Category Archives: Love

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.’

Are you Intense?

Are you Intense?

This is a question I’ve asked myself, mainly because I already know the answer: I can be.

It all began after a series of different meetings I had with my doc over a couple of months. During one of the earlier sessions he had said to me, “You’re intense, and you need to be with someone who not only understands, but appreciates that in you.” I listened.

Am I intense? I can be.

Fast forward a few months and at another session he said in passing, “I couldn’t live with you.”

Ouch.

It wasn’t meant to hurt, or to be a barb, but it did. (And don’t worry, there’s no discussion of anything remotely unethical going on.) It hurt, because I found myself not measuring up to some random externalized standard that had absolutely nothing to do with me.

Of course, that’s the truth of what happened, but in the moment I didn’t have access to that absolute truth, I just knew that it stung a little. Subsequently, I found myself asking, “What’s wrong with me?” and “Am I not livable?” Which ultimately evolved to “Am I not lovable?” And finally, the mac daddy of them all: “Am I destined to be alone?”

I suspect it took only about 5 seconds to go from his statement to the fear of being alone. It’s a well-worn path that is very easily navigated. Almost effortlessly, in fact. But here’s the beautiful thing: because I have done my work, because I have spent years forging through the dark tunnel and excavating the debris that was forming obstacles to my life, and because I have raised my awareness to the habit of negative self-talk, it took about another 5 seconds for me to access the truth behind his statement.

Just because HE couldn’t live with me does not mean that NOBODY can.

And there it was. Truth. Absolute truth. And it allowed me to go even further, which was like flipping through the most wonderful album of memories and joy you’ve ever created. Once I acknowledged that his external measurement had nothing to do with my self-worth, I was able to explore why he might feel that way, and that’s when it occurred to me: He only knows 30% of me. Perhaps more, maybe less, but 30% feels like a good number.

The fact is that he only knows that which I present to him, and since he’s my doc, I present my problems. He’s my “expert” for helping me sort through that which I cannot do alone. Therefore, it stands to reason that he couldn’t live with me (and finds me intense), because he only knows that side of me. He knows the percentage that is seeking assistance or a safe place to vent. While I suspect he might have inklings of the other 70%, it has been a rare occasion when I have presented it to him.

This got me thinking: What IS the other 70%? Here’s where that lovely virtual photo album of memories came into play. I suddenly found myself immersed in the joy of being me. It was decadent, blissful, and loving. It looked a bit like this:

  • He doesn’t see me dancing in the rain, or laughing so hard that I fall off the bed.
  • He doesn’t see me when I’m the image of bliss immersed up to my neck in a hot bubble bath, or how I get teary eyed during a commercial for animal rescue.
  • He doesn’t see the me that giggles at sexual innuendos like a school girl, secretly hiding my wry smile because I actually know what’s being talked about and the sheer pleasure it can bring.
  • He doesn’t see me singing like a dork while I dance in my car to my favorite song.
  • He doesn’t see me baking something for a friend that’s hurt, or taking pictures of butterflies on my daily walk.
  • He doesn’t see me when I’m so immersed in writing that hours can go by without my noticing it, and the smile on my face becomes semi-permanent.
  • He doesn’t see me talk to strangers and offer them a smile, or as I hug my dog during one of his seizures late at night.
  • He doesn’t see… me.

He doesn’t see the me that I know. Which means: he doesn’t know me. Well, not all of me.

He doesn’t know all this, because he’s not meant to. This is the breadth and depth of me, and it’s still only a glimpse. He knows the me that needs his expertise and his help. The me that comes to him feeling broken or worn down by life, in search of a tincture of assistance and support. And that’s the me he should be seeing, because it’s the me that he knows in relation to himself.

I was then reminded of an old saying that I often share about how we go through life comparing our insides to other people’s outsides. It will never match up. And this is true for almost everybody we come across in life. There are very few (if any) people that we share 100% of ourselves with. Every interaction falls somewhere on the spectrum from 1-99%, and I’d argue that most daily interactions fall somewhere between 1-35%.

People show us, and share with us, what they’re comfortable with, and we receive and share in return what we’re comfortable with. I would suspect that we are sharing about 30% of ourselves with the outside world at any given moment. And how we receive that is directly affected by our relationship to that person. That means that if I am your sibling, I will be receiving what you are showing very differently than if I were your boss, or your employee. We see and know people in relation to who we are to each other, and people only know what we choose to show them.

Which brings me back to the idea of being intense. I can be.

Actually, I think we all can be. And just as I can be intense, I can be light-hearted and soft. It’s part of the full spectrum of who I am, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Then, just a few days ago, I read this piece by Kate Rose on Elephant Journal, and it summed up my notion of intensity so perfectly I wanted to share. Intensity is not something to be ashamed of or dialed down – it’s something to be celebrated. And when it’s admired and supported it can fuel almost anything, including (and especially) Love.

Painting Within the Lines

This past weekend, my 6-year old niece was in town visiting for the holiday. We had a great time together, from blowing hundreds of bubbles in the backyard to taking a long walk and teaching her about all the flowers along the way. We even got to spend some time in the local park/playground where she got to try out her first tire swing. (She LOVED it, by the way. And truly, what’s not to love?)

Anyhow, we also did some arts and crafts together. On one such occasion, we painted side-by-side. It was a Disney item that provided its own paints, brush, and 2 pictures to lovingly adorn with color as you watched them come to life.

We laughed while we painted, sharing paint pots and even the brush. It was definitely one of the highlights of the weekend. The two of us sat in the garage at the small table, with the small chairs (my knees are still mad at me), and spent an hour or so chatting and painting princesses. Again, what’s not to love, right?

When we were done, my little niece looked at both paintings, turned to me very seriously and somewhat dejected, and said, “Yours is more beautiful than mine.”

Meanwhile, I was looking at the paintings and thinking ‘Wow, hers is so much brighter and more colorful.’

princess paintingOf course, my response to her was “Neither is more beautiful than the other, they’re just different…and that’s awesome!”

And what’s important about that simple statement is the fact that it’s true. Beauty will always be subjective. I preferred her colors, she preferred my tidiness. We were both admiring each others work, feeling like ours could have been better.

The truth is, as I’ve said so many times before: Nobody wins in the comparison game.

Had the acknowledgment stopped at admiration, it could have been a spark for inspiration, creativity, and imagination. But when we take it beyond that point, into comparison, it becomes the birthplace of judgment, shame, and lack.

Both paintings were, indeed, beautiful. Both a wonderful expression of who we each are, as well as where we are in the chronology of our lives. Both paintings are happy, creative, expressive, and joyful.

Finally, it’s worth stating that what truly matters most out of the entire experience was the experience. The time spent together. The chatting, the laughing, the sharing. I’m sure the paintings will end up in the bin, but the memory of spending time together will stay with both of us for the rest of our lives. And that is the most beautiful thing I know.

Sickness, Death, and Love

Almost everybody I know has dealt with or is dealing with some level of sickness or death in their lives. If you’re human and you haven’t dealt with some measure of illness, or even death, I think THAT’S when you can count yourself among the richest 1% in the world. And that’s ok. Nothing to feel guilty about. Celebrate it, enjoy it, and offer up some big gratitude.

But for the rest of us, the 99%, here’s what I’ve noticed.

Almost 9 years ago when my dad had his massive stroke, many people came to wish us well and offer prayers and hope. So many friends and family members sharing phrases like, “it will be ok,” and “he’ll be fine.” But there was one – one person who dared to say something different.

I’ll never forget it. We were standing in the hallway outside the family room of the ICU almost in a reception line as a few friends were arriving, when Danny walked up to me. He put his hands on my shoulders, looked me straight in the eye and said, “This sucks.”

In that singular moment, I felt all the tension in my back and shoulders release, and I felt myself start to laugh a nervous laugh.

“Dare I agree with him?”

He hugged me tightly, and I felt like I would collapse since I no longer had tension holding me up.

“It just sucks. I’m so sorry,” he continued as he pulled back and looked me in the eye again.

By now, tears were welling up in my lower lids, and I realized I TOTALLY agreed with him.

“Thank you.” (hug) “Oh – THANK YOU!! You’re right. It sucks. It sucks big time, and it hurts, and it sucks.”

He smiled at me and didn’t offer the traditional phrases of comfort and condolence that many would interject at this point. Instead, he simply said, “Yeah,” and allowed me to have my peace, my reality, my truth.

And that was it. That one moment changed the way I look at life, death, and illness. More to the point, it changed the way I offer support to those around me who are experiencing challenging times. Yes, I still offer words of comfort and hope, but not to the exclusion of validating the sucky-ness of the situation. Nor to the point of negating the person’s experience.

The thing is, illness sucks. Death sucks for those left behind. So many books and teachers out there want us to focus on hope and find the positive in the situation, almost to the exclusion of the difficulty.

I’m a believer in how our thoughts change and create our lives. I know this to be true. I believe in finding the positive and living from that place. And yes, the positive is always there, can always be found, and helps us through the darker moments… but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t ALSO suck to live through it. Sometimes it just sucks. It’s hard, and it hurts. And that’s ok.

It means you knew Love.

The Little Things

Love and Life are found in the little things.

I had a conversation with my mentor recently in which we discussed the meaning of Life. As we were talking, I came up with an image, of sorts, to represent what I was trying to convey.

In much of Western medical thought life begins at the top of a pyramid, which is represented by the functionality of the heart, lungs, and brain. Life. From there it trickles down to the rest of the human experience, widening as it goes.

Life pyramid 1

Life as a top-down approach.

Indeed, Life can be defined scientifically like that, but I tend to disagree. Life, it seems to me, is a bottom-up proposition. Life is defined by all the little things that make it worthwhile for the heart, lungs, and brain to keep working. Life is found in the broadest expanse of the pyramid, comprised of tiny events, feelings, and experiences.

Life Pyramid 2

Life from a bottom-up approach

For who is to say that Life doesn’t continue in the hearts of others when one’s body has decided to leave? I think it does. We have a word for it: Legacy. I call it Love.

Love is all the little things. It’s the knowing smile from across the room that makes you feel instantly relaxed, assured, and at peace. It’s the tiny hand reflexively reaching up for yours as you go to cross a street. It’s the wag of a tail when you come home after a long day. It’s the whisper of the words “good night” when you’re too tired to speak. Love is a million little things that make it worthwhile to wake up the next day. Love is also the memories we hold in our hearts allowing others to live on in us.

Love is found in the little things. It’s the immeasurable moments that collectively create Life.

Speaking to Joy

Recently, I was speaking with a client that is venturing into the online dating world, and this came out of my mouth:

Find someone who speaks to your joy, not your fears.

So often in life we look for a mate who meets certain criteria, because it’s what we think we want or are told we want. We look for things like: successful, attractive, sense of humor, tall, etc. All of these things are great and not necessarily fear-based. But if we scratch beneath the surface just a little bit, they actually are. Here’s why:

All of these criteria are externalized to your joy. Therefore, the criteria themselves are based on some internal fear that you are experiencing for which you want someone else to fill the void. Another way to say that is:

When a desire is based in the energy of lack, rather than joy, we are setting ourselves up for future disappointment.

It’s an idea worth exploring, because nobody (nobody) can fill an internal void. What a partner CAN do, however, is help to expand your existing joy to where you end up filling the void yourself.

That’s what I mean by finding someone who speaks to your joy. Now, what does that look like?

If you think about people (friends, family, etc.) who already exist in your life and make your heart smile when you’re around them… that speaks to your joy. It’s not about external attributes. It’s about recognizing how someone makes you feel.

Therefore, the question isn’t:

  • Who are they?
  • What do they do? or
  • How do they look?

The question should always be:

How do I feel when I’m with them?

If you can answer that with a smile, you’re more than halfway there. 🙂