Category Archives: Love

The Duality (and my reality) of Bodily Love

It’s a funny thing to be able to feel intense love and gratitude for something, while also feeling a measure of disappointment, sadness and even a little disgust. I’ve only recently stepped into this quagmire of emotion, and I’m finding it rather difficult terrain to navigate.

Over the past few years (well, a lot longer, actually, but let’s just focus on recent history)… over the past few years I have been steadily plodding along on my journey, day after day. A reader who is very dear to me refers to it as my Hero’s Journey, a la Joseph Campbell. I would have to agree. Because on many days, it has taken a hero’s strength to wake up and keep going, especially of late.

You see, I am at what feels like a landmark in my life. It’s one of those markers on the side of the road denoting an event in history. Only time will tell if it’s a giant bronze statue or a simple plaque. From where I stand today, it feels more like the 10-foot metal kind.

If you read my last blog about triggers being gifts, you will know that I have recently been triggered into addressing some unseen, unacknowledged places within me that I have yet to adequately deal with. In some ways I thought I had, but the truth is, I was only ready to read about them on the menu, not dive in with fork in hand and really consume them. But it seems I must be ready now, because… Voilà! Here they are!

I’m talking about my body.

If you haven’t met me in person, you might not be aware that I am overweight. Actually, I hate that phrase, because I’m not “over” anything. I’m simply in a state where my outsides don’t match my insides. But I get it. I get that we have standards and statistics that we use as information to help us adjust our sails and change direction. So, my body is bigger than the standardized version of someone my height. I actually prefer to say that I am fat. Or, rather, that I have more fat than I would like to have. I think that’s the most accurate statement for me: I have more fat than I would like to have.

But it’s more complicated than that.

I was never a thin child. I always carried a little extra “baby fat” on my body and was always a very curvy girl. I was athletic, too, but curvy. I had a classic “figure 8” body – and I still do, actually. My body was voluptuous, strong, flexible, and round in all the right places. In retrospect, my body was something to be proud of. Of course, I didn’t know that at 16, but time does a wonderful thing for us: it allows us to know and see truth.

Anyhow, sometimes I look back at that younger version of me with wistful longing and wish for that body again. Not because it was smaller, but because it was stronger (though the smaller did make life easier). Instead, I look in the mirror and see a body that is less strong, less flexible, and larger than it used to be. And that’s where the quagmire begins… because I love my body, but it’s not a body that I actually recognize.

My body had changed, and I never noticed it.

Over the course of my marriage, I steadily gained in excess of 60-70 pounds. I actually stopped using the scale so I’m not even sure what I topped out at, but I know it was at least 60. It could have been 70, or even 75. I’m writing about all of this now for an upcoming book, so I won’t go into all of the details. The bottom line is that I was married to an addict, I became a quintessential codependent, and our relationship was stressful and strained for the vast majority of our time together. As a result, I lost myself. I lost who I was, and in many ways stopped living. That’s not to say that it didn’t have some happy and good times. It is to say that it took a toll on my emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical health.

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I left that relationship six years ago. Since then, I have worked diligently on restoring and repairing the damage that was done – the damage that I unconsciously allowed and contributed to. I have come out stronger, happier, more aligned and authentic than I could have ever imagined. I have become the woman that I am, that I always was, that I had lost sight of. I have reclaimed myself in every way… but one. And (even though I have already lost about 10-15 pounds) I have the physical evidence to remind me daily.

This is what’s truly fascinating to me, why I wrote that I think “it’s a funny thing to be able to feel intense love and gratitude for something, while also feeling a measure of disappointment, sadness and even a little disgust.” It’s the duality of emotion that I feel for my body that has me wandering through the foggy bogs.

I can honestly say that I love myself. My body is strong, resilient, and cherished. Why? Because it survived. A couple of years ago I spontaneously referred to my extra fat as “emotional scar tissue” from my marriage. I couldn’t have been more accurate. My fat is proof that I survived. It’s proof that I am resilient and strong, and I cherish my body because of that.

At the same time, my body is not as strong as it once was. The extra fat has put a strain on my joints and made it more difficult to exercise. My stamina is not what it once was. Everything is just a little bit harder. It doesn’t help that I injured my foot, too, which makes even walking a challenge. But I keep trying. I keep fighting, and I will continue to fight until my outsides match my insides in a way that I recognize. (And, thankfully, I have a heck of a good team of wellness professionals helping me along the way.)

I’m writing about all this now, because I’ve been triggered from conversations with a friend. I’ve been triggered to explore how I truly feel about my body. As a result, what I realized this past weekend was that I hadn’t yet grieved. I hadn’t fully grieved for the loss of health that I experienced during my marriage, nor have I grieved for my self. Because… I did this. I did this to myself. I couldn’t tell you how, as I was not eating excessively or even poorly during that time, but I can tell you that I did it. Some of my doctors have blamed cortisol from the chronic stress I experienced for over a decade. It’s possible. I don’t know.

What I do know is that I can stand in front of a mirror and know in my heart that I am a total rock star who is strong and capable, while also looking at myself with sadness and hurt. I know that I am sexy, vibrant, and beautiful, while also knowing that I am unhappy with and would like to change what I see. I can hold space for both to be true. Until the day in which the grief has transitioned into greater love, the grief is part of my daily experience. The sadness and hurt – the disappointment – is part of my daily experience, just as the celebration, love and acceptance is. The process by which things change is only known after they have, and so I can only do my best to show up each day and allow for whatever comes… knowing that it’s okay to love my body, while also working to change it.

xoxo,
Martina

Apathy, Indifference and … Hope

Last week I wrote about Hope being the antidote to Fear. But what is the antidote to Hope?

I actually hadn’t thought about this, because I believe Hope is one of those things that is ever-present. Even in the worst circumstances, there seems to be hope. For years, I’ve written about how in the darkest moments you can still find that grain of sand that is Hope… somewhere… glimmering. I believe Hope is the most powerful energy in the Universe, because it’s the only thing that remains constant in even the most awful situations. Hope restores Love when Fear has taken over.

Hope restores love

But does Hope have an Achilles heel?  And if so, what is Hope’s kryptonite?

After more tragedies in the world last week, I saw a friend post a quote on social media, and I had to pause to take it in:

“Apathy and indifference are the nails in the coffin of hope and change.” – Morley

The late Elie Wiesel said something similar:

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”

I had to really think about this. Are apathy and indifference the poisons that kill Hope? I wanted to write about it on that day in order to really explore my thoughts and beliefs around the topic, but I didn’t. Instead, I allowed it to simmer on a back burner as I processed the depth of its simplicity.

And then I wrote a totally different piece about my personal life and the struggle I have been facing with regard to my father’s stroke on its 10-year anniversary. (You can read it here.) That piece generated a lot of feedback, love, and support. More than I expected. But it wasn’t until I re-read it that I realized I had described the very scenario that I had simmering on a back burner.

When resignation starts to take hold, hope starts to hibernate.

Resignation, in my opinion, is a form of acceptance without choice. It’s forced. Perhaps because it’s forced, it becomes easier to adopt an attitude of indifference. In some ways, indifference can feel protective. But in other ways, it’s the indifference that opens the door to apathy. And yes, now that I’ve let it marinate for a while, I believe apathy is the antidote to Hope.

I think if Hope were in a petri dish and you doused it with indifference, it would weaken, but not dissolve. However, as the indifference grows it becomes apathy, and apathy has the potential to neutralize Hope. Kill it? No. I don’t believe so, because I think Hope is the Tardigrade of the energy world. But arrest it and prevent it from fulfilling its potential? Yes.

Why does this matter?

I think it’s important that we remember the role Hope plays in times of survival. I hold a view of life that we are always living in one of three ways:

Survive
Live
Thrive

When we are in survival mode, Hope is more important than ever. This does not mean that we diminish and trivialize what’s going on around us by optimistically (blindly?) saying “Love will win” whenever tragedy hits.

Rather, it means that we dig down deep into the nitty-gritty darkest recesses of our souls, knowing all the yuck and darkness, and still say: Love will win and then embody what that means. That’s Hope. That’s holding on to Hope, teaching Hope, speaking Hope, and living Hope.

There’s a reason that at the bottom of Pandora’s Box, after all the fear, pestilence, and misery, Hope remained. Hope resides in the darkest places. Hope resides where we need it most, and the only thing that prevents us from accessing it is apathy … turning a blind eye and/or choosing not to care, because it simply hurts too much.

For many of us it has been hurting too much lately. Tragedy, violence, and other senseless acts that go against our nature cause deep emotional wounds in our collective psyche. It’s in these moments that we get to choose how we want to move forward. We can choose Fear which eventually leads to a protective form of apathy, or we can choose Hope. Even when it’s hardest, especially when it’s hardest, I hope we choose Hope.

P.S. If you’ve never heard/seen it before, here’s a great video by an old friend, Shawn Gallaway, on the choice of Love or Fear. May it inspire you.

How do we make sense of the senseless?

How do we make sense of the senseless? (video here, if you prefer to listen/watch)

To begin with, senseless tragedy and violence seem to be all around us. Our nervous systems are on overload, so even getting into a space where we could attempt to make sense of it all is virtually impossible.

In the last week, we have seen violence on a horrific scale. Whether domestic or international, the crimes against humanity – against our very nature – have pushed many of us over the edge of reason and into empathic overload. I have seen many of my lightworker colleagues retreat in the last 24 hours, because of this. I myself, needed to take a step back to gain grounding and perspective in light of what has been going on. But please don’t mistake silence for apathy. In fact, it’s quite the reverse.

During this time I have repeatedly asked myself what is the most important question to answer here? And I kept returning to: How do we make sense of the senseless?

While, it’s not actually the most important question – it was the gateway to the most important answer.

Firstly, we stop trying to make sense of the senseless. When something goes against our very nature, it is often explained away in order to soothe our ache. For example, when a child dies, we say: God must have needed him or her. We do this to create some sort of balm so we can categorize it and store it away and stem the tide of hurt and pain.

When senseless violence occurs, we try to make the same attempt at understanding in order to diminish the pain and fear, but instead we often end up in a loop of emotion fueled by rationalization. We get trapped, because the very definition of the crime is that it’s senseless.

Therefore, we need to stop trying to understand it, to stop trying to make sense of the senseless. The way forward is to name it and label it for what it is (senseless), so we can accept it as is and work to change at its roots, by understanding its genesis.

All violence, in my opinion, has its origins in the energy of Fear, and Fear is taught. Whether it’s about power, frustration, lack, oppression, anger, rage, victimization, etc. – you name it, it’s taught, often through propaganda. These teachings are grounded in the low-vibration energy of Fear, and are then fueled until they manifest in action.

In most of my studies thus far, I have been taught that the opposite of Fear is Love. And while I know that to be true (Love is the energy of creation, and Fear is the energy of destruction) – I actually modify it slightly.

For years I have been writing and maintaining that the opposite of Fear is not Love, but Hope.

Why?

Because in the absence of Love, and mired in the deepest trenches of Fear, Hope remains. It’s that glimmering grain of sand in the darkness that invites Love back into the conversation.

IMG_6684Therefore, if we look at the vibrational energies on a spectrum, we would have Fear on one end (low vibration), and Hope on the other (high vibration). Anything that is of the lower vibrations associated with Fear (anger, hurt, betrayal, rage, etc.) would then be made better by dousing them with the higher vibration energies associated with Hope (Love, gratitude, compassion, kindness, etc.).

However, I prefer to think of them as a continuum, rather than a spectrum. The reason being is that I know, personally and professionally, that Hope is always present, even in Fear. And it’s a much closer jump from Fear to Hope than it is from Fear to compassion, when it’s on a continuum.

But what does all this have to do with the recent violence and tragedies around the world?

Well, if violence is born of the propaganda and teaching of Fear, then we must teach Hope to counteract it. We must

teach Hope,
speak Hope, and
embody Hope.

What does this look like? Well, for my dear friends who are amazingly powerful and vocal activists, it means speaking out, raising awareness, and lending their voices to a cause. For my quieter more introspective friends, it means sharing Hope by adding beauty in to the world and reminding people that there is much – much – more good than violence and tragedy going on… and everything in between. These are just two examples, amid a world of infinite possibilities.

We know that people listen when they feel heard. In order to even enter into a discussion to create change and foster peace, Hope needs to be restored.

Teaching Hope, speaking Hope, and embodying Hope in our daily lives is the way forward for a more loving and peaceful world that is aligned with our true nature: our divinity and our humanity. We are both, and Hope resides exactly in the center of the two. Hope is the manifestation of what it means to be both human and divine. Hope is at the very core of who we are – and it’s the most powerful tool we have.

The Importance of Having a Lover

I think everyone should have a Lover.

To be clear, I’m not referring to what Hollywood defines as a “lover” in its stories of lust and betrayal. No, this Lover is different – this is a Lover with a capital “L.”

A Lover is someone who loves you unconditionally exactly as you are and simultaneously inspires you to be better. A Lover touches your soul, while embracing your humanity. They don’t “complete you” (as Hollywood would have us believe) – they invite you to be your complete self. Without judgment or expectation, a Lover holds space for all that you are, and all that you can be… mind, body and soul.

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Having a Lover is not about betrayal, lies or secrecy. It’s not about having an affair, cheating, or keeping someone in the shadows. Though sexual intimacy may be involved, a Lover transcends the act of sex.

So, who is the Lover?

Well, you might already know them. They might be your partner (lucky you!), a family member, or a friend/acquaintance. Or you might not have met them yet. What matters is understanding why it’s important to experience this kind of relationship in your life.

A Lover is the person who opens you up to yourself. It’s the person who somehow magically holds the key to your inner kingdom, a kingdom you may not have even been aware existed, and they invite you home.

You meet this person, connect (often times faster than your time together reasonably warrants), and suddenly you start to know yourself better. And when you’ve stepped away from your true self, from your core, the Lover gently and effortlessly nudges you back. Even when it’s direct and blunt, it feels like love and grace because of its deep honesty. The Lover is your friend, your confidante, your teacher, your student, your coach and your teammate.

The Lover asks nothing of you but to be who you are.

And, yes, the Lover can be your lover – and when that happens, the Universe is set afire.

When your Lover is also your lover, sex and pleasure take a back seat to connection in such a way that they are enhanced beyond comprehension. Love-making becomes about union – two inner kingdoms uniting, powerfully, peacefully. A simple embrace shifts the surrounding energy for miles, in a ripple effect.

It is a connection of souls who have known each other forever, who seek to unite, create, and experience deep bliss and freedom in their union.

More importantly, however, having a Lover means being a Lover. One is not possible without the other. A Lover is not here to rescue, save, or liberate us from our internal cages. We must first have found that wisdom and strength within ourselves, dissolving all bars and locks to who we are. Only then can the true power of having and being a Lover manifest, not only in our relationship with each other, but in all that we do.

And finally, perhaps most importantly, when we look in the mirror, may we all know it is the Lover who is looking back.

My Wish For You

This is the week that many people in the world celebrate the “Prince of Peace.” For millennia, numerous others have followed in his footsteps as peacemakers, from Gandhi to the everyday men and women who choose compassion, courage, and love over fear.

As one year winds down and we look to the hope of new beginnings, my wish for you is simple: I wish you peace.

peace

I will be taking next week off from writing InspireBytes™ to enjoy the many gifts of the season, and wish you all the best however you choose to celebrate this time of year.

xoxo,
Martina

Best Laid Plans

We all have them: Best laid plans. Then something unexpected happens and suddenly our plans have to change. Sometimes it’s for the better, sometimes less so.

Last week I told you all that I was taking a mini-break from writing InspireBytes™ organically, on a weekly basis. I had several weeks of writing all planned out, prepared, and scheduled to carry us through Thanksgiving and beyond, which would allow me this hiatus.

Then Paris happened.

And Beirut.

And Baghdad.

My plans changed.

I’ve spent the better part of the last few days like most everyone else I know, waffling between anger, disbelief, frustration, and helplessness, with a thought cloud of question marks swirling above my head.

What can I/we do?
Why is this happening?
How can it be stopped?
What is the root cause?
What about all the survivors?
And the loved ones?
What about those who died?

and
What next?

Actually, it’s that last question that I felt like I could answer, because I know in my heart the only way forward is through hope.

Even in the darkest of times, hope is what restores us to light. When Love has disappeared, it’s hope that keeps people moving forward. It’s hope that keeps a crack in the door to let Love back in.

It seems to be a universally accepted truth that Love is the most powerful force in the universe, because it’s the source of all things. A couple months ago I even wrote about the 4 types of love, and I absolutely believe that Love is source. However, I don’t believe that Love is the most powerful force in the universe, because it shares that title… with hope.

Hope is equally as powerful as Love for one main reason: Hope is the ever-present path back to love. It’s the grain of sand in the dark that reminds you that something else is possible.

Think about it for a second: when things are at their worst, what keeps people going? What moves people forward through tragedy and trauma? Is it Love? Sometimes it’s love for family or others, but that’s not always the case – there’s something more. Even when someone is completely alone, trapped and isolated from everything, hope is present. When darkness, fear, and hatred are present and all feels lost and numb, it’s hope that restores Love.

That’s why I can answer that last question: What next?

Hope.

Hope for the future. Hope for possibility. Hope for knowing that this era of terror will end. Hope for all that I believe and know to be true to come pouring forth and shift the energy around the trauma.

Hope is an invitation. Without it, there’s little point in dreaming or praying. In fact, one of my favorite lines from a movie is from ‘The Preacher’s Wife’ in which the preacher tells the teenager, “Hope… is all a prayer is.”

Hope is the key that ignites possibility. And possibility is the first step toward change.

In placing our energy in hope, we are taking a step toward defeating fear and terror by allowing for the possibility of Love to return. Hope restores Love.

So, when we sit with question marks swirling over our heads and ask ourselves: What next? Look for the grain of sand in the dark – that pinhole of light we know as Hope – and focus on it. Pour your energy into it, whatever that means for you, and allow Love to return, edging fear out.

Don’t Shoot the Message

You know the phrase “don’t shoot the messenger?” We say it because sometimes there are folks in our lives who have to deliver bad news or tell us something we don’t want to hear or aren’t ready to hear. Often we lash out at the messenger, rather than the message or the source of the message.

But what happens when the messenger is the problem? Do we throw out the message as well?

I’ve experienced this more than once in my life. In fact, I fear it’s happening too often lately. People we once believed in and/or looked up to have fallen from grace in our eyes, and with them goes their credibility. In recent years I can think of at least a dozen such incidences across a spectrum of industries. It doesn’t matter what work they’re in, whether they’re a liberal or conservative, a celebrity, a teacher, or a guru – when someone we looked up to lets us down, it’s always a shock.

When someone’s work inspires us, we have a tendency to hold them above and apart, separate from the rest of humanity – especially if they’re in the spiritual/self-help industry. It’s the pedestal syndrome. We put them up there because we revere them for their work. But the truth is, it’s actually the work we are in awe of, not necessarily the person. We can respect and even admire them for being available and doing the work, as we should, but reverence is best placed with the work itself, if at all.

The person is the messenger, the conduit, for the truth we seek. They are living in alignment with their purpose or calling. They have made themselves available to receive and impart the information they are sharing, usually after a lot of hard work on their own.

It’s that last bit that we often forget, though – we forget that they’re human, that they make mistakes, and that they struggle and have struggled. Part of the reason we forget is because they have developed a persona that is a bit glossier than their humanity. Part of the reason we forget is because we need them to be glossier than their humanity, so that we have something – a benchmark – to which we can aspire.

So, naturally, when we hear something about the person that has them tumbling off the pedestal we created, it causes us to question their work as well.

And that’s where I think we (okay, I) have gotten it wrong. People are people. They’re human. They will make mistakes. It’s through our mistakes that we are able to learn, grow, and ultimately teach.

I’ve been guilty of doing this, and I suspect I’m not alone. I’ve thrown the baby out with the bath water before, when in fact, what I needed to do was hold on to both. I needed to pick up the baby, and let the bath water settle so that the dirt could be separated from the water, knowing that this was a natural process.

I have learned that if I found the message to be inspired and valuable, there is no reason why that should change if the messenger screwed up or showed me their humanity. Don’t shoot the message.

Similarly, if the messenger is willing to be a conduit, to make themselves available to the rest of humanity, I can certainly cut them some slack when they make human mistakes, if they’ve asked me to. (In other words, if they’ve owned up to their mistake and humanity instead of hiding and/or lying about it.) Don’t shoot the messenger.

Finally, though, I think the most important thing I’ve learned along the way is to get rid of all my pedestals. I’ve heard wisdom from garage attendants that transcended anything I’ve read from a bestselling author. I’ve also been in the presence of world famous individuals and seen them as humans doing their job, just like you and me.

Using a pedestal is what creates a divide.
Using a pedestal is what allows us to maintain a judgment-based hierarchy of wisdom.
Using a pedestal is what keeps us apart from our own inner knowing and gifts.

Nobody asks to be on a pedestal, we put them up there. And if they are asking, chances are they haven’t earned that position in your world. It’s simply easier to remove all pedestals and see each other as we are: humans sharing our gifts, our purpose and our lives, however that shows up.

Perspective, Reality, and Opportunity

Perspective is reality.

When I was in college I spent a summer studying abroad in Spain. There was a professor from another college leading our group, which was made up of about 20 students from different schools across the country. This professor was originally from Cuba, I think. He had been teaching Spanish at the college level for more than a decade. Somewhere along the way, he married an American woman and started a family. They had two children, the first of which was a girl.

During the summer, our professor related a story to us that has stuck with me ever since. It was about how his daughter learned that he spoke English. For me, it was about much more than that. It was about perspective creating our reality.

Basically, the story went like this:

The professor was at work when he received a call from his daughter’s school informing him that she had been injured and had to be taken to the hospital. They couldn’t reach his wife, and so they called him. The injuries were minor, but she needed stitches. He, of course, dropped everything and took off for the hospital immediately.

Once he arrived at the hospital, he was brought to his daughter’s room where she was being treated by a nurse. After greeting his daughter in Spanish and chatting with her about what happened (all in Spanish), he turned to the nurse and started speaking with her about the status of things… in English.

It was at that moment that his daughter’s entire reality changed.

With wide eyes and a look of disbelief, she gasped and exclaimed in Spanish, “But, Dad – when did you learn to speak English?”

You see, in order to raise their children as bilingual, in their house one parent only spoke in English and one parent only spoke in Spanish. That day in the hospital, when she was about 9 years old, was the first time the daughter had ever heard her father speak in English. For nine years she lived under the assumption that her father only knew Spanish. Her reality was based on her perspective.

And that’s true for the rest of us as well. Our realities are based on our perspectives. Our truth is informed by what we know and see, our experiences, and our environment.

My reality is not the same as my neighbor’s reality. Yes, some things will overlap, but not everything, which means that there is more than one truth, and more importantly, that two or more truths can co-exist, without hierarchy.

What happens when we believe in only one truth, or one way, or one possibility for something, to the exclusion of everyone else around us? Well, we basically negate their existence, because if their truth is not valid, then they are not valid.

It’s a slippery slope, actually, in both directions. And the only way to level it out and make it less slick is to engage in tolerance, discussion, and acceptance.

After all, if perspective is reality, and we don’t know what we don’t know until we know it, how can we suggest that there is only one truth?

Then again, when you strip away the variance in perspectives, more often than not we seem to arrive at a singular truth, which is: Love is at the foundation of creation, while fear is found at the source of destruction.

Unfortunately, differing perspectives often create opportunities for fear, rather than dialogue, and that is the greatest hurdle we have to overcome. Accepting more than one truth, one reality, or one perspective as possible is, therefore, our greatest opportunity for change.

What is Love, Really?

This is something that has shown up in my sphere recently: confusion and a little annoyance about the use of the word Love. In wellness circles we’re taught to “Be Love.” But on more than one occasion I’ve had a client turn to me and say, “What does that actually mean? How the heck am I supposed to DO that??”

It can definitely be frustrating. So, I thought it was time to have a discussion about Love. Capital L-o-v-e. What is it? Some common phrases:

Love is what makes the world go ‘round.
Love is all there is.
Love is the absence of fear.
Love is the source of all creation.

But, what is “Love” really? Do we not understand it? Or do we simply not have enough words for it? The Greeks had four words for Love. They are:

Storge        Philia        Eros        Agape

The first, Storge, is about empathy, or I prefer: compassion. Storge is the love that is presumably at the base of human interaction and connectivity. It’s about a shared humanity and a foundational understanding of one another. We may not all have experienced the same loss, but we’ve all experienced loss. We can relate.

Philia is a bit more involved. It’s friendship, loyalty, and affection with mutual respect. Philia seems to involve an investment in one another that includes compassion and pleasure in each other’s company. However, while it can be intimate (some of my dearest relationships with friends are deeply emotionally intimate), it does not involve physical intimacy. That is reserved for Eros.

Eros is intimate physical love. There’s a reason “erotic” stems from the word Eros. But here’s where it gets interesting. Eros, according to some philosophers (think Socrates and Aristotle), is also the gateway to transcendental soul love. Eros is the door through which we must walk if we wish to know the Divine personally, deeply, and return to the knowledge of who we are at our core. It’s a passionate, fire-breathing, active love. It’s Love in action. Eros is how we express ourselves most deeply and authentically with another human being. Eros is human Love. Raw, exciting, deep, and the source of creation. It’s how Divinity comes to life on earth. The union of souls in the midst of the physical union.

And then there’s Agape. Agape is considered by many to represent the unconditional Love of God. The God-love. The capital “L” in Love. Agape transcends everything that is human – it takes no notice of gender, race, nationality, age, etc. Agape is simply Love. It encompasses the energy of all that is, was, and ever will be. Agape is Love transcendent.

Agape is what I believe most people are referring to when they speak of capital L – Love. Love is the energy behind everything, therefore, it’s the source of all. If we can live from that space – Live Love – we are most closely aligned with our soul, who we are inside.

Love has many faces. It runs a spectrum from basic humanity to Divinity, and interestingly, those two are more closely related than the others. In my mind, the four types of Love reside on an ellipse, like this.

Love typesThough equidistant from each other on the line, Storge and Agape are closer to each other than the others from across the ellipse. For me, that’s the essence of who we are: Human and Divine; And this dance, on this planet, is about marrying those two elements and experiencing life in the entire spectrum of Love.

So, what is Love? And how do we “do” Love?

I think Love is both personal and contextual. Love is deeply individual, as well as global. It speaks to the tiniest piece of us while it also speaks to universal peace.

For me, Love is everything and nothing, simultaneously. It is the basis of that which is human and Divine, and its presence is in everything I see, touch, hear and feel. So, it’s everything. And yet, Love can never be contained, held, measured, or controlled. So, it’s nothing.

Love is the depth of what’s tangible, and it’s the breadth of what cannot be seen.

Love, therefore, is. And that’s probably the best definition, which is the good news. Because it means that by being true to who you are, you are DOING Love. By walking your path, constantly aligning with your authenticity and rediscovering what that means for you – you are doing Love.

In a more tangible way, though, doing Love can look like:

– Saying good morning (even when you don’t want to)
– Choosing kindness (over judgment)
– Breathing (instead of reacting)
– Helping somebody in need (no matter how small)
– Enjoying your food (not numbly eating)

I think you get the idea. Doing Love is about holding space for each other’s imperfect humanity, while also recognizing each other’s inner Divinity. Including for yourself.

 

What Are You Doing With Your Life? (Or How I Reconnected to My Verve.)

When people are doing what they’re meant to be doing, it’s evident. They have a certain glow about them. A radiance. They’re aligned with the infinite power of the Universe and it simply can’t help but pour out through every inch of them.

It’s in how they walk and how they talk – how they’re most human – that they express this pathway to the Divine.

Jen Pastiloff is doing what she is meant to be doing.

jenpastiloff-me

Post-workshop glow.

She’s one such example that I had the good fortune to spend three hours with this past weekend at her ‘Manifest-Station: On Being Human’ workshop at Moksha Yoga in Chicago.

It was one of the best workshops I’ve ever been to. Hands down.

How do you define what Jen does? How do you explain what she accomplishes in the time span of 3 hours, or about the length of your typical NFL football game? She herself has asked this question. In many ways her workshop defies explanation, though there are many adjectives to describe it: amazing, miraculous, transformative, beautiful, stunning, to name a few. It’s easy to gush about it, but hard to actually explain how it all happens.

And yet, it is also quite simple:

Jen reconnects you with your humanity.

In fun, engaging, provocative, and thoughtful ways, Jen combines music, movement, and moments to open you up to that which you are and that which you’ve been hiding.

Through a series of writing prompts Jen invites you to explore obstacles, beliefs, patterns, and love. Through basic yoga movements, Jen gets your body (and soul) up and engaged in the process. She has developed a workshop that takes you on a journey of the heart through the doorway of the body, using the physical senses of touch and sound.

As a person who has done a lot of work on herself (a LOT!), I admit to being somewhat skeptical (but hopeful) as I walked through the door. I wasn’t quite sure of what to expect, emotionally or physically. Physically, because I have a less-than-awesome foot right now and haven’t really done any yoga in about 8-10 years, I was more than a little scared about what lay in front of me. The good news is: you really don’t have to “do” yoga to do the workshop – which was exactly what I needed! Jen has said it repeatedly, but I was unsure if it was really true. (It is!)

But what about the emotional?

It was nothing that I expected, and everything I needed. Between the yoga poses we wrote, explored, and shared. Between writing we moved, laughed, and sang. We even had a hug fest and a dance party! We held each other up as we sat alongside one another, connecting at the most human of levels. It truly is a workshop that opens you up to see, feel, and understand yourself in new ways.

I have followed Jen on social media for about a year, perhaps less, maybe more. Even though I had heard about the workshops and read the glowing reviews, I still thought: “what could I possibly do that I haven’t already done?” (aka: all my aforementioned “work.”)

In my life, I have walked through my long tunnel filled with obstacles, suffering, and fear. I have turned over every stone and pebble along the way and fought hard to reclaim my life, create my life, and live my life; and I have come out the other side of that dark musty tube with a full and ever-expanding toolbox. So, I honestly didn’t expect too much. And yet…

And yet, it wasn’t necessarily something “new” that I learned, but rather a new way to look at that same thing, and thereby explore it differently. This led to understanding it differently and ultimately, embodying it differently. Embodying my truth differently, with more presence, joy, and VERVE. (Yes, I said verve. When was the last time you heard that word? Lol)

And that’s what Jen does: she reconnects you to your verve, your humanity, to humanity, in general. She creates a space in which it’s not only safe to be human, but celebrated. It’s a gift. Jen is a gift. She is walking her path with grace, love, and joy. And the joy is contagious!

When I find something that I feel is extraordinary, I have to share it. Jen is extraordinary, her workshop is extraordinary, and the fellow attendees are extraordinary, no doubt because of who Jen attracts and supports by simply showing up in life.

To Jen, my immense thanks and deep gratitude for showing up, walking your path, and sharing that presence with those around you. You are the real deal. It was a gift and a pleasure to share that space and time with you. I look forward to our paths crossing again.

To learn more about Jen, please visit her website at jenniferpastiloff.com and check her out on social media, where she posts regularly.

FINAL NOTE: This is important. Jen is expanding her workshop to reach the younger generation of girls. Can you imagine how different your life would have been as an adult if someone had taught you as a teenager to know you are enough, just as you are? Jen is doing that. You can tell it’s her passion. So, if you have or know any girls ages 13+ near Princeton, NJ and 16+ in NYC who could use this experience and learn at a young age that they are enough, check out Jen’s upcoming workshops in September, titled ‘Girl Power: You Are Enough.’