we are. 

The Talmud

Maybe there’s no such thing as enemy. Maybe no one’s vying for your demise so much as their own ascension. Maybe the idea of having opposition is your desperate explanation for why you face conflict you don’t understand. Maybe your self-consciousness is behind why you feel judged by others.

Maybe becoming your biggest fan will destroy whatever you perceived was against you.

Maybe becoming your biggest fan is the answer. If not, it’s still a good practice. Why? Because being your biggest fan comes with built-in benefits. First, you get to sound off praise and applause on cue! And you never have to worry about fair-weather fans. Second, you are more inclined to live life to the fullest and seek your constant development and improvement. Making life more rewarding. Third, once you’re a bona fide fan, you’ll start experiencing life swinging in your favor. How you see yourself is how others will see you. Exude confidence and conviction, and you’ll attract a support system you never knew you had. Be present and sincere in your interactions, and others will flock to your attention. Hone a disposition of kindness and gratitude, and you’ll hear others include those very same qualities when they speak of your character. Project peace and love onto others, and you’ll get the same treatment in return.

It starts with you.

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