Hey my fellow love workers. Happy holidays. Also, happy not-end-of-the-world. It wasn’t as mind-blowing as I was secretly hoping it would be, but I had a small ceremony in my apartment nonetheless. Yes, there was incense, there were...
Hello lovers, I hope you’ve all found yourselves well in the last few weeks amidst the food and friends and gratitude….and turkey, or tofurkey, and pumpkin pie (especially pumpkin pie). The thing that I love most about November...
Hello loves. So, it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve graced the blog, but I’m still hardcore into loving and living and kindness and hugs. I just haven’t been too hardcore into computers for a minute or two, so...
Hey my fellow love workers.
Happy holidays. Also, happy not-end-of-the-world. It wasn’t as mind-blowing as I was secretly hoping it would be, but I had a small ceremony in my apartment nonetheless. Yes, there was incense, there were candles, there was music and there were vision boards (I was trying to seduce the gods). There was also some burning of wishes (written on paper) and some freaking out that someone was going to smell burning paper and knock on my door and see my candles and see my vision boards and deem me the “weird neighbor”. The latter did not happen. So, happy not-end-of-the-world.
I’ve been living in some white-space recently, and I wanted to chat about it with you.
When we started this blog, I was overflowing with ideas of kindness and declarations of love. And I still am. They still spill out from behind my eyelids every morning, but what I’ve come to realize is that we all need our own white-space in order to share our hearts with others. We need silence in order to shout, and we need rest in order to run. Upon any project that I begin, or any habit I want to change, or anything I want to commence, I ceremoniously freak myself out by feeling the need to go, go, go or write, write, write or produce, produce, produce…or change immediately; however, what I have not been paying homage to is the white-space in which everything is produced or changed or guided.
Silence. Stillness. Prolonged breaks. Inaction. Lull. Noiselessness. It’s all part of the process.
There can be no tidal wave without a lull.
When I started paying attention to the downtime, the silence, the calmness in which I sometimes fear to exist, I discovered that it is there that all of our brilliance lies; it is there that all our words form; it is there that our hearts grow. We must honor our blank space just as much as we honor our art.
As the year winds down, recognize the areas in which you need some white-space. Recognize where things are starting to feel frustrating and forced, or small and scrunched. See if you can stop for a moment and sit still — physically, metaphorically, emotionally. See if you can listen to what is happening beyond the silence before pushing any further. See if you can give yourself a break from going, going, going or doing, doing, doing. And, if you’re already doing that and feeling extremely guilty about it, stop the guilt and start the praise. Praise the white-space knowing you’ll soon want to create.
So, my fellow love-workers, sit in silence for a moment when you can, even if that ‘moment’ lasts a month.
Also, enjoy the holidays, celebrate the not-end-of-the-world (be careful burning things), and love the crap out of each other. And keep loving the crap out of each other. Even when it’s hard.
Remember, love works.
I hope you’ve all found yourselves well in the last few weeks amidst the food and friends and gratitude….and turkey, or tofurkey, and pumpkin pie (especially pumpkin pie).
The thing that I love most about November — aside from all the bold and awkward mustaches – is the fact that we spend most of the month contemplating what we’re grateful for and putting it into words more often than we do the rest of the year. I’ve seen countless messages of gratitude splattered all over Facebook, blogs and emails, and I am so warmed by the fact that within all of us is the capacity to recognize all the abundance that the world has offered us.
I asked myself the other day what I was really grateful for, and I sat for a little while wondering if I could go beyond the obvious: family, friends, shelter, food, clothes, etc. I realized that even in gratitude, it’s easy to overlook things and say it without really knowing the little nuances behind it; I’m grateful that I have food, yes, but what about that food? I am grateful for my friends, of course, but each of them is so completely different, so what is it that I love? I found I needed to go a little bit deeper into those large-scale things that I was grateful for and see if I could muster up different levels of giving thanks. I put just a few below:
1. I am grateful for the silence in the morning before anyone has awoken and I can hear my spirit.
2. I am grateful for being able to come home to a place where the walls are laced with love and support, and where I can punch pillows if I need to…and my roommate won’t bat an eye.
3. I am grateful for the small facial expressions that are so unique to each person’s emotions. My goodness, the small eye-rolls or lip-scrunches can be so beautiful.
4. I am grateful for the moment right before you hug someone where you can feel their warmth coming into yours.
5. I am grateful that people say “I miss you” when I am gone.
6. I am grateful for my mentors — past and present, expected and unexpected, patient, wise and loving — and that they take their time to guide me.
7. I am grateful for white sweet potatoes (seriously, try ‘em).
8. I am grateful that people feel safe enough to show me how they feel, whether it’s severe anger or severe love (or lust…).
9. I am grateful for knowing warmth is never in shortage — warm water, warm food, warm hearts.
10. I am grateful for those who defiantly shatter my walls, one question or gesture at a time.
The list could probably go on and on (I am grateful for raisins, I am grateful for plungers…yadda yadda), so I will leave you with those. By taking things a little bit deeper, I was able to look at layer upon layer of what being grateful means to me and why; I was able to understand what exactly about my friends and family and food and life makes me burst into smiles or melt into love.
If you’re feeling a little out-of-touch or a bit overwhelmed with the whole gratitude thing this month, see if you can start small. Start with being grateful about the tiniest little aspect of your life and go from there. Alternatively, if your list of things is already a mile long (good), then make it even longer and have fun with it. And please, be grateful for yourself and explore what that means. Believe me, it’s more important than it may seem.
Give love to anything and everything that you write about. Above all, we can be grateful for love.
Love works.Read More
So, it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve graced the blog, but I’m still hardcore into loving and living and kindness and hugs. I just haven’t been too hardcore into computers for a minute or two, so that’s what happened there.
I wanted to chat a bit about loving-the-process today, because I’ve recently been trying to learn what that means and put it into practice.
A couple of years ago I was determined to “fix” myself and my life, as I have probably mentioned in previous posts. I was working in a job I hated, I was living in an apartment I hated, and I was dealing with some emotional turmoil that I just couldn’t put to rest. This idea of “fixing myself” (and, therefore, my life) meant that I had to get from here to there before I could really feel comfortable and enjoy things. I had to achieve this or that in order to feel complete and whole and secure and floppily happy. I just wanted to skip the whole doing part of achieving and just get there already. I wanted to figure out my career now; I wanted to stop emotionally eating now; I wanted to be who I wanted to be now without ever trusting or, heaven forbid, enjoying the process.
I don’t really know when it struck me, but I finally realized that I will never get there, and, I already am there. I finally realized that I might as well find ways to enjoy whatever I was going through since I had to take that route anyways, and holy crap it’s made a big difference; the scenery is much nicer from this window. You see,whenever we arrive at where we want to go, we will always set out for something else. It’s our nature. However, most of our lives are spent in-between point A and B — because we’re always landing and launching — and, for some reason, we rarely enjoy the flying part of it…or the floating or gliding or scary-ass turbulence.
Take some time today to look at a few things you want to accomplish — learning guitar, getting a promotion, losing weight, attracting true love, washing the darn dishes, getting ready in the morning, whatever it is — and think of some ways you can enjoy the process. Hum while you wash those dishes, dance while you’re getting ready, smile while you’re at work. Fill in the space between A and B with the fun stuff, and it’ll never be as difficult as you remember. And, you may even come to enjoy it.
Learn to love the process, and everything will change.
Because, love works.Read More
We’ve discussed before how good it feels to write someone a hand-written, snail-mail letter. While it can definitely prove effective in soaking you (and them) in fuzzy feelings of kindness and care, sometimes we want to leave get that (or give that) feeling more often or with more immediacy. And that’s where the sticky note comes in.
I’ve been living with my old college roommate again for about two months now, and we’ve made it a little bit of a habit to write each other notes and leave them around the house when A. we won’t see each other for a couple of days or B. we feel like it. It ranges in anything from “have a great day at work!” to “J” to the mini-novel telling the other what we’re feeling that day or what we (I) ate for dinner. I’m a big fan of leaving any kind of notes (sticky or not, purposeful or not) and it’s always put a big smile on my face to know that I am leaving a little bit of kindness for someone. However, I’ve recently come to understand how great it feels to be on the receiving end which, in turn, makes it feel even greater to be on the giving end! It’s a warm, merry-go-round of love and care and kindness and all those feel-good words. And, it doesn’t cease to be effective.
Assignment for Kindness #8
Leave someone you care about a note somewhere. Whether it’s a coworker, a lover, a friend or a roommate, tell them anything about anything and they will appreciate it. Throw in a few smiley faces, and they won’t be able not to smile back. Really, try it.
Leaving notes is something that has been overshadowed in the last few years due to emails, texts, Facebook and about 9439 other social media outlets that allow you to tag, poke, prod or tweet on someone else. However, it can never be replaced; there is something really special about coming into a room and seeing that a note awaits you. There is something really special about knowing that the person who wrote it went out of their way to (probably) awkwardly hunch over the table or desk for a good 30 seconds just to make you smile. And you just can’t tweet that same kind of sentiment.
So, try it out. Leave a silly note, a loving note, or simply a smiley face. If you want to be extra savvy, hide a few. Put one in the refrigerator or the bathroom mirror, or even under the lid of the trash can.
A tiny sticky note can go a long way. Believe you me.
Love works.Read More
We all have a “beast”. You know the one: your anger, your shame, your embarrassment, guilt, fear, anxiety or stress….or any other negative emotion that seems to plague you on a regular basis. It’s usually the emotion that nips at our heels and tugs at our brain when we least expect it and when we least appreciate it. But, it’s always there, reminding us that even the best-of-days can come to a grinding halt beneath its power; even the sunniest of situations can get clouded over and then diluted in the storm. And at that point, the beast has taken up the room.
My beast is anger. And while she may not visit that often, every time she does, she does so with a raging ferociousness that even I don’t always recognize it. A lot of people are surprised when I tell them this about myself, but for me it’s something that is so familiar and so ingrained, and it’s something that has “plagued” me for years.
You see, long ago, when I was going through some really difficult adolescent years, I somehow learned to express each and every difficult feeling with such an intense anger that it left many people, including myself, feeling damaged and exhausted. When I was hurt, I’d yell; when I was scared, I’d storm into or out of the house; when I was worried, I’d scowl. When I was heartbroken, I’d explode. There was so much happening in my life at the time that, without even realizing it, I had substituted anger for every difficult emotion that I didn’t know how to work through. I’d push certain people away when I wanted them close, I’d hurt particular people with my words when I needed to be loved, and I’d verbally harm specific loved ones thinking that it would keep me safe. It didn’t. It didn’t keep them safe, either. For years I kicked and screamed in place of any trying emotion, and it resulted in some pretty damaged relationships. Don’t get me wrong, the majority of my time wasn’t spent in anger, but the majority of any scary emotion, was.
It wasn’t until my first relationship fell to pieces that I realized the nature of the “beast”; it wasn’t until I saw the damage I’d done and what I’d lost in the process that I could remove myself from its grip long enough to breathe and look around in horror. Not only did I continuously hurt someone I loved, but I no longer recognized myself. I panned out and saw that I was doing this with my family, too, and from then on, I vowed never to let my anger harm another human being…at least not deliberately, anyways.
Fast forward many years, and I find that anger comes to knock on my door every once in a while when I least expect her to visit. Even after all the learning and meditation and work that I’ve done with her, she still likes to make an appearance and take the stage in my mind on occasion. However, where I used to be frightened of her or try to scold her, I now see what her motives are. This whole time, she’s been trying to protect me. This whole time, she’s been trying to fight off the “big bad world” in order to keep me safe from harm, safe from hurting. And to be honest, I recently came to love her for wanting to take care of me so much. Sure, she’s not always welcome and not everyone likes her, but she is always ready to protect me in whatever way she can. Thus, it’s my job to lovingly let her know that she needn’t always fight, for I’m rarely at risk.
We all have a “beast”. Well, many of us do. Maybe it’s not called a “beast” to you; maybe (s)he’s a “wimp” or a “bitch” or a “stuttering mess”. Maybe you are crippled with anxiety or frenetic with stress. Maybe whatever plagues you prevents you from talking to that cute person at the bar, or keeps you up in the middle of the night with worry; maybe it’s only a little hint of discomfort. Whatever it is, try to step back for a moment and see why your anger surges up, or why your anxiety keeps you locked in. If you dig a little bit, I bet you’ll see that it always stems from a place of love.
Any difficult emotions we have are there to protect us, to love us, to comfort us. They don’t always get the right action matched up with the message, but they are always on our side. They are always trying to make sure we don’t look stupid, or lose our footing, or make a fool of ourselves. Ironically, they often do that for us, but their intention is otherwise.
So, if you can, or if you want to, take a look at which difficult emotions come up for you on a regular basis. Then, go further: ask them why they are there. Ask them what they are trying to protect you from. And then, thank them. Just like us, they are doing their best.
Go ahead, love the beast right back.
Love works (dammit).Read More
Every so often, I am plagued with a sense of existential loneliness. It used to happen to me every Sunday evening growing up, but it took a small hiatus at one point up until very recently. I’m not sure what is so specific about Sundays, but I believe growing up I had the sense that, come Monday morning, I would lose a part of my happiness to the monotony of the week, to the low murmur of routine, or to the place that so many of us go when we “check out” mentally or emotionally. Once Monday rolled around, however, I was delighted to be in school amongst my friends — very much the same way I delight in seeing my coworkers / friends and falling peacefully back into my routine nowadays. Nevertheless, Sundays still serve me a slight twinge of existential loneliness and familiar melancholy. I have become so used to this emotional routine that it no longer scares me, but, still, it is rarely pleasant to wander into. And, whether I am alone or with my loved ones, it may continue to bite at my attention and shift through my soul; in those times, I forget that I am never alone.
I believe that many people deal with loneliness in some sense or another — or on some level — whether profound or not; I don’t necessarily believe that it is as deep-seated in everyone as it is in certain ones, but I do think that quite a few people have the sense to recognize it, ache from it, fear it or just never want to go near it. And, for many, there is nothing worse than being alone or being lonely.
Assignment for Kindness #7:
Send someone an unexpected message or email, or pick up the phone in order to tell someone that you are thinking of them, that you wish you could see them, and that that’s why you’re getting in touch.
I know it’s sometimes hard to be the first one to initiate contact — well, maybe for some — but I think it can work wonders to reach out to someone and tell them that they are on your mind…for no other reason than because they are. In my experience, I have found that there is something so profound in sharing with someone the mere fact that you’re thinking about them, and though it may seem a little bit lackluster, it rarely fails to soothe the soul. I think this is especially powerful when you haven’t seen or spoken to someone in awhile, but nevertheless, I think you can do this to your best friend, roommate, parents, siblings or lover and still achieve the same results.
The goal here is to give someone the sense that you are connected. The fact of the matter is, we never know when someone is feeling alone or lonely, or, in turn, when the feeling will strike us. And, during those moments, the need for connectivity is as it’s peak while the belief in connectedness, at it’s nadir. It always helps to throw out little buoys of love and kindness in case someone is in need, and you’ll be surprised at how doing so can save parts of you as well.
None of us is alone, really. But sometimes we forget.
Tell them, however you’d like, that you love them.
Love works.Read More
A couple of years ago, I hopped on the self-improvement train in a big way. I packed my bags, jumped on board and started reading. At first, I was super embarrassed; I mean, I’d always had the assumption that the people roaming the “self-help” aisles at the bookstores were lonely, depressed, sad and lost. And maybe I was too. But, I found myself devouring books anyways, and hoping for massive changes in the direction of where I wanted to be.
When I first started reading about progress and change and using your mind and all that good stuff, I wanted so badly to be able to harness those abilities and be whoever I wanted. I wanted so badly to feel in control of my life and make my own decisions. And, secretly — probably to myself and others — I wanted so badly not to be me. Ouch. That’s a tough place to be, but I ended up existing in that space for quite awhile. Somewhere down the line, I’d created this notion that I was not good enough (for what?), that I was not this enough or that enough (for whom?), and that until I changed I would never be enough. I know, it sounds unwarranted and fairly outrageous, but I believe that many people can struggle with that innate feeling. So, it was there, and it was planted firmly in my mind and my heart and my body. Thus, naturally, I set out to change myself.
For years, I fell flat on my face. Sure, I made some progress, but I continued to fall steeply backwards into old habits and mindsets and cycles…over and over and over. And it was exhausting. I kept diving deeper into my mind and my emotions and the ‘why’s’ and ‘how’s’ and ‘who’s’ of my past in hopes of finding some trigger that would allow me to make some radical changes, in order to find something that would allow me to “fix” myself. Nothing worked. And it made me less and less of my own fan. Ugh.
Finally — and after lots of trial and error and diving and swimming — I realized something: I couldn’t change anything because I didn’t love myself. Hell, I didn’t even like myself. Of course I knew that; that’s why I wanted to change in the first place, but what I didn’t realize was that in order to make positive changes in any aspect of my life, I had to care enough about myself to make them. I had to love myself.
We all want to change something about ourselves. Maybe we want to lose weight, or quit smoking, or stop compulsively eating, or become more focused, or have better style. We all want something. And that’s okay. Changing your habits does not mean that your old ones stem from a defectiveness in your character, or your abilities or your spirit; changing yourself does not mean that you don’t respect and love yourself; changing yourself does not mean that you can’t respect and love yourself. In fact, you must. It is vital for success. It is vital for happiness. It is vital for the world — both internally and externally — to survive and thrive. Think about it: if you want to stop smoking, you must love and appreciate your lungs enough to do so, right? If you want to lose some belly fat, you must appreciate your body and not want to put crap into it, no? If you want to make more friends, you must care about who you are and what you bring to this world. And, I can assure you, this approach makes it so much easier to make some changes.
Don’t get me wrong, this is no small feat. Sure, just love yourself and you’ll make all the changes you want to make, right? Sounds easy. But, it may not be an overnight process; it may not be the most simple task; it may make you look into some (ok, many) parts of yourself that disgust you, scare you and frighten you into thinking there is no hope. But, it’s necessary and worth it. And there is hope. That, I can promise. Moreover, you’re worth the work, darling.
So take some time today or this weekend to write down a few things that you want to change. Then, write down — from a place of love — why you want to make those changes; write down what it is about yourself that you love enough to make those changes; write down the parts of your body that you appreciate, or the personality traits that you admire. Once you approach change from a loving place, it makes it easier to be loyal to yourself and follow through. Believe me, it works. And so does love. I promise. Please feel free to share your thoughts and changes and LOVE below.