Monthly Archives: June 2014

Labels, Limits, and Love – part 1

I don’t define love. Defining puts limitations on it. I love. Pure and simple.

I recently had this experience:

I said “I love you” to someone who was neither lover, nor family, nor friend. (Well, ok, maybe friend, kinda sorta, but not in the common sense of social interaction.) It was someone who touched my heart deeply in a given moment, and I love him. Anybody overhearing me could have been shocked, and quite possibly could have made up their own (gossipy) stories about what they heard. Which makes me sad, and caused me to think a bit more about the limitations we put on love when we reserve it for specific (labeled) relationships.

You don’t have to be in a defined relationship with someone to love them. In fact, I would argue that you can love many (many!) people with whom you are not in a specific relationship. We all do.

And that’s the beauty of love: it simply is what it is. It defies definition.

The minute we choose to define it as “platonic/familial/romantic” (or any other definition you can think of) is the moment in which we choose to limit love to one aspect, to the exclusion of all others. :(

Think of it this way: It would be like knowing there is a beautiful pasta sauce on the menu, filled with myriad flavors and ingredients, and asking for only the pureed tomatoes. When in reality love encompasses all aspects. It’s the entire pot of sauce, and then some!

The “then some” are all the intangible benefits that come from enjoying a beautiful, robust, full sauce: the joy, the memories, the warmth, the aroma, the pleasure, and the nourishment. That is what Love is. It’s everything, all at once, defying definition or labels.

Love, therefore, is not a possession. It’s something you can give, something you can receive, and something you can never own.

Like the sauce, it’s an experience in a moment, followed by another, and then another… intangible, tangible, and wholly delicious. It multiplies as it is shared. Like the sauce, in being shared it connects us with one another in a moment, an experience, and a joy.

So don’t worry about what someone might think (or what label they might attach) if you say “I Love You.” Focus instead on the joy you feel at sharing your truth in a given moment. It will come through.

P.S. Next week we’ll explore the expectations we have around saying “I love you” and how they undermine the very essence of Love itself.

Where the Grass is Greener

This week I struggled with something to write about. Call it Mercury Retrograde, or call it fatigue, either way I came up with nothing. It happens. Then I saw this quote on a friend’s FB page:

The grass is greener where you water it.

It wasn’t attributed to any one person directly, and I feel like I’ve heard it before, though I’m not sure where. Then I was reminded of something I read from an interview with Isla Fisher in the American Way magazine. She said:

“…I’m super happy with my life the way it is. The grass doesn’t look greener.”
(I have loved that idea ever since I first read it.)

So, what is this obsession we have with “the grass is greener” concept? Is it greener? Ever? Or is it that we have learned to live life from a basis of comparison? Which, in turn means, we will never be satisfied?

I’ve explored this idea of “never enough” off and on for years, both formally and informally. The bottom line truth that I know for certain is that nobody ever wins in the comparison game.

Whether you are comparing misery (ie: my loss is greater than yours) or wealth and acquisitions (there is ALWAYS somebody who has more than you, or something you don’t have) or bodies (body satisfaction underlies many of our self-esteem challenges and issues of self-worth), nobody wins in the comparison game. Nobody.

In fact, the only way to WIN the game is to choose to not play at all. So, what does that look like?

Well, in some ways, it looks like the two quotes I shared above. Many thought leaders and spiritual teachers talk about acceptance, gratitude, and mindfulness. (Heck, I’m one of them!) But those words can be idealistic and amorphous, and can also create opportunities for the comparison habit to edge it’s way back in (ie: I must not be grateful enough, because s/he looks so much happier than I am). So, even though they are helpful to understand, they’re not always active or directive behaviors you can engage in and put into practice. So, what can you actually do?

Here’s one idea:

When the words should, could, would, enough, more, better, and/or worse (as well as “when” and “if”) enter your thoughts or statements – take pause. Take pause long enough to assess whether you are making a statement of comparison. Are you comparing yourself or your situation to someone else’s or some societal standard? Are you comparing someone else’s behavior to your own? If so, stop. Stop right there, because you won’t win. Not winning looks like: frustration, anger, jealousy, envy, sadness, despair, and desperation, to name a few. And nobody wants that.

Stopping is the first step. The second step is engaging in a positive practice to replace the habit of comparison. This involves identifying what brings you joy, such as: I love my house. Or if that’s too big: I love my bed. Or my garden. Or my feet. Or my nose. Or my dog. Or my brain. Or my….life. You get the idea.

So, the next time you think the ‘grass is greener’ somewhere else, take pause, double-check your words, and then look around you. Then perhaps you can see whether or not the grass you’re standing on is green, because it probably is. Green is green, and comparison is a game of shades that turns something lovely into something invisible, and sometimes harmful.

Inspiring and Embracing Change

I’m big into change. It’s in my top 5 list of topics and issues that I discuss, write about, and teach. My professional mission is:

Inspiring Change, one person, one moment, one word at a time.

Whereas my personal mantra is:

Instilling Hope, Inspiring Change.
(It’s on my business card!)

So, what happens when the Life Coach/Writer is undergoing a period of change herself? Well, she writes about it, of course! Partially to inspire others, and partially to share authentically and allowing herself to be inspired by others.

That being said, here’s an excerpt from a book I’m currently working on, on change:

“…if you desire change, it’s not enough to pray for it, or meditate on it, or even yoga yourself or chant into it. You have to incorporate all four aspects of health in a singular approach that makes the Universe stand up and take notice. You have to actively pursue change with every aspect of your being, simultaneously, harmoniously, and deliberately. And you have to do it, bit by bit, every day. Because that’s what creates lasting change: small movements accumulated over time to create big steps.

It goes without saying that change can be hard. In my experience, I’ve known it to fall anywhere on the spectrum from ‘effortless’ to ‘near impossible.’ Last week I read something about focus that put a different perspective on it.

IMG_0238I then wrote this:

Ignoring is a form of escapism; focusing means change is possible.

It may be the hard part or it may be effortless. The guarantee is that it falls somewhere on the spectrum. The further guarantee is that it will almost always result in something better. Because the simple truth is:

If a desire for change is in your heart, it means something in your present isn’t working; which means that change opens up the possibility for something better.

In my experience, whether I’ve gone about it reluctantly, willingly, or passively, making a change has always resulted in “something better” – even if it didn’t feel like it at the time. Which is why I’ve learned to create and embrace change (however it shows up), and help others to do the same.

With that, I’ll leave you with one more quote from one of my favorite musicals, Jekyll & Hyde:

“The only thing constant is Change.”

Hope Changes Everything

Love is the most powerful force in the Universe. We all seem to know that, and readily accept it.

I would suggest, though, that there is one just as powerful, and at times, more powerful than Love:

Hope.

Hope is what returns us to Love when Love has gone missing,
or is hiding, for whatever reason.

For that reason alone, Hope is pretty powerful. As powerful as Love.

Hope is ever-present. I call it the “Where’s Waldo?” of the Universe. Sometimes it’s not easy to find, but it’s always there.

Hope.

We see examples of it all around us, every day. We see it in our kids, our friends, our co-workers. Every person is engaging in Hope on some level, every day. Going to the gym is an act of hope, eating healthy, saying prayers, being in a relationship – these are all acts of hope…a hope for something that brings joy, love, wellness, change, etc. The list goes on and on.

In our society the most obvious example of Hope is the proliferation of non-profit organizations and fundraising. Each and every one of these operations is selling Hope. Hope for something different. Better. Perhaps Great.

I used to be a fundraiser for a major medical school. I learned early on that I wasn’t selling a “thing” (like a scholarship, or research); I was selling Hope. It was a feeling that I was hoping to engender in my donors, by asking for their contribution, investment, or donation. Yes, their gift might help “do” something, but there was no guarantee. That’s where Hope comes in.

Hope is what happens when you have no guarantee, and you jump in any way. It’s the pathway to greatness, success, change, life, and yes, Love.

Hope makes everything possible.
Hope changes everything.

Hope is the most powerful tool in the Universe, which makes it on par with Love; because Hope always ~always~ provides a way.

=========P.S. If you want to see Hope in action…check out Francis. He’s the ‘Hope Pope’ of our times. Everything he does is powerful, because he does it from a place of Hope.