We are all ready for a new start, looking for ways to reconnect with so many aspects of life that we all missed in 2020. We believe that the most inspiring way that we can reconnect is through the heart. Welcome to our new blog series called We Love the Way You Love.
Our goal is to get people thinking about and sharing real love stories – the moments behind the moments, all the sweet, quirky and sometimes messy moments that show us how love is always present.
Witnessing all the ways we love each other gives us a window into our own capacity for love, and helps us to nourish and cultivate more of these moments. Honestly, now more than ever, paying attention to the glimmers of love that are all around us, giving voice to them, and sharing them makes them more real for all of us. So please share your stories or any of the stories you find here. Truly, they are like a magic penny – the more we give them away, we all end up having more.
When did the word ‘love’ become real to you?
I grew up in a broken family in which the idea of "love" was an aspirational space filled with lots of longing, Beatles love songs, and romantic comedies. It became real in my early 20’s when my marriage was at a breaking point. The idealism of marriage was gone and each of our weaknesses was on full display. At the time, it would have been a really easy decision to walk away and call it a stupid mistake of youth. Instead, we dug in. We were fortunate to find a kind therapist who helped us walk through the muck and find out what the promises we had made really meant.
What I most remember of that time is how many times we had to keep agreeing to do the work and how much it didn’t feel like the romantic aspiration of my youth, or even the early months when I fell in love with my husband. I realized that what I thought I knew about him was often my romantic projections. Those early days of choosing him with all that was broken between us showed me who he really was and who I wanted to be. That was when love became real for me – the real work of life that I never got to see growing up, but that I knew was the only safe place you could make for a heart to grow.
How do you show up for love?
I am so lucky that showing up for love has become my approach to everything I do in life. Freud once said, “Love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness.” Actually, I think they are one in the same.
After learning early on in life that real love is the connection that you work for and towards - for as many days as it feels good, there are just as many days that you have to remind yourself to believe in it. In my family life, I trained myself to show up even when I didn’t want to, just like teaching ourselves to work sometimes when we would rather play.
One thing that I have learned in this practice of love is that it has to be balanced with loving myself or it turns into something that isn’t really love. Learning how the love that I show up with is not so much something I am giving away, but rather cultivating in myself, shifted the feeling of being depleted to being full. When we love others, we are in fact always loving ourselves. Recognizing that loving people is the hardest work we are called to do in a lifetime and surrendering to the truth of human frailty makes it more possible to show up.
How do you create moments of love in your life?
Noticing moments of love is about teaching yourself to see clearly. The whole question of the cup being half full or half empty is how two people can witness the same moment and see what is present or what is missing. Love is always about what is present. And it takes a lot of practice, especially if this was not what you were trained to see, to witness the goodness in people and the beauty that is there for the eye ready to see it.
I believe that most of the time, most of us are doing the best we can. Try to look for the intention behind the action or words. Even though it might not look clean to me, or the words are not the ones I would have chosen, I trust that there was love behind it. The times when I stop being able to see that usually has more to do with me than other people or circumstances.
So I am always reminding myself to stay present and see the glimmers of loving intention around me. I also try to get out in nature as often as I can and really see, without any filters.
How do you show yourself love?
While the work of love is often an action verb that requires heavy lifting, one way to break it down into manageable bits is in small acts of self-love. This really is about knowing what makes you feel whole, alive, and comforted.
My list of self-love offerings starts with the basics, like staying hydrated with herbal teas and eating nutritious food. These help me stay healthy, which in turn allows me to have productive thinking. Maintaining soothing rituals, like meditation in the morning and hot baths at the end of the day, help me stay in touch with what I'm feeling. Movement and exercise also fit into every day because without movement I feel stuck, which in turn makes me stuck. Staying connected to my loved ones is a must for my sense of well being. So even if it is only through text, I communicate every day. For me, loving myself is synonymous with taking care of myself – and it is the only way I have anything to offer anyone else..
What sweet moments stand out in your memory when you think of the word ‘love’?
My husband, children, and friends threw a surprise party for me on my 56th birthday, not long after my son passed away. At the time, I didn’t want to celebrate or even have another birthday. I couldn’t imagine how life could move forward. It meant so much to me that they all figured out how to show up and surprise me at a time when I could not figure out how to stay with life.
Love is the anchor that has held me to life even in the moments when it seems unbearable. This gesture of love and so many others when friends have gone out of their way to remind me of how special I am – these stay with you forever.